Looks Like The "Garden Weasels" Were Right!
- Subject: [cg] Looks Like The "Garden Weasels" Were Right!
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 10:46:14 EST
Forgive me, please, for dredging up old NYC garden history. But with real
estate developers all over this country looking at inner city community
gardens with a continued, proprietary interest, I felt the following
newspaper "clipping" might be useful to have in your files as you enter
discussions with your own city fathers.
Some background: This article was buried on page 33 of today's NY Daily
News (02/25/03). Back in 1996, when former Mayor Giulian's administration i
transferred many rubble strewn lots and viable community gardens to Dept of
City Services for sale, the city's argument was that sale of this land would
create revenue for the city and that developers would revitalize poor and
marginal neighborhoods with new housing.
No good "garden weasels" (the nickname given to community gardeners in an
infamous August 2001 Daily News editorial ) said that the lots, bulldozed
gardens or no, would be picked up by speculators - and left vacant - until
market conditions made a "killing in real estate" a sure thing. Mr.
Giuliani's adminstration replied that the free market would create incentives
for the new, affordable housing that the city desperately needed. At one
point, that summer, the Mayor said that "selfish gardeners" were keeping the
city from building housing for the homeless on their garden sites. When "The
Coaliton for the Homeless" sent out a press notice saying that there were
thousands of empty lots that had not been built on and that community gardens
stabilized communities, the papers didn't publish it. And when later that
year, due to the events of September 11th, Mr. Giuliani became "America's
Mayor", the issue was put on the back burner.
Since then, NYC elected a new mayor, mandated by term limits. You've read
about the NYC community garden settlement of 2002, which has injected a bit
of normalcy into the garden preservation process.
However, it looks that the "Garden Weasels" were right about what would
happen to our bulldozed gardens and this city's empty lots:
NYC Daily News - Tuesday, February 25, 2003, pg.33
LOTS OF UNBUILT HOUSING
Developers let city land just sit
By DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF
When the city decided in 1996 to auction vacant lots it owned, the policy was
supposed to be a win-win: The city would get money, and neighborhoods would
get new housing built by private developers.
But a report published yesterday suggests the idea has been more of a loser,
especially in poorer areas of Brooklyn and the Bronx, where most of the
city's vacant lots have long been concentrated.
The study, by the community activist organization ACORN, found that of 1,350
lots sold in these areas since 1996, two-thirds remain vacant - a tragic
waste, say advocates, in a city with a severe housing shortage.
"What happened is that you got speculators who did nothing with these lots,"
said City Councilman Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan), who called for hearings.
No building pledge
Advocates argued that the policy was flawed from the start, in part because
developers were not required to build anything in exchange for buying the
Homes that did get built often cost more than local buyers could afford.
The study, which called on the city to halt public auctions until the
policies could be reviewed, focused on Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Morrisania
and Highbridge in the Bronx; Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, East New York,
Crown Heights and Brownsville in Brooklyn, and Far Rockaway in Queens.
Asked about the report yesterday, Bloomberg administration officials said
they still planned to auction city land this summer.
But they added that Mayor Bloomberg has assigned a task force to review how
the city disposes of public land with an eye toward creating more affordable
"This is a priority for us, and we are taking a look at it," said spokeswoman
Originally published on February 25, 2003
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