RE: RE: AG settlement is unfair!
- Subject: RE: RE: [cg] AG settlement is unfair!
- From: "Honigman, Adam" Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com
- Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 19:47:48 -0400
Gwenne et al,
of you who were in town for the first day of the ACGA conference last July and
attended the City Hall press conference by NYC Parks chair Addabo,probably got
an earful from me on the disgraceful scuttling of Intro 206, an albeit imperfect
piece of legislation whose discussion on the floor of the NYC City Council
would have brought issues like like the Brownsville gardens into the open for
the general public. I worked hard to get that imperfect bill to the floor and
pulled in favors from 3 NYC councilpersons to either sponsor or co-sponsor
it. The garden working group that attended adhoc meetings on the bill
included representatives from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the ACGA, The Trust
for Public Land, The Municipal Arts Society, Green Guerillas and
NYC greening employees whose names/organizations I will not mention because
they are not supposed to engage in lobbying.
at the table because I had three NYC Councilpersons who had committed to me on
the bill. We eventually got 26 votes - a majority to pass this bill,
but not enough to override a mayoral veto.
settlement, to be frank, sucks an egg. But the settlement would have
been much worse had there not been a history of over 25 years of community
garden activism in NYC and if the ACGA had not actively advocated for gardens in
NYC, as it does throughout the country. Often, when many officials and
newspapers refused to pay any attention to local gardeners, a letter or message
from the ACGA got through. As crappy as the settlement seems to many of us, the
mere presence of the ACGA convention in NYC last July helped keep the final
settlement from being much, much worse.
When the NYC
Council caved in to the mayor in the midst of post 9/11 budget
negotiations this June & July (he's the 500 lb gorilla in the room )
the NYC Council chose to put the pending Intro 206 on the table -permanently,
calling it "moot."
The NYC Council
Parks Committee then chose to write a letter to NYC Corporate Counsel ( the
mayor's attorney) & the NY State Attorney General to come up with a
settlement. Councilperson Addabo ( Parks Chair) said that there would be
hearings afterwards because the garden bill was now moot. There will be
hearings, supposedly after this settlement. I hope they will not be held on days
when gardens are being bulldozed....
neither the bill, nor the process that led to it's drafting was perfect. To be
honest, many committed and hard-working community garden activists really
disliked much in its provisions and the process by which it was drafted.
However an open NYC Council floor discussion BEFORE
THE SETTLEMENT would have revealed that the majority of those community gardens
slated immediate development because they were further down NYC's Uniform
Land Use Review process ( some were even expedited under a process called
UDAAP - don't ask me what that acronym means at 7:00pm in the evening)
are predominantly in low income NYC neighborhoods of
color with high asthma rates and an appalling low ratio of parks and green open
space for its citizens .
AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT WAS TWO LAWYERS AND
THEIR STAFFS E-MAILING AND CALLING EACH OTHER WITH CONSULTATIONS FROM NYC
AGENCIES AND PLEADING LETTERS FROM GREENING GROUPS AND GARDENS INVOLVED IN THE
PROCESS. Most NYC gardeners were sitting and waiting to hear the other shoe
Classic Comics version of the settlement -
Parks department gets the opportunity to pick and choose which gardens it wants
from a pool of 198 gardens. Green Thumb will administer them until the day when
their HUD Urban Development Grant funding dries up. The
city can choose to discontinue Green Thumb on a months
Those gardens that Parks does not take out of the 198 will offered for
purchase by a nonprofit land trust for a “nominal sum.” However, the transfer of
these gardens to a non-profit land trust will be subject to the Uniform Land Use
Review process - a neighborhood, community board, the local city
councilperson, NYC Planning Commission, the borough president, the Land Use
committee of the NYC council can either approve or disapprove this transfer. The
process is NYC Charter mandated and cannot be avoided. Howver, the $7,000
ULURP fee has been waived for these gardens.
3) From the Sarah Feguson article that Lenny
Librizzi forwarded you earlier in the day, "Another 110 city-owned plots still
slated for housing and neighborhood facilities will be given new measures to
defend themselves during the city’s land use review process. Previously, gardens
that went before the City Council for development approval were often listed as
“vacant” lots. Now, the city must create a “Garden Review Statement” documenting
each garden’s history and membership in Green Thumb, with photos, which will be
circulated to community boards, City Council members and the City Planning
Basically, these governmental agencies can say, "Well that's very nice, but we
need low-income housing, luxury housing, a bowling alley instead of the garden."
provision of Intro 206 has been included in the agreement, albeit in
weakened form : If a plot is targeted for development, the city must also
provide gardeners with a list of nearby available city-owned lots where they
key word here is "might."
This part really sucks an egg. From the Attorney General's summary of the
community gardens on lots slated for development with projects that have already
completed (or nearly completed) the City’s land use review process (ULURP) can
be sold or developed by the City without further garden review. Of these 38
gardens, 22 are either currently inactive, will be fully or partially preserved
as part of the development, or will be relocated to a new site. The development
projects will result in the construction of more than 2,000 units of housing.
is under this paragraph of the settlement that Helen Boykin-Mason's lovely
"Fantasy Garden" falls. Last year, the Brownsville "Fantasy Garden"
was shamefully rubberstamped for demolition by the NYC Council under the
expedited UDAAP process. The term-limited NYC Councilperson for the
area refused to meet with Helen Boykin-Mason and the community board of the
area ( reputed by some to have "integrity problems", but certifiably
anti-garden) put another nail in its coffin.
only shot this garden had, at the end of the day, was being saved by a
provision in the Attorney General's lawsuit. This did not
quote Ms. Boykin:
"The Mayor and attorney general ageed [sic] on
a proposal that was flawed, as it failed to include certain sections of the city
that have a high concentration of people of color. Instead, a decision was made
to build MARKET RATE housing on the sites of community gardens which are located
in an area that is inundated with vacant lots. The majority of the neighborhood
residents have median incomes of less than $30,000.00 per year. Their children
have one of the highest rates of asthma and upper respiratory ailments in the
city. We are a viable member of society that deserves the same right to open
green spaces as any other neighborhood. When the parties sat down to come up
with a plan to end the litigation, it should have been a fair and equitable
olution. That did not happen. It was a job miserably done. Of course, I did not expect every garden to be saved but not
a single one of our gardens were considered worth saving. YOU TELL ME WHAT IS
WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? My name is Helen Boykin-Mason and I am a member of
Fantasy Garden which is located in Brownsville, Brooklyn."
We have alot of work to do here in NYC. This
settlement has been extremely unsettling.
Please learn from our experience and do better in your
communities, if you can.
Thank you Lenny for the link, and the mention of a "next battle." I hope
things aren't over yet. -David
Lenny Librizzi wrote:
Other than on the list serves no one is talking about the housing
projects that are being
proposed for the garden sites have no income
restrictions. So we are not talking about affordable housing here.
are usually other vacant lots nearby that could be developed
instead of the garden. Although the agreement calls for a
which includes possible relocation sites for any of the gardens that will be
subject to development in the
future, the 30 gardens set for immediate
development have no option for alternate sites. Yes, these sites are in
programs that are funded and have gone through a review process
that did not mention that a garden existed on the
neighborhoods that are short on parkland like Brownsville are particularly
hard hit. Trying to save the 100+
gardens that haven't been offered
preservation and a! re still subject to development in the future is the
Here is a link to a little more enlightened article by
Sarah Ferguson but even she does not mention the market rate type
housing programs and makes it sound like these are new gardens that never
9/23/02 3:02:05 PM, Gwenne Hayes-Stewart
"'David Peterson'" ,
> Subject:RE: [cg] AG settlement is
> Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 14:02:05
> It is extremely helpful to hear these
other reports. Out here in the
> Midwest, the NY times is our only
access to news stories about these
> gardens. Why were these gardens
not a part of the new r! eview procedures?
> Were they already
too far along in t he process? Gwenne
> From: David Peterson
> Sent: Monday, September 23, 2002 1:51
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [cg] AG
settlement is unfair!
> I am glad to hear from
Ms. Helen about the flaws in the settlement
> between Spitzer and the
City. Someone has to say it. When I saw that
> there was a settlement,
and was overjoyed, but then looked to see that
> nearly all of the 17
gardens I worked with last summer in the South
> Bronx, Brownsville
and East New York were slated for "immediate
> development" under the
New Foundations Home Ownership Program. The
> program is creating
market rate housing (the homes will cost upwards of
> $150,000), and
this reality has been hidden by the New York Times. These
gardens, including Ms. Mason-Boykin's garden, the Over 50
> ga! rden,
will now have to make way for expensive houses in neighborhoods
tons of vacant lots (I can think of five or six right by Over 50).
> I'm in Austin, Texas, itching with a feeling of injustice
> powerlessness, and hope that grassroots activists will work with
> folks, either helping them build new gardens through the
> process or through any means that they have or can
improvise, to ensure
> that Ms. Helen and others like her get to keep
their beautiful gardens.
> Good luck out there, and remember that
every garden destroyed is
> unacceptable. It may be called
unavoidable, but we should always remember
> that it is unacceptable.
> In solidarity,
> David Peterson
> Do you Yahoo!?
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