Dear Director Lago,
As representatives of Sunset Park and Brooklyn's working waterfront, we write to express our support for a community-led process to evaluate the potential impacts of Industry City's rezoning proposal before initiating ULURP.
Industry City's request is asking the City of New York to rezone a large portion of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Zone. As you know, this would increase Industry City's footprint by more than 1 million square feet, allowing it to build big box retail, hotels, and other commercial or academic uses.
However, this rezoning could exacerbate real estate pressures, displacement, rising rents, congestion, pollution, and forever shift the nature of the waterfront away from manufacturing to commercial tourism. This would not only counter our efforts of the past 20 years to restore Brooklyn's industrial position but supercharge the displacement and gentrification that is undermining Sunset Park's affordability and blue-collar job base.
ULURP is not the place where real planning occurs. As we have watched ULURP unfold over the years, it is clearly a developer-led process. Developers feel entitled to dictate to communities despite the fact that the public is being asked to make a momentous public land use decision that directly impacts them. The pressures in that kind of process is chiefly transactional, with the goal of getting to yes, rather than what is the right and best fit for the community.
Our Sunset Park constituents who are experiencing these massive changes that include displacement and gentrification, have engaged in a community-led process of assessing Industry City's proposal, in the larger neighborhood context.
As of now, Sunset Park's Community Board is deeply divided on the rezoning. There are many members of the Land Use Committee who believe a rigorous analysis and community engagement process must occur prior to ULURP to evaluate the rezoning fairly and accurately.
Thanks to funding that City Council Member Menchaca secured for the Community Board last year, the Board was able to secure technical assistance to evaluate Industry City's proposal. But these outside experts have barely started their work, and it is unreasonable to expect they can undertake such an important analysis of the rezoning in the two months allotted by ULURP.
ULURP should be the end of a community engagement process, not the beginning or the middle. What the Sunset Park community has made clear is that not enough analysis and discussion has taken place to determine whether rezoning a large portion of the waterfront for a single private actor is in the best interests of the larger community.
We strongly believe that ULURP should not begin until the Sunset Park community is satisfied with the results of the community engagement process they initiated last year in response to Industry City's first public filing of their rezoning proposal in the fall of 2017.
We are committed to ensuring that our community can drive the process of what is in their best interest. We urge you to support this community by allowing their process to be completed before ULURP commences.