Voice of Gowanus’ Activists Claim Big Win In Court Ruling
The Gowanus rezoning will not be certified today. This development comes despite the de Blasio Administration’s last-minute attempt today to overturn the temporary restraining order (TRO) that Voice of Gowanus (VOG) won in court on Friday. After arguments, this morning by counsel for both VOG and the City, a justice of the Second Division Appellate Court denied the City’s application and let the TRO stand.
“This is HUGE,” said Nora Almeida of Voice of Gowanus. “We won the initial order and now we’ve beat back the City’s attempt to avoid a substantive response to our lawsuit. The Appellate Court has now affirmed that the equity, access, transparency, and rule of law issues at the heart of our legal action must have their day in court.”
The result of today’s court decision: the City may not proceed with the certification of the Gowanus rezoning application or utilize virtual ULURP pending a NYS Supreme Court hearing scheduled for January 27, 2021.
“Today’s win in the Appellate Division is an important one for VOG and the community. It represents the second Court in four days to rule that the City’s ULURP application must be halted pending a hearing,” attorney Jason Zakai of Hiller, PC said. “It’s clear that the City must provide as much information, and allow for the maximum amount of public input and participation, as provided for in the City’s Charter and Rules.”
Today’s ruling against the City also drew words of solidarity from the Citywide People’s Land Use Alliance, a group of over sixty organizations from around New York City that are calling for an end to the abuse of ULURP (Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure). The alliance was brought together by the de Blasio Administration’s aggressive and abusive approach to rezoning working-class neighborhoods of color and industrial areas. Despite a constant parroting by developers and the city that these large-scale rezonings are really about creating affordable housing, the de Blasio Administration has failed New York on this issue. And in Gowanus, the vast majority of proposed new housing would be market-rate luxury, with the one truly “affordable” housing complex located on a forever-toxic site contaminated by dangerous industrial pollution.
Alliance members issued this statement today:
“The Citywide People’s Land Use Alliance supports the legal action of Voice of Gowanus, which seeks to halt New York City’s “virtual” land-use procedure (ULURP). The “virtual” version of ULURP limits civic participation, which is guaranteed by the City Charter. We need a true democracy in which all people—regardless of ability, class, race, economic power, or current housing status—have the power to decide what will be built.”
Coordination with many members of the Alliance from across the city, including Chinatown Working Group, Protect Sunset Park, Flushing Anti-Displacement Alliance, Movement to Protect the People, and Inwood Legal Action, has proven that Gowanus is not alone in calling out the de Blasio Administration’s unjust and unsustainable approach to rezonings.
“This is a citywide issue because ULURP is a tilted playing field that simply does not work for communities,” said Elyse Schuk of Voice of Gowanus. “And now, in the middle of a global pandemic, the de Blasio administration is trying to rush through a massive rezoning with a process that disenfranchises community voices. Enough is enough.”
Voice of Gowanus continues to fundraise vigorously to continue its legal efforts through the Gowanus Legal Defense Fund.
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