Testifying in Support of Elizabeth Street Garden
In March 2019 I testified before the City Planning Commission (CPC) at the Department of City Planning (DCP) regarding the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application that would destroy Elizabeth Street Garden. This difficult and complicated ULURP is a prime example of the need for the DCP to exact an evaluative and nuanced understanding of the needs of a community, the process by which land is used for any public purpose, and the constant pernicious way in which the City pits two scarce resources in our communities against one another; affordable housing and open space.
It is disappointing that, too frequently, residents are asked to choose between affordable housing and public open space, both of which are essential for quality of life in our increasingly dense city. Many in City government speak at length about affordable housing or affordable communities, and these are important topics that must be fully explored in a continually urbanizing society. I find that this particular ULURP and proposal that this Administration is forcing the community to absorb and debate flies in the face of the stated goals of previous objectives undertaken by various agencies. In theory, the community board process should allow for local control and discussion about how city-owned sites, those assets that are owned wholly by the public, will be used for the benefit of the community and future generations. CB2 finds itself in this position because of a ULURP which occurred outside of their district some years ago.
Opposing this development does not mean that I am opposed to affordable housing for seniors when it is constructed on sites that are valuable to the community–quite the contrary, I am for ensuring that these public assets are used to create a livable city. I urged the Department of City Planning to deny this application and compel this Administration to work more closely with CB2 to preserve Elizabeth Street Garden and construct more affordable senior housing at a previously identified, more appropriate site at 388 Hudson Street.