Friday, September 30, 2016

A special meeting of Chinatown Working Group (CWG) was called by the Community Board 3, bringing together members of the Department of City Planning (DCP). It is rare to have the DCP come to talk. The community is very upset after working for 8 years to produce 197a plan, then having the city refuse to look at it. Now there is an agreement that CWG will change the plan to 197c plan, so they’re only looking at certain portions of the plan (3 portions). They now want to hear from the community about recommendations so that DCP can begin to process it. 

Edith Hsu-Chen, DCP 
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

An eloquent speaker from Community Board 3 

Margaret Chin 
A noisy demonstration out on the street began early by some of the more left leaning community groups that have been participating in the last several years of creating the plan. After some clarification of what the purpose of this meeting was, a number of the Community Board 3 members spoke of how much they support the CWG plan and how they refuse to be forced by DeBlasio’s DCP department. Some say it’s been 6 years of work. Whether it be 6 years or 8 years, it is scandalous that the city would sit by and let Chinatown work all those years and now refuse to examine the whole plan. Their explanation is that it will take a number of years just to really process the sections of the plan dealing with the local Chinatown zones. And it would simply take too many years to cover the other sections of the plan that deal with outlying areas. 

Unfortunately this includes the waterfront, where major construction is underway. DCP’s explanation for why there are no regulations for low income housing requirements along the waterfront is quite obscure, but apparently DCP staff are locked into the regulations of how the city requires R10 to be up zoned to MIG (don’t ask me what that means or if it’s correct) status. However, that’s the first explanation from the horse’s mouth I ever got in 8 years. Some groups will hate me for it, however, it’s clear that DCP staff are working within their own limitations. The outcry from some of the members of the Community Board 3 on stage is that this opportunity to have this rare meeting and not discuss all sections, particularly the waterfront, which itself could totally transform Chinatown, is a bureaucratic way to fail in addressing the need to save Chinatown and zone it adequately. 

By 8’ o clock, when the meeting ended, with some sense of having been productive, the City, the Community Board 3, and those of us who have stuck through  so many years of giving time and effort to Chinatown’s 197 plan, went home outside PS130. As I left, many of the key people were still standing at the front of the school, discussing all the issues. 

Amidst all the protest and confusion, I was able to insert into the discussion how the arts can bring greater prosperity to our community. 

I thank Margaret Chin for staying there for the complete meeting, even into the night, as she has done since I’ve known her for so many years. 

- Bob Lee, Executive Director of AAAC
Different Themes
Written by Lovely

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