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At Jerome Avenue Rezoning, Many Locals Blast Plan

At Jerome Avenue Rezoning, Many Locals Blast Plan (Picture)
BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT Ruben Diaz Jr. (far back) presides at hearing on the Jerome Avenue Rezoning plan.
Photo by David Cruz

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. got an earful from scores of residents, merchants and even doctors largely opposed to the Jerome Avenue Rezoning plan, a complex and sweeping proposal intended to create more affordable housing across the west and southwest sections of the Bronx.

The plan, now in the middle of a public review, is in the hands of Diaz who held a hearing Nov. 2 on the issue. The lofty proposal looks to rezone 92 blocks of Jerome Avenue between 184th and 167th streets. The plan covers a two-mile stretch along its commercial and major transit corridors within community boards 4, 5 and 7, which make up the neighborhoods of Fordham South, University Heights, Morris Heights, Mt. Eden, and Highbridge.

At Jerome Avenue Rezoning, Many Locals Blast Plan (Picture)
COUNCILWOMAN VANESSA GIBSON (right) testifies at the Jerome Avenue Rezoning hearing.
Photo by David Cruz

“This has shown to be one of the rezonings proposed with the most emotion from folks who either support it or don’t support it,” said Diaz in opening remarks.

The New York City Department of City Planning, the lead agency behind the rezoning plan, presented before the public, emphasizing that part of the plan looks to create more than 4,000 units of affordable housing, honoring Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan. New York City Housing Preservation and Development intends to offer tax breaks to developers who build housing for those making a maximum income of $26,720 for a single person, translating to 40 percent of Area Median Income.

But many residents, particularly those from Community Action for Safe Apartments, got stuck on the word “affordable.” Presently, only a small fraction of the residents could afford to pay these projected rents, raising the question that the units are not for the existing residents.

“Every time I walk around and see billboards that say ‘affordable housing,’ I just stare at it and laugh and say ‘for whom?’” Ed Viera Jr., a resident living within the impacted area, said.

During cross-examination of the plan, Diaz had wondered whether HPD would consider lowering the AMI threshold to 30 percent.

Three people who testified spoke of the racial undertone the Jerome Avenue rezoning represents, with Jessica Roque suggesting this is a new form of “colonialism” toward the existing black and Hispanic population living there.

“The settlers here are the people right here on my left,” Roque, a Hispanic woman motioning to the largely white group of city officials tasked to formulate the plan, said. “And the natives is us here.”

Fitzroy Christian, a resident, compared the plan to a form of “ethnic cleansing” aimed at displacing minorities out of those communities. Dyaami D’Orazio, another resident, wondered whether any new businesses that would settle in the area for two years would be owned by “blanquitos” (Spanish for ‘white’) or “cafesitos, and our sandwich, and our empanadas.”

Community Boards 4, 5 and 7 have cast a yes vote to the plan so long some stipulations are met. Some stipulations by Community Board 4 include the creation of a so-called anti-displacement fund, available resources for existing autobody mechanics, and the creation of an LGBTQ center.

Arguably, the most critical voice in the public review process could be Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, whose district largely covers the bulk of the area that will be rezoned (Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s 14th Council District covers some ground on Jerome Avenue). During her testimony, Gibson appeared to lean in favor of rezoning Jerome Avenue so long as certain conditions were met. Her position will determine whether the New York City Council will vote in favor of the project. Council members typically defer their vote to the council member whose project presides in that district.

“As the Council Member of District 16 I refuse to allow our community to be shortchanged nor will I sit by and allow other communities to get the investments that we deserve, that we need today,” Gibson, reading from prepared remarks, said. “Not tomorrow but today.”

The hearing was simply intended to collect the thoughts and enter them into the record. Voting on the matter will happen Nov. 16.

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7 thoughts on “At Jerome Avenue Rezoning, Many Locals Blast Plan

  1. Me

    These folks need a damn history lesson. What the hell are these people talking about? They’re not “native” or “settlers” to that area. At one time that area was white – specifically Jewish and Irish. Look up the damn Census records – the information from the 30’s and 40’s is right there, including race and what country those who came before this bunch are from.

    The blatant racism by these folks, many of which are newbies to the hood, is amazing. They don’t have a clue who built these neighborhoods, including the very buildings they live in. It wasn’t them. Instead it was they who RUINED these areas with their filth, garbage and crime forcing the evil “blanquitos” out of the hood.

    Now these hood rats get to see what it’s been like for middle class whites in NYC who have pushed out of many neighborhoods. My white family has been pushed out of Fordham, Inwood, Fulton Ave., Bronx Park East, Tremont & Bathgate…should I continue?

    1. Newbie

      Wow, settle down there. You do not understand the issue as well as you think you do. Your family was not pushed out- they decided to leave. They had the resources ($$) to choose to move away from a demographic they did not like. These people, on the other hand, will be pushed out of the neighborhood since they will no longer be able to afford where they live.

      Look up white flight, so you have a better understanding of history.

      1. Me

        I’m curious – how do you know what my family had and didn’t have in terms of finances?

        My Irish born, legal US citizens grandparents moved from the Inwood section of Manhattan to Fordham & University in 1975. My grandfather retired from US Customs. My grandmother was a waitress. Not exactly wealthy people by any means. My grandmother was mugged twice at knife point, once w/my 5 year old sister, in the vestibule of her building and not by whites.

        White flight took place because when non-whites moved in they acted like savages. Zero respect for their neighbors or neighborhood. No one in their right mind is going to put up with that. Using the excuse of them being immigrants is a flat out lie since these areas were always filled with immigrants.

        Those who live there now, and many have lived there for decades, continue to make poor and stupid choices, continue to be dependent on the govt. dime and blame everyone around them for their choices. If people cannot fix the area they have lived in for generations, then there is a bigger problem that needs to be fixed.

        Let them get pushed out. Let them see what it’s like. Let them wake the hell up and do better in their life than pissing out children they can’t afford and expecting the good old taxpayer to pick up the cost of their irresponsibility.

        The party is OVER!

        1. Newbie

          You need to inform yourself, but I’ll do you a solid. Look up blockbusting, how it affected white flight and the economy of inner cities in the US. You seem to know very little about the subject and are basing your opinion on anecdotal evidence.

          By your logic, there would be no crime in predominantly white countries and/or neighborhoods, which is not true at all.

    1. Me

      The natives who BUILT the buildings and STORES and TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM and SCHOOLS were in fact WHITE, not Native American. I am speaking about the 20th century, not 500 years ago.

      Nice try though.

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