Comments on Draft Gowanus Rezoning Plan

The Park Slope Civic Council (PSCC) believes that any new City zoning actions must respect the existing residents of the neighborhoods affected by the rezoning and enhance the social, cultural, economic and racial mix of the community.  To that end, we make the following comments on the proposed Gowanus Rezoning Plan:

  1. Close to 25% of Gowanus residents live in NYCHA housing. NYCHA housing in general, and public housing in Gowanus specifically, is substandard in terms of providing tenants with basic amenities (heat, power, water, mold-free living space). The Plan is, at best, vague on any benefits it would bring to these residents and lacks real commitment by the City to address the basic needs of families living in public housing. The Plan does not extend proposed and necessary community amenities for public housing residents. The City must ensure that during and after the rezoning, public housing and the surrounding blocks are included in the scope of the plan. The City must commit to investing in and providing funding sufficient to reverse the disinvestment and ongoing neglect of public infrastructure. The City must ensure that all members of the community benefit equally from the benefits of rezoning and are not further overlooked.
  2. The Plan must address, and the City must ensure, that increasing density made possible by the proposed changes to the Zoning Code is accompanied by investment in infrastructure to stop untreated sewage and combined sewer overflows from further contaminating the Gowanus Canal. Existing and unmet City obligations for infrastructure improvements as part of the Superfund cleanup are insufficient to address current CSO drainage into the Canal. The City must work with community leadership and local CBOs to implement an integrated and comprehensive solution. Solutions could include Code requirements for in-building sewage management for all development over a certain size, as well as investing in additional green infrastructure throughout the neighborhood.
  3. We further demand that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designate key historical, architectural and cultural sites in Gowanus prior to the neighborhood’s rezoning, as we seek to ensure that Gowanus retains an authentic sense of place and remains capable of telling its many-layered story. Moreover, the rezoning of 4th Avenue threatens the future of the Pacific Branch Library (located within the scope of the Draft Plan), whose designation has been overlooked by the LPC for more than 12 years.

Recognizing that the draft plan is large and complex, PSCC intends to take advantage of the Department of City Planning’s expressed intention to present this plan to community groups.

Please read our latest update here.