LETTER OF INTRODUCTION (stating our goals, and desires.)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (PowerPoint, 10 pages max.)
Josette's proposal for an Underground Railroad: Abolitionist Trail in NYC
these points are key to our argument. We then add Josette's concept of an Abolitionist Trail through NYC is a project that will help fulfill these goals.
The URRA is concerned about racial justice in housing and preserving northern Manhattan's ethnically and economically mixed neighborhoods. Current zoning and a lack of buildings protected with landmark status have left our neighborhoods and communities prey to developers whose primary interest is high-rise construction with predominantly market-rate apartments. Even the "affordable" apartments are usually beyond the means of people currently living in our neighborhoods. The negative impacts are greatest for communities of color, many of whom have been in residence for decades and over two, three, or more generations.
The URRA would like a two-prong approach to solving this problem:
1) A moratorium on high-rise development, including building permits and demolition permits, until the new mayor can assemble a task force to review zoning in Washington Heights and Inwood, and measure the effect of uncontrolled development on established communities, particularly communities of color.
2) New appointments to the Landmarks Preservation Commission that will bring diversity to the top decision-making levels, particularly the research department, which is currently underrepresented with minorities. LPC's research department remains fixated on "pretty buildings," and continues to disregard the cultural significance of buildings that may not have retained their original architectural purity.
Although Commission Chair Sarah Carroll announced an "equity initiative" at the beginning of 2021, with a promised focus on neighborhoods of color and neighborhoods underserved with landmarks, the results have been symbolic. LPC has continued with designations that could and should have been made previously because of architectural merit, but has overlaid them with a thin veneer of "diversity" as pretense of interest in underserved communities of color.
If architectural, cultural, and historical assets in northern Manhattan are to be saved, restored, and in some cases repurposed, LPC must consider their potential as well as their current state in making its preservation decisions.
Where did "anit-development across the board" come from?
The idea is not to thwart all development - which will never happen - but rather to frame our argument in terms of racial justice so we don't sound like a bunch of white NIMBYs. Our most recent mayors have treated northern Manhattan as the last great frontier, ripe for razing and rebuilding. We're asking the new mayor to hit the pause button until he can appoint a task force to study the issues, particularly housing issues that affect people of color, and then come up with a plan for controlled development which will simultaneously preserve northern Manhattan's cultural gems.
We have plenty of information to supply, but it will be very bulky. The lead item should be a PowerPoint Executive summary of no more than 10 slides that lays out the argument. All the rest is supporting data.