Is Brad Lander trying to keep the City Council from Voting on His Rezone?

Is Council Member Brad Lander trying to deceive you and the rest of the public? Or does he think he's above the law? Unfortunately, these questions are not hyperbole. Here's why: 

The Setup

Last week, on November 10th, the full City Council did not ultimately vote on whether to approve the deeply problematic Gowanus rezoning.  Instead, Lander and his staff repeatedly informed members of the public, the press and CB6 board members that the full City Council would vote on the proposed Gowanus rezoning on November 23rd. 

Something Fishy

But there's a problem with November 23rd. Under the city's land use laws, the City Council only has 50 days to review a rezoning proposal. And that 50-day period (according to City Planning's own website) ends today on November 15th...  

So a vote held on November 23rd by the full City Council will have no legal authority under city law. 

 

We highly doubt Lander and other City Council proponents just "messed up" and forgot about the schedule. The stakes are far too high for them—think of all the real estate developer donors they must satisfy. And that got us thinking: 

Why would Lander et al select and publicize a voting date that falls after the City Council has lost all legal authority to approve, amend or disapprove the Gowanus rezoning? And why would they tout a legally unenforceable “Points of Agreement” document that does nothing to alter the actual rezoning proposal passed by the City Planning Commission (and doesn't even satisfy the Lander coalition's own "red line" conditions)?

The Fix Is In

Well, as we dug into some obscure legal provisions, we realized that Lander and friends actually found a way to completely avoid a full and fair City Council vote on this dangerous proposal—the largest attempted rezoning of the last 25 years. Because by failing to act, the City Council is waiving its authority and allowing the Gowanus rezoning to be approved by default. Without the full City Council even having to vote. 

The Stakes

What’s at stake? Flood damage, toxic health impacts, sewer back-ups, failing infrastructure and more from future storm events and climate change. The health and safety of low-income and homeless families. Hypergentrification (even with promised but long overdue NYCHA funding). Billions of dollars of liability transferred to taxpayers to cover emergency services and evacuation costs. Hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue from corporate welfare programs (such as 421a) that allow private developers to reap profits from public assets without paying for infrastructure. Severe degradation of air and water quality in an area already befouled by decades of environmental injustice

And yet the full City Council is proceeding to abandon its oversight responsibilities and allow this proposal to be approved without even taking a legitimate vote.  

Unprecedented

We asked one of the city's top experts on land use if there has ever been a city-led rezoning of such scale passed using this "pocket approval" mechanism in all the decades since current land use laws were established in the 1970s—a mechanism where if the Council fails to vote on a rezoning before its 50-day review window has elapsed, the vote of the City Planning Commission stands by default…

His response:  "I don’t remember such a pocket approval ever being used."  

This Is No Mistake

Either 1) Brad Lander and fellow City Council proponents intentionally selected a vote date that would flout city land use laws and thought they could just get away with it… or 2) he and those council members intentionally delayed action as a duplicitous, cowardly way to get the Gowanus rezoning passed without having to risk a legitimate vote by the full City Council. 

Either way, it's reprehensible. It's shameful and it's shady as all hell. And sadly that all fits the bill for our meticulously Machiavellian Comptroller-elect Brad Lander. 

The Rub - And What You Can Do

We absolutely deserve and demand better. We knew the city's land use law was stacked against neighborhoods and communities, but this is something else—a new low.

We're not sure why people trusted Brad Lander to hold citywide office—we couldn't even trust him with our neighborhood. 

So we encourage you to ask him yourself—send an email, call his office (718-499-1090), fire off a Tweet (@bradlander)—and ask: 

Why, Brad Lander, have you been trying to hoodwink the public? Why won’t you demand a legitimate vote by the full City Council on the Gowanus rezoning?

Ask your city council member to demand a vote today before this dangerous and costly proposal is automatically approved. And tell that city council member to VOTE NO.