On behalf of low-income Asian and Latino immigrants and churches in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS) are appealing the September decision by the Appellate Court that upholds New York City’s planning department’s inadequate environmental review of the neighborhood’s 128-block rezoning.
“Sunset Park is an immigrant neighborhood. For the lower income communities of color that reside there, the proposed rezoning will be deeply disruptive,” said Bethany Li, staff attorney at AALDEF. “The rezoning will force families to move elsewhere because rents will increase. The rezoning will also push out small businesses that are so vital to the immigrant communities surrounding them.”
AALDEF and SBLS are representing the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, five churches, and residents who are demanding the planning department conduct an adequate review of the rezoning’s effect on the neighborhood, as required under the law. The planning department must review beforehand whether the rezoning will displace residents and force change upon the socioeconomic conditions and character of the community.
Because two out of five appellate judges agreed that the review was inadequate and submitted dissenting opinions, petitioners were given an automatic right to appeal the decision to the state’s high court.
Among other things, the dissent pointed out that the rezoning changed the permissible use from residential to commercial for 33 blocks on Third, Fourth, and Seventh Avenues without properly disclosing the impacts on the community.
“The city’s planning department has created a new ‘regional shopping destination’ without any analysis of how these new types of stores will change the community,” said Li. “Once you account for all the changes due to the rezoning, the amount of affordable housing and commercial space will significantly decrease,” she added. “We hope the court will rule in favor of the Asian and Latino immigrants who want to preserve their Brooklyn neighborhood.”
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