Press Release

NY Chinatown and Lower East Side Residents, Business Owners Challenge Discriminatory East Village/Lower East Side Rezoning Study


New York — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), today filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court on behalf of Chinatown and Lower East Side residents, small business owners, and community groups that are challenging the East Village/Lower East Side rezoning and its negative impacts on low-income people of color. The petitioners are asking the court to annul the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) inadequate Environmental Impact Statement and to order DCP to prepare a new EIS that complies with state and city environmental laws.

AALDEF senior staff attorney Stanley Mark, who is representing the petitioners, said, “We want the judge to order a new Environmental Impact Statement that examines the involuntary displacement of small businesses and people of color living and working in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.”

The lawsuit, Chinese Staff Workers’ Association et al. v. Bloomberg, alleges that DCP failed take a “hard look” at the socioeconomic impacts of the East Village/Lower East Side Rezoning Plan, as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act and the City Environmental Quality Review. The 111-block Rezoning Plan dramatically increases building density in communities of color inside the rezoned area and pushes more development into neighborhoods outside of the rezoned area, including parts of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. An analysis by the Hunter College Center for Community Planning Development revealed DCP’s total failure to acknowledge the vast socioeconomic differences of residents north and south of East Houston Street, making the impact of the rezoning on low-income communities of color seem less significant.

Bethany Li, Equal Justice Works Fellow, said, “The impact of the third-largest rezoning in New York City since 1961 is inevitably broad. Rather than protect against luxury development, the rezoning concentrates and accelerates luxury development in the most vulnerable communities. DCP needs to examine the true effects of the rezoning on low-income communities of color.”

For more information:
Stanley Mark
Senior Staff Attorney
212.966.5932 ext. 204

Bethany Li
Equal Justice Works Fellow
212.966.5932 ext. 213