Advocates Push to Study Racial Impacts of NYC Rezoning
With five New York neighborhood rezonings complete in Mayor Bill de Blasio's Housing New York Plan, advocates are pressing the city to add a racial impact component to its environmental review process before undertaking further land-use reforms. Not doing so could put the city in violation of the Fair Housing Act, they warn.
In Brooklyn Eagle, Chase Brush explains that the City Environmental Quality Review currently includes an analysis of a project's potential to cause "secondary" displacement by creating a "change in socioeconomic conditions." But its scope is limited to impacts on low-income tenants of small buildings in areas that are not already experiencing gentrification or displacement.
Advocates, including State Senator Julia Salazar and District Leader Tommy Torres, want the environmental review to require an explicit analysis of how rezonings and other actions could impact the racial and demographic composition of neighborhoods—particularly whether they would have a "disparate impact" on Black and brown residents. The push comes in part from the experience in Williamsburg, where displacement of minority residents "quickened noticeably" after the neighborhood was rezoned in 2005.
"In their experience, rezonings have the potential to accelerate speculation and development in a neighborhood, which can in turn lead to higher rents and increased levels of tenant harassment and evictions," Brush writes. "And those changes can be especially devastating in low income and minority areas, two features that characterize many of the neighborhoods de Blasio has targeted in his rezonings."