A New Generation of Community-Led Planning in New York

With a benchmark success in demanding rights for the community during an ongoing rezoning process in Inwood, a neighborhood in Manhattan, a new generation of community-led resistance to top-down planning is coalescing in New York City.

July 13, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Oscar Perry Abello's examination of the ongoing community-led opposition to a proposed rezoning in the Inwood neighborhood in Manhattan starts in July 2018, at the "Block Party for a Just Rezoning," organized by Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale, an all-volunteer coalition of Inwood residents and business owners. 

"The organizers hoped to use the occasion to pressure their local council member to nix a city-driven rezoning plan and instead follow an alternative the coalition had proposed," according to Abello. That hope has given way to an ongoing political battle, and a recent legal win, after a judge ruled that the city had failed to consider the racial impact of zoning changes, and sent the plan back to the drawing table.

Abello, who covered the court decision in June for Next City, is writing this story for a new publication with a little more space to examine the Inwood story and other examples of immigrant communities starting to "win major victories against developers and even City Hall, pushing back against changes that they fear would result in the loss of their neighborhoods."

As a first step, as detailed in the article, is the challenge of translating the jargon and minutiae of planning to largely immigrant communities. For examples of that work, Abello explores beyond Inwood, citing the work of Queens Neighborhoods United as an example.


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