Opinion: It's Time to Rezone Gowanus

As the New York City Council considers a controversial plan for the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, Moses Gates calls on the city to pass "one of the best and most inclusive community planning processes in recent times."

October 13, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Brooklyn, New York City

Full Prime Raw / Shutterstock

Moses Gates, vice president of housing and neighborhood planning at Regional Plan Association, writes an op-ed for the New York Daily News calling on the city of New York to approve the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study, which is waiting for a City Council decision after winning approval from the New York City Planning Commission and clearing obstacles like the pandemic and a lawsuit that targeted the plan for its socially distanced public review.

According to Gates, the ongoing controversy is the work of a "small handful of opponents…choosing lawsuits and scare tactics over engaging and providing ideas or solutions." These obstacles, according to Gates, "[threaten] to hijack one of the best and most inclusive community planning processes in recent times — one that directly addresses the long-standing environmental hazards of the neighborhood."

Doing nothing has consequences, writes Gates.

The opposite of moving forward with the Gowanus plan is not preserving the existing neighborhood in amber; it’s increasing flooding that slowly eats away at our infrastructure, letting our public housing crumble and abandoning efforts to clean up pollution. Instead of affordable housing and parks, we’ll see a combination of high-rent apartments and last-mile warehousing bringing more and more truck traffic to the neighborhood. It’s a future in which rents, which have increased by more than 20% in the last decade alone, continue to skyrocket due to the housing squeeze. It’s a future that adds nothing for either existing or new residents.

Gates argues that the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study would mitigate all of those trends. The Racial Equity Report for the plan foresees a net positive for racial equity, for example. Gates also explains how the plan will address stormwater and other environmental risks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 in New York Daily News

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

A screengrab of the Caharlotte Future virtual open house.

Top Websites for Urban Planning – 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the best of the urban planning Internet.

October 25, 2021 - James Brasuell

An aerial image of the neighborhood of Buckman in Portland, Oregon.

Homeowner Groups Find an Antidote to Zoning Reforms: National Register Historic Districts

Many neighborhoods are moving to create historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places in response to the growing number of states, cities, and neighborhoods loosening single-family residential zones.

October 22, 2021 - Sightline Institute

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.