Why Gale Brewer’s Opposition to Lenox Terrace Rezoning Violates The 1968 Civil Rights Act

Gale Brewer, image from Manhattan Borough President's Office, and redlining map of HarlemGale Brewer, image from Manhattan Borough President's Office, and redlining map of Harlem

Recently, new developments and re-zonings promising community and retail amenities alongside thousands of new affordable housing units have been stymied in Two Bridges and Inwood. Now, plans for substantial injections of the aforementioned components by the Olnick Organization at Harlem‘s Lenox Terrace have been attacked as well. Spearheaded by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the latest effort constitutes a contemporary example of redlining, and is an explicit violation of the National Civil Rights Act of 1968.

When discussing the topic of redlining and the shifting meaning of the word, a brief history on the subject is a necessary. The National Housing Act of 1934 marked the start of formalizing redlining, and it remained firmly entrenched until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This included the Fair Housing Act, which added a litany of new protections, and most pertinent to events currently in discussion, prohibited “restricting access to services and amenities on the basis of the renter’s race, gender, religion, or nationality.”

Although the Fair Housing Act added Federal pressure against redlining, many states and communities saw the practice continue. Additional action was taken to end redlining with the passage of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, which mandated transparency regarding mortgages, and the subsequent passage of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which was passed in an effort to enable all Americans regardless of race or income to obtain home ownership.

Even after redlining was formally made illegal, it took another seven years for the practice to actually end, because without transparency of their books, banks were allowed to continue the process behind closed doors until 1975. Though redlining mortgages may be over today, the impacts of what happened between 1934 and 1975 still echo across New York City and all of America, as the disinvestment and disenfranchisement wrought from that era did not simply disappear when the new rules were created.

Thus, modern day redlining is somewhat different from the overt and explicitly racist policies of yesteryear. Previous decades of disinvestment have encouraged the growth of various retail deserts, where many amenities, especially supermarkets, are few and far between. Although this falls outside the topic of mortgage denial, it still falls under the peripheral umbrella of the Fair Housing Act, which, as mentioned, explicitly prohibits “restricting access to services and amenities on the basis of the renter’s race, gender, religion, or nationality.”

As previously reported by YIMBY,

Specific plans [for Lenox Terrace] still include the construction of five 28-story residential towers that would introduce 1,600 new apartment units. Approximately 400 to 500 apartments would be designated affordable in compliance with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing standards. Modified retail area would measure 160,000 square feet. The project would also create six acres of green space and a mix of amenities available to all Lenox Terrace residents.

In her opposition to the rezoning for Lenox Terrace, Brewer leads with the following three paragraphs:

While the guise of insufficient infrastructure leads the writing, the second paragraph explicitly says that due to 1,200 new market rate units, there would be “a significant shift in the area’s demographic composition… recent trends have resulted in gentrification and led to a decrease in the area’s Black population.”

In her rebuttal of a project that would provide 500 affordable housing units, 1,200 market rate units, and a litany of new retail and community facility options, Brewer specifically mentions race as a reason why it should be disapproved, on the basis that Harlem’s Black population should apparently continue to be segregated from the rest of the city’s demographics and held at a constant percentage. Whether a neighborhood is turning more white, more black, or whatever color on the spectrum of human skin tones, such language and said actions are explicitly prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Attempts to preserve racial compositions of any neighborhood are explicitly illegal according to Federal Law, yet this is exactly what Brewer has advocated for in the instance of Lenox Terrace as it relates to Harlem. While Brewer’s push for what is tantamount to segregation is the most offensive and illegal aspect of her recommendation against the project, it is also an affront to existing residents of the neighborhood, where a lack of amenities is still a holdover from the redlining policies pre-1975, and where denial of the construction of such amenities on the basis of race is actually unconstitutional.

While disinvestment and its subsequent consequences are impactful to those affected by these phenomena, the segregation that also resulted from these misinformed practices made things worse. As one of the most diverse cities on the planet, most New Yorkers are aware and actively acknowledge that diversity is a draw, a constant, and an asset to the metropolis, if not its greatest strength. In fact, segregated neighborhoods without diversity suffer even more dramatically. In Racial Discrimination and Redlining in Cities, authors Nicolas Boccard and Yves Zenou conclude:

While explicitly racist and illegal policy-making is the most deplorable aspect of this entire performance, the futility of these efforts make said illegalities all the more pathetic. The developer behind the plans for Lenox Terrace, the Olnick Organization, can proceed with an as-of-right version that will still result in four new towers. The amount of housing would be substantially reduced, with the affordable component eliminated in its entirety, and the retail and amenity component would also be scaled down substantially. With the basis for opposing the expansion of amenities to a neighborhood resting on the basis of maintaining a constant ratio of skin tone, this constitutes a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Lenox Terrace As of Right Plan, image from The Olnick Organization

Lenox Terrace As of Right Plan, image from The Olnick Organization

Juxtaposing what can be built as-of-right, what has been proposed before the city, and the objections to the project issued by Manhattan’s Borough President, factors combine to present a clear violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The denial of employment opportunities associated with new retail and community facility space, the disallowance of affordable and market rate housing that would benefit all New Yorkers of all colors, and the explicitly racial basis provided by Gale Brewer’s office for doing so, constitute an effort that is truly deplorable.

As stated in 42 U.S. Code § 1983, Civil action for deprivation of rights,

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.

Since her tenure began, Gale Brewer has deprived both Manhattanites and New Yorkers at large of opportunities, from denying the construction of new schools on the Upper West Side, to repeatedly taking the side of moneyed NIMBYs in efforts to curtail skyscraper construction in some of the densest residential neighborhoods on the planet. While these efforts were not explicitly illegal and in violation of Federal Law, the latest attack on New Yorkers of all colors is blatantly unconstitutional, and warrants her immediate resignation and removal from office.

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71 Comments on "Why Gale Brewer’s Opposition to Lenox Terrace Rezoning Violates The 1968 Civil Rights Act"

  1. This article slants things in a terrible way. Gale Brewer looks to protect Harlem not harm it. I cannot say the same of the developers. I am so disappointed that YIMBY would publish this completely misleading article.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 10:17 am | Reply

      Violating the Civil Rights Act is not protecting. Re-introducing segregation is undoing 52 years of legislative progress.

      • Akiko Aboagye | March 2, 2020 at 10:34 am | Reply

        Mr. Fedak,

        As a resident of the area you are describing, your argument seems somewhat disingenuous. The redevelopment of Lenox Terrace needs to happen, I think very few people in the neighborhood disagree with that. However it needs to happen in a way that doesn’t solely implement the text of the Civil Rights Act without the intent and the soul of it. There needs to be due consideration for those of us who are already here, and the scale of what Olnick is currently proposing will have the inevitable consequence of pricing out many of us who call the area home. We have seen this happen in too many areas of the city not to understand what the impact will be. In this part of Central Harlem we have built a community where newcomers and oldtimers, at a variety of income levels, races and creeds, are making things work for everyone and we deserve a redevelopment plan that responds to that rather than ignoring it.

        • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 10:40 am | Reply

          I think you do deserve input as it pertains to the rezoning, however, Brewer’s reasons for objection here are very troubling and if she had articulated all of what you said without simultaneously advocating for what is essentially segregation, it would not be illegal. If a politician said the same for preserving X% ethnicity in ANY neighborhood it would be the same situation.

          • Seth A Green | March 2, 2020 at 5:26 pm |

            She says “decrease in the area’s Black population.” I think the plain English reading of this is that she’s talking about a decline in absolute numbers, rather than XY%.

            I don’t think the argument about a Civil Rights Act is reasonable. It’s perfectly legal to say that you oppose something because you think it will lead to increased real estate prices for a particular group.

            This doesn’t mean I think she’s right; the NIMBY worldview is one in which increased supply (of apartments) leads to increased demand (for apartments), and because this is so contrary to the basics of social science, the burden of proof ought to be on Gale et al. to show why that would be the case. I But wrong is not illegal.

            FWIW, when I look at her concrete proposals, I’m all for better public transportation (reduce car traffic to increase bus velocity!) and “5) create and improve public space” — I think this development meets that standard so I wondering what she has in mind.

          • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 5:28 pm |

            Absolute vs relative is still unconstitutional IMO, there can be no consideration of race in rejecting zoning applications one way or the other.

    • You cannot tell the landlord whom owns the land that Lenox Terrace sits on, that they cant develop on the land.

      One cant also use reverse racism as a reason to prevent development

  2. Absolutely ridiculous

  3. Wow. I’ve lost all respect for YIMBY. Calling the Manhattan Borough President racist is slanderous and worst as it’s wholly untrue. What publication is this? Oh yeah, big real estate that doesn’t care about neighborhoods, but about buildings for many residents that don’t live here full time. More luxury development for non-residents is the last thing NYC needs. YIMBY don’t twist the law for greed and profit motives. New Yorkers see through this absurd article, don’t underestimate us!

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 10:34 am | Reply

      I didn’t say Brewer was racist, I said that her policy-making is racist.

      Also: this is not twisting the law for greed and profit motives it is combating what the Civil Rights Act set out to prevent. What’s to stop Brewer from justifying other neighborhoods staying the same % of other races, or other politicians, if this precedent is set without opposition?

  4. Mr. Fedak, please explain how protecting long-time residents’ homes and their neighborhood is racist policy making? Stop weaponizing the law to destroy the lives of children, their families, their health, well-being and future outcomes. How many more homeless families do you want in NYC? Luxury housing will not solve anything or create enough homes that are truly affordable. Displacement of communities cannot be taken so casually. Robert Moses is long past, but evidently you’re not.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 11:08 am | Reply

      Her objection to the rezoning rests on the basis of maintaining the neighborhood’s existing demographic composition. If that is a valid argument, what is to stop NIMBYs in Suffolk County and Westchester from the same strategy? The point of the Civil Rights Act is to PREVENT this from happening a la what Robert Moses did, but since he conveniently stuck mass numbers of minorities in decrepit housing that offers no way out and deplorable living conditions before the 1968 Act was passed, it is now ok for electeds covering said housing projects to use this kind of language, keeping the situation CREATED BY MOSES in perpetual stasis so they can maintain perpetual office? I don’t think so.

    • Bored at work | March 2, 2020 at 11:43 am | Reply

      Could you find any lawyer to comment on your assertion that Brewer, in exercising her right as BP to offer an advisory opinion on a zoning application, is a violation of the Civil Rights Act? Just a ridiculous click bait headline.

  5. Sophia DeMarco | March 2, 2020 at 11:13 am | Reply

    Mr. Rice, thank you for your words. My family could not afford to live in NYC any longer. We greatly miss it. Very strange to have to leave a city that our family had been a part of for generations. It was either leave or become homeless. I guess there’s little heart left. God bless Gale Brewer for her efforts to keep families and their homes together.

  6. Is it really about your desire to integrate Harlem, Mr. Fedak? Your motives are crystal clear. Put housing up for the wealthy and displace the poor. If this wasn’t in Manhattan would you still support this? I’m not a Civil Rights lawyer, are you? Stop acting like an expert when you’re not.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 11:33 am | Reply

      I think housing is a human right, not just for the wealthy, you are entitled to your rhetoric but it is wrong and you are ignorant.

  7. Michael Jenkins | March 2, 2020 at 11:53 am | Reply

    I’m A resident of Harlem of 20 years, born and raised. Gale is 100% looking into Harlem’s residents concerns, and has all the right intentions. Harlem is the only neighborhood in Manhattan that is mostly Black, the only place in Manhattan where low-income Blacks can really afford to live. YIMBY, you guys did a great job at not hiding the fact that you’re not for NYC residents, and against the Blacks in Harlem.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 11:59 am | Reply

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions. If I had it my way I would double the housing stock citywide without displacing any existing residents.

  8. Please get a law degree before calling anyone ignorant on a subject you are not qualified to argue as a bona fide authority. Is Lenox Terrace your home? Will this have any effect on your life? On your children’s lives? Do you even live in NYC? You are more than wrong.

    • Mr. Rice,
      Can you please comment on the fact that the developer could build an as of right development for only market rate housing for approximately 800 units WITHOUT any public input but, are seeking community approval for additional development rights while including more retail and affordable units. To reiterate, the developer could build ~800 market rate units without any sort of public review process. Regardless of whether you believe the authors point on racism (I personally think it to be a stretch… it’s hard to tell those who were actually discriminated against that they are now the one perpetrating the discrimination) can you not see the value in adding desperately needed affordable housing when it is not required of the developer through the city’s zoning resolution? To further that point – if Ms. Brewer was actually behind her point she would change the 50+ year old zoning resolution not oppose housing development. This is a bandaid on a wound that need stitching.

      • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Reply

        I would like to clarify one thing — it is not the residents of Harlem doing the discriminating here, it is the Borough President. I do not fault Harlem’s residents for resisting change, that is their prerogative, and they are not the ones who created her opposition brief to this project. And I would also agree that they have very much been discriminated against historically, but remedying said discrimination means breaking down the walls of segregation that continue to persist in the post-Moses era because electeds have inherited his inhumane slums and have made it their duty to freeze them as-is for a consistently reliable constituency.

        • I am 100% for this development. Bringing 400 modern, permanently affordable units is a positive in my view. I wish the city council would approve the same amount of market rate units requested for this development and ask the developer to build more affordable through the rezoning on the site. If you’ll allow a tangent, there is a blatant discrepancy in New York City politics right now. The Rent Laws passed last year protect tenants from high rent increases, you will see in the coming years if regulations do not ease to allow substantial development the city will face a deepened housing crisis. Please look into what California Governor Newsom has done – enact similar rent control laws, BUT at the same time they are trying to speed up the process in which housing gets built through reduced development fees and timeline restriction. One without the other will be detrimental to NYC housing stock. Getting back to the original point, while accusing the BP of redlining you have also accused the citizens of Harlem of racism, I find that argument hard to digest… The issue is fear of rising rent and being pushed out of the neighborhood anyone has lived in for years – can someone please clarify for me, wasn’t that the point of the rent laws passed last June? If not what did passing the rent laws solve? or is it having perverse results and stifling NYC’s development growth?

          • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 7:49 pm |

            To be clear, I am not accusing any Harlem residents of racism. Only the Borough President’s recommendation.

  9. Michael Jenkins | March 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Reply

    So she’s racist for caring about Black people in Harlem? Harlem is really the only neighborhood that fights so hard for their community, so it’s not her being racist, she’s supporting us!

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Reply

      No, her POLICY is racist for saying that a neighborhood should remain at an exact % of ethnic composition.

  10. I agree with Mr. Rice. You are twisting the intent of Civil Rights law.

  11. Francis Menton | March 2, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Reply

    Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian here. Mr. Fedak is absolutely right. “Protecting” the existing racial make-up of a neighborhood is just another word for legally enforced racial segregation. This is explicitly prohibited under the Civil Rights Act. The federal government very aggressively enforces the statute, as they should, against any and all efforts by majority-white communities to exclude members of other races. But the statute gives no exemption to majority-black communities to use their own exclusionary practices to exclude others. On its face, the statute applies equally to all races.

  12. How would the project price out those who live in existing rent stabilized apartments in the area?

  13. Be great for YIMBY to publish the views of two opposing genuine Civil Rights law experts about this. Intent cannot be easily determined. This might be a subject where the outcome in a court room would not agree with you. This is a short sighted article. I remember when journalists presented both pro and con views. I can’t help to think that the best interests for the people of Lenox Terrace is of any concern to you. It’s good to have a borough president that reads between the lines. Amazon didn’t get what they wanted either, so it would not be the first time big business needs to step down.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Reply

      YIMBY is inherently pro-development and I do not have to put (what I would believe to be) racist lawyers up in editorials. I have allowed all of your comments and all the other opposing comments (without profanity etc). I believe in free speech and free expression.

  14. Do it in the Bronx if the developers are really interested in integration. Harlem is doing it already without their supposed help.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Reply

      We should be building everywhere. The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island. Build, baby, build!

  15. Sophia DeMarco | March 2, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Reply

    Happy to know you believe in free speech. But, if a lawyer doesn’t agree with you they are racist?

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Reply

      No, if a lawyer thinks the Fair Housing Act does not apply to all Americans, they are likely racist (or stupid).

      Can you imagine what would happen if this same logic was used to reject a development in a white neighborhood? It would be equally wrong. And equally unconstitutional. But if this is allowed to be set as precedent, why wouldn’t that happen down the line?

      Is is like saying that I should have someone write an article in support of segregation. In effect, that is what you are advocating for. That is not something I would do.

  16. As a retired lawyer who specialized in public policy, I find it fascinating that there is much support for affordable housing, accessible subways and housing the homeless. However, when we reach the stage of actually planning to implement those laws and begin construction, we tend to revert to tribal NIMBYism. If we lowered the temperature of the argument in the article and the comments and dealt with the obstacles to progress in these three areas, we might get to a healthy resolution.

  17. If developers would simply be less GREEDY and not try to build these ridiculously out of scale luxury towers that in fact DO end up displacing residents and driving prices up and raising rents on local residents and businesses so that services end up leaving neighborhoods or becoming unaffordable, we would be a healthier city. A big problem is the developers unmitigated GREED and EXCESS.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Reply

      They can literally do that as-of-right without any approvals. The affordable component is what has been torpedoed!

    • Julia, you are wrong. This development will be built without any affordable housing. That will be the true tragedy here.

  18. Wow, that’s brilliant on your part. Way to turn the tables back on Brewer for such a blatant claim she is making.

    “Brewer specifically mentions race as a reason why it should be disapproved, on the basis that Harlem’s Black population should apparently continue to be segregated from the rest of the city’s demographics and held at a constant percentage. Whether a neighborhood is turning more white, more black, or whatever color on the spectrum of human skin tones, such language and said actions are explicitly prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1968.”

  19. Your repeated insults to readers shows your true pompous colors. This might be in your opinion a reversal of what Robert Moses was about, but that doesn’t make it the right road to go down now or in the future.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Reply

      OK, I think you are wrong, and I would classify my responses as equal to the level of opposing rhetoric from which they were issued. You are entitled to your opinion and clearly we disagree.

  20. Great article, thank you Nikolai. I’m surprised and disappointed that so many readers don’t understand the problem you’ve exposed so eloquently.

  21. Sadly, Olnick belied their true profits-before-people intent by putting a gun to the heads of Lenox Terrace residents and the surrounding community. The offer was, live with our absurdly out of scale project and 7-10 years of construction noise, dust and inconvenience or we’ll ignore your lives and your community’s needs and build by “as of right.”

    When the residents sought to discuss options that gave them any comfort or security with the project, Olnick balked at every turn and proved they were not interested in truly addressing the concerns of the residents and their neighborhood with regard to the larger impacts that their lengthy over-scale construction and population boosting project in Central HARLEM would have for current & future all residents of this historic Manhattan neighborhood.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Reply

      This is an entirely well-reasoned objection to the development and I would like to thank you for responding with facts etc and no vitriol, even if I disagree with your objection (not that dev should take noise into consideration etc, which they should, but I believe the full plan should have been approved).

  22. Great article Nikolia,the fact that it has garnered so many responses shows you illuminated an important point. I agree with your point and think it is justified to remind people in political office they should not be making racist policies regardless of what race they may benefit. Equality is equality.
    For those who refer to the greedy developers forcing the rents to increase by building affordable units and community facilities as well as market rate housing, I wonder if they realize that the zoning changes and programs that allow these developments are put in place by elected officials, who want development for a variety of reasons including to increasing the areas tax base. On the landlord side, the most rapidly growing expense to property ownership in NYC over the past 6 years has been the astronomical rise in real estate taxes (over 100%), these taxes are not increased by developers but elected officials. Developers do not raise the rent on properties they do not own, the city increases the cost of ownership with higher taxes implemented when gentrification occurs, so who is really the cause of this issue? The same people that publicly put forth racist policies.
    Most landlords I know have seen their profit margins decrease because rent increases can not keep up with the rate of real estate tax increases, especially in existing affordable buildings. Many small landlords are selling their NYC holdings as a result of the shrinking profit margins, before the new rent increase restrictions render them unmarketable.

  23. Totally, it is a color bias defense which is ILLEGAL.

    I live in the neighborhood , I opposed the development, because I want money for schools, firefighters and policemen to improve the neighborhood.

    But New York City and its politicians didn’t defend west Harlem (manhattanville) when Columbia University bought all the acres and started construction of a private campus that most children in the neighborhood won’t be able to afford to attend. Furthermore, the displacement of black and brown small businesses and tenants.
    Or are they defending Harlem on the east side with the new proton center, and headquarters of non-profits?
    Harlem was lost because we (the residents) can not dream to buy and apartment, because a studio is going for $500,000 or you might be able to find a two bedroom for that price. When a town house goes for more than 2 million dollars that was when Harlem was lost . Harlem residents are only good enough to be renters.

    Lenox Terrace have been in the neighborhood when it was not profitable or cool to be in Harlem. Now they want, as any private company, make profits on their earlier investment and trust in the community so be it.

    Other people are doing their super expensive projects and only they get single out.

    Maybe is redlining, only black corporation daring to build big ?

    Lets not stop these guys because other people are already getting approved for million dollars price tag apartments those aren’t for the residents , stop using the black community as a piece of your games.

    However, Lenox terrace must do environmental studies, increase their offering to the community parking spaces , open areas and the benefits for schools and first responders, but if they make a good offer.
    Yes, build. The city can’t pick winner and losers base on color that’s racism even if go against myself

  24. Liberal Urbanist | March 2, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Reply

    Some of us have been fighting in the trenches for the YIMBY cause and against NIMBY in Chief Gale Brewer. As YIMBYs we support ALL new housing. We have spent a lot of time, money, and resources to get out message out. Most of us in the NYC movement have been focused on upzonings in rich areas. We don’t oppose this project and we agree that segregating black people in Harlem is bad (but we aren’t taking a public stance on it). Preventing other ethnic groups from moving in is racist. Whites, like anyone else, should be allowed to move anywhere.

  25. East Bay YIMBY | March 2, 2020 at 11:09 pm | Reply

    I too support any and all development as it leads to increased housing supply and lowers prices at a time when we have more qualified skilled workers than we do available units. I worry about your rhetoric of calling people racist. Out here in the Bay Area, tenant groups are always accusing us of being racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body, in fact I am advocating for THEIR rights (you’re welcome).

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 2, 2020 at 11:14 pm | Reply

      I have not called any person racist, I have said that the policies this person has advocated for / the reasoning given for her opposition are racist, and they are.

      • Do you think she is racist towards white people?

        • Nikolai Fedak | March 3, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Reply

          Not for me to say, idk her personal views but in this instance I think the policy is racist towards white people (as it is racist towards black people, asian people, latino people, etc).

  26. Why am I not surprised by Brewer’s negative stand on neighborhood improvements?

    Gale Brewer is an avowed Leftist, whose goals are to alienate private investments, political and hands-on control of her “constituency,” and to maintain the black community in generational poverty, all for her own political gain.

    Just by the fact that she refuses to accept that there are well-to-do black people with families who would be willing to invest in such a project shows where her priorities are. And her priorities are her re-election.

    On the other hand, is Brewer seeking some type “encouragement” to change her mind about this project from the developer, much like the politicians in Harlem sought for the Columbia University extension at Broadway and 125 St., after those pols refused to accept that project?

    Time will tell…

  27. 1964 not 1968.

  28. Finally someone who tells it like it is. As a proud supporter of development I’m tired of being called racist because I am white and I support the profit system. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. It’s not my fault I worked hard to get where I am. Next time you get mad at developers, ask yourself who built your apartment building? Developers. You people should be thanking me for creating housing. I have created more opportunity and jobs than the entire NYC welfare system. Thank god for NYC YIMBY and YIMBYism. Build baby build!

  29. Enough housing to give *every* person on the current site a new, environmentally friendly, non-asthma exacerbating home, create jobs, and ideally refurbish schools or build as of right. These are the choices. The community gets more people, and the idea that only white folks will move into market rate housing in Harlem is a bigoted little assumption tucked into Brewer’s speech. I’ve heard her say yes to small businesses and large developers on the same block in the same week and so have zero trust in her. Big new lobbies with designated spaces *required* to be for local businesses in perpetuity, various other steps could make this development work. Low income housing to grow proportionally with every new building… we need more spaces as kids grow up and population expands.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Reply

      100% AGREE!

      If I had my druthers I would build housing on open space that is 50/50 aff/market rate, enough to accommodate all current residents X2. Then, tear down all the old buildings and build even more at 20/80 aff/mkt, for everyone else who is also disadvantaged. End result = 4X density, 35% aff housing, and everyone has a SAFE, MODERN, and COMFORTABLE home.

  30. Lena Melendez | March 3, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Reply

    Utterly ridiculous to paint Borough President Gale Brewer as racist!

  31. The knee-jerk reaction to the article is barely concealed anti-White bigotry.

  32. Why not reach out to a civil rights lawyer for an expert opinion, before making this kind of accusation?

  33. JOHN E HAZELTON | March 5, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Reply

    I believe the statement of this might be a violation of the 1968 civil Rights act is flawed for by the reason that that this does not include minorities within the investments of these properties and it does not include minorities as stakeholders. In fact this might be a part of the force displacement of many minorities out of these traditional neighborhoods of color. The tagline of this article represents how the elites have manipulated and have reframe the narrative to achieve their goals. The last time I heard there is widespread outrage and disapproval of these plans for development within these communities that will be affected. to the author of this article place yourself in the shoes of the communities that will be affected by these plants how would you feel if someone try to take over your land of where your land where your family live for generations with the guys of improvement but sneakily plan to exclude you and remove you from that property for their gaines not yours.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 5, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Reply

      The Civil Rights Act’s Fair Housing Act does not apply to funding / etc so your point is a red herring.

  34. Julius Tajiddin | March 5, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Reply

    You lack a lot of knowledge about zoning. First let me say that gentrification is a condition created by unlawful government intrusion or lack of involvement when there should be. Natural demographic shifts, building open market units as of right, etc., are not acts which create gentrification.

    That said, a rezoning can be looked at as a vertical redistricting if it is done in a way that Olnick wants.

    Building housing that brings in more wealthy residents which more than likely will be non African Americans, pushes African Americans out, and in most cases the Affordable housing that is included is still out of the reach of Black families.

    The housing model known as inclusionary housing is really unconstitutional. It allows 2/3 or so of the development for a wealthier class which more than likely will be non African American and 1/3 for a lower income that may or may not have an array of different racial groups, Blacks usually the lesser number in these situations.

    Such developments also cause displacement of long standing residents in the adjacent areas.

    But here are the reasons that you fail to know about that makes a rezoning the size of Olnick’s or larger unjust:
    Olnick will more than likely apply for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit that HUD offers at the same percentage of affordable units that Olnick said it was willing to offer. HUD matches dollar for dollar on development cost. Who wouldn’t take that? They all try to qualify.

    Olnick will also say…trying to kill two birds with one stone…”I’m doing inclusionary housing HPD. So don’t I qualify for a tax credit from the city?” And Olnick will be exempt or damn near from property taxes for many years. But (people’s) property taxes in the neighborhood will go up based on the assessed value of these luxury buildings. This is how displacement happens.

    These scenarios may or may not violate the Fair Housing Act. But it would violate the Voting Rights Act as amended in 2006. Such act in pertinent part reads:

    “(Any) standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting denies or abridges the right to vote if its purpose is or its effect will be the diminishment of the ability of any U.S. citizens on account of race or color, or in contravention of certain guarantees, to elect their preferred candidates of choice.”

    Gale may have been awkward in expressing this. But that’s what she meant. New York City has a history of redlining just as bad as Georgia or Alabama. That’s why it was on the DOJ preclearance list prior to Shelby County vs Eric Holder, where SCOTUS ruled that the methods used to determine preclearance were outdated. It did however, uphold Section 5, which the (language) above comes from.

    So here we have in Central Harlem a plurality African American. CH is a single member district. The electorate there has voted for a Black representative – city council – since they had city council voting in the single member model.

    There have been other candidates from other racial groups but the likelihood of any of them getting elected is nil. So CH residents have demonstrated how they will vote under these circumstances.

    However, any standard, practice or procedure with respect to voting…not civil rights…not fair housing…not anything else…denies or abridged the right to vote if its purpose or its effect will be the diminishment of the ability of any U.S. Citizens ( in this case African Americans living in a single member district ) on account of race…to elect their preferred candidate of choice.

    So what this means that in this racist society the 109th Congress and 43rd President of the United States found that certain protected classes of people such as African Americans living in single member districts would likely not be able to elect their preferred candidates of choice if their plurality status were reduced below 50%.

    An example of that was when the city council lines were redrawn and Council District 7’s Black population was reduced to 17%, Dominican population 43% and the white population 28%. The citizen voting age population in the Dominican group was probably 22%. In theory the minority groups could have combined to produce a minority candidate. But historically that’s not what is likely to happen. Hence, Mark Levine is the council member for West Harlem.

    Furthermore, while color can also play a role, race does and thus guaranteed protection in its own right.

    In conclusion only the local government in the Olnick situation can create a standard, practice or procedure that can alter the demographics in a single member district leaving the ones left behind the inability to elect their preferred candidate of choice.

    That’s the violation. Gale may have failed to articulate the consequences of the Olnick Rezoning in the way that I have expressed here. But if you knew the law well enough and all the particulars of zoning and developer benefits you would see that she said nothing wrong. Respectfully I am,

    Julius Tajiddin

  35. Bill de Blasio is also a huge racist. I think his antiwhite and antipolice rhetoric violates the Civil Rights Act. This is a tough time to be a white person in America. The rent is too damn high. I would love to have a chance to live in Lenox Terrace so my children can have a shot at a decent life.

  36. Juan the Muleteer | April 29, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Reply

    You make an interesting case, but you lost me at the end with “…and warrants her immediate resignation and removal from office.” If her sin is what you go to lengths to point out is one of policy, then the argument should be to change the policy and not throw a long standing public servant under the bus for failing to meet your rather nuanced, bass ackwards reading of the law.

  37. Gale Brewer, who once said the Dyckman bike lanes should be ripped out because double-parking is part of the “culture” of upper Manhattan.

  38. Easy litmus test for racism, substitute the word “white” for black and see what you think.

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