Schools and race. Development and neighborhoods. They’re topics that we are going to hear a lot about if Mayor de Blasio wins a second term on November 7. The city’s response to school desegregation has been pretty broadly dismissed as inadequate. And the mayor’s support for a denser (meaning more developed) New York has stirred resistance in neighborhoods from East Harlem to Long Island City.
Both have been big issues in the Upper West Side Council primary race pitting challengers Mel Wymore and Cary Goodman against incumbent Helen Rosenthal, who seeks a second term. Wymore, who placed second to Rosenthal in the 2013 primary, is the better known and better funded candidate. (There are also challengers from other parties who’ll face the primary winner in the general election.)
Rosenthal says the challenge to her is largely fueled by resentment over her role in backing a plan to redraw zones to address crowding and racial skew at three local schools.
For his part, Wymore claims Rosenthal has been slow to react to out-of-scale luxury development projects in the district. When it’s pointed out that many of those projects were “as of right” (i.e., permitted under existing zoning with no formal role for Council input), Wymore argues that Rosenthal should have fought to change the system to allow broader public review.
District 6 is one of the races that WNYC, Gotham Gazette and City Limits (who also partnered on this handy voters’ guide) are covering as the September 12 primary approaches. As I note in the audio below, whatever one thinks of Wymore’s proposal to address it, the question of how to deal with as-of-right but out-of-scale development is one that has come up around the city.