13 thoughts on “CityViews: Racializing Inwood’s Rezoning Debate Won’t End the Risk of Gentrification

  1. “Adele Oltman lives in Washington Heights and worked on Josue Perez’s campaign for city council.”

    Jesus, no wonder you wrote this hit piece. Since you worked for Josue’s campaign, how about attempting to learn how things work. This is Ydanis’ last term as City Councilman, Josue showed promise in his turnout at the election, it would serve him well to try and serve his community at a lower level so that he can gain the experience he will need. Regardless, It’s time to face facts:
    1. We will be displaced, and gentrified. Nothing anyone can do will stop that. That’s just how the city is moving, FiDi and downtown Manhattan will not be suitable to live in, as was proven by Hurricane Sandy. Our neighborhood has seen it’s waves of different people come in, from the Jewish, to the Irish and Dominicans.
    2. The library will be sold unless you can find people from the community willing to donate enough money to help renovate it. City/State funding will not cover the costs to do so.
    3. Ydanis does not have the final say in the development/construction of high-rise buildings. He’s fighting for affordable housing, and yes the older generations will not be able to afford it. But their children can and will. It would serve our community better if we had people like you holding slum lords accountable. Exposing those who refuse to provide services, and help the older generations by giving them the resources to pursue legal action against said slum lords.

    I know you’re trying to defend your candidate and judging by this article, you want to position him to look like the savior to our community, but this negativity will lead nowhere. The desperation shown by trying to discredit and slander the city councilman towards the end of your campaign was repulsive. Look at Ydanis has done, for decades, in our communities and beyond. This is more than politics, this is an opportunity to get ahead of the inevitable change that’s coming our way.


  2. The reality is that Councilman Rodriguez has sold himself out to developers and the Mayor in his bid to become Speaker. It is sad but he no longer represents the BEST interests of our community. Oh and by the way, I am 125% Dominican, born and raised. And NO, I did not vote for him.

  3. An excellent piece. It’s Ydanis Rodriquez who is the divisive racist. Yet progressives flock to this charlatan. He uses his ethnicity as a sacrosanct armor, a credential people dare not question for fear they themselves will be labeled racist. It’s identity politics at its worst.

  4. Wonderful article and yes, Rodriguez and Espaillat frequently play the race card, in a neighborhood that has had a long progressive history! Racism of any type should never be tolerated, especially when it is used to advance an agenda that is anti-working class and anti-poor people.

  5. The Mayor’s “Tale of Two Cities” should be renamed “A Tale of Two Faces.”
    It is Luxury redevelopment, plain and simple. Cake for the rich and crumbs for the masses.

    Simply put: bait and switch.

    The Congressman’s comments during a rezoning meeting were demonstrative of his dishonesty and incompetence.

    A bellicose liar who has accomplished very little in his career should not be playing the race card when called out on the bs that this rezoning is good for the area.

    The only Espaillat possesses is the ability to manipulate the constituency into helping him get elected–and talk about issues like affordable housing–and accomplishing nothing in that regard.

    He has made a career of obtaining face time in organizing community meetings about this subject and now, he is backing the proposal that will gentrify and drive those community members out.

    If he believes that won’t happen here as it has elsewhere, he should shut up about race and then indicate why that won’t happen here–and not demand respect from the audience because his father was shot at and he was once robbed at gunpoint, as he claimed at the recent rezoning meeting.

    What do those events have to do with the rezoning issue? I think an IQ test or a workup for dementia is in order if he thinks it has anything to do with this proposal.

    If he wants respect he should engage the critics with answers, not accusations that are clearly untrue.

    Address the concerns and issues, one by one? Never. Start lashing out and collude with your colleagues about race? Sure thing. This strategy has played out many times over the years about contentious issues.

    Ydanis Rodriguez has completely ignored the fact that Inwood residents of all colors are opposed to this.

    He claims to be a socialist and I believe him; he has followed the playbook of every socialist regime that has ever existed: socialism morphs into fascism and propaganda and endless lies.

    Facts are never addressed; facts are not convenient in supporting lies; facts will defeat lies.

    Rodriguez is aware addressing the issues will not suit his plan to ram this down the throat of the community; that is why he withdrew his support for the Sherman Plaza rezoning; common sense community opinion won out, because the arguments against are clear and convincing.

    That is why he will not engage in a rational discussion. He clearly sees discussion as a tactical disadvantage.

    Nevertheless, here he is again supporting a wide scale rezoning in which the same issues exist.

    By injecting racism into the public conversation, instead of engaging in a rational discussion, he can sidestep the concrete issues–and play identity politics to the bulk of his voter base in Washington Heights; by injecting race into the issue he is telling his voter base to stick with him and vote against the white people, who he is labeling as critics of the rezoning, even though the critics are latino and caucasian and everybody else.

    It suits the purpose of winning the general election and continuing the domination of the district by declaring a mandate, and filing the community board vacancies and appointments with people from the southern end of the district; Inwood is not represented well in Community Board 12.

    The phenomenology of gentrification that will accompany the rezoning is easily understood, except by him, because he is a tool of the Mayor and real estate special interests.

    This fiasco should indicate to undecided voters that the current Mayor is not the one you should be voting for, regardless of the misleading label of Progressive Liberal Democrat.

    If he does not understand or has forgotten how gentrification occurs he is then unfit for his position.

    By choosing to play dumb about gentrification issues and ignore the voters in Inwood he sends the distinct message that he clearly does not represent your interests or votes.

    He does not need your vote because he can rely on Washington Heights voters to win the general election, and use this situation to his advantage by
    misrepresenting the arguments against by declaring that white people are against affordable housing in a latino district.

    His first responsibility is to understand and represent the interests of ALL of the residents, not divide and conquer by deception.

    Inwood is the most diverse uptown neighborhood on the island. All of the politicians who attended the meeting should be aware of this.

    We deserve better, much better, than this from elected representatives.

  6. Being Dominican, born and raised has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, our votes have nothing to do with it either. This is typical New York City Pay & Play.

  7. The city has been coy with details from the start. Only in the RFP did they finally reveal the size of the current library, which is described in “usable” square feet. The building appears to be about 4,000 SF larger than stated, but the city seems to be discarding book storage and workroom spaces. Why not be transparent about that? What are they hiding such that they can’t even be open and honest about questions of size after six months?

  8. It will be instructive to examine the role that ethnicity played in the Sherman Plaza controversy. The first step is to acknowledge the map. The proposed building there was to be right on the edge of Ft Tryon Park which runs long Broadway for a quarter mile both north and south of the site. The only residences along that stretch are east of Broadway and the people who live there are largely Hispanic.
    References to an ‘east-west divide’ are shorthand for the demographic reality that, up and down CB 12, east of Broadway is predominantly Hispanic and west of Broadway includes mostly non-Hispanics (although their proportions vary depending on what blocks are being cited.) No one denies that this is noteworthy; but, this reality is too often used to set us against each other.
    The Northern Manhattan Is Not for Sale coalition that challenged Sherman Plaza is racially diverse and works hard to increase the participation of all. But for a moment let’s ‘try-on-for-size’ the general accusations about racism Uptown as though they were dominant. If the opposition to Sherman Plaza was disproportionately non-Hispanic, whose homes were being defended by those that opposed the project?
    The racism accusation doesn’t fit the situation. The last time I looked no one (Hispanic or non-Hispanic) has an apartment in Ft Tryon Park. For half a mile north-to-south the residents whose homes were being threatened by displacement were primarily Hispanic. The defeat of the Sherman Plaza proposal then was a remarkable display of cross-ethnic, community-wide solidarity – not of ‘racism’. It was people from ‘West’ and ‘East’ who pulled together to make that victory possible. We need that now more than ever.
    I hope we all, elected or not, can focus on acknowledging that what makes Uptown special is our diversity and the people and matters we come together to defend. We shouldn’t surrender that to the real estate industry. To the extent there is disagreement, let’s listen to people’s reasoning and stop reducing things to the color of their skin or the language their family speaks.

  9. Congressman Espaillat’s comment about losing the west can be interpreted in 2 ways.
    He could be saying that the demographics are going a certain way.
    Or he could be saying that voters west of Broadway were more likely to have voted for someone other than his preferred candidate.

    The first possibility has two aspects to it. While in Inwood west of Broadway tended for a while to include more and more Hispanics, it never was decisively Hispanic. That trend has not continued because coop conversions and the cost of buying into one was prohibitive to the average Hispanic Inwood resident who was more likely to be a renter (but obviously not in every instance.) Who knows what the Congressman meant? I doubt that he was describing a battle to push any group out or force any group in.

    The second possibility is more straight forward – that it was a political loss to his favored candidate in the area west of Broadway. Since all three candidates were Hispanic this doesn’t have an overt ethnic flavor to it. He’s free to favor one candidate over another. I would hope that he wasn’t characterizing Perez as serving a non-Hispanic slice of the community. There’s no apparent support for that conclusion.

    In view of the various possible interpretations, perhaps he can clarify exactly what he meant.

  10. Credit where credit is due. The article is well written and shows the truth of what is happening in most communities in our city.
    But when our elected officials take the microphone to call their constituents liars and rascist something has to give!

  11. According to the RFP, the library portion of the replacement building will be owned by the NYPL The land upon which it will sit will not. The NYPL doesn’t own the land even today. The City of New York does. They are distinct entities.

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