Victory Yap

Victory Yap

Shake off your black veil and grab that baby bottle, kids: we have a funeral to attend.

Fuelgrannie is dead.

Ok, maybe not in real life, but I have croaked on Twitter which just might be better than passing away in real life, which Twitter isn’t, amirite?

Ding dong that witch is dead: RIP to a real one.

Emilia Defraudin apparently has died from joy.

Rebel with Good Cause Aaron Carr is selling #freefuelgrannie t-shirts.

Ceiling-gazer Meeeeelar puts me in a league of my own: save a seat in the front row for him, pweeeese.

Ben Wetz, however, is muting both the fuelgrannie funeral and any of its related keywords: SpiderYim is already over this particular trip to six feet under.

But Ben Wetz is amplifying me as he tweets about muting me.

Which presents the conundrum of the yimby victory lap: as they all howl for their opponents to just take the L, yimbys draw almost too much attention, sometimes even inadvertently positive, to their enemies, while also revealing their own bloodthirst for overkill.

Dresden, anyone?

The gloating may go over well in their limited bubble, but even a dead person like me can see the optics and downside of such off-putting bragging. The victory lap can bring its own backlash.

Yimby, as a movement, remains unpopular in New York City: it may be politically protected; it may garner obvious puff pieces from big press; but it struggles to attract much grassroots traction as many New Yorkers remain wary of a group of arrogant, condescending eye-rollers, who publicly infer to private jokes while struggling to connect with anyone outside their tight, mocking clique.

Housing is tapas to them: they move every year, tasting new apartments, trying on new neighborhoods, a living game of SimCity which can only be played by individuals making enough disposable income to crib-hop. Aka, not how the other 70% of us NYCers live.

And I have been calling out that inability to connect for years now: yimby doesn’t partner well; they don’t get their boots on the ground in any meaningful way, sticking mostly to their own closed meetings and whenever they do dare to show up for live, in-person public engagement with other humans, they are sorely outnumbered and jeered.

Because New York City can always smell insincere opportunism: we shudder at fake smiles; we know a scam from ten blocks away; we’re not dumb. We know when we are being excluded and when we are being played: a braggart’s pyrrhic victory does not win us over.

But whaddo I know? I’m dead.

So dance it up with my casket on your narrow shoulders, boys: no fuelgrannie in your backyard.

I’ll be here instead: in real life.

The Betrayal of SoHo NoHo by the New York Department of City Planning

The Betrayal of SoHo NoHo by the New York Department of City Planning

(aka, why NYC needs you, elected NYC Councilmembers, to send this “plan” back to the drawing board for a more thoughtfully developed proposal which guarantees truly affordable housing and will also vigorously protect every unit of already existing, long-term, deeply affordable housing in all its forms which exists in Lower Manhattan.)

December 9, 2021

To the Members of the City Council of New York,

Please vote “no” on the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone SoHo NoHo and then please advise DCP to revise its purposefully vague plan to include, as top priority, specific protection against the displacement of over a thousand New Yorkers, many elderly, who reside in Lower Manhattan’s already existing deeply affordable units. There are almost 700 such units in SoHo and NoHo in almost 200 still-viable structures which will be threatened with a rezoning: we must protect these vulnerable New Yorkers above all.

As a former stabilized renter in SoHo and as a lifelong New York City renter, I ask all of you for a nuanced consideration of this flawed rezoning proposal and to acknowledge New York City Planning failed on its pledged deliverables of the Envision SoHo NoHo plan and process. The DCP has not done its job with its rushed and remote ULURP process, its conditional exclusion of public input and its repeatedly expressed obvious bias for real estate development interests.

This gratuitous and ruinous rezoning is defiantly being held up by its proponents as an opportunity for “equity” and “housing justice,” but there is neither “justice” nor “equity” for the vulnerable, mostly elderly, renters of SoHo, NoHo and the adjoining areas of Chinatown and Lower Manhattan who will lose their homes because of the zoning adjustment.

There is also no justice for the middle-income property owners, the artists of SoHo and NoHo, who, after working with the City decades ago to devise a form of affordable homeownership in repurposed industrial spaces so to ultimately age in place, will now no longer be able to afford to pay property taxes on the units they fashioned with their own hands back in the 1970s. Why is there no special consideration for these New Yorkers? They deserve to stay in their homes: as a city, we owe this to any threatened resident but most especially to this population who literally developed a globally adored tourist destination and now our collective payment to these people is to kick them all out.

It is disturbing what will happen to these elderly NYC residents, who have long been productive and industrious citizens: it is cruel, dishonest and dystopian.

The Envision SoHo NoHo process did not invite many of these constituents yet did, oddly, heavily involve real estate development lobbying group Open New York from its inception: Open New York, a pro-development group which has bragged about being the architects of the SoHo NoHo rezoning were considered by DCP to be valuable stakeholders, despite the glaring fact that none of them live in the area and despite the fact that their interests are purely about new development, not about consideration of existing housing or the value of the lives and experiences of the tenants who live in them.

The DCP-led ULURP public engagement hearings were held via Zoom while a global pandemic raged; the first of these meetings was in October 2020. I had signed up to speak but was number 354 to have make such a request and was thus not called upon as the session was deliberately limited to two and half hours: 365 people had signed up to speak that evening and DCP allowed for less than 10% of them to have had any voice.

How is that legal, NYC Council Members? How is it legal, in any way, to limit public engagement during a (wait for it) public engagement session?

DCP assigned the role of rezoning Senior Planner to Sylvia Li who referred to both the residents and structures of SoHo NoHo as “relics,” often and readily admitted she did not understand loft laws or other Lower Manhattan anomalies while also displaying an uncomfortable favoritism towards real estate development lobbying group Open New York. The entire process was a sham: right in front of the eyes of the rest of us.

You are our elected representatives: DCP doesn’t listen to us, so please be our voice and send this inadequate rezoning back to the Planning drawing board; this is not a vote to stop all development, it is instead a demand for better development from DCP, not their current lazy effort as this thoughtless initiative which will solely benefit the worst type of developers and create the least affordable and barely livable housing.

Please vote “no.”

Thank you.

Dresdon’t: The Argument Against the SoHo NoHo Proposed Rezoning

Dresdon’t: The Argument Against the SoHo NoHo Proposed Rezoning

(My spoken statement to the September 2, 2021 City Planning Commission’s hearing on the proposal to rezone SoHo NoHo)

My name is Connie Murray, I’m a lifelong New Yorker and a former SoHo resident.

I oppose the city’s plan to rezone SoHo NoHo as this proposal will likely not produce any affordable housing despite that very promise being this project’s top selling point of allegedly providing more opportunities to low-income New Yorkers. This rezoning will also eliminate tenant protections for over 1200 residents in over 600 buildings in their already existing deeply affordable homes. These are vulnerable, elderly and immigrant residents: they deserve to be considered in this process, they deserve to be protected and we all have a moral obligation to keep these folks in their homes.

As well, MIH affordable housing is not all that its name is cracked up to be. Recent “affordable housing” listings on NY Yimby reflect salary requirements above $80k for small studios and 1-bedroom units which rent for upwards of $3000 a month. These are not apartments for working class families: who are these developers really building for? They never create 3-bedroom units and via advertorials in real estate media, developers are even marketing their alleged affordable housing to households earning over $100k annually.

This rezoning’s proponents focus so heavily on this fallacy of its opposition being wealthy but in fact it’s the residents who are not wealthy and whose homes will be threatened who are here today, speaking out against this proposal. The very wealthy do not care, they can move, they have other homes, they have endless resources. It’s the residents without endless resources who are opposed to this plan, the people who are mostly elderly and mostly those who built these neighborhoods into what they are today. And now they are being shown the door out of this magical place they created with their own hands, money, sweat, love and tears. What a vicious betrayal by this city.

Adding to that betrayal is the false narrative promoted by Yimby zealots that these senior residents are members of the Ku Klux Klan and that their neighborhoods should be bombed like Dresden. Elderly residents have been bullied out of public engagement meetings because their pictures were taken and posted on social media so to shame them as alleged racists who no longer deserve to stay in their homes.

They do deserve to stay; they don’t deserve these lies. So let’s protect them.