Despite vocal opposition from the community, the New York City Council voted today in favor of a rezoning plan for 59 blocks of the Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood. Proponents of the plan, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio and the neighborhood's councilmember, Ydanis Rodriguez, claim that the plan will bring 2,600 new units of affordable housing to the neighborhood, that it will preserve 1,500 more, that it will provide $200 million in funding for projects in the area, and that it will bring major developments to the industrial area east of 10th Avenue. These developments will be allowed to be between 18 and 30 stories in height. However, the portion of the plan that was meant to create a business area known as “Commercial U,” which was meant to run along Dyckman Street, Broadway, and West 207th Street, was removed from the plan earlier this week.
Even with this compromise, critics of the plan have said that it will not provide ample affordable housing for the community, that the affordable housing it will create will not be affordable to many within the community, that it will lead to the displacement of current residents, and that the low-rise and diverse character of the neighborhood will be destroyed.
Criticism has been extremely vehement. Councilmember Rodriguez claimed that he has been intimidated and has even received death threats that he said resembled the tactics used by the Islamic State. While not violent, the protesters at the vote expressed their displeasure very vocally from the balcony of the council chambers. Some of the protesters proved so disruptive during councilmember Rodriguez's opening remarks that the balcony had to be cleared prior to the vote. Before being cleared, however, at least one woman repeatedly called the councilmember a liar and threw what appeared to be fake money into the air, which proceeded to rain down to the chambers floor below.
Before giving the plan his official vote, the councilmember provided the following defense: “I believe this rezoning was necessary in order to preserve our community as a working class community.”
The plan passed 43-1 with 1 abstention.