BROOKLYN – At an event Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Vicki Been announced that the City will be restarting the community engagement process around the proposed Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning, with the goal of certifying the proposal and starting the ULURP clock in January. Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin issued the following response: 

“We welcome the announcement from Deputy Mayor Been about restarting community engagement meetings in Gowanus. If we get Gowanus right — it’s not there yet, but it’s clearly possible — it has the potential to help us move forward from this dark time toward a more equitable, sustainable, and economically vibrant city.”

“As the first neighborhood rezoning to apply mandatory inclusionary housing in a whiter and wealthier community, the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning offers the opportunity to build a more racially and economically integrated community by creating significant affordable housing in Brownstone Brooklyn, while avoiding displacement and gentrification. The community planning process over the last several years has enabled us to bring together a far more comprehensive vision of what is needed in the neighborhood than we would see with piecemeal private rezoning applications. 

“As a result, the proposal already includes thoughtful planning approaches to achieve new open space and access to a revitalized waterfront, innovative transit and school bonuses to insure the infrastructure needed to sustain growth, a new “Gowanus mix” zoning category to preserve light-manufacturing and keep Gowanus creative, and — especially important — strong measures to build a sustainable and resilient community, including rules for building that account for high-tide estimates in 2100, a requirement that all new buildings have rooftop solar, wind, or green roof, and an ambitious new stormwater rule that will help clean up the Gowanus Canal. 

“However, we still have significant work to do to meet the clear demands that neighbors have articulated through meetings and the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice’s organizing. Top on that list, and essential to any plan in Gowanus, must be significant investment in capital repairs for NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens. We simply cannot build a shining new mix of market-rate and affordable housing, while leaving the overwhelming majority of low-income residents and people of color who live in the area today in dilapidated and deteriorating buildings next door. 

“We look forward to the coming community conversations in Gowanus and surrounding neighborhoods, and to working with the Department of City Planning to ensure that we have a deeply inclusive process, despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19 on in person engagement. An equitable rezoning can only come from an inclusive process.”