Updates and Actions

FED UP: Flushing for Equitable Development & Urban Planning



About

MinKwon Center is an organizational member of Flushing for Equitable Development & Urban Planning (FED UP), a new coalition of community-based organizations and concerned community members formed in January 2020 to oppose the current rezoning efforts of the Special Flushing Waterfront District (SFWD). In December 2019, a new ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process began to rezone downtown Flushing and the Flushing waterfront and allow construction of 1,725 luxury condos and offices, despite serious environmental, social, and economic concerns from the Flushing community, especially from low-income, youth, senior, and limited English proficient communities of color.

FED UP's mission is to stop the current profit-driven, pro-displacement rezoning plan through public education, advocacy, and direct action, and to push for community-based alternatives that address the needs of our neighbors, including real affordable housing, community centers, schools, libraries, robust social services, and environmental restoration.

 

Take Action

Thank you for attending the Queens Community Board 7 public hearing and vote.

 

On Monday, February 10, 2020, hundreds of community members braced the rain and turned out to participate in the Public Hearing and Vote on #FlushingRezoning by Queens Community Board 7. It was a long night as the hearing lasted over four hours, and as we and the new Flushing for Equitable Development & Urban Planning (FED UP) coalition are strategizing our next steps, we're offering a reflection on the night and a response to CB7's vote.

Before the hearing, MinKwon youth held a rally outside Flushing Commons, a new building developed by F&T group, one of several developers behind the current rezoning plan. We rallied to call out how Flushing Commons was heralded as a solution for affordable housing and public greenspace in Flushing -- promises that were NOT kept when the building opened. Chanting in five languages and clanging traditional Korean instruments, the youth held a march and met up with 32BJ SEIU, FED UP, and other community members at a rally outside the site of the hearing.

Before the start of the hearing, there was heavy NYPD presence that delayed or limited access to community members who arrived late, as the room was quickly reaching capacity. CB7 members and developers all had reserved seats for the hearing, while everyone else was left to stand or sit on the ground. The hearing started with a presentation to include amendments that was led by developers and the Land-Use Committee. CB7 did not give a time limit to the developer-led presentation, but confirmed that they would cut down speaking time for each community member who signed up for public comment from 3 minutes to 1 minute.

As the hearing reached its second hour, deep frustration was mounting in the audience. There was no end in sight for the presentation. The presentation was largely redundant, as FED UP members pointed out how many of the slides and talking points were already presented in past committee meetings. Some people who signed up for public comment had to leave without sharing their comment, at a hearing that was supposedly for the public. Others were concerned that a vote would happen without public comment at all.

Two CB7 Chairs directly approached several MinKwon community organizers on two occasions and demanded they be "quiet" and "respectful". The situation quickly escalated and on the first occasion, one chairperson tried grabbing the phone of an organizer who was filming him, and on the second occasion, the other chairperson pointed his finger at another organizer and tried approaching them too closely, invading their personal space. Community members quickly deescalated the situation and prevented the Chairs from making any physical contact, and chants of "Let Us Speak" and "People Over Profit" filled the room. Public comment began soon after.

We heard passionate testimony from life-long Flushing residents on why the current rezoning plan would have profound negative social, economic, and environmental impacts on the Flushing community. The testimony agitated some CB7 members and a debate ensued after public comment was finished. Board members began questioning each other on why they didn't do enough to inform and involve the community.

The Chairs called for a motion to postpone the vote on Flushing rezoning that was quickly rejected. Following the motion, CB7 finally voted 30-8 to approve Flushing rezoning and forward the land-use process to the Queens Borough President, in defiance of the community's needs and interests. Many CB7 members who voted in favor were silent throughout the hearing.

While we are deeply disappointed in the results of the vote, we are immensely proud of the community who showed up and sounded our collective demands for real affordable housing, community centers, schools, libraries, robust social services, prevailing wage jobs, and environmental restoration. We are proud of the work we did in educating and mobilizing the community, and how we took care of each other in the face of barriers that CB7 enforced to prevent full and fair participation by the community. As we continue to recollect what happened on Monday and develop our plan going forward, we shouldn't forget the fact that the people have the power to fight back against injustice, and the power to fight for the solutions they need to thrive.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On Monday, Feb. 10, hundreds of community members braced the rain and turned out to participate in the Public Hearing and Vote on #FlushingRezoning by Queens Community Board 7. It was a long night as the hearing lasted over four hours, and as we and the new Flushing for Equitable Development & Urban Planning (FED UP) coalition are strategizing our next steps, we're offering a reflection on the night and a response to CB7's vote. �� Before the hearing, MinKwon youth held a rally outside Flushing Commons, a new building developed by F&T group, one of several developers behind the current rezoning plan. We rallied to call out how Flushing Commons was heralded as a solution for affordable housing and public greenspace in Flushing -- promises that were NOT kept when the building opened. Chanting in five languages and clanging traditional Korean instruments, the youth held a march and met up with 32BJ SEIU, FED UP, and other community members at a rally outside the site of the hearing. �� Before the start of the hearing, there was heavy NYPD presence that delayed or limited access to community members who arrived late, as the room was quickly reaching capacity. CB7 members and developers all had reserved seats for the hearing, while everyone else was left to stand or sit on the ground. The hearing started with a presentation to include amendments that was led by developers and the Land-Use Committee. CB7 did not give a time limit to the developer-led presentation, but confirmed that they would cut down speaking time for each community member who signed up for public comment from 3 minutes to 1 minute. �� As the hearing reached its second hour, deep frustration was mounting in the audience. There was no end in sight for the presentation. The presentation was largely redundant, as FED UP members pointed out how many of the slides and talking points were already presented in past committee meetings. Some people who signed up for public comment had to leave without sharing their comment, at a hearing that was supposedly for the public. Others were concerned that a vote would happen without public comment at all. [continued in comments]

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Background

Rezoning is not a new project, and is not isolated to Flushing or Queens. It has been used as an ongoing strategy by luxury developers to gentrify New York City and displace long-standing, vibrant communities for decades. Below is a presentation on a brief timeline on Flushing rezoning, from the Bloomberg to the de Blasio administration, and what MinKwon and our neighbors have already done in response.

 

In The News

Context

 

College Point Development Projects Face Fierce Opposition by Some Residents by Michael Herzenberg, Spectrum News NY1. January 22, 2020.

Special Flushing Waterfront District: A Massive Giveaway? by Tarry Hum, Gotham Gazette. January 31, 2020.

Flushing community board faces contentious vote on transformative waterfront rezoning by Max Parrott, QNS. February 5, 2020.

CB 7 to Vote Monday on Controversial Flushing Waterfront Project by Ryan Brady, Flushing Post. February 6, 2020.

The People vs. Big Development by Stephanos Chen, New York Times. February 7, 2020.

 

Community Board 7

 

A polluted Queens waterway braces for major transformation by Amir Khafagy, Curbed New York. February 10, 2020.

Flushing‌ ‌community‌ ‌board‌ ‌set‌ ‌to‌ ‌vote‌ ‌on‌ ‌controversial‌ ‌rezoning‌ ‌by Victoria Merlino, Queens Daily Eagle. February 10, 2020.

With tensions at a boiling point, Flushing community board approves special waterfront district by Max Parrott, QNS. February 11, 2020.

Community Board Approves Rezoning Plan for Flushing Waterfront, Spectrum News NY1. February 11, 2020.

Community board votes in favor of Flushing Creek waterfront rezoning by Victoria Merlino, Queens Daily Eagle. February 11, 2020.

Flushing revitalization plan approved by Katherine Donlevy, Queens Chronicle. February 11, 2020.

CB 7 Approves Contentious Flushing Waterfront Rezoning by Ryan Brady, Flushing Post. February 11, 2020.

 

Queens Borough President

 

Candidates for Queens borough president diverge on Flushing Creek rezoning by David Brand, Queens Daily Eagle. February 11, 2020.


Reports and Releases

Press Release: Local Community Residents and Community Organizations Oppose Flushing Rezoning Before Community Board 7 January 22, 2020.

Press Release: Local Community-Based Organizations and Local Residents Denounce Community Board 7 Vote Approving Flushing Rezoning February 11, 2020.

Flushing Rezoning Community Alliance 2016 report: Flushing West: Recommendations for a Just Rezoning