Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Verna Saunders nullified Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial 2018 plan to rezone Northern Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood to allow for the construction of larger apartment buildings on December 19. While touted as a necessary solution to the area’s housing crisis, community members, and activists fervently disagreed and sued the administration on account of their concerns being ignored. Saunder’s ruled that the city failed to look at these matters closely.
If approved, the plan would have rezoned 59 blocks north of Dyckman street to increase density and commercial development along 10th avenue, a move that protestors believed would accelerate gentrification, displace residents, and negatively impact minority and women-owned businesses. Despite these concerns, de Blasio vowed to appeal what he called the judge’s “wrong-headed” decision.
After Saunders sent the matter back to the Office of the Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department told The City, “We stand by the city’s thorough environmental review and will challenge this decision so important projects, including the building of 1,600 new affordable homes in this community, can proceed.” Despite the promise, protestors believe that income requirements for such housing are often set too high for many local residents.
State Senator Robert Jackson responded excitedly to the news in a tweet saying, “the Inwood Rezoning has been STRUCK DOWN!!!,” congratulating and thanking both Inwood Legal Action and Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale, activist groups and organizers responsible for filing the lawsuit. At a press conference on Friday, December 20, he explained that, “We deserve a JUST rezoning, not this one that put profits over people. I hope now the city will let the community lead, as should have happened from the beginning.”
Resident Ayisha Oglivie, a member of Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale said, “I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” when she read the decision. “It’s about justice for our community. This is about a precedent being set for this entire city.”