Jan. 27, 2020 By Christian Murray
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has penned a letter to the Economic Development Corporation announcing that she no longer wants to be part of the Sunnyside Yard steering committee.
Ocasio-Cortez said that she wants out because she says the EDC is not listening to many of her constituents—particularly those who fear the plan to develop Sunnyside Yard will spur gentrification.
The EDC, which has conducted three town hall meetings and 100-plus stakeholder meetings, is expected to release its masterplan for the 180-acre Sunnyside Yard some time before the end of March.
“Despite the many outreach meetings that you have cited, I have yet to see sufficient inclusion of the feedback from those meetings in the current plan,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the letter dated Jan. 24.
“The feedback, both from community members and from my office, includes but is not limited to community land trusts, truly affordable housing and public and green infrastructure,” she wrote. “Without the inclusion of these requirements in the Master Plan, I cannot continue to contribute my resources to the project.”
The EDC announced the formation of a 35-member steering committee in May 2018 that is tasked with providing a local perspective on what should be included in the masterplan. It consists of local civic leaders, planning experts and elected officials.
The overarching plan for the 180-acre site will involve decking over the yards– and potentially constructing tens of thousands of apartments; office space; green space; and a transportation network. The plan would take decades to fully implement.
The majority of the residential buildings, according to project’s consulting team, would be between eight and 18 stories, although some of the plans displayed at a recent meeting indicated that some could reach 30 to 50 stories.
However the EDC’s plan to develop the site has received a mixed reception.
In September, dozens of protesters showed up at an EDC meeting to voice their opposition against development.
in November, a boisterous crowd of about 80 protestors—representing groups such as Justice for All and Woodside on the Move– staged a rally in front of the Sunnyside Yard site on Skillman Avenue. They voiced concern about gentrification, while arguing that the city should instead invest in restoring public housing, repairing the city’s infrastructure and saving small businesses.
Ocasio-Cortez’s letter to the EDC announcing her resignation from the steering committee follows similar correspondence she had with the organization on Nov. 19.
She wrote a joint letter with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer at the time that read: “The proposed high-rise and mid-rise residential buildings would further exacerbate a housing crisis that displaces communities of color and parcels off public land to private real estate developers.”
The EDC, however, contends that the city would be able to address many of its problems by developing the Sunnyside Yard.
“Sunnyside Yard presents an opportunity to build a stronger New York for generations to come that includes more open space, transit, affordable housing, jobs and green infrastructure in Western Queens,” the EDC said in a statement. “This planning process has always put community engagement at the center. We’re committed to continuing our work with the community to build a strategic vision that can better serve local residents and all New Yorkers.”
The EDC did not directly address Ocasio-Cortez’ decision to leave the steering committee.
“IF WE DONT GET IT – SHUT IT DOWN!!”
Opponents of #NYC‘s #EDC #SunnysideYard Plan demanded Billions $$ to be invested in #affordablehousing, repairing #subways #infrastructure & save small businesses yesterday.@queenspost @sunnysidepost @LICPOST #Queens #Queenspost #Sunnyside pic.twitter.com/LJITBDOhyD
— Michael Dorgan (@MDorganNYC) November 26, 2019
Woodside and Sunnyside would be very affected by this project. It’s sad when community members associate these projects with rent hikes, in a perfect world these buildings can make the neighborhood a lot better. However, when gentrification fears loom the city and displacement is a very real thing, the city needs to respond. Also the EDC favors developers not community members.
We can’t let this go through. It will be a catastrophe for the remaining working-class residents of the neighborhood. Take a walk around Queens Blvd. or Greenpoint Ave. See how many ‘For Rent’ signs you come across. This is just the beginning.
Don’t you see what’s going on? They’re trying to build the wasteful $2 billion BQX trolley. The disastrous re-designing of bus routes. The idiotic closing of Riker’s Island and construction of new jail towers. They’re not thinking about us. They’re thinking about their greedy and sociopathic real estate developers.
@Good Riddance – I’m no fan of the overwhelming majority of AOC’s opinions or policies but I’m pretty sure Amazon was a dead deal before she took office in January 2019 since it was announced in the N.Y. news papers around Feb 14th 2019 and the development site sits outside of her district.
She is not liked by many…. I feel bad.
“I cannot continue to contribute my resources to the project.”
“I would rather stump for Communists than attend to the needs of my constituency.”
This abandonment alone is sufficient cause to ensure that she never holds elected office again.
She is a disgrace to her district.
The politicians of today are operating on “my way or the highway” basis. Cannot compromise or try to convince the other side or let go some of your wants. That’s why there were very few major infrastructure improvements in recent years while the city’s population keeps growing. Where does all the tax money go?
Which AOC constituents are concerned about gentrification? Certainly not the old white ladies who’ve been living in Sunnyside Gardens for the past 60 years! AOC needs to remember she represents folks who don’t live in NYCHA housing, too. And stepping away from the steering committee is the one thing she could do to guarantee her concerns are not being heard. But she’d much rather be seen holding a megaphone at a protest rally on a NY1 soundbite than actually legislating. I’m beginning to think he critics were right about her all along.
No low income housing. Market rate housing only. Older housing will naturally become lower rent housing. Haven’t we learned our lesson from the mistakes of “truly affordable” housing like Astoria Houses, Woodside Houses, Ravenswood and Queensbridge?
Living in Sunnyside 32 years and know a hell of a lot more people than ocasio-cortez does and the vast majority of the residents are in favor of a sensible well though out development which is exactly what the EDC are doing. so she is just plain telling lies when she talks about majority numbers .Just like Van bramer she is still getting her ass whipped over the amazon debacle and is looking to distance herself from any further controversy before her next election. best news i have heard since van bramer threw in the towel last week. Hope Gianaris is listening