Wrong track: Sunset Parkers lash out against streetcar plan

Vehement opposition: Sunset Parkers with activist groups Uprose and Friends of Sunset Park railed against the Mayor’s Sunset Park-to-Queens streetcar at a Community Board 7 meeting on the project.
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They’re calling it a streetcar named displacement.

Sunset Parkers railed against Mayor Deblasio’s streetcar proposal when officials held a meeting to take community input on the Sunset Park-to-Queens trolley on Dec. 12, claiming the only thing the trolley would be good for is jacking up their rents. Deblasio, the developers who first floated the plan, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation all claim the $2.5-billion people-mover will connect locals to jobs elsewhere along the waterfront, but even the people who would use it for just that believe the money would be better spent on improved buses and maintain the plan is a gift to developers that will make Sunset Park too expensive for the people who live there, one said.

“Why spend so much money on inventing this whole new system when you could improve the buses and trains we all already use,” said Gloria Vargas, who lives along the proposed route in Sunset Park and works in Red Hook. “As someone who lives here, I don’t want or need this. Yeah I could hop on it and head to work in Red Hook, but why do that when I already have the bus? And that’s because it’s not for us — it’s meant to bring others.”

The city revealed potential routes for the so-called Brooklyn-Queens Connector earlier this month and officials are in the midst of visiting community boards for feedback. But Sunset Parkers spent more than two hours waving protest signs and heckling city honchos when they came to make their pitch at Community Board 7 on Monday night.

Proponents expect the trolley to spur development on the waterfront and plan to finance the project with additional tax revenue reaped as a result of new construction. The plan will necessarily cause gentrification that will lead to higher rents and the displacement of locals, one critic said.

“It’s the financing of the project — the fact that it relies on rising property values. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because without the gentrification there is no [streetcar],” said Ana Orozco an organizer with local social-justice group Uprose. “This is for new residents that will be living in luxury developments near the waterfront.”

Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) has previously said he could not support the plan if it led to increased rents.

“What was $800 for a one-bedroom is now almost $2,000, which is absolutely insane,” he told Gothamist over the summer. “If this is going to accelerate that, I’m not for it.”

But the councilman refused to take a stance when locals publicly asked him on Monday.

Officials did not respond to concerns about displacement, but they did say the new rail would make locals more mobile.

“This is not a silver bullet solution to all of New York City’s transportation problems, but this will really move the needle for greater transportation connectivity between the existing resources which are city-wide ferry stops, different bus routes, subway lines, and Citi Bike stations,” said Emma Pfohman.

But some locals maintained the cash would be better off in the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s hands.

“It just doesn’t make sense to pour so much into something new when there aren’t enough buses and it’s like being in a can of sardines,” said Sunset Parker Edward Avila. “The money could be better spent elsewhere.”

Even Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen has acknowledge the streetcar’s hulking cost compared to city buses.

“There will still be folks who argue (not crazily) that no matter where the money comes from, it is still more expensive than (bus rapid transit),” Glen wrote in an e-mail the Daily News acquired via a public information request. “And that is true.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

best plan ever from Brooklyn says:
Nevermind all the hype on how the BQX came about. It was a wonderful thing when it was a grass roots effort, and still is, even if it took money to move NYC politics forward (as it always does).

Our transportation starved areas are finally getting much needed CLEAN transportation. No more tears about the unreliable carbon spewing buses. This is a "dedicated" service that has intersection priority over any free-roving rubber tire vehicle.

Everybody will benefit, even more so will be the blue collar workers and those in public housing that need to navigate our already over-crowed systems.

A newer and better option for everyone!

(no nimby's please)
Dec. 14, 2016, 7:39 am
...transportation, not gentrification from Sunset Park says:
Don't be mislead by the anti-gentrification groups. The BQX is about transportation, not gentrification.

If you want to stop gentrification, and I hope you do, you have to look at the source of the problem - our NYC government and their loose zoning rules which developer thwart over and over again. Fix the rules and you fix the problem. And to do that, you have to go to the rule maker - Uncle Sam!

Let's not throw road blocks at better/cleaner/additional transportation options like the BQX, when it's a zoning problem that needs your attention. Gentrification has been consuming our working communities throughout the city long before the BQX was even thought of, and if we don't fix the zoning laws, it's going to end our diversity in its entirety, whether the BQX comes or not.

Let's get the BQX, fix the zoning problem, so we can all use the BQX for generations to come.
Dec. 14, 2016, 8:05 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Is there a way to do this without displacing street traffic? Maybe a raised track or something. When I lived in Tokyo, there was lots of that kind of thing and they were pretty useful. Maybe they could use Tokyo's Yurika-mome tram line as a model to work from?
Dec. 14, 2016, 9:07 am
Tyler from pps says:
Maintain a level of crappiness, inaccessibility and so on... *that's* their strategy to reduce gentrification and displacement?! Uggh.
Dec. 14, 2016, 9:44 am
Bette White from Sunset Park says:
Anyone can see that this pot was seeded with UPROSE sprouts. Although different signage was used, they all have the similar style and paper.

This resistant isn't "Parkers lash out" as this story is titled, it's one nimbly group, which doesn't represent the Park Slope community.

It's unfair when groups like this try to upset the process intended for individuals of a community to be heard.
Dec. 14, 2016, 10:36 am
Bette White from Sunset Park says:
Anyone can see that this pot was seeded with UPROSE sprouts. Although different signage was used, they all have the similar style and paper.

This resistant isn't "Parkers lash out" as this story is titled, it's one nimbly group, which doesn't represent the Park Slope community.

It's unfair when groups like this try to upset the process intended for individuals of a community to be heard.
Dec. 14, 2016, 10:36 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn Heights says:
This is another Deblasio... Levin..Adams..developer deal... brought to you by
Berlin .. Rosen.. These guys work for the real estate industry ... not the public...
Dec. 14, 2016, 11:20 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News had just finished an exclusive investigation and a probe on the money trail from the real estate developers to Mayor Bill de Blasio, in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, in which could be bureaucratically beneficial to his own reelection campaign for the next year's mayoral election. This could make him to go full speed ahead on the BQX proposal. It could be a problem in the considerable future, in which the cost of living along the proposed route will be going up exponentially.
Dec. 14, 2016, 11:23 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Of course this is a gentrification thing - since when did the city want to build cool, groovy green stuff in east NY - ooo no limestones/brownstone. And of course all of those building being bought up by those green guys and booting tenants are just adding to our brilliant mosaic. Once upon a time the only thing called subnset parkwas the pool - it was all bay ridge
Dec. 14, 2016, 1:43 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I feel that the main reasons for the opposition is that the streets just aren't wide enough to support this streetcar and that it will cause for vehicular traffic to relocated on side streets that wouldn't be able to hold them.
Dec. 14, 2016, 4:20 pm
Conchata Rodriguez from Sunset Park says:
We are against this! We don't want public transportation in this neighborhood! Next we want them to remove the subway and the buses!
Dec. 14, 2016, 7 pm
Fort Greenero from Fort Greene says:
Why is it that our communities are against a mode of transportation used in some of the worlds most progressive cities? Do we feel that we are not worthy of such a system? This is an environment friendly mode of transportation that is low noise and can hold more people than a typical bus.

I am a MTA metro card holder, biker and I own and drive a car. Build the streetcar, we are a world class city in an amazing entrepreneurial borough, please don't settle for buses.

Please don't nimby...
Dec. 15, 2016, 9:39 am
Elliott K from Sunset Park says:
By the time this is implemented, 2024 at the earliest, gentrification of Sunset Park will be completed. The forces cannot be stopped. A housing shortage, unaffordable neighborhoods nearby, fewer blue collar jobs, an influx of young people willing to live 3 in a room, etc. Uprose is fighting their own demise. They were born in another time and have little reason to exist now and a shrinking number of people to represent. Fighting Industry City and BQX is not in my interest. I have lived here for 40 years, since the time I picked up crack vials and painted over gang graffiti. I am disabled and an alternative to the subway stairs is important. Having Industry City bring services, jobs, and stores and clean up a desolate area is valuable for me. Uprose is loud and angry, but they have a small following among even long-term Sunset Park residents.
Dec. 15, 2016, 10:10 am
Chris from Sunset Park says:
Let's get real about what this is about...turning the manufacturing side of Sunset Park into residential a la Soho in the 1980s and Williamsburg in the 2000s. Not saying it's bad or good, but it's what this is about, not manufacturing or "blue collar jobs."
Dec. 15, 2016, 10:54 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I suggest some of you read the letters on today's Voice of the People on the Daily News, and you will see why they see the BQX as a bad idea.
Dec. 15, 2016, 5:01 pm
Sid from Boreum hill says:
I oppose the bqx because of its cost and that the present route lacks imagination. In sunset park bring it down little used second avenue. You may have to raise it over some industrial areas and build new bridges and under Atlantic avenue into the tunnel that already exists. Then bring it underground into the track in the transit museum tracks into Atlantic yards from there use the lirr in to queens. Build a second line from Astoria along the shoreline and under Flatbush to Atlantic yards. Now that would be something useful.
Dec. 16, 2016, 8:55 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wouldn't be surprised if the person who wrote the first two comments is probably a paid shill for the developer of this idea, and his/her statement almost sounds similar to the paid supporters who backed FCR when it came to the Atlantic Yards, which is now Pacific Park.
Dec. 16, 2016, 4:58 pm
George from Flatbush, Park Slope, Seattle says:
I was born and raised in Flatbush, had a carpentry and remodeling business in Park Slope/Sunset Park in the 1980s and currently live in Seattle. I currently live in a Seattle neighborhood very comparable to the working class neighborhoods of Brooklyn. I can speak to the issue of light rail/trolley service and its impact on community as about five years ago they completed a light rail line with four stops over about 5 miles through my community. At the time they were proposing this project we were told that it would provide access to jobs, education, etc. for the many low and moderate income people who lived in my area. The developers and the transportation policy wonks were all gung ho and talked about clean transportation, community development, improved access for low income people. Now most of those people have been forced out of the neighborhood due to rapid gentrification and skyrocketing rents. The impacts of construction included property condemnations and reduced access to businesses during construction. Many businesses went under as result of the economic impact of this. These were largely minority-owned small businesses. The same people that this was supposed to serve have been forced out of the community further and further away from the urban amenities and any transportation. Rents in the neighborhood for apartments have easily doubled. New housing prices have skyrocketed. The light rail line has destroyed the fabric of the community and replaced it with an affluent predominantly Caucasian community. The transit proponents wanted this built at any cost to the community and it was done with the blessings of elected officials. It was done in spite of the EPA's Civil Rights Division clearly stating in their evaluation of the draft EIS and final EIS that the entire project was a blueprint for displacement and gentrification and that the project was racially discriminatory. Elected officials, developers, new urbanists and transportation promoters including many from the environmental organizations were promoting to the community how wonderful this project would be. They all had their agenda and none of it included any real concern for the people who resided in the community prior to construction of the light rail. The developers have moved in with the city's blessing and numerous tax breaks and are still in the process of turning any vacant space or underutilized space into upscale rentals, condos and townhouses. There has been more construction taking place in his neighborhood in the last five years than in the last 50 years. Every empty lot is being developed and any single-family residence where they can get the zoning changed is being torn down and developed into high priced, high density housing. The future of affordable housing in this community becomes bleaker every day. I suspect this drama is about to be played out in Sunset Park and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn if this project is allowed to be built as proposed. I would strongly recommend continued opposition to this project if you wish to maintain your homes, your communities and opportunities for affordable housing. Fighting City Hall is never easy or cheap and often not successful, but if your homes and your lives as you now know them are valuable get organized and fight.
Dec. 19, 2016, 6:03 pm

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