Monday, June 18, 2007


The City Planning Commission is preparing to certify the Columbia expansion plan this morning at its regularly scheduled meeting over at 22 Reade Street. There will be a 12 Noon press conference/protest by the Coalition to Preserve Community (the other CPC) which strongly opposes the university's effort. The certification of the plan comes after the timing of the move was protested by members of the community, as well as by CB #9 chair, Jordi Reyes-Montblanc.

What this June certification date means is that the final community board disposition of the project will be timed for some time in August, a timing that the community sees as purposeful and designed to minimize opposition at the neighborhood level. What remains true here is that the university, renowned for its "progressive values," is moving forward with its plan, paying Bill Lynch $40,000 a month to do the bogarting; and doing it against the wishes of the members of the community board and the neighborhood activists of CPC.

All of this is being done without any proposal to provide affordable housing to a community that has experienced significant displacement as a result of gentrification, a process that will inevitably be exacerbated by the Columbia plan. The threat is severe enough to prompt BP Stringer to propose a zoning plan of his own to counteract the impact of the university's expansion. The Stringer plan has been endorsed by Congressman Rangel as well.

As we have said before, while the Stringer plan is a worthy gesture, it misdirected: the real focus should be on the Columbia plan itself, and not just the after shock. Which is why the university should be forced to include a significant affordable housing component in its plan, one that also allows existing businesses to stay in the neighborhood that they have employed local residents for the past three decades. Until the plan is modified, it should be resisted by all of the area's elected officials.