An article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal today highlights the controversy surrounding the expiration of the settlement that is currently protecting the community gardens from being developed. In a previous post I outlined the discussions that were going on and continue today.
The City Council is supposed to be deliberating and voting on a new rule that will basically continue the protections currently in place. They are dragging their heels. It seems that they work best when dealing with 11th hour deadline decision making. The gardeners are also drawing a line in the sand - some want gardens mapped as parkland, others want changes in zoning. Both options are problematic and the enactment of these protections are a long term processes.
In the Giuliani era there was a significant threat to gardens and a tremendous amount of activity from civil disobedience (marches, tree climbers, gardeners on 24 hour occupation of garden sites, coalitions being formed to work together against the threat, street theatre, demonstrations) to lawsuits to letter writing campaigns to lobbying politicians to fundraising campaigns for the purchase of gardens to behind the scenes maneuvering by community garden professionals and activists as well as organizations both local and national.
During the Giuliani era several lawsuits were filed against the city by nonprofit organizations such as the Green Guerillas, the NYC Community Garden Coalition and individual gardeners. The New York State Attorney General at the time and now NYS Governor Eliot Spitzer joined one Green Guerilla lawsuit which resulted in an injunction against the city that stopped the city from bulldozing any gardens. This injunction remained in effect from 2000 to 2002. Giuliani would not settle the lawsuit. It was settled once Bloomberg took office as a compromise where some gardens were lost some saved and some given a choice of a relocation site when their garden was lost.
The text of the settlement is here.
I would suggest that both sides use this a a template for a permanent agreement with the policy for new and existing gardens spelled out so that folks that want to start new gardens know what they have to do and current and future gardeners know what their rights and responsibilities are.