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Monday, July 26, 2010

New Proposed Rule for NYC Community Gardens

The settlement that has protected NYC community gardens from being bulldozed is set to expire in September 2010. The city has proposed a new rule to be included in the official NYC Rules and Regulations (who knew such a thing existed) to replace the settlement.
It is actually 2 rules, 1 for the community gardens that are under the jurisdiction of the NYC Parks Department (Parks) and 1 for gardens that are under the jurisdiction of the NYC Dept of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
The original settlement preserves many community gardens but slated some - the HPD gardens - for development. Even though the settlement is 7 years old some of the gardens slated for development have not yet been developed! Those gardens will be covered by the HPD rule. A larger number of gardens were given an "Offer for Preservation" and were preserved as Parks gardens. Those gardens will be covered by the Parks rule. That does not mean that they are 'mapped as Parkland' which would mean that it would take an vote of the State legislature to 'Alienate' them from being Parkland. There is some debate about how much protection is afforded by being mapped as Parkland. For instance, several mapped Parks were taken from a Bronx neighborhood to build the new Yankee Stadium, basically a gift to the wealthiest sports franchise in the world.
To add to the potential options the New York State Assembly is introducing a new bill that requires "municipalities which sell, transfer or lease community garden real property to use the proceeds therefrom for community garden purposes".
Many community gardeners are wary of the new rule. Some have proposed a new zoning designation for community gardens and others have championed mapping as Parkland. Some are using scare tactics - telling gardeners that their garden risks being bulldozed.
A quick reading of the new rules show that they are very similar to the settlement. In fact while the settlement only applied to gardens existing at the time of the settlement the new Parks rule also applies to any future community gardens. A policy for future community gardens is something that I have been proposing since before the settlement.
At this time I support the new rules as a way of preserving community gardens. It may not be perfect but the rules pretty much keep the heart of the protections from the settlement.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lenny,

    Have you read the HPD rules?
    They are identical to the Parks Rules, except for a paragraph in the HPD Rules to exempt these rules for a bunch of gardens. This mean either the HPD gardens are now protected like the preserved gardens in the settlement or the Parks gardens can be developed like the HPD gardens. Guess what Chris Reo from the NYC law department went for?

    much love