The NYPD is using 145 vacant city-owned lots for parking — just over half of which could be better used as affordable housing or manufacturing and commercial space, according to a new report.

The cover of the report.
The cover of the report.

the East New York Community Land Trust report, “Redistributing NYPD Land Resources in East New York and Throughout NYC,” will be released at a rally later Saturday by the nonprofit Collective of Residents of East New York and Brownsville who wishes to acquire title to some of the lots.

The report found that 73 lots in five community districts (three in Brooklyn and two in the Bronx) could be better used as private car storage for officers because they are littered with trash and not used near their homes. ability. The group made its decision using site surveys and archival data available through Google.

More than two-thirds of the lots — some of which fall under NYPD jurisdiction while others are used by the NYPD but assigned to other agencies — are in community neighborhoods in some of the city’s poorest areas, all “overwhelmingly concentrated in communities of color,” the report said. The remaining 72 of the 145 lots (see map below) are unsuitable for development because they are well maintained, used at or near capacity, or are attached to an NYPD building, the report determined.

A map shows underused NYPD and other agency parking lots around the city.  Image: ENYCLT
A map shows NYPD and other agency parking lots around town. Image: ENYCLT

“There are 73 underutilized NYPD lots with 1.3 million square feet that we believe have significant community development potential in Brooklyn and the Bronx. These batches must be transferred to [community land trusts] across the city,” the report states, noting that the 21 lots in East New York could provide 30,000 square feet of residential space and 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

The report identified:

  • A group of 11 lots in the industrial area of ​​East New York.
  • A 25,000 square foot parking lot in East New York used for NYPD parking which is zoned for residential use. (The group wants to build 60 affordable co-op/condo units, a ground-floor community facility with open space and a rooftop garden.)
  • 18 lots in Ocean Hill-Brownsville zoned for residential use, eight of which are zoned for mixed-use development.
  • 27 lots in Bushwick, which could provide approximately 120,000 square feet of residential space.
  • Five lots in Hunts Point zoned for mixed-use development accommodating up to 65,000 square feet of residential development with ground floor retail.
  • Two lots in Mott Haven-Port Morris with development potential of over 900,000 square feet.

The report argues that transferring such land to community trusts is not unusual, citing an NYPD lot in Manhattan and one in Queens that were recently turned over to developers for mixed-use construction.

An image of a flyer announcing Saturday's rally.  Image: ENYCLT
An image of a flyer announcing Saturday’s rally. Image: ENYCLT

“For too long, the community of East New York, and others like it, have had to endure neglect and disinvestment by private and public institutions,” said Boris Santos, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees. East New York Community Land Trust, demanding that the city turn over to the group the land at 987 Sutter Ave., which is used by officers of the 75th Precinct.

The land trust’s request for undeveloped land comes as some communities across the city plead After parking space for officers’ vehicles – due to illegal and unsafe parking practices around police stations, where sidewalks, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bus and bicycle lanes and even entire city blocks are clogged with “combat parked” cars. A recent Streetsblog article revealed that at least 18 of the city’s 59 community councils submitted requests for new or redesigned campuses for their cops during their fiscal year 2023 “Community District Needs Statements and Council Budget Requests community,” citing cop congestion. illegally parked cars. However, in other precincts, for example the 50th Precinct in the Bronx, illegal parking persists even when officers have adequate spaces within walking distance of their workplace.

Council member Sandy Nurse, who represents parts of East New York and was scheduled to speak at the rally, said the city’s handing over of land for police parking showed its callous and unfair approach to these communities.

“For years, the city has said we must use every available tool and asset at our disposal to deal with the affordable housing crisis,” she said. “At the same time, like the [report] illustrious, the city has deeded scarce, developable vacant land to the NYPD for purposes — including parking lots for personal employees — that do not house our neighbors. Housing justice is directly linked to racial justice, as illustrated by the concentration of these misused lots in the same communities that are impacted by abusive policing. The city must follow through on its commitment and create and preserve affordable housing deeply and permanently in the communities that need it most.

The city owns the lots primarily due to foreclosures, the report says — a holdover from divestment from the 1970s, when many owners abandoned properties. Debra Ack, the land trust’s board secretary, recalled as a child doing flips on discarded mattresses in such vacant lots. “Those were our playgrounds,” the report quoted her as saying.

Even though essential services such as sanitation, street repair, libraries and park maintenance have fled East New York and similar communities in recent decades, the 75th Ward ranks fourth of city resources, with 471 full-time employees. and a budget of $28.4 million in the last fiscal year, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Given its relative wealth, the report explains, the 75th can save land for locals: “While New York City has rebounded since the 1970s, East New York continues to be left behind” , he said. “The neighborhood is at the heart of a local economic crisis, felt by extreme housing instability, a high rate of homelessness and chronic unemployment. In 2016, Mayor de Blasio’s administration rezoned eastern New York, promising $17 million in investment and 3,900 jobs. Six years later, residents are still waiting. …In East New York, vacant lots and public parking lots policed ​​by the NYPD present exciting opportunities to meet housing, commercial and industrial needs. Residents envision and demand more creative use of these public lands. »

Neither the mayor’s office nor the NYPD responded to a request for comment.

John Smith

The author John Smith