Protesters hold signs and chant during the City Planning Commission vote.

Protesters hold signs and chant during the City Planning Commission vote.

The City Planning Commission voted 12-0 on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 to approve the 3rd drafted Coney Island Redevelopment plan. Upon the first vote by Chairwoman Amanda M. Burden, union leaders and community members stood up in protest, holding signs and chanting “Good Jobs! Affordable Housing!”

Many of the protesters were part of the Coney Island for All platform, including Coney Island CLEAR, 32BJ SEIU, ACORN, and Jobs with Justice. Forced to leave, they continued to rally outside. The commissioners went on with their vote, as if nothing had happened, commending Chairwoman Burden for drafting a plan that benefited the community as well as making Coney Island a tourist destination.

The current plan creates 20,000 construction jobs, as well as post construction jobs. However, there is nothing in the bill that allocates these jobs to Coney Island residents. There is also no assurance that these will be union jobs, which pay 3-4 times more plus pension and medical benefits.

“Coney Island has the highest unemployment rate in the city – 13%” said Carmen Gonzalez, head of the local ACORN chapter.

The current plan creates 4500 new units of housing. 900 of these (20%) units are allocated as affordable housing – the minimum amount of affordable housing needed under the city's Inclusionary Housing Program for the developers to receive extra land. According to Gonzalez, these units are too few and too expensive. “Coney Island's middle income is $34,000 – over $30,000 less than the middle income of all New Yorkers.” So to whom is the housing affordable? The Coney Island for All platform vies for 50% of the units the be affordable, with low, moderate, and average income teirs. “50% isn't even enough, but at least its affordable for all.”

“Billions are coming into this neighborhood,” said one community member. “We deserve to share in the prosperity.”