By Evan Roth Smith
Christopher Marte’s incredible and unlikely challenge to two-term incumbent Council Member Margaret Chin has been fueled by determined grassroots opposition to the overdevelopment of historic neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, especially the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Two Bridges, and Little Italy. In the rest of District 1, Marte’s supporters in SoHo, Tribeca, and Greenwich Village fear that their neighborhoods will be the next to suffer at the hands of misguided zoning and super-tall luxury development.
Chin has faced enormous criticism over her broken promise to deliver on the Chinatown Working Group Plan. It is a 2013 consensus proposal by neighborhood leaders to enact height limits and protective zoning that would preserve affordability for residents and small businesses. The consequences of Chin’s failure have been dramatic, with developers planning five luxury towers over 700 feet tall, the first of which will open in 2019.
Chin has also failed to protect current community-based zoning, standing idly by as developers encroach on the Special Little Italy District as well as the Artists-in-Residence Zoning Law in SoHo and NoHo. Chin’s plan to evict and develop the one-acre Elizabeth Street Garden would strip Little Italy of its most prominent green space, enraging local activists and threatening to further erode the character of one of Manhattan’s most endangered historic neighborhoods.
Marte has united a diverse coalition of longtime residents, tenant advocates, New York City Housing Authority leaders, small business owners, preservationists, restaurant workers, artists, and others behind his promise to pass the Chinatown Working Group Plan and increase the livability of Lower Manhattan. He intends to do this by preserving open space, small businesses, and quality of life through pro-active legislation, accountability to voters, and community initiatives.
Marte understands that our communities deserve real representation in City Hall, and has proven that he will fight back when unique and historic New York neighborhoods are threatened.
Evan Roth Smith works on the political campaign for Christopher Marte.