HTC fills the house at midtown east rezoning hearing

NYHTC — August 08, 2013

On August 7th, 2013 hundreds of HTC members attended a meeting of the City Planning Commission to urge them to add special permits for hotels to the proposal to rezone Manhattan's midtown east. The meeting, held in the auditorium of the National Museum of the American Indian was overflowing with union members who had taken time off work in order to attend the hearing and provide powerful testimony. HTC president Peter Ward and a number of elected officials, as well as HTC members spoke of the dire consequences this proposal could have. HTC member Brian Gaffney brought commission members to tears as he spoke of how his union-protected job provided the healthcare that allowed him to beat cancer. “Without strong union jobs, middle class people like me will not have access to the kind of healthcare that saved my life.” The testimony was both personal and political, with much of the focus being on special permits for hotels. "Allowing the rezoning to go through without broad special permits for hotels threatens my job and the jobs of 32,000 hotel workers," commented long-time HTC member and Plaza Athenee Doorman Angel Ocasio. Mr. Ocasio continued "Unless this rezoning includes special permits for hotels I believe the CPC needs to vote this zoning down." Many of the allied organizations in attendance echoed the call for special permits.

This issue has gained momentum recently with Borough President Scott Stringer commenting that the only smart way to support the Midtown East Rezoning is by requiring special permits and setting other mandatory conditions. Stringer remarked “The intention of a hotel special permit is to encourage balanced growth of hotel to office uses. Especially in the case of this rezoning where one of the major goals is to create world class office space, then instituting a regulatory provision on hotels is highly appropriate and necessary.” As Josh Gold, Political Director of the Hotel Trades Council remarked “We agree with the Borough President that this proposal cannot go through without a special permit for hotel development for all of East Midtown. Without vital protections for tens of thousands of middle class jobs this once promising proposal ignores the stark reality that New York's middle class is dwindling at a rapid pace. Furthermore, City Planning prefers to disregard the negative impacts unregulated hotel development can have on not only communities but also on the rezoning's major goal, which is to create world class office space.”

Click the link below to read a DNAinfo New York story about the hearing and to learn more about the political battle for Midtown East:

It was a sea of blue HTC t-shirts inside the hearing

HTC member and Banquet Bartender Brian Gaffney provides powerful testimony to the commission

Angel Ocasio, Doorman from the Plaza Athenee testifying

Genting employees came straight from work to attend their first union event. Top row, left to right: Keith Hibbert, Dean McFarlane, and Kevin Besoua. Bottom row, left to right: Bernadette Redhead and Cynthia Ware

HTC Political Director Josh Gold speaks to HTC members and St. Regis employees James Sheehy, center and Justin "Tito" Esquilin, left