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East Harlem rezoning faces its first legal challenge

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The Legal Aid Society has filed a lawsuit against the city in the Manhattan Supreme Court

Less than two months after the East Harlem rezoning was approved, the city is already staring down its first legal challenge against it. The Legal Aid Society has filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court alleging that the city did not properly study the environmental impacts of the rezoning, Crain’s reports.

They claim that the city only focussed on the impact the rezoning would have on non rent-regulated apartments, but didn’t properly study how these sweeping changes would impact those presently living in rent-regulated apartments. Members of the Legal Aid Society feel that the rezoning will ultimately lead landlords to pressure rent-regulated tenants to either move out or pay more.

A spokesperson for the city denounced the lawsuit as a headline-grabbing ploy. In 2017, the city passed major legislation to protect tenants from harassment, and to ensure legal representation for low-income tenants in housing court.

According to Crain’s, these types of lawsuits aren’t uncommon, and are usually a way to slightly alter policies. Crain’s notes they rarely result in legal victories, but can cause problems and delays like the Willets Point megaproject in Queens.