You are reading

De Blasio Takes Questions on Gentrification and Schools at Jackson Heights Town Hall

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Jeff Reed)

March 29, 2017 By Tara Law

Community members asked Mayor Bill de Blasio questions about real estate development and school safety at a town hall in Jackson Heights Wednesday night.

About 600 residents packed into the gymnasium of Joseph Pulitzer Middle School for a chance to speak directly to the mayor.

Multiple residents told the mayor that they were concerned about over development. They were worried that the neighborhood was becoming too expensive and crowded, and that small businesses were under pressure with rising rents and the influx of chain stores.

Anne Pepperman, a Jackson Heights resident, said the rent on her apartment had gone right up and the building owner is forcing her out.

“I feel like I don’t have anybody fighting for me,” Pepperman said. “I’m middle class. We have all these major things happening in Jackson Heights, and I won’t be able to enjoy them because I’ll be gone.”

De Blasio suggested putting her in touch with legal assistance to determine if the building owner is following the law.

Town hall participants also called out several major construction projects, including the 13-story building proposed for 40-31 82nd St at the former site of Jackson Heights Cinema. The property is undergoing a rezoning.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Jeff Reed)

While discussing the development, participants were critical of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Law, which de Blasio proposed and was implemented in 2016.

The law requires developers to build affordable housing when the city approves an upzoning. Critics say that too few units are required of developers in exchange for an upzoning, and that the “affordable” rentals are too expensive for many working and middle class New Yorkers.

About 36 of the 120 units planned for the 82nd Street development would be “affordable.”

Defending the development and the inclusionary housing law, De Blasio argued that all new affordable housing is of value to the community.

“Our plan allows for affordability on the site. We are interested in building affordable housing anywhere we can get it,” de Blasio said.

Critics of the 82nd Street development also noted the potential impact of Target, which is taking space in the proposed building. They were concerned about the future of small businesses on the strip. One resident asked de Blasio if he would consider a ban on chain stores in certain areas.

De Blasio rejected the possibility of placing limits on the chains, arguing that the city only has so much power to direct commerce.

“We have to be honest about how this economy works and what power the city has,” he said.

Participants also questioned the mayor about the state of New York’s schools.

The school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the lockdown at Forest Hills High School two weeks ago were on the minds of several parents, who asked what the city is doing to prevent such incidents.

The mayor said that the size and sophistication of the NYPD and tough gun laws make the city’s schools safer than in other parts of the country. School shooting threats in New York are as thoroughly investigated as potential terrorism, de Blasio said.

The NYPD responds aggressively when there are indications that a student is potentially dangerous, he said.

“If that much information was available [referring to Parkland], we would act on it. We would have acted on it a long time ago,” said de Blasio.

Several parents asked for the mayor to institute more language programming and to provide more music and arts funding.

Other community members called for a community center to be built in Jackson Heights.

A woman who identified herself as a leader of a local Filipino group said that her organization does not have a place to meet.

“We should have a cultural center here in Jackson Heights,” she said. “The fact that there are so many immigrants— we would like to share our culture and tradition.”

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
Nicolapoulis poppadoupolopadis

The mayor? He don’t care. He probably came just to get a free meal at la fusta.

Kathryn Carlson

Hi, we have lived in Jackson Hts. for 33 years, and have never seen so much trash, newspaper and plastic bottles on the sidewalks. It is disgraceful that people don’t care enough to recycle bottles and use trash receptacles.


By the time the Mayor got back to his office he forgot everything that he said.
It was just a show , you won’t see any change , you won’t see him again.
Sad but true.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Romanian nationals busted for ATM skimming scheme that involved more than 600 Queens residents: Feds

The NYPD and federal agents arrested five Romanian nationals living in Queens on Thursday for engaging in a sophisticated ATM skimming operation that involved the theft of bank account information and PIN numbers from more than 600 unsuspecting bank customers from across the borough.

The five men were named in an indictment that was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court charging them with fraud and aggravated identity theft following a long-term investigation by the NYPD, FBI and the Secret Service.

3 men sought for armed robbery in East Elmhurst home invasion near LaGuardia Airport: NYPD

The NYPD is looking for three men who allegedly robbed an East Elmhurst man of tens of thousands of dollars during a home invasion early Monday morning.

Police from the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights responded to a 911 call of an armed robbery at a townhouse located at 108-09 Ditmars Blvd. near 29th Avenue just south of LaGuardia Airport.
The victim had pulled up in front of his home just before 2 a.m. when he was approached by three suspects. One of them pulled out a firearm and forced him inside the townhouse where they stole around $30,000 in cash and a safe that contained an unspecified amount of jewelry, before exiting and driving off in a silver four-door SUV, police said.

Corona man criminally charged with sex trafficking for forcing Mexican woman into prostitution: DA

A Corona man has been indicted on sex trafficking charges for allegedly forcing a Mexican woman to engage in prostitution over a three-year period, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Wednesday.

Galindo Capultitla, 39, of 40th Road, was arraigned Tuesday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone Jr. on a seven-count indictment charging him with three counts of sex trafficking and other crimes for forcing the victim to engage in sex for money in Mexico and the United States, including in Queens. During the victim’s three-year ordeal, Capultitla allegedly hit and choked her—and even threatened to kill her family in Mexico—if she failed to hand over the money gained through sex.