Beyond the process of changes around private land, the Western Queens CLT example highlights another inroad towards community- and wellness-centered land use: preserving public land and bringing it under democratic, community-control.
Since 2014, the city has sold off 202 public lots for $1 to private developers. Yet in a recent proposal, they justified spending $14.4 billion of our money to deck over Sunnyside Yards to build more affordable housing because we are running out of public land.
This practice should be stopped immediately; as should the practice of leasing public land to private entities. All remaining public land should remain under public ownership and control.
Instead of selling property off, the city should engage residents in a process of envisioning how those buildings could be used to support community needs. Additionally, the city could pursue supporting residents in becoming the stewards and managers of the properties themselves.
Models exist like community land trusts and limited equity cooperatives and should be explored and pursued.
Over the next year, we will be exploring what this could look like, and hosting town halls with other grassroots groups to help educate ourselves and our neighbors about these possibilities.
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