Stop Amazon HQ2 in Long Island City
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Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s deal to bring Amazon to New York City is a bad deal for Long Island City, a bad deal for Queens, and a bad deal for New Yorkers. Its rollout has been insulting, its premise irresponsible, and its rewards insufficient. While Amazon’s promise of high paying jobs and economic development are superficially appealing, without addressing the needs of the impacted communities, this secretive deal foisted upon the people of New York will be defined in the history books by massive displacement and devastating inequity.
Long Island City already suffers from a dearth of infrastructure, schools, and open space. Our community has spent the past decade being rezoned piecemeal to line the pockets of developers with the tacit approval of our politicians. We are the fastest growing neighborhood in the United States, and unchecked development has come at the expense of affordability, environmental resilience, infrastructure, and adequate schools.
On the doorstop of Amazon’s build site, Public Housing deteriorates, as Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Houses residents struggle with the City’s complicit and criminal neglect for public health, social programs and quality of life as a whole.
Throughout Western Queens, we struggle with the grueling daily grind of getting to and from work using an overburdened and archaic transit system. Train delays cut short both professional productivity and time with our families, and have long- and short-term implications on fiscal, mental and physical health.
In Albany, our legislators have floundered in offering relief to renters, as landlords continue to increase rents across the New York City and Western Queens. Many of the protections of rent stabilization have been chipped away, as unscrupulous landlords use underhanded tactics to push residents out or exploit legal loopholes to permanently raise rent through major capital improvements and other schemes.
We have read the Memorandum of Understanding between the Empire State Development Corporation, NYC Economic Development Corporation, the City of New York and Amazon Inc. The premise of creating 25,000 good paying jobs is not, in itself, the problem. We recognize how the tech industry has created a new pathway to the middle class that has offered hope for those with the resources to pursue it. Companies such as Facebook and Google have expanded in New York City, reflecting the city’s status as an emerging tech hub with a compelling workforce and world class amenities.
However, claiming Long Island City, Western Queens and New York City as a whole has adequate infrastructure in place to both elevate and empower residents while safeguarding against displacement for those most vulnerable among us is at best, misguided; at worst, criminally negligent.
What our communities need is a comprehensive plan for their development that serves the interests of the existing community and provides a stable blueprint towards long term growth. We need universal rent control, and to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. We need immediate investment in NYCHA and public transit infrastructure. We need schools, community and green spaces, and opportunities for all residents to be able to tap into the wealth Western Queens is generating. We need our government to be open and transparent and not make deals in the dark, and support and improve existing processes for residents to be decision makers in the future of their neighborhoods. What we don’t need is Amazon.
In addition, we heed the findings of both liberal and conservative economists in rejecting the benefits of corporate welfare, finding its impact a net negative on communities and its reasoning based in corporate cronyism instead of public good.
Further, when considering Amazon’s business and labor practices, we must even more strongly denounce its occupation in Western Queens. New York is a union town, and a sanctuary state. Numerous testimonies describe Amazon discouraging its workers from the table of collective bargaining, and meeting recently with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials seeking to sell facial recognition technology that could assist with the deportation of thousands of immigrant families. New York proclaims to be built on certain values - and welcoming a company that so insidiously disregards those values in the pursuit of profit is an assault on our character as a community.
Given the above concerns about Amazon as our prospective neighbor, the outrageous economic handout offered in secret by our leaders, and the wide-ranging needs of the community, we cannot support Long Island City as the location for HQ2. PrimedOutNYC calls for an immediate moratorium on the plan to bring Amazon to New York City.
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