Open Letter to NY Elected Officials

September 28, 2016
Dear Elected Official,
We invite you to join Chinatown and Lower East Side community members and organizations in a protest tomorrow of Mayor deBlasio and his Department of City Planning’s proposal to cut out most of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) Rezoning plan. We are outraged that our elected and appointed officials are railroading through a plan to split up the community-created CWG Rezoning Plan and exclude Latinos, African Americans and the majority of Chinese from rezoning protection.
As you know, the CWG was created by the city nearly 8 years ago due to the public outcry and dissent against the discriminatory East Village rezoning that left vast areas of the Lower East Side and Chinatown vulnerable to luxury development and displacement. For years, representatives for Council Member Margaret Chin, members of CB3 and specifically CB3’s Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee took part in this city-sponsored vehicle, the CWG, to create a 197c rezoning plan with extensive community input and engagement. Throughout this time, the community–Chinese, Latino, African American and Caucasian constituents of CB3–have voiced their needs and concerns, and worked together with Community Boards 1, 2 and 3 to reach a comprehensive, inclusive rezoning plan. This plan has been reviewed, voted on and approved by the members of CWG, as well as CB3.
Now, after years of hard work and input by tens of thousands of community members, DCP is undermining democracy and dismissing CWG as nothing but advisory. Worst of all, excluding most of our community from protection is continuing a legacy of discrimination and racist exclusion of the Lower East Side, pitting people of color against each other to fight for crumbs. We cannot wait another 8 years, even another 2 years for the city to implement this rezoning plan.
The CB3 committee meeting tomorrow at which DCP is presenting a plan for Chinatown is a shameful display of phony democracy. The decision has already been made by the City to split up the full CWG rezoning plan and protect only a small part of Chinatown. It is shameful of the City to try and buy off a few Chinese while leaving the African American and Latino community and even the major parts of the Chinese community at the mercy of rampant luxury development. We reject this sham of a democracy. The people of this community have voiced their needs time and again for equal protection. While the CWG rezoning plan has gone through many compromises, we will NOT compromise to be unequal.
Please join us at our protest tomorrow, Thu. September 29, 6 p.m. in front of Middle School 131, 100 Hester Street at Forsyth Street. Join us in demanding that DCP and city elected officials immediately move forward with the full CWG rezoning plan, as it was approved by CWG so that our entire community can be protected from displacement.

Protest Council Member Margaret Chin’s Plan to Carve Up LES & Chinatown

Thursday, September 29th at 6pm in front of Dr. Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131, 100 Hester Street at Forsyth Street

At this Thursday’s CB3 meeting, Council Member Margaret Chin will support moving forward only one small subarea of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) Rezoning Plan while leaving vast areas of the waterfront, the Bowery, and private and public housing vulnerable to increased luxury development. 

Since the exclusionary 2008 East Village Rezoning Plan, the Lower East Side and Chinatown community has fought for a rezoning plan to provide equal protection for the excluded area in CB3. The CWG Rezoning Plan was a collaboration of over 50 community groups, Community Boards 1, 2, and 3, developers and small proprietors. The plan was approved by CB3, and most recently received attention and support by several candidates for the 65th Assembly District. Despite this, the NYC Department of City Planning is refusing to consider passing the plan as it was created and approved by CWG. To add insult to injury, Council Member Chin is acting as a foot soldier for Mayor de Blasio, claiming to help Chinese by discriminating against African American, Latino and even Chinese of Community District 3.
We demand that Council Member Chin stop discriminating against people of color by further dividing the community and support the CWG plan as a whole.

We demand that Community Board 3 reaffirm its commitment to the full plan

We demand that and Mayor de Blasio adopt the full CWG rezoning plan 

We urge everyone—residents, workers, seniors, small businesses and all community stakeholders—to join us to protest on Thursday, September 29th at 6pm in front of Dr. Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131, 100 Hester Street at Forsyth Street.

RSVP on Facebook!

Tuesday, 6/14, Rally + Press Conference at Dr. Jays

Shame on Dr. Jay’s Owner Joseph Betesh!

Slumlord Millionaire Fakes Settlement, Pushes for Evictions!


479 Fulton Street, Downtown Brooklyn

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 10am

We, tenants of 83 & 85 Bowery, Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side and supporters, are calling on slumlord millionaire Joseph Betesh, owner of Dr. Jay’s, to right his wrongdoings.

Over a year ago, Betesh tried to evict one of the tenants in attempt to push all of the long-time residents out. The tenants came together, vowing not to give up until they win. The tenants sued Betesh for nearly 200 housing repair violations, and the landlord has been ordered to complete them by June 20th or face contempt and possible arrest. The landlord has since dismissed the housing court eviction case against the tenant, and was told by the judge to cover the tenant’s lawyer’s fee. Still Betesh is delaying repairs, using the “deteriorating housing condition” as an excuse to sue all the tenants and kick them out of their homes, even though everyone knows he is losing the case.

Last month, at a court hearing, Betesh’s lawyer misled the public to believe they reached a settlement with tenants to give them 99-year-long rent-stabilized leases and not evict them. In actuality, Betesh disregarded the tenants’ engineer’s proof that the necessary court-ordered repairs can be done with them remaining in their homes, and insists on them moving out in order to complete the repairs. This is just another excuse to push for eviction.

We demand slumlord Betesh immediately:

  • Complete the court-ordered repairs with the tenants’ engineer’s supervision
  • Stop the dirty tactics to evict the families from 83 & 85 Bowery
  • Register the two buildings as rent-stabilized

Join us!

Chinatown Tenants Make Legal Breakthrough Against Millionaire Slumlord

Following last week’s protest of three hundred Chinatown and Lower East Side residents, workers and supporters, the 83 & 85 Bowery tenants have made a breakthrough in holding their landlord Joseph Betesh accountable for allowing the buildings to fall into disrepair.
Yesterday, a housing court
judge ordered the 83 & 85 Bowery landlord to repair major violations including a sloping staircase and sloping floors within 60 days. If the repairs are not
done, the landlord could face arrest and jail time.
Since Mayor de Blasio took office, he has followed in the footsteps of the Bloomberg administration, insisting our community’s demand for a rezoning plan is “too ambitious.” Instead, he has pushed through a broad-sweeping citywide zoning that will further protect neighborhoods like the East Village, while leaving ourmajority Asian and Latino community a real estate prairie, as described by the New York Times. As long as we do not have the same protections, our community will face thousands more evictions. Enough is enough, we will not stand for being treated as second-class citizens!
We are encouraged by the progress with 83 & 85 Bowery, as we continue to fight for equal treatment for our neighborhood, starting with adoption of the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan.
Find out how to get involved!

Bedford + Bowery: Dr. Jay’s Mogul Accused of Tenant Harassment on the Bowery

By Kavitha Surana: More than 100 Chinatown residents and their supporters crowded onto the sidewalk in front of 83 and 85 Bowery yesterday afternoon, marching around the block and gumming up traffic. The rally was part of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown’s ongoing effort to draw attention to tenant harassment cases and push for height limits and rent stabilization in the neighborhood.

Read the whole article >>

Bowery Boogie: Ongoing Tenant Harassment on the Bowery Sparks Rally Against Landlord Joseph Betesh

Embattled tenants of 83-85 Bowery are still struggling against their landlord of three years, Joseph Betesh. The Dr. Jay’s magnate purchased these adjacent tenements back in 2013 alongside ten other Bowery buildings in a blockbusterportfolio deal valued at $62 million. It didn’t take long for the alleged harassment to begin.
Holdout tenants subsequently organized to fight Betesh and his purported inaction in repairing the structurally challenged buildings. (This is a common harassment tactic by slumlords.) The activists are now demanding the city take action to “bring criminal charges against millionaire landlord Joseph Betesh.” A rally was held yesterday to gain visibility and support for the cause. Hundreds of supporters were reportedly in the ranks.