By Rabbi Mayer Gurkov, a Crown Heights resident
It can’t happen in Crown Heights for a simple reason: Crown Heights is dysfunctional. There’s no leadership, there’s no accountability, and there seems to be no interest. The crazy rent is not the source of the Crown Heights issues, it happens to arise out of a leaderless, irresponsible, and selfish attitude of long time residents and so-called community leadership and activists.
The Crown Heights dysfunction is based off age-old feuds and fights. No one under 50 years old who lives in Crown Heights cares about the personal vendettas of the 70’s and 80’s. Certainly the childish gimmicks of the 90’s and 00’s perpetrated by unqualified and incoherent individuals, though causing much harm, don’t really register as memorable by anyone in the community.
This community has so much ancient infighting, but most people don’t really care anymore. I’m not just referring to the cheirum and money fights, but even the plain old struggles for power. A community with endless bickering just leads to endless chaos.
Here’s a list of practical issues which have direct consequences for every single member of the Crown Heights community (including the non-Jews).
These issues could be very much taken care of if we had people who were knowledgeable and caring activists, interested helping others rather than filling their walls with photo ops.
1) Alternate side parking can be reduced to just one day a week (on each side (as it is in Borough Park, Flatbush, Williamsburg and others)) if we had people who could advocate to the community boards (they submit the reports to the city) in an eloquent and smart manner.
2) The proposed bike lane on Kingston Avenue shouldn’t have even been a thought, but unfortunately we don’t have people with the will to make sure it doesn’t happen. We need community leaders to tackle this issue, and fast.
3) With all the buildings going up (see previous article Crown Heights is Unaffordable) it seems like all of the builders are getting a free pass to forgo on parking spots. Each building that goes up without parking spots with city clearance, is making it almost impossible to park on the street. It seems like the builders have more connections with the city than those in Crown Heights who claim to have power and influence.
We need people who have real political prowess, who are caring about these (and many other) issues to take a lead on this. Some may suggest that we have Community Council/Vaad Hakohol for this, but that’s obviously not the case and Part III will tackle that mess of a situation.