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Development or Gentrification? Reaching the Boiling Point

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Is anyone going to the Point Breeze zoning meeting tonight? The last one sounds like quite an adventure. Below, we publish three different points of view of that meeting: that of a newish resident, that of a developer and that of a longtime resident. Plus, we have a flyer from 2010 by the Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze. (Each person's views are his or her own and do not reflect the views of Curbed Philly, which is very Switzerland in this matter.) We have redacted the name of the one woman who is spoken of insistently. We are calling her ... REDACTED.

Michael Parker, Point Breeze resident for five years

[Last month] Point Breeze, attempted to conduct their monthly meeting. These meetings are always scheduled on the 4th Monday of every month. After arriving late to a full house of Point Breeze residents, REDACTED (and another woman I did not recognize) immediately began accusing 3 members of [community development organization] South Philadelphia Homes Inc. (SPHINC) of trying to hide the date and agenda of the meeting from the "real community of Point Breeze".

REDACTED refused to take a seat and repeatedly announced that the scheduled meeting would not be taking place. REDACTED pulled out her cell phone, opened up her email, and repeatedly announced that she never received an email notice for the meeting she was currently attending.

After refusing to allow the meeting to begin for about 20 minutes, [the meeting moderator] asked everyone that was already seated to stand up and go outside for 5 minutes. The only people allowed to stay in the building were those who were scheduled to make a presentation. Even though they were not presenters, REDACTED and the other woman never exited the building.

2 police officers from the 17th District heard REDACTED's shouting and came over to see what was going on. When everyone was allowed back in, the 2 officers also entered the building. We all took our seats and were ready for the scheduled presentations to begin.

REDACTED still refused to sit down and continued to repeatedly announce that the regularly scheduled meeting would not be taking place. One officer informed those that would not allow the meeting to start that they were being disruptive and would face arrest if they continued to do so.

His exact words were, "I don't want to arrest you, but I will."

While the 2 original officers were still standing there, a call was placed to 911 by the woman that came with REDACTED. This caused a third police officer to arrive and enter the building.

Another 30 minutes went by and the meeting was still not allowed to begin due to REDACTED's objection. Although the police threatened to arrest those who would not allow the meeting to begin, no arrests were made.

The meeting was finally cancelled and rescheduled.

Writer for OCF Realty's

At about 6:40, as the moderator was preparing to begin the meeting, two women (The famous REDACTED and another) began shouting. “We weren’t notified!”

“Why weren’t we notified?”

“You can’t have this meeting, you can’t do that!”

“We are protesting because we were not notified, we are not having this meeting tonight, REDACTED2 and REDACTED3 need to notify the community. You need to come up with another date.”

“Look at all of this here, this is not our community, and we’re not having it!”

“If you want to call up the 17th (police district) then go ahead because we’re not doing this tonight.”

“We’re gonna interrupt until it’s done fairly”

“We want a correct vote! We want a correct vote” We want fair representation! We want fair representation!”

After a few minutes of this, the moderator cleared the room except for the parties presenting. After five minutes, the community was welcomed back into the room, at which time further negotiations took place with the presenters and the two women continued to shout. The cops came.

Unbelievably, the decision was made to postpone the entire meeting for a week. The two people who came into the meeting and started shouting got what they wanted.

Just to recap: An organization that professes to represent the community allowed two extremely loud and disrespectful women with an agenda to derail a community zoning meeting that was completely full of neighborhood residents.

Was this an admission that they did a poor job publicizing this meeting, which takes place every month, on every 4th Monday? Was it a tacit endorsement of their obstructionist views? Or was it, in all likelihood, an unwillingness to confront and cast out the most radical element, even if it means compromising the legitimacy of the organization?

Next week, we’ll be fascinated to see if these women are actually able to gather together the representation that they claim is missing, or whether they stand alone in their views. We’re also taking bets on whether they will peacefully sit through a meeting. And on whether they’ll claim that a week’s notice wasn’t sufficient and attempt to submarine another meeting.

No matter what happens, it promises to be compelling theater. We’ll be outside selling the popcorn. Be there, or be screamed at by a couple of crazy people.

Flier circulated by longtime unnamed resident:

The propose 13 Condos at Point Breeze and Titian will be built by Ori Feibush, a developer, investor, owner of OFC realty and website Feibush stated publicly that he only wants to build market rate houses in Point Breeze i.e., $300,000 or higher. He has purchased over 150 properties in Point Breeze and the other side of Washington Avenue already and wants more. Majority of his buyers are newcomers that support luxury homes or condos. As a result to the community, many churches, for example, Greater Saint Matthews, Metropolitan AME, schools have closed (i.e. Pierce, Durham and Stanton (schedule to close in June 2012), small minority businesses and service organizations. His blog is where they talk about black people who stand up for their community with petty name-calling. The blog also advertises properties in Point Breeze to encourage his cult following to buy into Point Breeze. His targeting of Point Breeze has been nonstop.

It is clear that these developers and new residents are not looking to work or live with existing residents, but to take over our community like the other side of Washington Avenue. As Spike Lee says, "It's time to wake up." Take this attack very serious and stop sitting on the sidelines otherwise there will be no more Point Breeze. The other side didn't have any warning, but you do. First step: come to Zoning meeting.

2010 flier from Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze:
Wake up Point Breeze residents! You have seen the new houses from South Street commission presented a Revitilaztion Plan for Point Breeze. This plan is not for us. It seems to cater to Developers and Newcomers. They want to begin putting Luxury Home/Condos in Point Breeze. This will cause Gentrification. Gentrification is the influux of upper income, and rich residents that move into Market Rate houses ($300-$500,000) built in low income or working class urban areas. Developers begin to change low income or working class areas into upscale communities by renovating houses into condominiums, lofts and townhouses. This will begin removing the poor, seniors, fix and low income, working class families and minorities. Don't let them walk over us. Don't run away. It's happening all over Philly. Let's stand and FIGHT for our community and get the improvements WE WANT! We can Win-Yes WE CAN! Join Us. Come to Meetings. Be a Block Rep. and give copies to your neighbors. If you don't move out, they can't move in. Support living wage housing for working families and Don't Sell Out!
Zoning Meeting TONIGHT:
Monday, Jan. 30, 6pm.
Mt. Zion Pentacostal Church
1232 Point Breeze Ave.

Mt Zion Pentacostal

1232 Point Breeze Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19146