The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAND
LEONARD B. SAND, U.S.D.J.
[SEE ILLUSTRATION IN ORIGINAL]
After nearly one hundred days of trial, during which eighty-four witnesses testified and thirty-eight depositions, as well as thousands of exhibits, were received in evidence, this Court is called upon to decide whether the City of Yonkers and the Yonkers Board of Education have intentionally created or maintained racial segregation in the City's housing and schools. Before embarking on that task, we pause to make clear why that is the issue, and why it falls upon this Court to resolve it.
First, the primary issue in this case is whether the City of Yonkers and the Yonkers Board of Education intentionally segregated its housing and schools, since it is clear that by all relevant standards, Yonkers and its public school system are, in fact, racially segregated. The principal question in controversy is whether the segregated condition of the City's housing and schools resulted from the force of circumstances unintended by those who made the decisions which shaped the housing and schools of the community, or whether this condition resulted from an intent to segregate by race.
This Court is called upon to resolve this controversy because the United States Department of Justice has commenced and has maintained, through two administrations, an action alleging that the housing and schools in Yonkers have been intentionally segregated by race, and the Yonkers NAACP has intervened in that action.
The action was brought after efforts at conciliation of the "schools" portion of this litigation failed but with the assurances (made to Yonkers and to this Court by the plaintiffs and the Board of Education) that the initiation of this suit would not end efforts to resolve this controversy consensually.
Mindful of the cost which this litigation has entailed,
the divisiveness which it has engendered, the need for community support for voluntary remedial action to be successful -- in short, the overall desirability of a resolution which originated with the parties themselves -- more than the usual efforts at settlement were made. This included appointment of a Special Master, whose sole function was to attempt to bring the parties to a consensual resolution. See separate Opinion filed this date. By the closest of margins, the fruits of these efforts, an agreement among the Board of Education, the United States and the NAACP, conditional upon funding by the City Council, was rejected by that body. Hence, all efforts to consensually resolve this matter having failed, the task is ours and we shall proceed to discharge it.
We set forth below, in detail commensurate with the voluminous and complex nature of the record, the findings of fact and conclusions of law which lead to our determination that the plaintiffs have sustained their burden of proving that Yonkers' housing and schools have been intentionally segregated by race. In performing this inquiry, we have examined the actions of many officials who we are certain were entirely well-meaning public servants acting in accordance with their perception of what was feasible in the political and socioeconomic circumstances of Yonkers and in the best interests of that community. In many instances, acts were taken by elected officials in response to strong constituent pressures and perceptions of political reality. Members of the Board of Education also acted under similar circumstances. We are not passing moral judgments with respect to the actions of those who steered the destiny of Yonkers; nor do we suggest that the implementation of measures contrary to the political climate of the times would have been an easy task. Our inquiry is whether, under applicable legal standards, actions taken by the City of Yonkers and the Board of Education, with respect to housing and public schools, were in whole or in part intentionally segregative. We find that they were, for the reasons set forth below.
The City of Yonkers is one of the five largest cities in the State of New York. Its population, according to 1980 census figures, is 195,331. Yonkers is located in Westchester County and is bounded on the west by the Hudson River, on the east by the Bronx River, on the south by the City of New York, and on the north by the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson and the Town of Greenburgh. The City is approximately three to three and one-half miles wide, four to six miles long, and encompasses some eighteen to twenty square miles. It is divided lengthwise by a series of ridges and valleys which run north to south, roughly parallel to the Hudson River. The Saw Mill and Nepperhan Rivers flow through the more western valleys.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, Yonkers evolved from what was primarily a farming village into a significant industrial and commercial center. This development was concentrated in the Southwest section of the City in the areas along and between the Nepperhan, Saw Mill and Hudson Rivers, and along the Hudson River Railroad, which opened in 1849. Factories were built along the rivers, and a central commercial district, known as Getty Square, developed between the factories and along the railroad. From the latter portion of the nineteenth century up to World War II, Getty Square was the hub of commerce for Westchester cities along the Hudson as far north as Peekskill. With the factories, came large amounts of worker housing -- generally poor in quality and heavily clustered in the valleys of the Southwest section of the City. The Northwest and East sections of Yonkers remained largely rural until the early 1920s when the Saw Mill River Parkway opened and a pattern of low density suburban housing development began. The pattern continued and accelerated with the construction of the Harlem Division Railroad, the Bronx River Parkway, the New York State Thruway, and the Sprain Brook Parkway -- all of which run in a north-south direction and provide commuters with easy access to New York City.
The three decades following World War II were the time of greatest housing development in Northwest and East Yonkers. Initially, the primary form of development was the single family housing subdivision. Somewhat later, in the 1960s and 1970s, multi-family apartment buildings were built in increasing numbers along the major arterial routes and the commuter rail lines.
As the Northwest and East sections of the City expanded, however, the Southwest entered a period of decline. The housing stock deteriorated, and was not replaced or renovated on any significant scale. In 1954, with the closing of the Alexander Smith Carpet Mills, the Southwest's largest employer, the area began to lose its industrial base. In addition, the Getty Square central business district began to stagnate, a phenomenon attributed primarily to lack of adequate highway access and parking, and to increased competition from shopping malls such as the Cross County Shopping Center.
In 1949, with the passage of the National Housing Act of 1949, the City embarked upon a series of urban renewal and subsidized housing programs that have continued to the present day. Both programs have been largely confined to the Southwest section of the City. As of 1949, the City had two subsidized housing projects (the 550-unit Mulford Gardens and the 250-unit Cottage Place Gardens), both of which were located in Southwest Yonkers. Between 1949 and 1982, thirty-six more subsidized housing projects were developed, thirty-four of which are also located in Southwest Yonkers.
The two exceptions are Curran Court, a 186-unit project for senior citizens on Martin Ray Place in East Yonkers, and Hall Court, a 48-unit project for families in an East Yonkers neighborhood known as Runyon Heights. In all, the Southwest contains 6,644 or 97.7% of the City's 6,800 existing units of subsidized housing.
The extreme concentration of subsidized housing that exists in Southwest Yonkers today is matched by an extreme concentration of the City's 18.8% minority population.
According to 1980 census figures, Southwest Yonkers accounts for 37.5% of the City's total population, but contains 80.7% of the City's minority population. Seven of the Southwest's seventeen census tracts have a minority population greater than 50%. Six more have a minority population ranging between 25% and 50%. None has a minority population that is less than 9%.
In contrast, only two of the thirty-two census tracts outside the Southwest have a minority population greater than 6%. One is census tract 7, whose 28.6% minority population is clustered in the southern end of the tract, where it abuts Southwest Yonkers and along the Hudson Division Railroad on the western edge of the tract.
The second is census tract 18 in East Yonkers, which contains Runyon Heights, a longstanding enclave of black home owners, and the site of Hall Court, the only subsidized housing project for families that is located outside Southwest Yonkers. The minority population of census tract 18 is 79.8%. The remaining thirty census tracts have minority populations ranging from 1.5% to 6.0%, with half having less than 3%. GX 1225.1, 1225.6.
II. STATEMENT OF CLAIMS AND LEGAL STANDARDS
Plaintiffs contend that the existing concentration of subsidized housing in Southwest Yonkers reflects a pattern and practice of housing discrimination by the City in violation of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act)
and the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution.
Specifically, plaintiffs contend that City officials, in response to constituent pressures, have made the preservation of existing patterns of racial segregation a controlling factor in site selection for subsidized housing. According to the plaintiffs, subsidized housing for families has been equated with minority housing, and for that reason, has been confined to the disproportionately minority areas of the City -- most often, the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers. Subsidized housing for senior citizens is alleged to have been less consistently identified with minority housing, and therefore less consistently confined to minority areas. Nonetheless, according to plaintiffs, it, too, has met racially influenced resistance from area residents, often based on the concern that it might be converted to housing for families. Plaintiffs contend that the Saw Mill River Parkway has been viewed as the barrier separating overwhelmingly white East Yonkers from the racially mixed (and, since the mid-1960s, increasingly minority) population of Southwest Yonkers, and that City officials have been consistently unwilling, even when strongly pressed by federal authorities, to breach that racial barrier by placing subsidized housing for families east of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
The City, in turn, contends that its selection of sites for subsidized housing has been in no respect discriminatory, and that any segregative effect which the site selections may have had was entirely unintended. In particular, the City insists that the extreme concentration of subsidized housing in Southwest Yonkers reflects only a consistent strategy, adopted for reasons unrelated to race, to use subsidized housing to help rebuild Southwest Yonkers. In defense of that strategy, the City argues that it was recommended by outside consultants as well as by its own planning staff, and that it was consistent with, and indeed even encouraged by, federal housing and urban renewal policy.
As the contentions of the parties suggest, the primary focus of the inquiry now before us is whether the actions challenged by plaintiffs were undertaken with discriminatory intent -- specifically, the intent to create or maintain racial segregation. An action which merely has the unintended effect of creating or maintaining racial segregation violates neither the Constitution, Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation, 429 U.S. 252, 264-65, 50 L. Ed. 2d 450, 97 S. Ct. 555 (1977) (Arlington Heights I) (citing Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 48 L. Ed. 2d 597, 96 S. Ct. 2040 (1976)), nor, except in certain limited circumstances, the Fair Housing Act.
A plaintiff is not required to prove, however, that segregative intent was the sole or even primary motive underlying the defendant's actions. Indeed, as the Supreme Court noted in Arlington Heights I, [r]arely can it be said that a legislature or administrative body operating under a broad mandate made a decision motivated solely by a single concern, or even that a particular purpose was the "dominant" or "primary" one. In fact, it is because legislators and administrators are properly concerned with balancing numerous competing considerations that courts refrain from reviewing the merits of their decisions, absent a showing of arbitrariness or irrationality. But racial discrimination is not just another competing consideration. When there is a proof that a discriminatory purpose has been a motivating factor in the decision, this judicial deference is no longer justified.
429 U.S. at 265-66 (footnotes omitted).
A policy of racial segregation, in other words, is impermissible even as a secondary motive for action, and "cannot be justified by the good intentions with which other laudable goals are pursued." Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, 296 F. Supp. 907, 914 (N.D.Ill. 1969), (citing Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 98 L. Ed. 873, 74 S. Ct. 686 (1954)); see also Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 16, 3 L. Ed. 2d 5, 78 S. Ct. 1401 (1958) (quoting Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60, 62 L. Ed. 149, 38 S. Ct. 16 (1917)); United States v. City of Parma, 494 F. Supp. 1049, 1054 (N.D.Ohio 1980), aff'd in relevant part, 661 F.2d 562 (6th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 926, 102 S. Ct. 1972, 72 L. Ed. 2d 441 (1982).
The factors that are to be considered in determining whether actions were taken with discriminatory intent include the degree of any discriminatory effect; the historical background of the actions; the specific sequence of events leading up to the actions; the presence or absence of departures from normal procedures or substantive criteria; and the legislative history of the actions. Arlington Heights I, supra, 429 U.S. at 266-68.
To prove a pattern and practice of discrimination, a plaintiff must prove that it was a regular (although not necessarily uniform) practice of the defendant to act with discriminatory intent. See United States v. City of Parma, supra, 494 F. Supp. at 1095. And in determining whether the plaintiff has carried that burden of proof, the court must view the evidence as a whole. Id. at 1055 (citing cases). As the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio explained in United States v. City of Parma : The character and effect of a general policy is to be judged in its entirety, and not by dismembering it as if it consisted of unrelated parts... Even intrinsically lawful acts may close that character when they are constituent elements of an unlawful scheme. Id. (citations omitted). In large part, this rule is no more than a reminder of the general rule of evidence that when actions having a particular effect are repeated, the inference is stronger that the effect of the actions was intended. See 2 Wigmore, Evidence § 312 (3d ed. 1940).
III. THE CITY'S EARLY ACTIVITIES UNDER THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT OF 1949
Upon passage of the National Housing Act of 1949, the City of Yonkers quickly applied for the federal housing assistance made available under Title III of the Act, and just as quickly encountered a serious obstacle to its ability to make use of the assistance. The City's announcement of the first proposed site for a public housing project to be funded under the Act (a site in Northwest Yonkers) prompted immediate and strong opposition from area residents and civic associations. The phenomenon was one which would repeat itself with respect to most of the other sites subsequently proposed, and would strongly influence the willingness of the Planning Board and the City Council to approve the sites. The result was the loss of available and badly needed federal housing assistance, the repeated compromise of stated planning objectives, and, eventually, endangerment of the City's entire urban renewal program due to the City's consequent inability to provide relocation housing for those displaced by urban renewal. The sites that prompted community opposition almost invariably were those in overwhelmingly white East and Northwest Yonkers or the overwhelmingly white areas of Southwest Yonkers. The few sites that appear to have prompted little or no community opposition, and that successfully emerged from the site selection process, tended to be in the more heavily minority areas of the City -- and in particular, in and around the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers.
A. THE PROCEDURE FOR THE SELECTION AND APPROVAL OF SITES FOR PUBLIC HOUSING
Title III of the National Housing Act provides funds for the construction of public housing -- that is, low-income housing owned and operated by a local housing authority.
Under the Act, the housing authority applies for a "reservation" of funds sufficient to build a certain number of housing units. Sites are then selected by the housing authority, submitted for any necessary local approvals, and once locally approved, submitted to the federal authorities.
The agency authorized to proposed, construct, and operate public housing in Yonkers is the Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority ("MHA"), a public corporation organized in the 1930s pursuant to New York's Public Housing Law. Under that law, any projects undertaken by the MHA must be approved by a majority vote of both the City's Planning Board and the City Council, or (if the Planning Board disapproves), by a three-quarters majority of the City Council.
The City Council consists of twelve members plus the Mayor, all of whom are elected for two-year terms. Throughout the years in question, each of the City's twelve wards held a separate election to choose a representative on the Council. The only member chosen in a city-wide election was the Mayor, who serves on the Council as a Councilmember-at-large.
The Planning Board and the MHA Board each consists of seven members. Planning Board members are appointed by the Mayor; MHA Board members are appointed by the City Manager, who, under the City Charter, is the Chief executive and administrative officer of the City, and who, in turn, is appointed by the City Council.
B. SITE SELECTION FOR THE CITY'S 1949 ALLOCATION OF PUBLIC HOUSING UNITS
City officials were eager to take advantage of the housing assistance made available under Title III of the 1949 Housing Act. Due to the rapidly deteriorating condition of the housing stock in the Southwest, there was, in general, a serious need for decent low-cost housing in Yonkers. In addition, the construction of public housing was perceived to be important to the urban renewal plans which the City had begun to formulate in response to the urban renewal assistance made available by Title I of the 1949 Act.
Title I established a program of loans and capital grants for slum clearance and redevelopment; the program contemplated that cities would acquire and clear blighted land, prepare the site, and then sell or lease it to private enterprises for redevelopment. Title I also required, however, that the cities provide "decent, safe and sanitary" housing for persons displaced from urban renewal areas, and city officials considered public housing to be the only likely source of relocation housing for families living in urban renewal areas. GX 1058.16.
In August of 1949, a few months after the passage of the 1949 Act, the City applied for a reservation of 1,000 units of public housing, and received an allocation of 750 units. The deadline for site submission was August of 1950. It took the City nine years, however, to approve a sufficient number of sites to make use of that first year's allocation of public housing units, and the chief reason for the delay was recurring community opposition to the various sites proposed.
The MHA announced its first proposed site in February of 1950. The site was a vacant parcel of land on Nepperhan and Roberts Avenue, an overwhelmingly white area in Northwest Yonkers. GX 1225.41. Among the stated reasons for the selection of the site was that the use of vacant land (as opposed to a site which required clearance of existing structures) was less costly and would eliminate the need for relocating those displaced by the clearance of the site -- a task that had proven to be a major obstacle to the timely completion of Cottage Place Gardens, the second of the City's two existing public housing projects. GX 1058.5; 1053.27.
Within a week of the MHA's announcement of the Nepperhan/Roberts site, however, a neighborhood group called the Rose Hill Community Association adopted a resolution opposing the choice. Copies of the resolution were sent to the MHA, the City Planning Board and the City Council. GX 1058.6, 1058.9. A few days later, the Yonkers Council of Civic & Taxpayers Associations joined the opposition. GX 1058.8. The Rose Hill resolution urged that public housing be used to clear slums, and it maintained that the Nepperhan/Roberts site was, in any case, inappropriate for public housing due to inadequate school, transportation, and shopping facilities. "Locating this project in a present slum area," the resolution added, "would not have a school problem as the school probably already exists." GX 1058.9. The Nepperhan/Roberts site was subsequently disapproved by the Planning Board, GX 1058.17, an action which prompted a letter of commendation from the Yonkers Council of Civic & Taxpayers Associations. GX 1058.22.
At least two other sites formally proposed by the MHA soon thereafter likewise prompted strong community opposition. Indeed, the volume of complaints received by the Mayor's office with respect to the various sites being considered for public housing was so great that two members of the City Council were appointed to attend MHA meetings, consult with the MHA Board, and in general "let the public know that the [City] Council [had] an interest" in site selection. GX 1204.4.
The two sites in question -- Park Hill Avenue at Van Cortlandt Park Avenue and Lake Avenue -- were both in heavily white areas of Southwest Yonkers. GX 1225.41. In addition, both were originally supported by the councilmen representing the wards in which the sites were located (the seventh and sixth wards respectively), and then subsequently opposed by those councilmen, after local residents had made their own opposition known. Seventh ward residents appeared at a Planning Board meeting held to consider the Park Hill Avenue site and submitted a petition in opposition. A resident identifying himself as a spokesman for the group stated that "it was not in the best interests of the City of Yonkers and certainly not to the best interests of adjacent property owners, to place this project on this site." GX 1058.24. The resident contended that the "terrain [was] irregular" and that the project "would have a tendency to harm property values in the neighborhood...." Id. A few days later, a new article reported that the councilman for the seventh ward, who had previously asked that his ward be surveyed for possible sites, had written to the Chairman of the City Planning Board (with a copy to press), asking that the Park Hill Avenue site be excluded from consideration and expressing his disappointment that the Nepperhan/Roberts site in Northwest Yonkers had been rejeced rejected. GX 1058.25. No further action was taken on the seventh ward site.
Similarly, a site on Lake Avenue in the sixth ward was originally recommended by the ward councilman and approved by the Planning Board and City Council. GX 1058.31, 1058.37, 1058.43, 1058.47. A subsequent attempt to expand the site, however, resulted in strong public opposition to both the expansion and the site itself. Representatives of an ad hoc committee of sixth ward residents appeared at a Planning Board meeting to present a petition in opposition and to speak against the site. GX 1058.47. The committee's objections were repeated at two additional Planning Board meetings held several weeks later, at which time the ward councilman announced that he, too, was now opposed to the site. GX 1058.48; GX 1058.51. The Planning Board voted unanimously to disapprove the requested extension, and the following week the MHA voted to abandon the site. GX 1204.6. Area residents appeared at the MHA meeting with a petition bearing 1,000 signatures which, they maintained, "barely scratch[ed] the surface of those who object to the site." Id. A spokesman for the protesters mentioned in passing the inadequacy of school and transportation facilities, but then characterized those as "minor objections," and stated that the "real objection" to a housing project on the site was the effect that it would have on property values in the area. He predicted that it would cause "financial ruin" to neighboring property owners. Id.
By December of 1950, three months had passed since the deadline for submitting sites for the City's 1949 allocation of 750 public housing units, yet the City had approved and put into development only one site. The site was on Palisade Avenue, in one of the more heavily minority areas of Southwest Yonkers, slightly to the south of, and halfway between, the City's two existing public housing projects. GX 1225.41. The site had apparently prompted no public opposition, and although the City's Planning Director had suggested that the site was better suited for industrial use, it had been approved and was scheduled for 274 units of public housing. GX 1058.37; 1058.38.
In December, a federal official appeared at a meeting of the MHA and told the City that it faced imminent loss of the nearly 500 units remaining in its reservation unless additional units were put into development immediately. GX 1204.7. The official also cautioned that funding decisions for future years would take into account whether the City had been able to make use of previous allocations. Id. The City responded by voting to increase the number of units scheduled for the Palisade Avenue site to 415, despite a prior recommendation by the Planning Board that the size of public housing be limited to 250 units so as "to reduce their impact on the neighborhoods where they are located" and so that they might "be better integrated with other types of housing existing or to be built in the project areas." GX 1058.16 at 11767. When the 143-unit Schlobohm Houses opened on Palisade Avenue, all of the City's 1,213 units of public housing were concentrated within several blocks of each other in Southwest Yonkers.
In 1951 through 1953, efforts continued to find approvable sites for the more than 300 public housing units remaining in the City's 1949 allocation. Eleven sites were formally proposed by the MHA (six in the Southwest, two in the Northwest, and three in East Yonkers), but none was approved and submitted to the federal authorities, and the remaining units of public housing were lost by the City when the funding legislation expired in 1953.
Once again, the period was characterized by pervasive community opposition to the various sites proposed. City officials were heard to observe during these years that there seemed to be opposition to every site proposed, GX 1058.65, that "[s]ome civic organizations are in favor of public housing as long as you don't put it in their neighborhood," GX 1059.4, and that the more time that was given to the consideration of a site, the more objections there were. GX 1204.13. The Yonkers Council of Civic & Taxpayers Associations meanwhile continued to urge that public housing be used solely to clear slums, GX 1058.102; 1059.6, and it was joined in that position by other residents, GX 1059.1; 1058.86, and even, on occasion, by some councilmen. GX 1204.13.
At least eight of the eleven sites formally considered during these years (including all three east side sites) prompted opposition from area residents, local civic associations, and ward councilmen.
And once again, a dominant concern -- particularly in connection with the sites proposed in East Yonkers -- was the effect that a public housing project would have on surrounding property values.
With respect to one East Yonkers site, for example, a letter sent to the Planning Board and quoted by the press objected to the prospect of being "uprooted" from the neighborhood and stated that it was "a well-known fact that slum-clearance projects often lead to the eventual deterioration of the surrounding community by the element which they attract." GX 1059.5. Various neighborhood associations likewise contended that selecting one of the East side sites proposed "would be seriously detrimental to [the] well-being ... and interest" of area residents and indeed of the City as a whole. GX 1059.7; see also GX 1059.6; 1059.8; 1059.9. The president of one of those associations suggested to the City Planning Board that the East side sites under consideration should be reserved for the same "class of people now there," GX 1059.9, and argued that the "people a public housing project would serve" would in any case find it burdensome to travel to East Yonkers. Id.
Edward O'Neill, the councilman for the East side ward in which the proposed sites were located, likewise argued strongly against their appropriateness for public housing. Soon after the sites were announced, O'Neill publicly declared that he was "not opposed to low-rent housing, but it was inconceivable to [him] that it should be located in areas where there is no possible need for it and where those areas cannot possible handle it." GX 1059.6. O'Neill noted that "practically every civic and social group in [his own and a neighboring East side] ward has gone on record strongly opposing the location of low rent housing on premium land," and that since the East side schools were already overcrowded, the addition of 335 families "would cause irreparable harm." Id. In addition, O'Neill appeared at a Planning Board meeting held to consider the sites and argued that putting public housing in "fine, residential" communities would be "a body blow to [the City's] finances." GX 1059.9; GX 1059.10. O'Neill appealed to the Board "as property owners," suggesting that they surely knew what public housing does to the surrounding areas. If you put housing in an area not desirable for it you do a disservice to the people in that neighborhood. Many people have sunk their last cent into their homes. GX 1059.10.
Like the sites opposed by area residents in 1950, the eight sites opposed in 1951 through 1953 all were in areas of the City that were overwhelmingly white. GX 1225.41. Two of the three sites for which there is little or no evidence of opposition -- including one (the Waring site) which was strongly supported by some civic associations and councilmen as "ideal" for public housing -- were in the downtown (and more heavily minority) portion of Southwest Yonkers. Id.17 MHA members characterized the Waring site as a "realistic" choice that had the "greatest chance" of winning City Council approval and proposed it twice as the final deadline for site submission drew near in 1953. GX 1059.4; 1204.18. The Planning Board, however, rejected the site each time, explaining that it was poorly situated for residential use and in an area that was already overcongested. GX 1059.11; 1059.17.
In 1956, under new funding legislation, the City was able to renew its reservation of the 335 public housing units remaining in its 1949 allocation. However, when site selection efforts resumed in 1956, the pattern of community opposition resumed as well. Despite formal consideration of at least eight sites in 1956 and 1957, and despite repeated expressions of concern by City officials that readily available housing assistance might once again be lost, and that the City's urban renewal plans might be delayed for lack of relocation housing, see e.g., GX 1060.16; 1060.23; 1060.25; 1060.41; 1062.2; 1062.19, the City did not approve a single site for public housing.
Four sites (two in Southwest Yonkers and two in East Yonkers) were formally proposed by the MHA in 1956. Three prompted vigorous community opposition; the fourth (Western Avenue in Southwest Yonkers) was opposed by the Planning Board on the ground that it was in the path of a proposed arterial route. None was approved by the City Council.
With respect to two of the three sites that prompted community opposition -- St. Nick's Oval in East Yonkers and a site on Fillmore and Garfield Streets in Southwest Yonkers (commonly known as the Russian American Memorial Park or RAMP site) -- the pattern was the same as in previous years. The sites were in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods, GX 1225.41, and were vigorously opposed by area residents and neighborhood associations at rallies and in petitions and letters. See generally GX 1060.
The third site, however, presented a variation on the theme. The site (Ridgeview Avenue) was in Runyon Heights, a long-standing and self-contained enclave of black homeowners in East Yonkers, and its proposal produced the first apparent evidence of open discussion of the racial implications of site selection for public housing. An attorney for one of the Runyon Heights neighborhood associations told the City Council that the trend had moved "away from putting housing sites in minority areas, as it has a tendency to create slums" and argued that the City "must give this area a chance to break its bounds," saying that "if we drop a housing project in there, it will never have a chance." P-I 105-17. A spokesman for the Yonkers branch of the NAACP similarly declared that the organization was "disturbed" to find a project being proposed for an area that was so heavily minority, warning that the project could become a "Negro project" and the school that served it a "Negro school." Id. A representative of the Urban League of Westchester County also appeared before the City Council and opposed the project, arguing that studies had shown that when a housing project was put in a predominately black area, it became "difficult to obtain [a] nonsegregated occupancy." Id.
At two City Council sessions attended by some 400 to 1,000 area residents, the Council voted to disapprove all three sites -- actions which reportedly prompted applause and cheers from the audience. GX 1060.23; 1060.40; P-I 105-42. Although the votes were unanimous, there were expressions of concern by some council members about the effect of the votes since the new deadline for site submission was only a few days away. Id. As the last site (St. Nick's Oval) was disapproved, one councilman observed that he felt the vote was "signing the death knell" for the city's reservation of housing units, and that the City could not hope to obtain urban renewal funds unless it had a place to relocate displacees. P-I 105-42.
However, the City was able to obtain yet another extension of the deadline, and site selection efforts continued. In 1957 and 1958, community opposition was a frequent topic of discussion in site selection meetings and press reports. See generally GX 1062, 1063. In January of 1957, for example, the councilman for the fourth ward proposed a tenth ward site, saying that its relatively isolated location made it "a natural" for public housing since "no indignant citizens could come and protest." GX 1062.1. Protests were reported, however, by the tenth ward councilman, who promised to defeat the proposal. GX 1062.3, and the MHA voted unanimously to reject the site. GX 1062.5.
Meanwhile, two Southwest Yonkers sites were proposed by private developers for Mitchell-Lama projects, a state-funded subsidized housing program for middle-income (and, therefore, usually white) residents. The proposals prompted no opposition, and the City Council readily approved the tax abatements needed to enable the two projects -- Sunset Green (a 70-unit cooperative on Hawthorne Avenue) and Sunnyside Manor (a 121-unit rental building on Sunnyside Drive) -- to go forward. GX 1061; 1066.
In the spring of 1958, the MHA tried again and proposed five more sites for public housing. Three were in Southwest Yonkers (Stanley Avenue; School Street; and Western Avenue); and two were in East Yonkers (the old School 1 site and Smart Avenue). GX 1063.2. Emmett Burke, the Secretary-Director of the MHA, described the sites to the Planning Board as "the least objectionable" of those surveyed but nonetheless that there would be "a lot of objections on the grounds of race or age in certain sites." GX 1063.8. Burke went on to observe that "[m]any people simply do not want public housing." Id. The Planning Board approved the Stanley Avenue, Smart Avenue, and School 1 sites, and disapproved the School Street and Western Avenue sites (the latter for the second time) on the ground that lay in the path of a proposed arterial route. Id. Two of the sites approved by the Planning Board were in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods; the third (the School 1 site) was in Runyon Heights. GX 1225.41.
In April, as the City Council was preparing to consider the proposed sites, a letter was sent to the council members from a committee claiming to have been delegated by twelve taxpayer and civic associations "to acquaint each and every member of the [City] Council with the fact that there is tremendous opposition to additional low rent public housing in Yonkers." P-I 106.26 (GX 1063.13). The letter went on to state that:
We personally prefer a public referendum with time to acquaint each and every citizen wit the full facts on public housing. Where will these tenants come from? How will we provide schools? How much will it cost us over the years? What safeguards do we have against our having to absorb the overflow from Puerto Rico or Harlem? Where will the people go that will have to vacate their private homes? Id. The letter closed by saying that "each and every one of your constituents is looking to you to again knock down this latest attempt on the part of the public housing group to shove off on the citizens of Yonkers something that the majority does not want." Id. A week later, the City Council voted to refer the proposed sites to its committee on housing. GX 1065.15.
The following month, as the Council again prepared to vote on the sites, Mayor Kristensen publicly observed that "we're running into the same situation we customarily do and have done over the past nine years or so, that is, everyone wants housing, but no one wants it in his neighborhood.... The time is coming when we are going to get those 335 units one way or another." GX 1063.17.
On May 27, 1958, nearly nine years after the City received its 1949 allocation of public housing units, the City Council finally approved two sites for the last of the units in the allocation. In addition, a third site was approved for 108 units of senior citizen housing (a newly authorized form of public housing). The three sites approved were School Street and the School 1 site for family housing and the Western Avenue site for senior citizen housing. GX 1063.18.
In making its choices, the Council appears to have given little weight to the views of its Planning Board. The School Street and Western Avenue sites were strenuously lobbied against by the Planning Board on the ground that they would interfere with construction of an arterial system that was critical to the future health of the downtown area. GX 1063.8; 1063.17; see also Tr. 9621-24 (Pistone). Yet, both sites were approved by the Council.
In addition, the Planning Board recommended the Stanley Avenue and Smart Avenue sites -- and indeed the City's Planning Director, Philip Pistone, had characterized the latter as "ideal." GX 1063.8; Tr. 9616-17 (Pistone). Yet, the Smart Avenue site was strongly opposed by area residents and the ward councilwoman, and both sites were rejected by the Council. GX 1063.8; 1063.18; 1063.19.
Following a by-now familiar pattern, the sites rejected were in overwhelmingly white areas of the City, and both sites approved for family housing were in heavily minority areas. GX 1225.41. Only the Western Avenue site which was to be used for senior citizen housing was in a heavily white area, and even that site was not far from blocks with a significant minority population. Id.19
C. Site Selection for Senior Citizen Housing
For the next few years, the City focused primarily on public housing for senior citizens -- an activity that proved somewhat less controversial but not entirely problem-free. In 1961, a proposal to put 300 units of predominantly senior citizen housing on Garden Street just north of Schlobohm Houses (the 413-unit project built on Palisade Avenue in the early 1950s) was approved with no apparent community or official opposition, GX 1064.1-.5, despite that fact that with Schlobohm Houses in place, the area already contained an amount of public housing that was far in excess of what the Planning Board had recommended. See, HOUSING III.B supra. A subsequent attempt to expand the site in 1962, however, did prompt opposition on the ground that it would result in an overconcentration of public housing units in the area. GX 1064.14, 1064.15, 1064.19. The Planning Board initially disapproved the expansion, then three months later voted 3-2 (with two members absent) to reverse itself. GX 1064.16; GX 1064.19; 1064.20. A colloquy that immediately preceded the second vote suggests that little had changed from the preceding years. Planning Director Philip Pistone stated that he would prefer to have senior citizen housing "dispersed," and that there was "no reason why it should all be concentrated in one area ... one ward." GX 1064.20. In response, a Board member stated simply that, "what you say is interesting, but when you come up before the [City] Council, every councilman objects to it." Id. The Planning Board's vote was subsequently challenged and held invalid on the ground that the full Board had not been present. GX 1064.21; GX 1064.23. The City Council then deferred consideration of the expansion, and it was apparently pursued no further. GX 1064.24.
Instead, a new round of efforts was undertaken to find sites for senior citizen housing. In February of 1963, the MHA proposed eight sites -- four in Southwest Yonkers and four in East Yonkers. GX 1069.7.
The sites were announced as proposed sites for senior citizen housing, but the Secretary-Director of the MHA was quoted by the press as saying that the sites might also be considered for family housing. GX 1069.7. Protests quickly arose with respect to three of the East side sites, and these sites were largely dismissed by the MHA's Secretary-Director at a subsequent Planning Board meeting. GX 1069.10; 1069.11; 1069.13; 1069.15. The Lincoln Park Taxpayers Association, writing in opposition to the sites, raised familiar concerns about decreasing property values and adverse effects on the "character of the community." GX 1069.11. The Association urged, as other groups had in the past, that public housing be used solely to clear slums. Id. No distinction was drawn between public housing for senior citizens and public housing for families. Concern was simply expressed that the placement of any public housing in the area would be "at the sacrifice of real estate values in the community, and [that] declining real estate values would be followed by neglect and deterioration of the neighborhood." Id.
The following month, in early March of 1963, the Housing Committee of the City Council recommended approval of two of the other sites for senior citizen housing -- Martin Ray Place in East Yonkers (where temporary veterans housing had been located) and a site on Ashburton Avenue and Seymour Street in Southwest Yonkers -- and the Council scheduled a site selection hearing for March 26th. GX 1069.20. The next day, the MHA withdrew the remaining six sites from consideration. GX 1069.21.
In the weeks before the hearing, the Board of Education and the PTA opposed selection of the Martin Ray Place site on the ground that it had been promised to the Board for a much needed expansion of School 31. GX 1069.22; 1069.25. In addition, the Pastor of St. Joseph's Church opposed the selection of the Ashburton/Seymour site on the ground that there was already a serious overconcentration of public housing in the downtown Southwest Yonkers area. GX 1069.24. Both protests were reiterated at the City Council hearing. GX 1069.26; 1069.28. No neighborhood or civic associations appear to have joined the opposition, however, and faced with a firm site selection deadline of April 1 (the deadline having already once been extended), and with a reported 1,800 to 2,000 applications for senior ciizen citizen housing, the Council voted to approve both sites. GX 1069.27; 1069.28. The thirty-two unit Kristensen Houses (on Seymour Street) and the 186-unit Curran Court (on Martin Ray Place) opened in 1967. C-1700.
D. The City's Campaign to Produce Sites for Relocation Housing
From 1958 (when the last of the City's 1949 allocation of public housing units for families was finally put into development) through 1965, no apparent efforts were made to increase the City's stock of public housing for families. The only additional family housing approved during this time came with the decision to devote the City's Jefferson-Riverdale (or "Stage I") urban renewal area (an area just southwest of City Hall in downtown Yonkers) to middle-income housing. In the spring of 1962, the City Council approved, without apparent objection, a tax abatement for a 544-unit Mitchell-Lama project to be called Phillipse Towers, GX 1067.5; 1067.11, and the project opened in September of 1964. GX 1067.13.
The City's long period of inactivity with respect to the development of low-income family housing does not appear to have been based on any perception that what had been characterized as a "desperate" need for such housing -- both in general and as a relocation resource -- had been met. A strong indication that the need had not been met came in 1965, when HUD notified the City that its preliminary application for its Stage II (or "Riverview") urban renewal project had been rejected. The project would have involved the relocation of 1,300 families, and was rejected on the ground that the City's relocation track record for the Stage I project had been poor. HUD set a maximum relocation workload of 300 families for the Stage II project. GX 1071.13; 1078.4. In response, the City embarked on a vigorous campaign to find and approve sites for family housing. Joining in the effort was the newly formed Yonkers Urban Renewal Agency ("YURA").
As in previous years, however, community opposition proved to be a major stumbling block.
In the months after HUD rejected the City's initial Stage II urban renewal application, the need for more public housing as a source of relocation housing, and the problem of persistent community opposition to sites proposed for such housing, were frequent topics of discussion in meetings held among City agencies and with the federal authorities. See generally GX 1078. In one meeting, the Mayor was asked to explain the nature of the City Council's objections to two Southwest Yonkers sites (one between Stanley and Riverdale Avenues and another on Culver Street). GX 1078.3. The Mayor replied that the two ward councilmen involved "feel that their wards are being declared 'blighted areas' and they are not too happy about it because it will affect the voting." Id.
A subsequent meeting in April of 1965 among George Piantadosi (the acting director of YURA), Philip Pistone (the City's Planning Director), and Emmett Burke (Secretary-Director of the MHA) yielded a list of twelve possible sites for public housing. GX 1078.8.
In an apparent attempt to deflect potential opposition to the sites, it was agreed that a press release would be issued listing the sites but identifying them merely as "sites under discussion," and that no individual would be identified on record as supporting specific sites. Id.
The anticipated opposition came to pass the following month. The MHA submitted eleven sites (nine from the joint list plus two others) to the Planning Board and the City Council. GX 1078.12; 1078.21.
The three East Yonkers sites on the list as well as two sites in the overwhelmingly white Nodine Hill area of Southwest Yonkers prompted letters and petitions in opposition from area residents, civic associations, and (in the case of the two East side sites in the twelfth ward) from the ward councilman, Nicholas Benyo. GX 1078.15; 1078.17-19; 1078.23; 1078.26-28. Councilman Benyo protested to the Planning Board that the areas "still [had] not recovered from the heavy invasion of apartment buildings" there and that "[a]ny further concentration of population would lead to a rapid deterioration of the entire area." GX 1078.15.
As the Planning Board and City Council were preparing to act on the sites, The New York Times published a story on the controversy, describing at some length "the split between suburban conscious East Yonkers and urban conscious West Yonkers." GX 1078.16. The article reported that previous projects had been "built in slum areas, reinforcing what planners call socio-economic ghettos," and quoted one resident of East Yonkers as saying that her family had "saved for years to move out of the city," and that "now they want to put right next door everything we tried to get away from." Id. Another East Yonkers resident was reported to have explained that it wasn't that she didn't believe in racial or social or economic integration ... but [that] those people from Yonkers would feel so out of place here ... it would not be fair to them." Id.
The Times article was cited to City officials in a letter from the pastor of a Southwest Yonkers church, who said that its reference to reinforcing socio-economic ghettoes "sums up our argument" against the placement of more subsidized housing in the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers. GX 1078.22. "Basically," the letter declared, "this is out and out discrimination not only against negroes, but against lower-income whites as well." Id.; see also GX 1078.14.
In May of 1965, the Planning Board voted to disapprove all of the sites except four in Southwest Yonkers. GX 1078.28. The only comment recorded in the Planning Board minutes with respect to the two twelfth ward sites in East Yonkers was that Councilman Benyo and his constituents were opposed to the site. Id. One week later, the City Council referred all eleven sites to its committee on housing, where they remained until April of the following year. GX 1078.32.
In December of 1965, with the matter still in committee, Emmett Burke, the Secretary-Director of the MHA, sent a memo to the City Council asking for a decision on the sites. The Council, in turn, referred Burke's memo to YURA, which replied merely that public housing was indeed needed for relocation housing, but that it would "not presume to recommend for or against any of the sites selected." GX 1078.43. Nevertheless, at a meeting held the same day with a citizen's advisory committee, George Piantadosi, the acting director of YURA, criticized the City Council for "doing nothing" about public housing, and one of the committee members suggested that the committee undertake its own site investigation. GX 1078.44.
In February of 1966, Burke wrote to the City Manager, asking again "for serious and immediate consideration" of the eleven possible housing sites. GX 1078.48. He explained that there were eighty-seven unused housing units from a previous reservation that might still be available to the City, but that he could not justify attempting to retain or expand the reservation (as would be necessary if future relocation needs were to be met) unless housing sites were approved and ready for development. Id.
Two months later, the Council's Housing and Urban Renewal Committee finally acted, recommending the same four sites that the Planning Board had approved eleven months earlier. GX 1078.51. Recalling the pattern of previous years, the sites not recommended by the committee were in areas of the City that were overwhelmingly white, and the four sites recommended were in areas of the Southwest that were, or were rapidly becoming, heavily minority. GX 1225.42; 1225.44.
The committee's recommendation was strongly criticized by the Yonkers Council of Churches, the NAACP, CORE, and a member of the Yonkers Human Rights Commission. The groups noted that all four sites were located in the "core" or "ghetto" area of the City, and they suggested that the selection represented acquiescence on the part of the Council to the "phenomenal pressure" put on it by the residents of other areas of Yonkers and "portend[ed] a greater ghettoization of those neighborhoods whose 'powerless' and 'voiceless' residents could not generate the same kinds of 'pressures' as could the other residential neighborhoods where" sites had been proposed. GX 1078.58, 1078.60, 1078.62, 1078.64.
In addition, the groups noted that three of the sites were densely occupied and presented serious relocation problems, GX 1078.58, 1078.60, 1078.64, an assessment with with YURA concurred. GX 1078.66. The groups gave qualified support to the fourth site (on Hawthorne Avenue) as representing the "lesser of evils," but urged the City to adopt a policy of "scattering" its public housing throughout the City. GX 1078.58, 1078.60, 1078.62, 1078.64.
The following month, in May of 1966, the City Council voted to approve the Hawthorne Avenue site and to refer the other three back to committee. GX 1078.62; GX 1078.63. However, due to an apparent breakdown of communication between the Council and YURA on one side and the MHA on the other, the site was not submitted to HUD for another several months.
When the site finally was submitted, HUD declared it to be unacceptable. The City was advised by the Regional Administrator in HUD's New York office that the Hawthorne/Riverdale site was "marginally feasible" and presented problems with respect to the "potential concentration of minority groups." GX 1078.94. The HUD official urged consideration of alternate sites, especially "scattered sites." Id. ; 1078.106. In reply, YURA wrote that an "evaluation of family incomes, size, and other criteria indicate that a very well balanced racial mix will result from relocating just our urban renewal relocatees" and that "the fears you express about the creation of a 'racial ghetto' will depend largely on the admission practices of the [MHA]." GX 1078.98. Two months later, in November of 1966, HUD formally notified the City that it would take no immediate action on the Hawthorne/Riverdale site and asked for the submission of alternate sites. See GX 1078.111.
Later that month, amid public calls by the Chamber of Commerce and the Yonkers Economic Development Corporation for the approval of sites for relocation housing so that the City's urban renewal plans would not be delayed any further, GX 1078.113, 1078.115, 1078.116, 1078.120, the City Manager, as Chairman of YURA, wrote to the City Council stressing the importance of public housing to the future of urban renewal in the City and "urgently request[ing]" immediate reexamination of all the sites in committee as well as consideration of expanding the Hawthorne/Riverdale site. GX 1078.118.
At one YURA meeting, City Manager Adler expressed the hope that at least one more site -- namely, the Bronx River Road site in East Yonkers -- could be approved, but noted that "[e]verytime a site comes up a councilman will say 'not in my ward.'" GX 1078.117. Later in the meeting, it was announced that YURA would undertake its own search for sites. The task was to be handled by a subcommittee of YURA's Citizens Advisory Committee ("CAC"), who, according to Piantadosi, were "going to war to get sites for us." Id.
The CAC Subcommittee's efforts resulted in a list of nineteen sites scattered throughout the City. GX 1078.124. None, however, was developed for public housing, nor does it appear from the record that any serious study was given to the list. The only effect the list appears to have had was to further publicize the degree of opposition that existed to the placement of public housing in any heavily white area of Yonkers.
The existence of the CAC list first came to public attention after a joint meeting among the MHA, YURA, the Yonkers Commission on Human Rights, and the YURA-CAC, at which City officials debated whether the list should be released to the press. GX 1078.125; 1078.39. According to press accounts, which dubbed the list the "secret renewal sites," two councilmen, Alfred Del Bello and Jesse Eisen, expressed concern about the pressure that would be brought to bear on councilmen unless the public was educated about the need for site selection on a city-wide basis. GX 1078.125; 1078.126; 1078.128. "[C]ouncilmen," Eisen warned, "will have to have a great deal of intestinal fortitude." GX 1078.125. Del Bello added that he did not think the City's councilmen had "sufficiently strong shoulders to consider sites no matter what time of year" it was. Fear was reportedly expressed by several speakers that "the public is not yet ready to accept the federal government's plan for racial and economic integration on a citywide basis." Nonetheless, Councilmen Eisen and Chema expressed support for the concept of scattered sites, with Eisen quoted as saying "Let's not scatter them in Southwest Yonkers." Id.
The CAC list was obtained and published by the press a few weeks later, causing, in the words of YURA members, "a great deal of alarm in the community." GX 1078.133.
The Taxpayers Organization of North East Yonkers invited George Piantadosi, the acting director of YURA, to speak to the group about the CAC list. Instead, Piantadosi wrote to the group, reassuring them that CAC's role was solely an advisory one, that the consideration of any of the sites was still in early stages, and that a "thorough study" of each was called for and would include consideration of the "attitude of the local community toward accepting public housing." GX 1078.138. The list of nineteen sites was passed on to the City Manager in January of 1967 with the CAC's recommendation that five be given further study. GX 1078.135; 1078.136. There is no indication in the record that the CAC's recommendation was followed or that the list was put to any other use.
On the same day that the CAC list was published, the City Council's housing committee referred seven sites to the Council -- all but three of the remaining ten from the MHA's original list. GX 1078.129. Two of the sites not referred were East side sites (one on Texas Avenue and another on Sweetfield Circle) that had since been acquired in whole or in part by private developers. GX 1078.130. Six of the sites referred to the Council were in Southwest Yonkers; one (a site on Bronx River Road) was in East Yonkers.
As in previous years, announcement of the sites prompted opposition from civic associations and, with respect to two sites on Garfield and Fillmore Streets (essentially the same RAMP area proposed in 1956), a mass protest rally. GX 1078.144; 1078.145. The opposition was noted at a YURA meeting, with Planning Director Pistone observing that people "all adopt the same attitude: don't put public housing in my backyard," and that they were "not too receptive to explanations." GX 1078.144.
In February of 1967, the City Council held a meeting to vote on the seven sites. As the debate preceding the vote made clear, the Council faced a choice between continued placement of public housing in and around downtown Yonkers, in some of the City's most heavily minority areas, or acceptance of the concept of scattering public housing throughout the City so as not to reinforce economic and racial segregation. In its votes, the Council chose the former. The worst of the sites in terms of immediate proximity to other projects (a site on Palisade Avenue and Carlisle Place) was rejected, but so too were the two RAMP sites in the overwhelmingly white Nodine Hill area of Southwest Yonkers as well as the only site left on the list that was in East Yonkers (the site on Bronx River Road). Another Southwest site (between Stanley and Riverdale Avenues) was deferred to a future meeting, and two sites on Croton Terrace -- a heavily minority area in the Southwest neighborhood known as the Hollow -- were approved. GX 1078.151; 1078.152. Two weeks later, the remaining Southwest site (also in an area with a high minority population) was also approved. GX 1078.155. The three sites approved were the same ones that had been recommended ten months earlier by the Council's housing committee but vigorously opposed on the grounds that they presented serious relocation problems and would lead to a further overconcentration of public housing in one area of the City.
During the debate preceding the Council's vote, it was noted that the federal authorities were urging "scattered site" housing, and that the City's urban renewal funds depended upon producing acceptable sites for relocation housing. GX 1078.152. Several councilmen, as well as the newly elected Mayor, James O'Rourke, spoke in favor of scattered site housing generally and the Bronx River Road site in particular. Id. ; Tr. 790-91 (Wilson); Tr. 7227-30 (King). One councilman stated that the site "does seem to fit what everyone has been looking for," while another declared "we have an obligation to take advantage of it." GX 1078.152. The ward councilmen for both the Bronx River Road and RAMP sites strongly opposed their selection, however, and the final vote on the sites (taken after a recess during which the Council went into closed session) was eight to five against the Bronx River Road site and eleven to two against the RAMP. Id. ; Tr. 7229-30 (King).
A few weeks after the February vote, the City's Congressional Representative, Richard Ottinger, publicly attacked the sites that had been approved, contending that they would "promote racial and social segregation." GX 1078.158. In May of 1967, HUD notified the City that it would not approve the sites that had been submitted, GX 1078.163, with that notification, the City's Stage II urban renewal project officially came to a halt.
E. The Nature and Effect of the Recurring Pattern of Public Opposition
There is little room for doubt that the pattern of community opposition described above significantly affected the City's site selection for public housing. Despite repeated statements by City officials about the urgency of the City's need for public housing, nine years passed before the City approved a sufficient number of sites to make use of a single year's allocation of public housing units. During that time, the City more than once risked the loss of its funding allocation, and in any event, forfeited the opportunity to apply for additional allocations of federal assistance. Nor did the pattern of delays and disapprovals cease even when HUD made clear that the City's urban renewal programs would not go forward unless acceptable sites were approved and submitted.
In addition, it is clear that the delays were not occasioned by a lack of suitable sites. The minutes of agency meetings repeatedly quote city officials and other on-the-scene observers as stating that the chief source of the City's site selection difficulties was community opposition -- a view that is corroborated by the record of approvals and disapprovals for the years in question.
City Council approval was rarely given in the face of organized opposition to a proposed site by area residents or civic associations. Indeed, over the course of eighteen years and the consideration of dozens of sites, it was given only twice. The first such approval (a site on Frederic Street in 1951) took fourteen months to obtain, carried by a single vote, and became a campaign issue in the next election. For reasons unspecified in the record, the site was subsequently abandoned. See GX 1058.
The second and only other site which the record shows to have been approved despite organized community opposition is the site of Loehr Court, a 108-unit senior citizen housing project on Western Avenue in Southwest Yonkers (one of the three sites approved by the Council in 1958). The Park Hill Residents Association sent a letter to the City Council announcing its unanimous opposition to the Western Avenue site, and according to the testimony of former ward councilman William Tully, some 300 residents of his ward attended the site selection meeting. Former councilman Tully testified that he had been "irritated" to have been "put on the spot" in front of his constituents, and he suggested that at least part of the reason for his failure to persuade the Council to reject the site was the fact that he was a Republican on a heavily Democratic Council. Tully Dep. 14-15, 17, 25-26.
Whatever the reason, the Western Avenue site clearly was the exception rather than the rule. With respect to nine of the twelve other sites approved by the Council for public housing during the eighteen years in question, there is no evidence whatever of organized opposition by area residents or civic associations.
With respect to two (Stanley/Riverdale and Hawthorne/Riverdale), there is some indication that the sites may have been opposed in the past, but no evidence of current opposition. With respect to the last (Lake Avenue), opposition arose only after the site had been approved, and the site was subsequently abandoned. In contrast, the numerous sites that were the subject of organized community opposition were either disapproved by the Council, referred to and left in Committee, or for other reasons, never the subject of formal action by the Council.
Plaintiffs suggest that the reason for the City Council's extreme responsiveness to community opposition was the ward system under which the City Council operated, and in particular what plaintiffs contend was an unofficial "councilmatic veto power" held by ward councilmen over matters of importance affecting their wards. While a description of the phenomenon as a "veto power" suggests a greater formality and certainty than appears to have obtained, it is indeed clear from the evidence for these, as well as subsequent years, that the support of the ward councilman generally was, and was perceived to be, critical to a site's prospects for approval by the City Council. Numerous past and present City officials, including councilmen themselves, testified to the existence of a strong tendency to defer to the views of the ward councilman. Alfred Del Bello, for example, who was a councilman for 1966 to 1969 and Mayor of Yonkers from 1970 to 1973, testified that the ward councilman was "normally allowed to lead the issue" in matters affecting his ward, and that as a result City officials tended to consult the ward councilman to determine whether or not his support could be obtained for a project. Tr. 1178-79. Without that support, according to Del Bello, "it was usually much more difficult to get approvals out of the Council." Id.; see also Tr. 1180-86; 1192-93. Walter Webdale, the Director of YURA from 1967 to 1971, likewise acknowledged that it was "difficult to conceive" of getting Council approval for a subsidized housing site without having the support of the ward councilman, and Morton Yulish, the City's Director of Development from 1971 to 1974, characterized that fact as an "unwritten rule" which was "very clear to all who worked with the City Council." Webdale Dep. 186; Tr. 858-60 (Yulish); see also Tr. 987-88 (Iannacone); 1666-70 (O'Rourke); 1869 (Schneider); 2813-14 (Arcaro).
In addition, numerous councilmembers acknowledged that their own position with respect to sites proposed for subsidized housing in their wards was, in turn, strongly influenced by the views of their constituents. Some explained it on the basis of a belief that people had a "fairly good right to determine" what they would see when they looked out their windows. See, e.g., Tr. 1676-78 (O'Rourke). Others suggested, more pragmatically, that they viewed their prospects for re-election as depending upon it. See, e.g., Cola Dep. 80-81; Tr. 992-93 (Iannacone); cf. Tr. 1874-77 (Schneider); Webdale Dep. 484. And there is abundant evidence that their constituents encourage that view. See, e.g., Tr. 1197-98 (Del Bello); P-I 106-26 (GX 1063.13).
It is true, as the City has emphasized, that a number of the sites rejected during these years were disapproved by the Planning Board as well as the City Council, or were never presented to the Council after their disapproval by the Planning Board. But even with respect to those sites, there is reason to conclude that community opposition, and its effect on the City Council, played a major role in their rejection. With respect to the influence of a Planning Board disapproval on a subsequent City Council vote, the record suggests that the Council's reliance on the views of its Planning Board was selective. When a Planning Board disapproval was accompanied by community opposition (as it was, for example, in the case of sites on St. Nick's Oval and Bronx River Road), the City Council tended to likewise disapprove the site. When a Planning Board disapproval was not accompanied by community opposition, however, (as in the case of the School Street site in 1958), the City Council was willing to override even a strong vote of disapproval by the Planning Board.
Moreover, the Planning Board itself was not immune from lobbying by area residents or their representatives. At the first sign of community opposition, a council committee was formed to meet with site selection agencies and to "let the public know that the Council [had] an interest" in site selection. GX 1204.4. Ward councilmen also regularly appeared at site discussion sessions of the MHA and the City Planning Board or wrote to the agencies to report on the reaction of the neighboring community to a proposed site. See, e.g., GX 1058.36; 1204.4; 1204.13; 1059.6; 1063.8; 1078.15. In addition, area residents and civic associations also contacted the Planning Board and other site selection agencies directly. Copies of resolutions and petitions in opposition were routinely sent to the Planning Board, and groups also appeared in person to speak against particular sites. See, e.g., GX 1058.6; 1059.1; 1059.7-1059.9; 1060.14; 1060.38; 1069.10; 1078.17-1078.19.
To be sure, the record contains evidence that planning criteria -- that is, factors such as cost, zoning, the physical suitability of the site, future plans for the area in general or the site in particular, availability and adequacy of public facilities such as schools, shopping, transportation, etc. -- were regularly discussed by the MHA and the Planning Board and sometimes stated as the basis for their decisions. The record also contains abundant evidence, however, that these agencies were acutely aware of the requirement of Council approval, and of the unlikeliness that the approval would be forthcoming if there was significant community opposition to a site. See, e.g., GX 1059.2; 1059.4; 1059.14; 1062.1; 1062.4; 1063.4; 1063.8; 1063.10; 1063.17; 1064.19; 1064.20; 1078.110; 1078.117; 1204.7; 1204.18. Moreover, with respect to some sites (for example, the Bronx River Road and Texas/Georgia Avenue sites proposed in 1965) no reasons apart from community opposition were offered at the time of their disapproval by the Planning Board. GX 1078.28.
In addition, the pattern of Planning Board approvals and disapprovals further suggests that the presence or absence of community opposition was an important factor in the decisionmaking process. With respect to East side sites, most notably, the Planning Board's decisions (like the City Council's) follow a general pattern in which the sites that were disapproved were ones that prompted opposition from area residents and civic associations, see GX 1059 (Coyne Park, Raybrook Road, Midland Avenue); GX 1060 (St. Nick's Oval, Ridgeview Avenue); GX 1078 (Bronx River Road, Sweetfield Circle, Texas/Georgia Avenues), and those that were approved were ones for which there is no evidence of such opposition. See GX 1063 (old School 1 site, Martin Ray Place). The single exception to the pattern was the Smart Avenue site, which Planning Director Pistone characterized as "ideal," and which the Planning Board approved notwithstanding the objections of the ward councilwoman. But the site ceased to be an exception when it came up before the Council itself, where it was rejected.
The sites that generally escaped community opposition, and thus successfully emerged from the site selection process, are heavily concentrated in the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers. See Appendix A. Indeed, more than half of the total public housing units built during those eighteen years (713 units out of a total of 1,365) were concentrated in two adjacent Southwest projects (Schlobohm Houses and Walsh Gardens) which in turn were only a few blocks away in one direction from the 800 units of public housing contained in Mulford Gardens and Cottage Place Gardens (the two projects built in the 1940's), and a few blocks away in the other direction from the 278 public housing units contained in Calgano Homes (the School Street project approved in 1958). Thus, by 1963, more than 80% of the City's existing or planned public housing was located within a several-block area of Southwest Yonkers. Yet, despite this extreme concentration of public housing units in one area of the City, the additional sites that were approved in 1966 and 1967 (but rejected by HUD) were all located near that same area.
The City has sought to explain this extreme concentration as the result of a plan to use public housing to rebuild the Southwest Yonkers. In this regard, the City places chief reliance upon a series of Master Plan Reports published by its Planning Department in the late 1950's and 1960's. C-1504; C-1505; C-1506. Those reports, however, do little more than confirm an undisputed fact: that Southwest Yonkers was the area in greatest need of urban renewal. The reports in no respect recommend concentrating the City's public housing in and around the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers. In fact, the Yonkers Central Business District (CBD) Study, published in June of 1959, expressed concern about the "lower family income concentrations in the immediate periphery of the CBD." C-1503. And the Land Use and Community Facilities Plan, published in June of 1961, specifically called for a mix of income levels to be represented in the residential portion of the Southwest's redevelopment. C-1505.
The City has suggested that its planners viewed public housing as the only mechanism available to the City to initiate redevelopment on slum clearance sites and thus pursued a plan of using public housing as the "seed investment" to attract the other development contemplated by the Master Plan. But that argument is not supported by the record.
Neither the Planning Department's recommendations, nor its approvals, were limited to sites in Southwest Yonkers. Indeed, the first and only consistent proponents of the view that public housing should be restricted to the "blighted areas" of Southwest Yonkers were not City officials at all, but civic associations protesting sites that had been proposed in their own neighborhoods. See, e.g., GX 1058.6; 1058.102; 1069.11. In contrast, the Planning Department's first, and apparently only, detailed position paper on public housing for this period -- a "proposed methodology for site selection" issued in May of 1950 -- targeted neither the Southwest nor areas of blight as the only appropriate sites for public housing. GX 1058.16. In fact, one of the specific sites recommended in the report -- a site at Palmer Road and Stratton Street -- was in an unblighted (and overwhelmingly white) area of Central Yonkers just west of the Saw Mill River Parkway. Id. ; see also GX 1225.41; C-1805A. For reasons that are not apparent from the record, the site was never pursued.
Nor were many other of the Planning Department's initial or subsequent recommendations adopted. As noted earlier, for example, the 1950 report recommended that public housing projects be limited to 250 units so as to "reduce their impact" on the surrounding area -- a recommendation that was abandoned by City officials when it became apparent that the City was suffering from a shortage of "politically suitable" sites which was at least as serious as it need for public housing. Cf., e.g. GX 1062.4. Likewise disregarded was the Planning Board's strong opposition to the selection of sites that would prevent construction of a proposed arterial route which the planners considered to be critical to the eventual revitalization of the City's CBD.
Nor, certainly, can the sites selected in 1965 and 1966 be explained on the basis of any plan to use public housing to revitalize the Southwest. The chief criterion for sites during those years was "universally accepted" to be that the sites be vacant so as to add to the City's supply of relocation housing and avoid any further reduction or loss of federal urban renewal assistance. GX 1078.67; see also, e.g., GX 1078.8. Yet, vacant and properly zoned sites in East Yonkers were rejected in favor of four Southwest sites which posed significant relocation problems of their own and which were rejected on that ground (among others) by HUD. Far from contributing to efforts to revitalize Southwest Yonkers, the City's choice of sites brought those efforts to a halt.
It is, in short, difficult to discern any plan at work in the City's site selection process during these years, except for an apparent determination to avoid, at virtually any cost, a confrontation with community opponents of public housing.
There is also considerable evidence to suggest that this community opposition was based, at least in part, upon the race of the potential occupants of public housing. Indeed, with respect to the years from 1965 to 1967 (as will be the case with respect to future years as well) there is scarcely any basis for doubt that race was a factor in the opposition. City officials themselves publicly identified the issue before them as being whether the residents of Yonkers were "ready" for the economic and racial integration being urged upon the City by HUD, by groups such as the NAACP and the Council of Churches, and by one of YURA's own citizen's committees -- the Relocation and Minority Housing Subcommittee of the Citizens' Advisory Committee. See generally GX 1078; see also HOUSING III.D supra.
Moreover, Alfred Del Bello, one of the City officials closely involved in those events, acknowledged at trial (as did other City officials involved in the events of subsequent years) that his constituents equated public housing with minorities, and that race was "definitely" a factor in much of the opposition that arose during the site selection process. Tr. 1194-97 (Del Bello); see also Tr. 7237-38 (King).
The evidence for the years preceding 1965 is decidedly less dramatic. But even with respect to those years, there is considerable evidence suggesting that race was at work in the sustained community opposition that existed to the placement of public housing in any but a few areas of the City. As an initial matter, the pattern of opposition itself strongly suggests a racial influence. Sites proposed in East or Northwest Yonkers, or the heavily white areas of Southwest Yonkers, almost invariably prompted strong community opposition. Sites proposed in the more heavily minority areas generally did not.
In addition, the exceptions to the pattern tend to reinforce, rather than weaken, the inference to be drawn. The few sites in white areas that prompted little or no opposition were for senior-citizen or middle-income (Mitchell-Lama) housing, whose occupants were more likely to be heavily white. See, e.g., Tr. 878-80 (Yulish); 994-95 (Iannacone). Indeed, the distinction between low-income and middle-income housing is particularly well illustrated by the remark of a City official recorded in the minutes of a YURA meeting in 1966. Amid a discussion of the need to prompt the City Council to take action on the public housing sites that were still buried in committee, George Piantadosi observed that it was now possible to place public housing tenants in Mitchell-Lama units, and that the way to get the Council to produce sites for public housing was to tell it that they planned to do so. GX 1078.44; see also GX 1078.23; 1078.66.
To be sure, there is little evidence of overtly racial statements by opponents of public housing. And former councilman Edward O'Neill, who strongly and successfully opposed three sites proposed in his east side ward in 1953, testified that he believed race played no role in site selections because "nothing was ever expressed for the record to indicate that it did play a role." O'Neill Dep. 102. The former councilman went on to acknowledge, however, that racial opposition was "certainly ... nothing anybody would put into words." Id. at 189.
Nor is direct evidence of a racial influence wholly lacking. At least one group of citizens expressed concern in 1958 about having to "absorb the overflow from Harlem or Puerto Rico." P-I 106-26 (GX 1063.13). And during at least one Planning Board meeting that same year the Secretary-Director of the MHA expressly stated that some of the sites under discussion could be expected to prompt objections on grounds of race. GX 1063.8.
Moreover, beginning with the very first sites proposed, a common theme in the objections has been concern about declining property values, the "deterioration" of the neighborhood, the undesirable "element" attracted by public housing, and insistence that public housing properly belonged in "blighted areas," not "residential communities." See HOUSING III.B through III.D supra. Such objections in and of themselves may not be sufficient to indicate that a racial influence was at work. However, when those objections are combined with a pattern of opposition that also suggests a racial influence, it becomes significantly harder to accept the argument that the concerns were purely economic.
It becomes harder still when, as here, there is also evidence that although Yonkers had, until the mid-1960's, a relatively small and stable minority population, GX 1225.1, it was very much a racially divided city. In this regard, it is noteworthy that Runyon Heights was not created or maintained as a black enclave merely by chance or "associational preferences" that were unrelated to racial discrimination. According to the City's long-time Planning Director, Philip Pistone, the neighborhood was founded on a large tract of land owned by a state senator who regularly brought busloads of residents from Harlem there for weekend picnics, during which he would auction off parcels of the land. Tr. 9508-09 (Pistone). As the neighborhood developed, any contact with the overwhelmingly white Homefield area immediately to the north was severely discouraged when the Homefield Neighborhood Association purchased and maintained a four-foot strip of land as a barrier between the streets of the two neighborhoods. Tr. 2740-42 (Downes); see also SCHOOLS IV.A.3.a infra. And the objections raised by Runyon Heights residents to the first site proposed there for public housing in 1956 make clear that the area was perceived to be the only one open to blacks in East Yonkers. See GX 1060.12, 1060.16. While this history does not, of course, warrant any general presumptions about the subsequent acts of City officials, it does markedly increase the significance of the fact that the only site selected for family public housing which is not in Southwest Yonkers is in Runyon Heights.
Similarly noteworthy are the circumstances surrounding the construction of Cottage Place Gardens, the City's second public housing project. In apparent response to concerns expressed in the late 1930's by community leaders about the difficulties blacks were encountering in obtaining decent and affordable housing in the private market, the City resolved to build a public housing project "for Negroes" and set about finding a suitable site on which to do so. See GX 1053. Various sites were rejected on the ground that the level of minority concentration there was not sufficiently high, and the site eventually selected in 1940 was in one of the most heavily minority areas of Southwest Yonkers. GX 1225.41; P-I 360.
The significance of Cottage Place Gardens is twofold. First, the circumstances surrounding its construction suggest that private market discrimination played a major role in maintaining the pockets of minority concentration which existed in Southwest Yonkers through the mid-1960's (when those pockets of concentration began to expand significantly), and that City officials were well aware of that discrimination. And in this regard, what is suggested by Cottage Place Gardens is decisively confirmed by the credible testimony of various Yonkers residents, as well as that of the City's former Director of Relocation, and by contemporaneous City documents describing the extreme difficulty that minorities had in finding relocation housing when they were displaced by urban renewal. See, e.g., Tr. 428-56 (Smith); 527-29 (Gibson); 2333-43 (Stores); 1933-95 (Trommer); GX 1068.1; 1068.3-1068.4; 1068.11; see also GX 1068.5.
In addition, with respect to the actions of City officials, the history of Cottage Place Gardens illustrates what would otherwise be merely a matter of common sense: that City officials were fully capable of comparing the relative minority concentration of various parts of the City, and of the Southwest, and then choosing a site that would best preserve existing patterns of segregation.
Once again, it bears emphasis that the history of Cottage Place Gardens does not, of course, automatically taint any subsequent actions taken by the City. However, with respect to the extreme degree to which the City's subsequent site selections in fact conformed to community pressures, and the extreme degree to which those pressures in fact followed a racially identifiable pattern, the history of Cottage Place Gardens -- together with the other evidence presented regarding private market discrimination and its acknowledged effect on minority relocation opportunities -- strongly diminishes any likelihood that those phenomena were merely coincidental and unrelated to an intent to preserve existing patterns of segregation.
In sharp contrast to the preceding eighteen years, the period from 1968 to 1972 was a highly productive one for the development of subsidized housing in Yonkers. Sites were approved for fifteen sudsidized housing projects for families (totalling 2,647 housing units) and two subsidized housing projects for senior citizens (totalling 290 housing units). Most of the sites were approved during the years of 1970 and 1971. All seventeen sites were in Southwest Yonkers.
It is clear from the record that this productivity was attributable in large part to a series of conscious decision on the part of City officials to concentrate, at least for the present, on sites which were "politically feasible." It is equally clear that sites outside of Southwest Yonkers remained politically infeasible because of continuing opposition to subsidized housing on the part of area residents and civic associations -- an opposition based, at least in significant part, upon fear of an influx of minorities into what were (and remain today) overwhelmingly white neighborhoods.
A. Overview of Projects Approved
During the years in question, City officials largely abandoned reliance on the construction of public housing as a relocation resource, and turned instead to the subsidized housing programs known as § 221(d)(3) B.M.I.R. and § 236 housing. Under these programs the housing was constructed, owned, and operated by not-for-profit sponsors rather than a local housing agency. The sponsors received a low-interest mortgage that was subsidized and often insured by HUD, and were required, in return, to observe rental and income-limit schedules established by HUD. The guidelines were targeted for moderate-income households, but additional rental subsidies were available to make some or all of the units accessible to low-income households as well. Since the projects were required to be self-sustaining, tax abatements from the local government were generally needed in order to make the projects financially feasible.
All fifteen of the projects for families approved during this period were § 221(d)(3) B.M.I.R. or § 236 projects. Eight were sponsored by private non-profit or limited-profit groups; the remaining seven were sponsored by the New York State Urban Development Corporation ("UDC"), a public benefit corporation created by the New York State legislature in 1968 to participate in housing, commercial, and industrial development throughout the state.
The seven UDC projects were constructed pursuant to written agreements ("Memoranda of Understanding") between the City and the UDC, which were authorized by the City Council and executed on behalf of the City by the City Manager. Five of the seven projects (totalling 1,201 units of housing) were constructed pursuant to a single Memorandum of Understanding authorized and executed in July of 1970. The five projects are Frazier Homes (21 units) at the intersection of Warburton and Lamartine Avenues; the Dorado (188 units) at the intersection of Warburton and Ashburton Avenues; Whitney Young Manor (195 units) near the intersection of Nepperhan and Ashburton Avenues; and Riverview I (454 units) and II (343 units) on Riverdale Avenue in the City's Stage II urban renewal area. The sixth UDC project, the 300-unit Seven Pines, was constructed pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding approved in June of 1971 and is located on Glenwood Avenue at the foot of Trevor Park. The seventh and final UDC project, the 310-unit Parkledge Apartments, was constructed pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding approved in June of 1972 and is located on Yonkers Avenue, immediately west of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
The eight privately sponsored § 221(d)(3) and § 236 projects for families, which were largely the result of recruiting efforts by the director and staff of YURA, see HOUSING IV.C.1 infra, were constructed pursuant to City Council resolutions which granted the sponsor a substantial tax abatement in return for an agreement to give preference in both initial and subsequent rentals to persons displaced by urban renewal projects. The first such resolution was passed in January of 1968 for Jefferson Terrace, a 64-unit project between Highland Avenue and Jefferson Street. GX 1079.25. The next was Highland Terrace (96 units), a few blocks to the south, approved in July of 1968, C-453, followed by 10 Orchard Street (an 8-unit rehabilitation) in April of 1970, GX 1147.10; Messiah Baptist (130 units) on Highland Terrace in May of 1970, C-552; Waverly Arms (28 units) on Waverly Street in October of 1970, C-561; 164-170 Buena Vista Avenue (a 12-unit rehabilitation) in March of 1971, C-534; Cromwell Towers (317 units) at Locust Hill Avenue and Cromwell Place in July of 1971, C-747; and Jackson Terrace (181 units) on Riverdale Avenue south of Vark Street in November of 1971, C-509.
The remaining two projects approved during this period were senior citizen projects. Flynn Manor, a 140-unit public housing project on Riverdale Avenue at Post Street, was approved by the City Council in June of 1970, C-102; and Father Finian Sullivan Towers, a 150-unit Mitchell-Lama project, received preliminary approval in November of 1970, GX 1099.11, and final approval in October of 1973. GX 1099.19.
B. The Continuing Opposition to Subsidized Housing in the City's Heavily White Neighborhoods
For sixteen of these seventeen projects, there is little or no evidence of community opposition prior to the project's approval by the City Council. Only Parkledge -- the final UDC project -- appears to have encountered any significant community resistance. There is, however, abundant evidence of continuing community opposition to subsidized housing in certain areas of Yonkers. The opposition is, as before, evident in the heavily white areas of the City, particularly those east of the Saw Mill River Parkway. The sites approved by the City are, without exception, west of the Saw Mill River Parkway, and with three exceptions, in the more heavily minority areas of the Southwest. GX 1225.44. The exceptions are the two senior citizens projects (both of which appear to have been heavily white since opening, C-1650), and Parkledge, which is located immediately west of the Saw Mill River Parkway, and which was chosen in response to insistence by HUD that the City select a site outside of areas of minority concentration.
As before, there is relatively little evidence that the residents of the City's heavily white areas expressly mentioned race as a reason for opposing subsidized housing in those areas. But see HOUSING IV.C.3 infra. Nonetheless, there can be no serious doubt that the opposition was, on the whole, racially influenced. Numerous former city officials -- including those directly involved in the selection of sites for subsidized housing during this period -- acknowledged at trial that they themselves believed the opposition they encountered was indeed based, at least in part, upon race. See Tr. 1193-97, 1378-79 (Del Bello); 875-80; 1066-67 (Yulish); Webdale Dep. 487-88; 497-98; Tr. 983-86, 994-95 (Iannacone); 2792-94 (Arcaro); 1861-67 (Schneider).
As noted earlier, former East side councilman and Mayor Alfred Del Bello, testified that his constituents equated subsidized housing with minorities, Tr. 1197, and that "race was definitely a consideration in many of the demonstrations and visible opposition we had." Tr. 1194.
Walter Webdale, the Director of YURA from the spring of 1967 through the fall of 1971, testified more guardedly but to the same effect. Webdale acknowledged that the high level of emotion which prevailed at public meetings on subsidized housing was characteristic of issues that are "racially tinged." Webdale Dep. 487-88; 497-98. "At many meetings, there was no logic left to the meeting," Webdale explained, "and so one would have to assume there was something more than the size of the street, the water, the sewer, etc." Id. at 498. Webdale also testified that there was "trememdous fear" about subsidized housing in Yonkers, which was overcome in "some areas" but not in others. id. at 336-37; 562, and he cited the approval of the Parkledge project in 1972 as an example of one case in which that fear was overcome. Id. at 338.
Morton Yulish, who was the Administrator of the City's Department of Development from the fall of 1971 to early 1974, and who in 1971 and 1972 led the efforts to obtain City approval for a site outside areas of minority concentration, testified that he encountered intense opposition to subsidized housing in East Yonkers; that he believed the opposition to be based, at least in part, upon race; and that he shared his views on the subject with Mayor Del Bello and City Manager Seymour Scher. Tr. 1066-67. Yulish testified that the issues raised "on the surface" were generally whether tax abatements should be granted outside of urban renewal areas; whether the "residential character" of single-family neighborhoods should be changed; and whether the federal government should be permitted to control what would happen in the City's neighborhoods. Id. at 875. However, Yulish considered those issues often to be "smokescreens" for underlying racial fears, id. at 875-80, and he testified that at many meetings, the issue of race was "very thick in the air." Id. at 1066-67. "The bottom line," according to Yulish was that "there was no way that you could ... get public support, and then after the fact get councilman support, to build large-family, predominately black assisted housing on the other side of the [Saw Mill River] Parkway." Tr. 879-80.
Both Yulish and Gregory Arcaro, a planner with the City from 1968 to 1970 and from 1972 to 1980, further testified that many of those who lived in East Yonkers had moved there from the Bronx and other areas of New York City, and had expressed strong fears that subsidized housing would lead to the same "deterioration" which they had sought to escape. Tr. 2792-93 (Arcaro); 1064-67 (Yulish); see also McLaughlin Dep. 77-78. In addition, there is evidence of a widespread belief that part of the reason for the sharp rise in the City's minority population from the mid-1960's on was a influx of minorities displaced by the urban renewal that had taken place in White Plains. See, e.g., Tr. 841-45 (Yulish); 1728-33 (O'Rourke). As a result, according to Yulish, some people in Yonkers equated urban renewal with "large infusions of minorities into a city ill-equipped to cope with them," Tr. 843, and they were uninterested in pursuing urban renewal unless they could "get even" by sending the people displaced by urban renewal back to White Plains. Id.
David Bogdanoff, a builder who worked closely with City officials on a number of subsidized housing projects during these years, characterized racially influenced opposition to subsidized housing as simply as "fact of life at the time" in most predominantly white communities. Tr. 10,224. Bogdanoff testified that there was a "tremendous fear" in East Yonkers (as in most predominately white communities) that placing subsidized housing there would result in an invasion of minorities, and that "of course" it influenced where he could build. Tr. 10,224-25; see also 10,197-99; Logue Dep. 112. In fact, Bogdanoff volunteered that is he had attempted to tell the residents of any heavily white community that construction of subsidized housing need not result in an invasion of minorities, he "would have been howled down with laughter." Tr. 10,197.
C. The Pattern of Opposition and Apparent Acquiescence
The pattern of sites selected during this period, and the circumstances under which they were selected, taken together with the testimony described above, strongly suggests that City officials likewise came to view racially influenced opposition to subsidized housing in East Yonkers as a "fact of life," and came to view acquiescence in that fact of life as the price of urban renewal in Yonkers.
1. The City's Campaign to Produce Privately Sponsored Projects
When Walter Webdale arrived in Yonkers in April of 1967 as the first permanent director of the Yonkers Urban Renewal Agency, he found the City's Stage II urban renewal project at a standstill due to an inability to provide relocation housing. For the past eighteen years, community opposition to public housing had seriously hindered site selection and had effectively ruled out sites in all but the most heavily minority areas of the City. Two months before Webdale's arrival, amid typically strong community opposition to several sites proposed in East Yonkers, the City Council had rejected all proposed sites except for several located in the heavily minority downtown area of Southwest Yonkers. Those sites, in turn, were rejected by HUD one month after Webdale's arrival. See, HOUSING III.D supra.
Webdale's first task thus became the removal of the "road block" that the lack of relocation housing presented to the Stage II urban renewal project, GX 1079.4, and he responded by undertaking an extensive campaign to bring about the construction of § 221(d)(3) and § 236 projects. See, e.g., GX 1079.8; 1079.17; 1079.26; 1080.14; 1081.8; 1082.1; 1086.6; 1207.3; Webdale Dep. 72, 89-90; Tr. 10,182-83 (Bogdanoff). Webdale and his staff at YURA located sites, solicited sponsors, and provided the sponsors with a broad range of technical and political support, including assistance in preparing applications to HUD, see, e.g., GX 1079.18; 1082.2; 1083.9; and submissions to the City Council, see, e.g., GX 1079.34; 1079.53; 1083.32; planning and construction designed, see, e.g., GX 1079.52; 1083.11; 1084.5; and meeting with federal, city and school officials, see, e.g., GX 1079.45; 1083.31; 1083.32; 1084.1.
Although Webdale looked at sites outside of Southwest Yonkers, and although his office publicly stated that projects were expected to be built "on scattered sites in various parts of the city," GX 1079.61a, Webdale limited his efforts at recruiting sponsors for § 221(d)(3) and § 236 projects to Southwest Yonkers. See, e.g., Webdale Dep. 56-58, 137-38, 243-44.
So limited, site selection and approval proved far less difficult than in previous years. Although the minority and other community groups continued to press to press for scattered-site housing, see HOUSING IV.D.3 infra, and although concerns continued to be raised about the increasing concentration of subsidized housing in the Southwest, see HOUSING IV.D.4 and 5 supra, the sites designated for the § 221(d)(3) and § 236 projects prompted little apparent opposition from area residents (indeed, some were actively supported by area residents, see HOUSING IV.D.3 infra), and they were approved without incident by the City Council.
2. The Candeub & Fleissig Survey and the City's 1970 Memorandum of Understanding with the UDC
In 1969, while the campaign to produce privately sponsored projects was underway in the Southwest, a citywide vacant land survey, jointly commissioned by the City, the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce, and the UDC, was made public. The result, as in previous years, was immediate and apparently effective opposition from the residents of East and Northwest Yonkers. The survey was summarily abandoned, and sites in the downtown area of Southwest Yonkers were designated soon thereafter for five subsidized housing projects (totalling 1,200 units) to be sponsored by the UDC.
The survey in question arose as part of the City's efforts to persuade to Otis Elevator Company, one of the City's largest employers, to remain in Yonkers. Otis had indicated that it needed either to expand its existing facilities or relocate elsewhere, and in 1968 the City asked the newly created UDC for assistance in its efforts to retain Otis. C-579.
Among the areas in which the City sought assistance was in the relocation of some 1,000 predominantly minority families from the riverfront area designated for the Otis expansion. Id. ; GX 1096.47. To that end, the UDC, the City, and the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce hired the consulting firm of Candeub & Fleissig to identify "available sites within the City for the construction of low and moderate income housing ... [with] special attention ... to the potential development of open land sites." C-592.
In May of 1969, Candeub & Fleissig produced a list of ninety-eight vacant sites in Yonkers, and a ranking of those sites according to their feasibility for the construction of subsidized housing. GX 1096.50; P-I 150-80. Twenty-two of the ninety-eight sites were in Southwest Yonkers; the remaining seventy-six were scattered throughout East and Northwest Yonkers. GX 1225.43. With the assistance of Planning Director Philip Pistone, eleven sites were designated for further study. Tr. 9768, 9872 (Pistone); GX 1096.60.
Word of the Candeub & Fleissig survey quickly reached the City Council. Alfred Del Bello, who was at the time the Democratic candidate for Mayor as well as the tenth ward councilman, called upon Walter Webdale "to supply our local news media with a map of all proposed sites or an explanation of why they are being kept secret. GX 1096.56.
On June 5, the local press published a description of eleven sites, and reported that the list had been obtained from a map in YURA's offices which bore the legend "Sites architecturally feasible for low and middle income housing." GX 1096.60. Four of the sites were in, or on the border of, Southwest Yonkers; the remaining seven were spread across Northern Yonkers. GX 1225.43; 1096.60.
Publication of the list created an uproar in Yonkers. See, e.g., Tr. 9870 (Pistone); 1703 (O'Rourke), GX 1096.98. Adding to the concern was the knowledge that the UDC's state charter gave it the power to condemn land and override local zoning ordinances, thus potentially removing control over site selection for local bodies such as the City Council. Tr. 1703 (O'Rourke).
On June 10, Mayor James O'Rourke issued a statement in response to "recent articles in the press relating to 'scattered site housing,' stimulated by public officials for unworthy political reasons and calculated to pander to public fear and agitation." GX 1096.63. The Mayor emphasized the importance of the Otis expansion project to Yonkers, and explained that "[a]s in all projects such as these, to break the bottleneck of initial relocation, several sites of decent housing will be required outside the project areas." Id.
The Mayor added, however, that no site proposals had, as yet, been made, and indicated that in determining site feasibility, "profound consideration" would be given to "maintaining the integrity and character of neighborhoods"; "maintaining the integrity of property values"; and "preserving the integrity of needed parks and recreation lands." Id. The Mayor closed his statement with the assurance that public hearings and discussions would be held before any sites were selected. Id.
A petition in opposition to the sites located in Northeast Yonkers was sent to the Mayor, the City Council, and the Planning Board. GX 1096.65. The grounds for opposition listed in the petition were that subsidized housing projects would have a detrimental effect on property values and "could blight the areas"; would violate existing zoning laws; would take away needed park and recreational lands; and would overtax school and transportation facilities. Id. The petition called for "public hearings ... on notice" before any action was taken on the sites, and declared in closing that:
It is reliably reported that these sites and the others mentioned in The Herald Statesman of June 5, 1969, are part of a proposed program for use of state funds to transfer N. Y. City residents into suburbs. If that is advisable it could be accomplished better by not creating conflict with or downgrading existing established residential areas.
A meeting was held on June 12 between City officials and the UDC. The following day, the press reported that according to Mayor O'Rourke, the UDC had said that it would refrain from imposing specific sites on Yonkers but would "pull out" of the renewal project unless "scattered sites" were selected. GX 1096.66.
Two days later, some 500 residents of the fifth ward in East Yonkers appeared at a meeting with City officials to protest the sites identified in their areas. GX 1096.71; TR. 1711 (O'Rourke). According to press accounts, the City officials in attendance included fifth ward councilman Andrew O'Rourke; Mayor O'Rourke; and Mayoral candidate Del Bello. All three sought to reassure the audience that the matter of site selection would be given careful study by the City Council, and that use of the UDC's power to override zoning laws would be resisted. Id. Del Bello, particular, called upon the UDC to leave the selection of sites to the City Council in order to "put the citizens' minds at ease." Id. The meeting also resulted in the formulation of a Citizens Committee, led by Councilman O'Rourke, to study the sites identified in the Candeub & Fleissig study.
On June 17, the UDC sent a telegram denying that it had threatened to pull out of the renewal project if scattered housing sites were not selected and emphasizing that "only upon the City's recommendation and request" would UDC become involved in constructing housing anywhere within the City of Yonkers. GX 1096.74.
Several days later, Mayoral candidate Del Bello also publicly disputed the Mayor's version of the June 12th meeting, saying that in fact the UDC had offered to conform to the City's wishes. GX 1096.78. Del Bello further criticized the Mayor's "divisive attitude," and suggested that to move the City forward, "we must stop threatening the people and start understanding and implementing their wishes." Id.
Del Bello offered as alternatives to scattered site housing the acquisition of surplus land along the arterials then being constructed; leased relocation housing in existing structures; acquisition of parcels made vacant by fire and demolitions of substandard buildings; and the use of the "checkerboard strategy" to relocate individuals within an urban renewal area. GX 1096.100.
On July 10, a meeting was held among the City Council, representatives of the UDC, the Yonkers Economic Development Corporation ("YEDC") (a local business group), and the UDC's Citizens Advisory Committee ("CAC") to discuss sites for relocation housing. GX 1096.89. According to press accounts, twelve sites were proposed by the YEDC as possible sites for relocation housing, "touching off a passionate debate over racism." Id. Three of the five "primary" sites were reported to be located "deep in Yonkers' ghetto areas" and were criticized as such by the CAC Chairman, the Rev. William Gallagher; Vice Chairman Kenneth Skinner; and CAC member Msgr. John Harrington. Id. At the same meeting, a representative of the UDC reportedly reiterated that the agency "will not do anything the City does not want us to do" with respect to housing sites, and that it would not intervene in the City's internal disputes. Id.
In September, the Westchester County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution, introduced by the Yonkers supervisors, calling for representatives of the county to introduce and lobby for state legislation to curb the UDC'S power to override local zoning laws. GX 1096.103. The resolution recited that the UDC had proposed subsidized housing for sites in Yonkers where it would "completely ...