The tangled web we’ve woven has put us in a pickle around the sustainability of some of our communities on the East End, which I call The Peconic Region.
We have spent decades zoning out others, especially others who are not wealthy, or at least as wealthy as we perceive ourselves as being. We’ve been upzoning under the guise of protecting everything from salamanders to water quality, as we drive our Jeeps through the very fields those salamanders supposedly live in and then return home, flushing our toilets into the outdated septic systems down by the creek.
Upzoning to protect our privacy and real estate values is more like the truth. But now, some of us are lonely and our friends and families are passing on or moving out and others are priced out of the market for rentals or pitching a home. It’s fine for those who want to cash out and turn in their L.L. Bean boots for a pair of white New Balance walkers down in Florida or the Carolinas. But for those who can still take the winter months, can’t afford to be a snowbird or wish to stay here with family and friends, once our partners have passed and mobility becomes a challenge there are few options except moving in with someone or someone moving in with us.
I see a parallel to discussions about “Affordable Housing” and “Drugs” in today’s lexicon.
In the past, affordable housing was only for the poor and people of color. It was considered bad by the elitists or those that found it beneath them. Now that we’ve zoned and protected ourselves into scarcity of affordable homes, everyone knows someone who could benefit from an affordable place to live, so now affordable housing has gone from “bad” to “sad”. People are at meetings all talking about what to do about affordable housing. Someone recently proclaimed “ The billionaires are kicking the millionaires out!”
The parallel to drugs is the cries to “lock them up” when the drug crisis was centered around crack, a drug perceived to be abused by the poor and people of color. Now that the drug crisis has moved to opioids and struck those of more affluence, the cries are to “help these young people escape the addiction.” Crack=Bad. Opioids=Sad. And since we just locked all those crack users up in jails, we don’t have the drug rehabilitation infrastructure in place to now serve those with the “affluenza” of opioid abuse. I guess we should just put them in jail with all those former crack addicts and dealers. And while we’re at it, let’s throw the corporate pharmaceutical pushers and doctor dealers in jail with them. Yeah, the doctors that went on junkets to the islands for writing all those Oxy prescriptions. See how they like losing their freedom and their right to vote and see what it’s like trying to find a job when (and if) they get out of prison with a criminal record.
I’m sure that some of you may be thinking: Oh my, Michael has lost his mind. He’s getting radical!
I think we became radicalized when we intentionally decided not to walk the talk of Freedom and Justice For All.
I think our country became radicalized when we segregated people based upon the color of our skin.
I think we became radicalized when we systematically began creating and enforcing laws that put people of color behind bars, destroying families, limiting their civil rights and earning potential.
I believe we became radicalized when we created small school districts all over Long Island to segregate children.
I believe we became radicalized when we upzoned and preserved ourselves into unsustainability.
I’m not radical. I’m telling the truth. Bad to sad, folks. What are we gonna do about it?
Be a YIMBY!
Michael Daly is an East Ender and regular contributor to The Beacon on community issues he cares passionately about. He can be reached at 631.525.6000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org