Condominium high-rises sprout like weeds along the East River waterfront in Williamsburg. Longtime Harlem residents watch newcomers -- often young, affluent and white -- sink into the overstuffed couches of the new cafes and coffee shops along 125th Street, the main street of Black America. Owners of small businesses on the dirt and pothole-ridden streets of Willets Point worry they will lose their location, their customers and their livelihood.
Reshaping the City: Who's Being Heard -- and Why?
All of these changes represent the new New York, one that has shifted from industrial and manufacturing to finance and services. To accommodate that shift and the population growth that has occurred with it, the Bloomberg administration has rezoned one sixth of the total land in the five boroughs -- more than the last six administrations combined, Bloomberg said during his State of the City address earlier this year. Of the more than 84 rezonings, the City Council has not rejected a single one.
Such impressive numbers, though, conceal a growing unease in many parts of New York. Advocates in some neighborhoods fear the administration is fueling gentrification by giving developers a relatively free hand in working class neighborhoods, while simultaneously protecting more affluent areas from larger-scale development.
Many people in affected communities claim they haven't been a part of the process -- their voices are left out on the policy fringe, teetering on the edge of irrelevance. In response, some planners and politicians hope to boost the community's role in the land use process.