Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bloomberg's rezoning plan: It's all bullshit

From the Gotham Gazette:

Social and economic diversity are critical aspects of true transit-oriented development. Ironically, though, the dense residential development that PlaNYC has encouraged in Long Island City and Greenpoint-Williamsburg through rezonings and "green" mega-developments like Hunters Point South threatens to undermine economic and social diversity in these mixed-use neighborhoods instead of encouraging it.

The Greenpoint-Williamsburg and more recent Dutch Kills rezonings removed longstanding protections for industrial businesses, allowing residential development as-of-right (without planning approval) throughout the neighborhood. Although the rezoning is technically "mixed-use" because light industry can legally remain, even a thriving industrial business cannot afford to pay the high rents that residential and retail can. Industry is being gradually pushed out to make way for condominiums paired with parking, high-end retail and restaurants -- a more profitable mix for developers but a less sustainable and equitable mix for New York.

As Adam Friedman, former director of the New York Industrial Retention Network has said, "If the city is serious about its commitments to reducing its carbon footprint … then the city needs local manufacturers to create green products. … If the city is to cut the income disparity … it needs to create well-paying manufacturing jobs and offer affordable space for industrial entrepreneurs."

True transit-oriented rezonings for Long Island City and Greenpoint-Williamsburg would have helped to keep housing and jobs in the neighborhoods by protecting the industrial and artisan businesses that in the mid-1990s were providing over 60,000 well-paying middle class jobs, according to the Department of City Planning’s 1993 Citywide Industry Survey.

PlaNYC's "transit oriented" rezonings also have failed to adequately protect affordable housing. The affordable units created by the city's inclusionary zoning program (commonly known as the "80-20" because developers receive a subsidy for allocating 20 percent of units to affordable housing) are outweighed by the loss of previously existing affordable units as market rents rise and rent-regulated tenants are pushed out by aggressive new landlords.

While transit oriented development is supposed to encourage socially and economically diverse neighborhoods, the evidence from PlaNYC's rezonings suggests that they are actually achieving the opposite -- displacing industry, local retail, and low and middle-income tenants from neighborhoods with good access to transit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who needs places to work? I just want to live here at very high prices and no opportunity.