Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #14: Project Creates Population Diversity? NO

This is evaluation item #14 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Project Creates Population Diversity? NO

(Above chart shows the minor portion of units in Atlantic Yards referred to as "affordable." Click to enlarge.)

Jane Jacobs suggests that is important for cities to provide population diversity. She also points out that large projects can be tremendous wasters of such diversity. Atlantic Yards is conspicuously at the large project end of the spectrum.

Atlantic Yards will abruptly displace the diverse and longstanding populations in the neighborhoods (including residents with historic ties) and replace them, on a regimented basis, with a brand new set of “sorted” residents. Replacement will not occur until after the substantial vacancy period (likely decades) required to redevelop the 22 acres. Very-low-income families and individuals will be displaced but there will be little provision for them to return. The project will house the minimum number of low-income tenants required under the United State tax code in order for the developer to take away special benefits. There will, however, be no place in the project for the relatively low income families and individuals whose incomes are just above the low income level (see chart).

Most of the developer-envisioned 6,430 units will be for that part of the“luxury”end of the market for people interested in renting or buying in this area of Brooklyn and will not be subject to the more precise income-sorting called for by the regulatory agreement. A total of 2,250 units will be subject to the more particularized income sorting called for by the regulatory agreement requirements. Those units, which will all be referred to as “affordable housing,” will go to people with incomes up to $122,899.20 a year (see chart). Since this will be in the future, actual incomes will be higher. Though sorted into a number of permitted income bands, many of those regimented bands will likely overlap with the incomes of people in the neighborhood who reside in market rate apartments. (Note, however, that any overlap will be apart from families with incomes of a certain range ($38,407 to $46,086.20) who are being afforded no entree into the project. The figures from the chart are for families of four. Families of other sizes may find themselves ineligible for the project if they have incomes at higher or lower levels.) Rents for the “affordable” units will be up to $2,880.45 in 2008 dollars. Since this will be in the future, that figure will be higher.

None of this regimented occupancy is consistent with the interactive strengthening and mutually reinforcing diversity Ms. Jacob’s talks about getting when “visitors sniff out where something vigorous exists already, and come to share it, thereby further supporting it."

JJ Cites: [City diversity itself permits and stimulates more diversity. P. 145 The visitors sniff out where something vigorous exists already, and come to share it, thereby further supporting it. At the other extreme, huge city settlements of people exist without their presence generating anything much except stagnation and, ultimately, a fatal discontent with the place. . . .Apparently there is no limit to the numbers of people in a city whose potentiality as city populations can thus be wasted. P.149 The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common. P. 150 Effectiveness means, second, that the same people using the same street at differing times must include, among them, people who will use some of the same facilities. P.163.]

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