Monday, June 29, 2009

Is New York Coming or Growing? The Bloomberg Administration Is of Little Mind

(Picture, now a “little altered,” is from the Brooklyn Paper.)

Just what does the Bloomberg administration have on its little mind? Does it think that New York will grow and will it then plan for growth accordingly? Or is the Bloomberg administration planning for a shrinking New York? We think we can perceive some unfortunate consistency in the Bloomberg administration’s inconsistent answers.

For a while now the rhetoric of the Bloomberg administration is that the city will be growing in size to nine million people (from 8.2 million in 2005). (See: Bloomberg Administration Is Developing Land Use Plan to Accommodate Future Populations, by Sam Roberts, November 26, 2006.)

It was proclaimed that land use policies therefore needed to fall in line to support this growth. Here in 2006, from the above Times article is what Daniel L. Doctoroff, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (and the head of the mayor's Sustainability Advisory Board) had to say on the subject:

Responding to the mayor's pledge in his State of the City address last January to produce a ''strategic land use plan'' to deal with a city of nine million people, Mr. Doctoroff said: ''We have the capacity through rezoning and underutilized land to go well over that number. But you cannot simply divorce the issue of growth from the infrastructure required to support it.
The Bloomberg administration found the idea that New York is going to grow convenient to promote actions to turn more land over to real estate developers. When the above Doctoroff quote was provided, the Times explained further:

City officials declined to publicly elaborate on their proposals in advance of the advisory board's announcement. But some of its goals were foreshadowed by two of the largest rezoning revisions in city history -- of the Brooklyn waterfront in Greenpoint and Williamsburg and the Far West Side of Manhattan -- both driven by Mr. Doctoroff.

The two major zoning changes, coupled with other development proposals, including the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, were aimed at revitalizing underutilized land for economic development and expanding the city's property tax base.
But if New York is growing and if, as Doctoroff said, “you cannot simply divorce the issue of growth from the infrastructure required to support it” why is the Bloomberg administration busy shrinking the city’s infrastructure? Why specifically is the Bloomberg administration spearheading:

1. A reduction of the MTA’s trainyard capacity below what, only a few weeks ago, the MTA clearly considered was needed to accommodate the flexibility essential for future expansion for a growing city? The MTA Vanderbilt railyard is currently 10 tracks. Since 2005, when the MTA said that it would allow Forest City Ratner to develop over those tracks, the plan was for Forest City Ratner to give back to the MTA a nine-track railyard. Last week, in a turnabout whereby the MTA gave the financially faltering FCR a colossal package of freebies, this went by the wayside. FCR will now only be required to give back an inadequate, much lesser capacity seven-track railyard. BTW: Atlantic Yards is not actually expected to be developed for “decades.” (See: Friday, June 26, 2009, Deciphering Words of a (Campaigning) Bloomberg on Atlantic Yards: “Enough Already” Means, “Bruce, We Have Another $180 Million Plus To Give You! and Wednesday, June 24, 2009, Noticing New York Discloses What MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger Has in His Closet)

2. The shrinking (almost certainly out of existence) of the Coney Island amusement area, New York’s Central Park by the sea? The Coney Island amusement area is supremely accessible to the rest of the city, made so by the investment in a substantial subway infrastructure. Why, in a time of growth, should we be shrinking this park out of existence? There is only one apparent reason: Getting rid of the Coney Island amusement area will allow the Bloomberg administration to turn it over to real estate developers for other purposes- But it will probably be “generations” before that development actually occurs. For more of what we have written about this and for information about the City Council hearings scheduled of this Wednesday morning on the proposed shrinkage out of existence of Coney see: Thursday, June 25, 2009, July 1, Wed, 10 am: City Council Hearing on Coney Island Rezoning.
Why shrink New York’s infrastructure? Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. The Bloomberg administration actually has such a little mind (and apparently little on its mind)- - It is always consistent about one thing: When it comes to the real estate industry and big developers, the Bloomberg administration is always looking for what it can hand out and give away.

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