De Blasio Talks Real Estate With Brooklyn Bloggers

deblasioblogmeet.JPGCouncilman Bill de Blasio organized a Brooklyn blogger gathering on Wednesday night, ostensibly because “more and more of my constituents say they’re getting their news from blogs.” The meet-up may have also had something to do with the rumor that de Blasio is running for borough president (he admits to being interested in the gig, but says he hasn’t “made a decision yet”). Discussion at the meeting, which was attended by bloggers from Gowanus Lounge, Atlantic Yards Report, Found in Brooklyn, Pardon Me for Asking, and Green Brooklyn, touched on de Blasio’s positions with reference to a wide range of Brooklyn development issues. The capsule version: De Blasio worked at HUD before becoming a Councilman, and conversation seemed to inevitably circle back to questions of affordable housing. “The government’s approach to housing is broken across the board,” he asserted. He noted that the city and state’s hands-off policies when it comes to subsidized housing (as evidenced by the sunsetting of Mitchell-Lama, problems with the Section 8 program, and the fact that no new public housing is being created), combined with the rising tide of gentrification, have placed the onus of affordability on new construction. Thus, he thinks City Planning’s initial framework for the rezoning of Gowanus is “legitimate,” particularly in terms of the height and density that are being proposed for the Public Place site (where towers may be allowed to rise as high as 14 stories), since he believes that sort of height is necessary to support the creation of affordable housing. Similarly, he said he approved of Atlantic Yards in large part because of its “tiered approach” to affordable housing (whereby units are set aside for low- to middle-income residents), and that the project deserved the special subsidies it received through the revamp of 421-a tax abatement legislation because of the number of affordable housing units that Forest City Ratner has pledged to build. The councilman was critical of Forest City Ratner’s lack of “transparency,” especially in terms of keeping community members abreast of demolitions. He said he was also interested in ensuring “transparency” from the DEC during cleanups of toxic sites in Gowanus like the Public Place, and seeing a DOB that’s better at communicating with Brooklynites, especially when it comes to responding to citizen complaints at development sites. And so just how communicative and transparent is Bill being about his possible run for borough prez? “The world’s changed a lot since Marty came into office,” he says.

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  • THIS BLOG IS SO BORING NOW. WHAT HAPPENED TO:

    -TRASHING HASIDIC HOUSING ARCHITECTURE?
    -RACIAL ISSUES?
    -HIPSTER ENTITLEMENT ISSUES?
    -GENERAL GOSSIP?
    -GREED?
    -SEX?
    -LIES?
    -VIDEOTAPE?

    THE “COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD” INFO IS OK…BUT WHERE’S THE JUICE?

    IS MR. BROWNSTONER DEPRESSED AND REALIZING HE SHOULDN’T HAVE LEFT HIS FINANCE JOB? THUS THE LACK OF JUICE ANYMORE?

  • all your base are belong to us

  • De Blasio is such a hypocrite. Warren de Blasio Wilhelm (as he was known until 1983) is a huge NIMBY who OK’d Atlantic Yards because it was far enough away from his house on 11th street.

    His wife is not much better http://www.lidbrooklyn.org/bp120202.htm (scroll down to “Spouse in Congress”).

    There is no way he will run for a more prominent post because there are so many skeletons in his closet. You think Giuliani has some – just poke around Chirlane McCray… (the lovely spouse).

  • ugh yeah i saw him have his little meeting. it was at tea lounge on 10th street in the slope. for some reason they all decided to STAND in the front and one of the brilliant bloggers decided to jam his knee into one of the sofas at tea lounge and broke it. lovely!

  • Why hasn’t this meeting been blogged by the participating bloggers?

  • I was one of the bloggers there. Why have I not written about it? Because frankly, I don’t know why he even held the meeting other than as a campaigning opportunity. Also, I think he understands the impact blogs and bloggers can have on today’s politicians.
    So he probably reached out to be pro-active going forward with a possible run for Markowitz’s position.
    I will continue to write about DeBlasio and I will continue to be critical of him and of his support for huge development projects in Brooklyn.
    Katia Kelly

    http://www.pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/

  • Thanks Katia. I thought it odd that you didn’t write about it. My own assumptions about why he had this meeting were correct. Of course if he had been responsive to his consituents years ago he wouldn’t need to engage in this type of “damage control”. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks so while he might be more engaged with the community for the moment (and what an effort that took) most likely that will change immediately if he is boro prez.

  • When I had issues with a building being built next door to my property, I went to Joan Millman, Bill Diblasio, and the DOB. Joan Millman’s office met with me and called DOB for me. Diblasio’s office never responded to 2 phone calls and two emails. That in my opinion is a disgrace and makes me very sceptical of his ability to run an office, or respond to his constituents.

  • 12:45 Yes it is a disgrace and you are not the only one who has experienced this lack of response – many have. Too many.

  • I chose not to blog it about it, as I don’t want to be used as a pawn to promote DeBlasio, as I think he is beginning to think about campaigning for Borough President . There really wasn’t anything compelling enough to expound upon, but it sure was a great opportunity to listen to him in that “hip bloggeresque atmosphere”. I can’t really get past that he is pro Atlantic Yards and is a Bloomberg advocate. I don’t trust him.

    There was a guy there, who, I am not sure if he knew about this meeting or if he just happened to be there, who was questioning him on the salary requirements of what would require one to be low income, as DeBlasio kept saying that “affordable housing” is one of his top issues. I believe the number was $70,000 a year! What planet are our pols coming from? It’s a cruel joke and also really scary for the folks who live in Brooklyn and who are native New Yorkers. Seems like we are all going to have to leave and start our own new New York in Mississippi or something.

    Also, my main issue , as a Bond Street resident is the Gowanus clean up and sorry, the army corp engineers answer didn’t do it for me.. They did a hell of a job in New Orleans if anybody recalls.

    Lisanne
    http://foundinbrooklyn.blogspot.com/

  • This was the 2nd of these events. We went to the first one and chose not to write about it because there was less substantive discussion of real estate issues. Clearly he’s got his own agenda in these meetings, but it seemed worth it to have Gabby write this one up. Readers are smart enough to have their own b.s. detectors…Personally, his stance on Gowanus was new to us, and that’s going to be a big issue in the coming months.

  • ALL POLITICAL BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH RHETORIC!!!

    FUCK THE CURRENT AND NEXT BOROUGH PRESIDENT… WE NEED A BROOKLYN BOROUGH PUBLIC ADVOCATE!

    PEOPLE PLEASE STOP BELIEVING THAT THESE ASSHOLES GIVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT OUR ISSUES, EVEN IF YOU ARE A SUPPOSED “CONSTITUENT”!

  • My name is Ethan and I write for GreenBrooklyn.com. I haven’t written about it yet because I wasn’t taking notes and don’t have any direct quotes, but I am going to post about the meeting.

    I find it interesting that people were so negative about the meeting that I thoroughly enjoyed. What people might not understand — or underestimate — is that he is thoroughly embedded in the political apparatus that is the NYC government. Let’s face it folks, this is the way government works. It is slow to respond, it is clunky and beaurocratic, it is self-serving. While I did not agree with everything he said, I found his responses to be genuine and, for the most part, well informed. So, disagree with him if you want, but don’t cast aspersions simply because he is not the expert on your specific issue or because he doesnt have THE answer to solve the problem of a municipal government’s response to significant problems.

    That said, I DO agree with him on many of the issues he discussed such as the need to fix the affordable housing problem, the need for more adequate response to citizen calls for action, more building inspectors, and — of course — his environmental legislation.

  • “he doesnt have THE answer to solve the problem of a municipal government’s response to significant problems.”

    So Ethan, wtf is he doing “considering” running for public office then????? (I would think one would contribute to the public good?)

    “That said, I DO agree with him on many of the issues he discussed such as the need to fix the affordable housing problem, the need for more adequate response to citizen calls for action, more building inspectors, and — of course — his environmental legislation. ”

    Was there anything else that impressed you besides this guy telling you what you already know this city needs??

  • >>>So Ethan, wtf is he doing “considering” running for public office then????? (I would think one would contribute to the public good?)

    First of all, his IS in public office. And politicians do need to “consider” their options about further elected office. I don’t understand why that would be an issue to anyone. That is politics. That is ANY career. As for contributing to the public good, I listed the issues on which I felt I agreed with him — all of those issues are, to me, serving the public good.

    >>>Was there anything else that impressed you besides this guy telling you what you already know this city needs??

    Yes, I know the LEAST about public housing and development, zoning, etc… So that was informative (again, I dont agree with everything he said).

    I found it interesting that he tied the lack of development of fully public housing directly to the 80s Reaganomics and the early 90s GOP’s Contract for (on) America and also to the fact that the last generation of public housing projects were horribly designed. So when you combine these factors, it is easy to see how public support of public housing has waned.

    And, guest, it is not simply about what everyone knows needs to be done, but the fact that he is actively doing something about it in the form of legislation. THAT is the process. Ignoring the fact that he not only talked about environmental issues, but has walked the walk as well is very heartening, as was his sentiment that his styrofoam ban was received positively in the City Council and has a good chance of success.

    Remember folks, it is not only the liberal/Democratic contingency that lobbies these people, but the other side does so as well. Issues like styrofoam and development are huge issues to many avenues of thought and debate, and a proper democracy gauges popular opinion as well as financial solvency and other issues. I found his responses genuinely leaning heavily towards public opinion versus the opposite end of things, and for that I am optimistic.

  • oops: “Ignoring the fact that he not only talked about environmental issues, but has walked the walk as well is very heartening”

    should be: “The fact that he not only talked about environmental issues, but has walked the walk as well is very heartening”

  • Ethan: Bill de Blasio has a reputation for being honest in his sit-down chats with constituents. What happens afterwards is usually the litmus test for how people feel about him. I get the sense that his staffers are trying to make his office more pro-active and make him seem more accessible. I’m not sure that going through a bunch of crabby bloggers/constituents (myself included) is the best way about it.

    I posted some direct de Blasio quotes from the first meeting with bloggers on NoLandGrab. I chose not to do it as a news item just after the meeting because I didn’t that a chat with my City Councilmember was that newsworthy. I posted it this week with Katia Kelly’s post on de Blasio’s evolving Wikipedia entries (http://www.nolandgrab.org/archives/2007/09/a_bit_of_editin.html).

    Lisanne: I think that the guy who was talking affordable housing numbers with de Blasio was Norman Oder of AtlanticYardsReport.com. As far as I know, he received an invitation to both meetings. I hope that he begged everyone’s pardon for boring the group with minutiae about affordable housing — like many things in government, the devil is in the details. I expect that he WILL end up posting on his chat with de Blasio.

    After De Bloggio Fest #1, I came away with the impression that his staffers really understand the blogosphere and the dynamics of our hyper-local online community. However, when we interviewed him at the first meeting de Blasio said that he didn’t read
    our blogs. Nuf said.

    2:27PM: He’s really not THAT hot in person.

    – lumi
    NoLandGrab.org

  • Lumi: “”"Ethan: Bill de Blasio has a reputation for being honest in his sit-down chats with constituents. What happens afterwards is usually the litmus test for how people feel about him.”"”

    That is a totally fair comment, very valid. I don’t take ANY politician at face value. The key is holding them to their statements and making sure they follow through. I hope his environmental legislation passes, and I will certainly be watching them closely along with other matters.

    Re: affordable housing, there was another gentleman constituent there named Patrick, and he was also questioning the high cut-off rate for affordable housing. I do not believe Lisanne was talking about Norman, but I could be wrong… For the record, I’m with Lisanne and Patrick that a $70-80k/yr combined salary should not even be on the radar re: AH. I also agreed with Patrick’s sentiment that some AH housing in the AY proposal seem to be shoved off to the side in an apparent attempt at “ghetto-izing” the AH units. Patrick said that he thought that those units would receive lesser quality care. I agreed, Bill did not. How can we trust a group like FC Ratner to provide fair service when they lied and distorted every single step of the process? I don’t trust a thing that comes from FCR and I think it would be folly for any politician to do so without pressing for hard accountability on every level.

  • Hi Ethan,
    Is this the first time you met Bill in person? I liked him too when I first met him. And I also really, really wanted to believe him at first.
    But I have become wiser during the last six years ( of his term as Councilman.)
    Don’t worry. In due time, he will disappoint you too!
    Katia Kelly

    http://www.pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/

  • Brownstoner: Of course it was worth it for you to write about! That’s what you guys do! Don’t get me wrong, it was informative and nice of DeBlasio & staffers to host that. I have a better grasp of the man and his issues now, I’m new to all this. Living in the middle of the re- zoning hotzone that is Bond Street has forced me to pay attention….I am painfully aware about how this will be a hot topic upcoming.

    Lumi: The guy wasn’t Norman Oder, (who didn’t bore me by the way! He is needed! Although I might of looked bored, that’s just my normal expression.) He was a non- blogging citizen of NYC who also happened to be african american, so i know for sure he wasn’t Norman!

    And yes I agree that DeBlasio & staffers understand that the blogosphere could be an important public relations conduit to newer Brooklyn residents, who tend to read them more than the old timers…by any means necessary I suppose…

    Lisanne

  • Hey Lisanne, Lumi, Brownstoner and Ethan,
    Do you think he will invite us back? I kind of feel as though we are bad guests, talking behind his back and all!
    How about Gowanus Lounge…I am dying to find out what he thought.
    Katia

  • Hey Katia, yes, this was my first meeting in person. I hope he does not disappoint, but I see his styrofoam and e-waste legislation going forward, so that would be good news from my point of view. I understand your concern about development in Gowanus/CG area. I used to live on 7th st betw 3rd and 4th aves and saw a hideous luxury “brownstone” go up on my block and construction on what could be a massive high-rise on the corner of 7th and 4th ave. I think it sucks. It just sucks. I moved because of it. So, I’m with you on the insanity of development in the area… That said, I am FOR responsible development that contributes to fair use of the area. If it means compromising to allow taller buildings with more AH units, I am for it — IF it is done with the minimum height and the maximum amount of concern for neighborhood-ready design.

    In regards to Gowanus and waste (esp sewer waste), green building techniques and greywater recycling can greatly minimize sewage overflow problems. The whole CSO system is horrendous, but I hope to see more of those green building techniques mandated by the city — particularly in areas near our fragile or egregiously polluted waterways like the Gowanus Canal. I brought up the CSO issue at the meeting for that very reason, and while Bill seemed to appreciate my question, he did not have a pro-active-enough answer for my liking. But again, with an issue as complex as a CITY-WIDE CSO problem, the answer will NOT come overnight and it WILL require significant input from city, state and even federal buerocracy as well as public input. The more public outcry re: raw sewage in GC grows, the faster change will happen. That is precisely the reason I started Green Brooklyn, and so far the response has been encouraging both from the citizen participation and that of pols like de Blasio. I am going to be redesigning the site soon to encourage more participation and blogging from anyone in the community so there is a REAL community platform for these issues. 311 be damned. :)

  • My last word then I gotta get off-a this thread!!!

    >>>Do you think he will invite us back? I kind of feel as though we are bad guests, talking behind his back and all!

    Yes. I think we will see more of this stuff since blogs give the community a voice they never had before. Bill is wise in his own self-interest, but he is also an early-adopter at what is clearly a new platform for healthy dialog. Dialog that is drastically, decades if not centuries, overdue.

    I’m also with Lisanne that Norman didn’t bore me. In fact, I’m glad he does what he does b/c AY is such a clusterfuck that I simply am not interested in posting anything abt it on GBK. Thank God for AYR and DDDB. I believe the AY movements have been a success even if there are aspects of AY that are not satisfactory. That’s the way it goes… But again, the movements HAVE had real impact and imho that is very important to note.

    I’m out, peace ya’ll and see ya round!
    ~ Ethan @ GBK
    http://www.greenbrooklyn.com

  • I do plan to write about this, but I’m a little behind. More next week.

    Norman Oder
    AtlanticYardsReport.com

  • What DID he say about the Gowanus?

  • sept. 28th, 3:43pm.. the brownstone development on 7th bet. 3rd and 4th was hideous? didn’t buy there because I couldn’t really afford it and hated the 4th ave corridor there, but HIDEOUS? it was gorgeous. really really well done… lovely. are you kidding?

    also why all the concern about affordable housing. i have been working my ass off forever, and I do not any way shape or form believe in handouts to anyone.

    there should be no give aways. either you can afford it or you can’t. give people anything, and they will never figure out how to get it for themselves.

  • >>>HIDEOUS? it was gorgeous. really really well done… lovely. are you kidding?

    It is hideous. You could tell just by looking at it that it was shoddily built, corners were cut, and materials were poor quality. The front doors were all rusted within a couple of months. The interior looked cold, plastic, fake. It is hideous. And it certainly was NOT a “brownstone” development. I used that term as sarcastically as possible in my comment. It was a condo with absolutely zero character.

    >>>why all the concern about affordable housing … there should be no give aways. either you can afford it or you can’t. give people anything, and they will never figure out how to get it for themselves.

    Jeezus. Love the Republican talking points. No wonder you thought it was lovely. I hear Iraq is lovely too this time of year.