Bloomberg’s Legacy and Beyond

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A series of articles in the New York Times over the weekend examined Bloomberg’s controversial legacy. Under his 12-year tenure, 37 percent of the city was rezoned, including the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront. Other changes: The building of Barclays Center, 450 miles of new bike lanes across the city, the Citi Bike bike sharing program, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and an additional 170,000 units of housing. Critics say Bloomberg’s policies ushered in the gentrification of Brooklyn. As New York prepares to elect a new mayor, candidates are pushing for mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would increase the amount of low-cost rentals and condos that actually get built alongside privately developed new construction. Click through to the Times story to see interactive graphics that show before and after shots of the Williamsburg waterfront. Do you think Bloomberg’s policies were a positive or negative for Brooklyn? And what should the new mayor do?

Bike Lanes, Rezoning: How Bloomberg Reshaped New York [NY Times]
Return of Rent Control: Candidates Push for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning [NY Observer]

13 Comment

  • daveinbedstuy

    “Critics say Bloomberg’s policies ushered in the gentrification of Brooklyn.”

    I’d like to see a point-by-point discussion of this. Besides, why is it a bad thing?

    • Moonface

      if this were obama you’d be screaming CLASS WARFARE!!!!!

    • ianmac47

      Gentrification itself isn’t a problem necessarily (although studies have a disagreement over whether gentrification helps everyone or just the wealthy). But that alone is not really what the problem is anymore either– the problem is gentrification is no longer about revitalizing neighborhoods that are decaying, but has become, in New York City especially, a process of exclusion. First it excludes the long time residents as they are priced out by first round of gentrifiers; those first generation gentrifiers then are priced out by a professional class, followed by an elite professional class. There really won’t be much left in in the city in terms of culture over the course of the next few years unless something is done to address the housing situation. The city’s culture makers are being excluded leaving behind only the empty shells of people working in finance and corporate law.

      • daveinbedstuy

        “First it excludes the long time residents as they are priced out by first round of gentrifiers”

        Rent rise pretty slowly. Long time residents, many of whom own with extended families in their homes are making out like bandits when they sell. Oftentimse homes bought for $20-50,000 years ago are selling for well over a million dollars and, in many cases, $2,000,000 – 4,000,000

        • ianmac47

          Rent rose slowly between 2008 and 2011 when the economic crisis depressed wages and reduced the number of people in finance and law at the top end of the income spectrum.

          Homeownership has always been the exception in New York with a higher than average number of renters, in the realm of 70% of households. While any given neighborhood might have a higher or lower rate, overall thats still a pretty high number of households who don’t float with a rising real estate market. When rent stabilization was the norm, the process was much slower because people were protected and shielded from astronomically high increases.

          Still, to your point about home sales, that’s not everyone benefitting from that, but instead a much smaller segment of the population. Certainly some members of the community are doing very well selling properties they bought years ago, and certainly some of them are exploiting their neighbors or pushing them further out. That also doesn’t address the changes in the community that come with gentrification. Even a homeowner can be priced out if the services around them increase their prices to deal with increased commercial rents. In some cases gentrification has benefitted some communities like bringing grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables to areas otherwise known as food deserts. But eventually that just leads to many more stores and services that simply cost more driving out the bottom income earners even if they own their own homes.

          Furthermore, even if they do cash in, sell their properties and move, that doesn’t change the fact that they are no longer in the neighborhood and that the neighborhood no longer supports a similar class. There are all sorts of services that even the wealthy rely on and either already are or will one day end up paying more for because the “help” that works these services jobs can’t afford to be close by.

        • It has been a long time since homes sold that low. Many of those folks moved on a while ago. As an area “gentrifies,” the first people to sell, as prices are rising, don’t usually make out that great. The people who stay longer have often used their home–which is typically their largest and, in some cases, only, investment–to take loans for maintenance of the building as well as living expenses. By the time they leave, or die, there may be multiple mortgages on the place. Homes sold as part of an estate do sell for less money, even in this market–outdated, in need of repairs. When they do sell, the proceeds may be divided among a large group of heirs, none of whom can afford to take over the house and are thus priced out without making out like bandits. But gentrification also expresses a value: traditionally, a newcomer moves into an area, learns the local way of doing things, and tries to fit in. Gentrification implies a group of people superimposed on a community, with no real desire to befriend them, do what they do, have them over for a meal, make sure their kids play together, etc.

          • ianmac47

            Gentrification is also steeped in colonial euphemism. The first white people to move into a predominantly minority neighborhood are inevitably “pioneers.” Gentrification certainly implies a certain domestication of the “savage” when framed in that context.

      • I am genuinely curious in asking this question: Who is “pricing out” long-time residents? Isn’t it the landlords raising rent and homeowners selling their own homes, who are for the most part the same people that live(d) in that neighborhood?

        • Grr, can’t edit my post. I just can’t wrap my head around that newcomers with money are “forcing” anyone out and are “the problem”, which seems to be the accepted narrative. If landlords weren’t increasing rent, longtime residents wouldn’t be going anywhere, right? Please correct me if I’m overlooking something/

        • daveinbedstuy

          With most of the larger rental buildings in bed Stuy, they were owned by local residents or people in Crown heights