by
29

Councilman 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.