Thursday, October 01, 2009

Oh, No, Can Republicans Stand Up to Real Estate Interests?

Tom Angotti. New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate. Cambridge, Ma.: The MIT Press, 2008.

Angotti is an advocate of progressive community planning, meaning he rejects the exclusionary community planning that is for the wealthy and usually only for white people. It is planning that considers equality and assisting people with needs. Angotti notes that real estate interests have great influence in New York’s planning process and that many established neighborhoods are being destroyed by these powerful real estate interests.

Angotti favors using progressive planning for preserving communities rather than displacing its people and its businesses. Planning needs to consider the needs of all the economic classes and racial groups within a neighborhood. Angotti dispels the myth that planning is politically neutral.

New York has seen strides made towards inclusionary zoning that looks at what low income residents, working class residents, and people of color need. New York has seen environmental justice become part of its planning process.

Jane Jacobs in 1961 wrote how the traditional rational-comprehensive planning that was common that relied on scientific knowledge was used to create building height limits, parks, wide streets, etc. This planning led to large development that destroyed neighborhoods and the people living in those neighborhoods. Real estate developers profited from the physical determinism of this traditional Keynesian model that argued that massive building projects would lead to solving poverty. Instead, poor people were displaced as their homes were sold to make room for high priced development that served wealthier people.

The difficulties witnessed from the rational comprehensive model led to the rise of the neoliberalism movement in the 1970s. It argued public intervention was making things worse and called for land to be set to the free market, privatized public operations, removing government regulations, etc. This movement was grasped in the 1980s by the Reagan Administration.

Jane Jacobs set the stage for progressive community planning. Advocacy planning that encourages residents to plan for their own communities is at the roots of this movement. This idea has been expended beyond a legal advocacy It also incorporates sustainability planning that plans for future generations by protecting the environment.

Angotti calls for local progressive planning that includes concerns for equality, social inclusion, environmental concerns, and neighborhood land use. He argues for preserving land for public use, including nonprofit and public trust land, and seeing it is not turned over to private real estate interests.

New York has strong real estate interests. Many have become well known, such as David Rockefeller, Donald Trump. as well as Harry and Leona Helmsley. The New York real estate market has many global investors.

New York has a long history of large planning efforts and neighborhood organized opposition and input. Conflicts arise and the planning process often becomes one of much conflict.

The 311 phone system, is monitored by city government. It is a way residential complains are heard and is used to help guide city planning.

Developers continue to be strong interests. They are large forces in current major planning projects, such as rebuilding on the former World Trade Center site, developing Hell’s Kitchen’Midtown West, which included a proposed sports stadium that was halted, and Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn where local residents have objected to proposed large business developments. At Atlantic Yards, the developer agreed to make half of new rental units be for low and middle income tenants, a move that divided community opposition.

Angotti calls for maintaining affordable housing which includes resisting gentrification and other efforts aimed at displacement, connecting residents to clean and safe modes of transportation, food, and water, protecting the public interest, using land banks for long term planning goals, democratically regulating common areas for neighborhood needs, increasing the number of community land trusts to combat overdevelopment, making the quality of life a prime planning consideration, recognizing local, regional, and global roles, undergoing comprehensive planning, and considering generations ahead.


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12:31 AM  
Blogger Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny said...

Andrews, you seem to like to put in your plug. Although this book really isn't world news, per se, but more local planning news. Still, I guess it had the wrong keywords that you search for.

1:55 PM  
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