Monday, October 10, 2005
The Times on runaway development: no mention of Atlantic Yards
A swelling population, an overheated real estate market and the biggest building boom in 30 years are fueling a counterrevolution in New York City: Dozens of neighborhoods have asked the Bloomberg administration to rewrite zoning rules to rein in what residents see as runaway development and growth.
There are mentions of Park Slope and Bensonhurst, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, but nothing about the largest development in the history of Brooklyn: Atlantic Yards. Yes, Atlantic Yards is not quite a question of zoning, but this development raises many of the same questions about appropriate scale and neighborhood character.
The article quotes Brad Lander of PICCED:
"There are real reasons why people feel they'd rather not have new development, good and bad," said Brad Lander, executive director of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development. But, he added, "It seems to me that if you refuse growth, you are either implicitly saying we should change our immigration policies and not let people in, or immigrants should live in basements and attics or in the Poconos."
So Lander sounds like a reasonably sober booster of growth. However, the Times has never quoted PICCED's report and testimony criticizing the Atlantic Yards development.
The Times quotes Amanda M. Burden, chairwoman of the City Planning Commission:
Ms. Burden pointed out that the administration has encouraged housing development. The recent rezonings of former manufacturing areas in Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and West Chelsea and the Hudson Yards in Manhattan are expected to produce 29,000 new units. Other possible areas of growth in the future, she said, include Long Island City in Queens and the area known as the Hub in the Bronx.
She didn't point out that the administration has also encouraged housing development at Atlantic Yards. So if Burden doesn't bring it up, the Times reporter doesn't question her?
So who's responsible? The Times Metro Editor at least sounds sympathetic. She was interviewed by Times Public Editor Byron Calame in his 10/9/05 column, which was headlined Turning the Tables: What the Times News Staff Thinks of You:
Susan Edgerley, the metropolitan editor who literally lives and works in the midst of her core audience, offered a catalog of specifics on the readers of her section. A sampling:
"They care about their schools whether or not they have kids. They are fervently interested in and sometimes irked by their commutes. They are charmed by the city and outraged by it, no matter where they live. They want to understand how it runs and who is running it. ... They worry about terrorism and will never forget 9/11. They want to be safe, and that means more to them now than local crime statistics." [Emphasis added.]
Yes, we want to understand how our city runs and who is running it. Ignoring or downplaying the largest development in the history of Brooklyn--not just in this article, but in many other articles, as I've documented, isn't the way to do it.