Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/gentrification 2017-12-13T05:17:24+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com How the City Hurts Small Businesses 2017-07-09T04:00:00+00:00 2017-07-09T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7051:how-the-city-hurts-small-businesses Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cn1bdgywyaael6s.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="cn1bdgywyaael6s.jpg large" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Street vendors protest the city's cap on permits (photo: @VendorPower)</p> <hr /> <p>Independent small businesses -- bodegas, pizza joints, shoe repair shops, fruit vendors -- are the heart and soul of New York City. But they are facing a crisis. Every day there is another story about some beloved neighborhood shop closing due to skyrocketing rents. Landlords then warehouse the vacant spaces in hopes of signing a lease with a bank or big chain. WNYC recently counted <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/there-seem-be-lot-empty-storefronts-problem/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">17 vacancies</a> on just two blocks of Christopher Street. And a report by the Manhattan Borough President found almost <a href="https://www.amny.com/amp/real-estate/broadway-s-empty-storefronts-total-almost-200-borough-president-says-1.13732598" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">200 shuttered storefronts</a> on Broadway alone.</p> <p>What is Mayor de Blasio doing to fix this problem? Nothing.</p> <p>When asked about it -- and he frequently is -- the mayor claims the government’s hands are tied because the “free enterprise” system alone controls what landlords do with their space. The mayor had no real comment on a <a href="https://anhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/USBnyc-Platform.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">package of reforms</a> unveiled last week by USBnyc, a new citywide coalition of small business owners, most of them immigrant-owned. And a couple months ago, speaking to Tony Danza, actor and owner of a 125-year-old cheese shop in Little Italy, the mayor’s only solution to the problem was to “urge the landlords to be less greedy.” Good luck with that!</p> <p>But, in fact, the city is not a passive observer - it actively supports large landlords to the detriment of small business owners. For years, the main priority of the city’s Department of Small Business Services has not been to help mom and pops, but to organize and support Business Improvement Districts, the somewhat mysterious, quasi-public organizations that exist across the city, from Montague Street in Brooklyn to Melrose in the Bronx, with more being created each year.</p> <p>SBS spends more of its yearly budget fostering BIDs (what it calls “neighborhood development”) than it does supporting actual small businesses. Just last month, the city doled out <a href="http://bklyner.com/myrtle-avenue-brooklyn-partnership-awarded-100000-grant-to-fund-outreach-app/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$500,000</a> for BIDs to create mobile technology apps. And all that is apart from the <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150714/BLOGS04/150719955/council-adds-1-25-million-for-neighborhood-business-groups" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">millions</a> in funding that BIDs receive each year from the City Council.</p> <p>The BIDS have innocuous-sounding names like the 82nd Street Partnership and the Village Alliance. Their glossy annual reports invariably show smiling shopkeepers and kids frolicking in fountains. Usually they are structured to give some minority of votes to local commercial tenants or residents. But make no mistake: by law, BIDs are controlled by commercial real estate landlords. Their mission is to maximize the cash flow they receive from their valuable investments. If that means kicking out a 50-year-old beauty supply shop to replace it with an <a href="http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2017/06/ray-today.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">artisanal gelato chain</a>, too bad. As Mayor de Blasio would say, that’s capitalism at work.</p> <p>It’s true that New York neighborhoods are always in flux, and too much nostalgia can be dangerous. But it wasn’t always like this. BIDs have only existed in New York for about 30 years, since the Union Square Partnership was founded in 1984. With the city in financial distress, landlords sought permission to tax themselves to provide basic services, like sanitation and security, where the city was falling short. Who could refuse such an offer? Even as the city rebounded during the Giuliani and Bloomberg eras, the city pushed for BID expansion, boosting their number to 44 in 2002 and 73 today. And the trend continues under Mayor de Blasio, who blessed new BIDs in Springfield Gardens, Queens and New Dorp, on Staten Island.</p> <p>But BIDs don’t just power-wash sidewalks and post security guards on the corner. They play an active role to advance the interests of real estate owners in shaping public policy. They attend Community Board meetings, hire <a href="http://prtl-drprd-web.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch/search?client=New+York+City+BID+Association" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">lobbyists</a>, and nurture relationships with elected officials. With a collective budget in the hundreds of millions, they have a powerful voice. For years, together with the Real Estate Board of New York, they have blocked the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would require landlords to sit down and talk with their commercial tenants before doubling or tripling their rent.</p> <p>And, so far, the BIDs have stalled the Street Vendor Modernization Act. In October, no less than a dozen BID managers personally testified against the vending reform package in City Council chambers, while their lobbyists shook hands with officials in the hallway.</p> <p>Everyone, of course, has a right to testify. But it’s time to have a public discussion about whether, as <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160918/REAL_ESTATE/160919896/clean-operators-or-shadow-governments-critics-of-bids-say-its-time" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">some have suggested</a>, BIDs have outlived their usefulness. New Yorkers today are concerned about <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/130188/business-improvement-districts-ruin-neighborhoods" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gentrification</a>, not “white flight.” It’s time for a neutral study of whether BIDs lead to unfair distribution of basic services and the privatization of public space. And time to ask Mayor de Blasio why, if he cares about mom and pop small business owners, his administration continues to tip the scales in favor of the very same real estate companies that are driving them out.</p> <p>***<br />Sean Basinski is director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SeanBasinski" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@SeanBasinski</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cn1bdgywyaael6s.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="cn1bdgywyaael6s.jpg large" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Street vendors protest the city's cap on permits (photo: @VendorPower)</p> <hr /> <p>Independent small businesses -- bodegas, pizza joints, shoe repair shops, fruit vendors -- are the heart and soul of New York City. But they are facing a crisis. Every day there is another story about some beloved neighborhood shop closing due to skyrocketing rents. Landlords then warehouse the vacant spaces in hopes of signing a lease with a bank or big chain. WNYC recently counted <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/there-seem-be-lot-empty-storefronts-problem/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">17 vacancies</a> on just two blocks of Christopher Street. And a report by the Manhattan Borough President found almost <a href="https://www.amny.com/amp/real-estate/broadway-s-empty-storefronts-total-almost-200-borough-president-says-1.13732598" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">200 shuttered storefronts</a> on Broadway alone.</p> <p>What is Mayor de Blasio doing to fix this problem? Nothing.</p> <p>When asked about it -- and he frequently is -- the mayor claims the government’s hands are tied because the “free enterprise” system alone controls what landlords do with their space. The mayor had no real comment on a <a href="https://anhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/USBnyc-Platform.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">package of reforms</a> unveiled last week by USBnyc, a new citywide coalition of small business owners, most of them immigrant-owned. And a couple months ago, speaking to Tony Danza, actor and owner of a 125-year-old cheese shop in Little Italy, the mayor’s only solution to the problem was to “urge the landlords to be less greedy.” Good luck with that!</p> <p>But, in fact, the city is not a passive observer - it actively supports large landlords to the detriment of small business owners. For years, the main priority of the city’s Department of Small Business Services has not been to help mom and pops, but to organize and support Business Improvement Districts, the somewhat mysterious, quasi-public organizations that exist across the city, from Montague Street in Brooklyn to Melrose in the Bronx, with more being created each year.</p> <p>SBS spends more of its yearly budget fostering BIDs (what it calls “neighborhood development”) than it does supporting actual small businesses. Just last month, the city doled out <a href="http://bklyner.com/myrtle-avenue-brooklyn-partnership-awarded-100000-grant-to-fund-outreach-app/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$500,000</a> for BIDs to create mobile technology apps. And all that is apart from the <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150714/BLOGS04/150719955/council-adds-1-25-million-for-neighborhood-business-groups" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">millions</a> in funding that BIDs receive each year from the City Council.</p> <p>The BIDS have innocuous-sounding names like the 82nd Street Partnership and the Village Alliance. Their glossy annual reports invariably show smiling shopkeepers and kids frolicking in fountains. Usually they are structured to give some minority of votes to local commercial tenants or residents. But make no mistake: by law, BIDs are controlled by commercial real estate landlords. Their mission is to maximize the cash flow they receive from their valuable investments. If that means kicking out a 50-year-old beauty supply shop to replace it with an <a href="http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2017/06/ray-today.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">artisanal gelato chain</a>, too bad. As Mayor de Blasio would say, that’s capitalism at work.</p> <p>It’s true that New York neighborhoods are always in flux, and too much nostalgia can be dangerous. But it wasn’t always like this. BIDs have only existed in New York for about 30 years, since the Union Square Partnership was founded in 1984. With the city in financial distress, landlords sought permission to tax themselves to provide basic services, like sanitation and security, where the city was falling short. Who could refuse such an offer? Even as the city rebounded during the Giuliani and Bloomberg eras, the city pushed for BID expansion, boosting their number to 44 in 2002 and 73 today. And the trend continues under Mayor de Blasio, who blessed new BIDs in Springfield Gardens, Queens and New Dorp, on Staten Island.</p> <p>But BIDs don’t just power-wash sidewalks and post security guards on the corner. They play an active role to advance the interests of real estate owners in shaping public policy. They attend Community Board meetings, hire <a href="http://prtl-drprd-web.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch/search?client=New+York+City+BID+Association" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">lobbyists</a>, and nurture relationships with elected officials. With a collective budget in the hundreds of millions, they have a powerful voice. For years, together with the Real Estate Board of New York, they have blocked the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would require landlords to sit down and talk with their commercial tenants before doubling or tripling their rent.</p> <p>And, so far, the BIDs have stalled the Street Vendor Modernization Act. In October, no less than a dozen BID managers personally testified against the vending reform package in City Council chambers, while their lobbyists shook hands with officials in the hallway.</p> <p>Everyone, of course, has a right to testify. But it’s time to have a public discussion about whether, as <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160918/REAL_ESTATE/160919896/clean-operators-or-shadow-governments-critics-of-bids-say-its-time" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">some have suggested</a>, BIDs have outlived their usefulness. New Yorkers today are concerned about <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/130188/business-improvement-districts-ruin-neighborhoods" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gentrification</a>, not “white flight.” It’s time for a neutral study of whether BIDs lead to unfair distribution of basic services and the privatization of public space. And time to ask Mayor de Blasio why, if he cares about mom and pop small business owners, his administration continues to tip the scales in favor of the very same real estate companies that are driving them out.</p> <p>***<br />Sean Basinski is director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SeanBasinski" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@SeanBasinski</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
Max & Murphy on Politics 2017-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6183:max-a-murphy-on-housing Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="max murphy screenshots" width="600" height="240" style="font-size: 12.16px;" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p>Each week, Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits discuss the latest on policy and politics in New York.&nbsp;Episodes, which are typically 10-15 minutes, began in February, 2016 with a focus on housing, but have expanded to other topics. Episodes are below, and can also be found on iTunes and other podcast networks. LISTEN:</p> <p><strong>June 1st, 2017: Election Season is Here!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/325575488&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 25th, 2017: De Blasio in the Bronx; City's Transit System Becomes a Focus</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/324498315&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 17th, 2017: The Mayor's Homelessness Plan &amp; Election Year Politics</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/323070985&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 8th, 2017: Controversy at Correction; The Latest in the Mayoral Race; Rezoning Politics; Stalled Voting Reforms; &amp; More:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/321573277&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 21, 2017: De Blasio Versus the Media, Re-election Year News, &amp; The Mayor in the Boroughs</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/318826130&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 9th, 2017: Federal cuts looming? 421-a debates &amp; the Mayor's new approach to homelessness</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/311585999&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>January 19th, 2017</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/303542171&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>December 2, 2016: 421-A Back from the Dead? New $ for Public Housing, and ZoneIn!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/295897990&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>October 27, 2016: What's at stake for New York City on Election Day?</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/290255553&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>August 12, 2016: New York City Homeownership Trends, MIH gets real, and more:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/278002906&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>July 26, 2016: With the presidential campaign in full swing and the national party platforms adopted, Max &amp; Murphy are joined by Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, to discuss federal housing policy and how it relates to New York:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/275446551&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 23, 2016: In a special episode, we were joined by two leaders of Coalition for the Homeless, Mary Brosnahan and Shelly Nortz, to discuss a wide range of issues related to city and state homelessness-fighting policies, including problems around state funding and signs of progress with city management:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/270557367&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 16, 2016: The Latest at NYCHA, from its Chair &amp; CEO</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/269593193&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 9, 2016: A Lot to Watch for On Housing: Next Rezonings, New Legislation, State MOU?</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/268311634&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong> May 26, 2016: Tenant Protection Efforts and Signs of Progress at NYCHA</strong> <iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266078255&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 12, 2016: NYCHA's 'Core Challenge' with guest Ritchie Torres, New York City Council member and chair of the public housing committee</strong>&nbsp; <iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/263810263&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 4, 2016: A Lot in the Spring Balance</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/262502772&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 21, 2016: Presidential Candidates Visit Public Housing; Next Up: 421-A</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/260200696&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 8, 2016: The presidential primaries are here - in New York!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/257974360&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 1, 2016: Big Housing $ in the State Budget</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/256765057&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 25, 2016: Putting MIH Into Context</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/254998332&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 18, 2016: Good and Bad News for Mayor de Blasio</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/252720407&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 10, 2016: The Politics of De Blasio's Housing Plan Heats Up</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251187336&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 4, 2016: Governor Cuomo Casts a Shadow Over Housing Hearing</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/250186524&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 26, 2016: Amid fears of gentrification, neighborhood plans move ahead</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/249032794&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 19, 2016: As the City Council deliberates, neighborhood planning heats up</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/247884112&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 12, 2016: The City Council hears two major de Blasio zoning proposals</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/246587724&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>You can find more from Ben Max and Jarrett Murphy by visiting the latest reporting <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from Gotham Gazette</a> and <a href="http://citylimits.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from City Limits</a>; and find us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="max murphy screenshots" width="600" height="240" style="font-size: 12.16px;" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p>Each week, Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits discuss the latest on policy and politics in New York.&nbsp;Episodes, which are typically 10-15 minutes, began in February, 2016 with a focus on housing, but have expanded to other topics. Episodes are below, and can also be found on iTunes and other podcast networks. LISTEN:</p> <p><strong>June 1st, 2017: Election Season is Here!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/325575488&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 25th, 2017: De Blasio in the Bronx; City's Transit System Becomes a Focus</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/324498315&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 17th, 2017: The Mayor's Homelessness Plan &amp; Election Year Politics</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/323070985&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 8th, 2017: Controversy at Correction; The Latest in the Mayoral Race; Rezoning Politics; Stalled Voting Reforms; &amp; More:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/321573277&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 21, 2017: De Blasio Versus the Media, Re-election Year News, &amp; The Mayor in the Boroughs</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/318826130&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 9th, 2017: Federal cuts looming? 421-a debates &amp; the Mayor's new approach to homelessness</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/311585999&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>January 19th, 2017</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/303542171&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>December 2, 2016: 421-A Back from the Dead? New $ for Public Housing, and ZoneIn!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/295897990&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>October 27, 2016: What's at stake for New York City on Election Day?</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/290255553&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>August 12, 2016: New York City Homeownership Trends, MIH gets real, and more:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/278002906&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>July 26, 2016: With the presidential campaign in full swing and the national party platforms adopted, Max &amp; Murphy are joined by Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, to discuss federal housing policy and how it relates to New York:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/275446551&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 23, 2016: In a special episode, we were joined by two leaders of Coalition for the Homeless, Mary Brosnahan and Shelly Nortz, to discuss a wide range of issues related to city and state homelessness-fighting policies, including problems around state funding and signs of progress with city management:</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/270557367&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 16, 2016: The Latest at NYCHA, from its Chair &amp; CEO</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/269593193&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>June 9, 2016: A Lot to Watch for On Housing: Next Rezonings, New Legislation, State MOU?</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/268311634&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong> May 26, 2016: Tenant Protection Efforts and Signs of Progress at NYCHA</strong> <iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266078255&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 12, 2016: NYCHA's 'Core Challenge' with guest Ritchie Torres, New York City Council member and chair of the public housing committee</strong>&nbsp; <iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/263810263&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>May 4, 2016: A Lot in the Spring Balance</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/262502772&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 21, 2016: Presidential Candidates Visit Public Housing; Next Up: 421-A</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/260200696&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 8, 2016: The presidential primaries are here - in New York!</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/257974360&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>April 1, 2016: Big Housing $ in the State Budget</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/256765057&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 25, 2016: Putting MIH Into Context</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/254998332&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 18, 2016: Good and Bad News for Mayor de Blasio</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/252720407&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 10, 2016: The Politics of De Blasio's Housing Plan Heats Up</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251187336&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>March 4, 2016: Governor Cuomo Casts a Shadow Over Housing Hearing</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/250186524&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 26, 2016: Amid fears of gentrification, neighborhood plans move ahead</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/249032794&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 19, 2016: As the City Council deliberates, neighborhood planning heats up</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/247884112&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Feb. 12, 2016: The City Council hears two major de Blasio zoning proposals</strong></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/246587724&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="250" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>You can find more from Ben Max and Jarrett Murphy by visiting the latest reporting <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from Gotham Gazette</a> and <a href="http://citylimits.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from City Limits</a>; and find us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>.</p> Comptroller Examines Uneven Economic Growth in Gentrifying Neighborhoods 2017-04-25T04:00:00+00:00 2017-04-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6890:comptroller-examines-uneven-economic-growth-in-gentrifying-neighborhoods Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/stringer-presser.jpg" alt="stringer presser" width="600" height="431" /></p> <p>Comptroller Stringer (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The 15 neighborhoods that experienced the highest rates of gentrification in the city between 2000 and 2015 showed a monumental increase in new businesses and job growth but with an inequitable distribution of the accompanying benefits, according to a <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-releases-first-of-its-kind-neighborhood-by-neighborhood-economic-analysis-and-proposes-new-strategies-to-empower-local-residents/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new analysis</a> released Tuesday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.</p> <p>Stringer’s first-of-its-kind report, titled “The New Geography of Jobs: A Blueprint for Strengthening NYC Neighborhoods,” looked at economic activity in 15 gentrifying neighborhoods and examined trends in employment and entrepreneurial activity by industry, age, racial and ethnic groups. The neighborhoods were those identified by the NYU Furman Center in <a href="http://furmancenter.org/research/sonychan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an analysis</a> of 55 “sub-borough areas” in 2015. Of these, 22 were classified as lower income and 33 as higher income. The gentrifying neighborhoods were those that were lower income in 1990 and had experienced rent increases beyond the median neighborhood.</p> <p>“We need to create an economy based on fairness,” Stringer said, speaking at the Chinese-American Planning Council on the Lower East Side. Stringer cited CPC’s work in the Lower East Side Employment Network, a successful workforce development approach that he said should be the model for other neighborhoods. “We want to be able to lift up all groups of people and everyone in our communities. I believe this is about the need to support the idea of local wealth creation and we can only do that with innovative, collaborative and community-centric solutions,” the comptroller added.</p> <p>As economic activity increases in previously under-developed and lower-income neighborhoods, Stringer believes, the resulting opportunity, profits, and benefits should be experienced more evenly by all groups of residents.</p> <p>The number of businesses in the city grew from 203,698 to 237,198 in the 15-year period, the report found, with increased activity in the boroughs outside Manhattan. In Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, which have traditionally seen large concentrations of the city’s economic activity, the share of total businesses fell from 39 percent to 31 percent. But in the 15 gentrifying neighborhoods -- which include East and Central Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bushwick, Sunset Park, Brownsville and Ocean Hill -- there was a 45 percent increase in the number of businesses from 29,132 in 2000 to 42,261 in 2015.</p> <p>Although lower income communities saw greater growth than higher income districts across myriad industries, that growth was unevenly distributed. The report notes that while people of color own 34 percent of the city’s businesses, an uptick from years past, their share in the city’s overall economy, 16 percent of revenue and 21 percent of employment, remains relatively low. Black New Yorkers remain massively underrepresented, accounting for 22 percent of the city’s population but only owning 3 percent of businesses.</p> <p>The report also found that 17.2 percent of young adults, between 18 and 24 years old, were out of school and out of work (OSOW) in 2015, with racial and ethnic disparities in those numbers. Among OSOW youth in gentrifying neighborhoods, black and Hispanic youth represented 21 percent each, while white youth made up 12 percent.</p> <p>Stringer makes a number of recommendations in the report, aimed at connecting economic growth in a neighborhood to its residents. These include creating local network coordinators at workforce development providers to connect businesses with local job seekers; creating uniform assessments to evaluate and prepare job-seekers for the labor market; and assisting entrepreneurs and startups in scaling up their operations and setting up brick-and-mortar establishments; among other proposals.</p> <p>“My message today is this: skylines change, creation is a good thing,” Stringer said. “But we have to do a better job of harnessing this economic power in a way that serves everyone. We need to focus not on prices and not just on rent, but we also need to work on wealth creation, on linking long-term residents with new emerging jobs.”</p> <p>The comptroller noted, in response to a reporter, that housing affordability is still a crucial component of gentrification but emphasized the need to recognize changing demographics and economic challenges in those same neighborhoods. “What we need is a much more forceful workforce development plan because our data shows that there’s real possibility,” Stringer said, “but right now, for many communities, for many people, there’s a real disconnect between some of the benefits of changing neighborhoods, and it’s not filtering down to long-term residents.”</p> <p>Stringer said this more robust city response to workforce development issues should be part of proposed rezonings that are being studied across the city. The de Blasio administration and local communities are in the process of developing plans to add development, population density, housing -- including affordable units, and neighborhood-specific changes like additional school seats and new parks, for example, to a variety of areas throughout the city. One plan, for East New York, was passed a year ago and is in the process of implementation. Others have moved slowly or stalled, though several, including for East Harlem, may be moving ahead more quickly soon.</p> <p>Stakeholders in the East New York rezoning, including local Council Member Rafael Espinal, pushed strongly for workforce development initiatives to be included in the final plan, particularly the establishment of a city-run Workforce1 career center that opened in December. Similar efforts are also underway in other neighborhoods facing proposed rezonings, with community advocates insisting that jobs created by development should go to local residents.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently announced plan to create 100,000 “good paying jobs” in the next ten years, Stringer had some cutting advice. “Anytime you want to say, ‘I can create 100,000 jobs,’ sure that’s OK, that’s a good thing,” he said, “but now we have to look at our emerging economies in the boroughs and what kinds of jobs are being created and are we matching good jobs with the citizens in those communities. And if we’re not, and we’re clearly not with communities of color in some of these neighborhoods, well what will you do about it? Can’t just say we’re gonna create jobs for people who can’t access those jobs? That’s not right.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6664-part-of-rezoning-plan-city-opens-new-career-help-center-in-east-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Part of Rezoning Plan, City Opens New Career Center in East New York</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/stringer-presser.jpg" alt="stringer presser" width="600" height="431" /></p> <p>Comptroller Stringer (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The 15 neighborhoods that experienced the highest rates of gentrification in the city between 2000 and 2015 showed a monumental increase in new businesses and job growth but with an inequitable distribution of the accompanying benefits, according to a <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-releases-first-of-its-kind-neighborhood-by-neighborhood-economic-analysis-and-proposes-new-strategies-to-empower-local-residents/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new analysis</a> released Tuesday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.</p> <p>Stringer’s first-of-its-kind report, titled “The New Geography of Jobs: A Blueprint for Strengthening NYC Neighborhoods,” looked at economic activity in 15 gentrifying neighborhoods and examined trends in employment and entrepreneurial activity by industry, age, racial and ethnic groups. The neighborhoods were those identified by the NYU Furman Center in <a href="http://furmancenter.org/research/sonychan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an analysis</a> of 55 “sub-borough areas” in 2015. Of these, 22 were classified as lower income and 33 as higher income. The gentrifying neighborhoods were those that were lower income in 1990 and had experienced rent increases beyond the median neighborhood.</p> <p>“We need to create an economy based on fairness,” Stringer said, speaking at the Chinese-American Planning Council on the Lower East Side. Stringer cited CPC’s work in the Lower East Side Employment Network, a successful workforce development approach that he said should be the model for other neighborhoods. “We want to be able to lift up all groups of people and everyone in our communities. I believe this is about the need to support the idea of local wealth creation and we can only do that with innovative, collaborative and community-centric solutions,” the comptroller added.</p> <p>As economic activity increases in previously under-developed and lower-income neighborhoods, Stringer believes, the resulting opportunity, profits, and benefits should be experienced more evenly by all groups of residents.</p> <p>The number of businesses in the city grew from 203,698 to 237,198 in the 15-year period, the report found, with increased activity in the boroughs outside Manhattan. In Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, which have traditionally seen large concentrations of the city’s economic activity, the share of total businesses fell from 39 percent to 31 percent. But in the 15 gentrifying neighborhoods -- which include East and Central Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bushwick, Sunset Park, Brownsville and Ocean Hill -- there was a 45 percent increase in the number of businesses from 29,132 in 2000 to 42,261 in 2015.</p> <p>Although lower income communities saw greater growth than higher income districts across myriad industries, that growth was unevenly distributed. The report notes that while people of color own 34 percent of the city’s businesses, an uptick from years past, their share in the city’s overall economy, 16 percent of revenue and 21 percent of employment, remains relatively low. Black New Yorkers remain massively underrepresented, accounting for 22 percent of the city’s population but only owning 3 percent of businesses.</p> <p>The report also found that 17.2 percent of young adults, between 18 and 24 years old, were out of school and out of work (OSOW) in 2015, with racial and ethnic disparities in those numbers. Among OSOW youth in gentrifying neighborhoods, black and Hispanic youth represented 21 percent each, while white youth made up 12 percent.</p> <p>Stringer makes a number of recommendations in the report, aimed at connecting economic growth in a neighborhood to its residents. These include creating local network coordinators at workforce development providers to connect businesses with local job seekers; creating uniform assessments to evaluate and prepare job-seekers for the labor market; and assisting entrepreneurs and startups in scaling up their operations and setting up brick-and-mortar establishments; among other proposals.</p> <p>“My message today is this: skylines change, creation is a good thing,” Stringer said. “But we have to do a better job of harnessing this economic power in a way that serves everyone. We need to focus not on prices and not just on rent, but we also need to work on wealth creation, on linking long-term residents with new emerging jobs.”</p> <p>The comptroller noted, in response to a reporter, that housing affordability is still a crucial component of gentrification but emphasized the need to recognize changing demographics and economic challenges in those same neighborhoods. “What we need is a much more forceful workforce development plan because our data shows that there’s real possibility,” Stringer said, “but right now, for many communities, for many people, there’s a real disconnect between some of the benefits of changing neighborhoods, and it’s not filtering down to long-term residents.”</p> <p>Stringer said this more robust city response to workforce development issues should be part of proposed rezonings that are being studied across the city. The de Blasio administration and local communities are in the process of developing plans to add development, population density, housing -- including affordable units, and neighborhood-specific changes like additional school seats and new parks, for example, to a variety of areas throughout the city. One plan, for East New York, was passed a year ago and is in the process of implementation. Others have moved slowly or stalled, though several, including for East Harlem, may be moving ahead more quickly soon.</p> <p>Stakeholders in the East New York rezoning, including local Council Member Rafael Espinal, pushed strongly for workforce development initiatives to be included in the final plan, particularly the establishment of a city-run Workforce1 career center that opened in December. Similar efforts are also underway in other neighborhoods facing proposed rezonings, with community advocates insisting that jobs created by development should go to local residents.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently announced plan to create 100,000 “good paying jobs” in the next ten years, Stringer had some cutting advice. “Anytime you want to say, ‘I can create 100,000 jobs,’ sure that’s OK, that’s a good thing,” he said, “but now we have to look at our emerging economies in the boroughs and what kinds of jobs are being created and are we matching good jobs with the citizens in those communities. And if we’re not, and we’re clearly not with communities of color in some of these neighborhoods, well what will you do about it? Can’t just say we’re gonna create jobs for people who can’t access those jobs? That’s not right.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6664-part-of-rezoning-plan-city-opens-new-career-help-center-in-east-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Part of Rezoning Plan, City Opens New Career Center in East New York</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Should Call an Eviction Moratorium 2016-05-25T04:00:00+00:00 2016-05-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6354:new-york-city-should-call-an-eviction-moratorium Aaron Holmes <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14769319811_04f439bf02_o.jpg" alt="housing" height="398" width="600" /></p> <p>photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/eblake/14769319811/in/photolist-ov7Ce2-7xLAJT-7xQr6J-otmVTQ-8LbhRF-7xQrxW-ng5MpF-7xQqwU-7xLBcP-odV6wp-8Lbin8-7FnSry-61mdcx-61qnWm-5YxWkS-5YxZNJ-61qisy-617SDm-5YtJAc-5YtHiz-cjPPgE-a8m9Ez-5YtLz8-2aAreK-617Pxq-61puS4-647qxz-5Yy17Y-66cjzW-5ZQ8mw-5YtHTZ-8fNNTk-5ZKU1n-5ZF5iE-5YtHL6-613CmH-5Yy229-8Q2MRm-7xLB4F-5YpHua-8yahHf-wDMQrT-5XjwNP-dUF7Ah-8n7DaW-nYVh2x-8n7CJ5-czyewN-nEEiSZ-8LbhWV/" target="_blank">Edward Blake via Flickr</a></p> <hr /> <p>One fear that is prevalent in every borough of New York City is the threat of eviction. Gentrification and the ever increasing housing affordability gap makes staying in an apartment harder and harder each year for thousands of tenants. Evictions are handed down in Housing Court, where the odds do not favor low-income tenants.</p> <p>As of 2015, an estimated <a href="http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/todays-read-new-york-city-activists-mobilize-right-counsel-eviction/" target="_blank">90 percent</a> of these tenants go through Housing Court without legal representation. In attempts to combat this, the New York City government has provided millions in funding to legal advocacy organizations to defend tenants in Housing Court and prevent evictions. As a result, New York saw an encouraging <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/nyregion/evictions-are-down-by-18-new-york-city-cites-increased-legal-services.html?_r=2" target="_blank">18% decrease</a> in the number of evictions in 2015 due to the increase in assistance of legal services. While this additional funding is making strides in helping combat high eviction rates, these efforts are not doing enough.</p> <p>In order to provide real assistance and protection to its low-income residents and tenants as well as reduce racial discrimination, New York City should call for an indefinite temporary moratorium on evictions.</p> <p>In September of 2015, I began work as a legal intern at the Safety Net Project at Urban Justice Center. For nine months straight, I spent hours at Bronx Housing Court with hundreds of tenants, conducting intakes for potential clients for the attorneys to represent in Housing Court. During this time, I realized that one way to address the housing and eviction crisis in New York City could be a temporary moratorium on evictions.</p> <p>In a city plagued with homelessness, a poverty crisis, and drastic <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/gentrification-doesn-poor-report-shows-article-1.2393396" target="_blank">rates of gentrification</a>, by instituting an eviction moratorium city government would not only be assisting its low-income residents, but also relieving its overburdened court system and the organizations trying to help tenants.</p> <p>A moratorium on evictions, while it sounds extreme and improbable, would actually be quite feasible and beneficial.</p> <p>Landlords, while not being able to evict tenants, would still be able to collect money settlements. This could take place in Small-Claims, Civil, or even the Supreme Court. During this indeterminate period, New York would be able to reevaluate its current housing crisis and come up with better multi-faceted solutions while thousands would not be threatened with homelessness.</p> <p>The city, not burdened with the cost of both evictions and rising shelter expenses, could shift its focus and funding to other programs such as new or increased housing subsidies. Because of the inadequate number of affordable apartments, new and additional subsidies would allow access to a wider population of New Yorkers, thus diminishing the homeless population. This would result in <a href="http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/todays-read-paying-keep-people-homes-can-save-cities-money/" target="_blank">annual savings at shelters</a> throughout the city as well.</p> <p>Housing Court and evictions demonstrate not only injustice against low-income tenants, but also racial discrimination. If you walk into Housing Court in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island, you see clearly that the majority of tenants are people of color. Approximately seven of every ten clients I spoke to at Housing Court were African-American women. This opens up an even wider conversation about discrimination based on race and gender where <a href="http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/06/study_eviction_rates_for_black_women_on_par_with_incarcerations_for_black.html" target="_blank">black men are locked up and black women are locked out</a>. An eviction moratorium would potentially limit these racially discriminatory practices.</p> <p>Various types of moratoriums have actually taken place all across the country and yielded positive results.</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/home/3063885-155/salt-lake-city-council-ready-to" target="_blank">Salt Lake City</a>, a one-year impact fee moratorium was imposed to help reassess the dysfunctional collection fee system. Recently, <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/04/06/oakland-approves-90-day-moratorium-on-rent-hikes-evictions/" target="_blank">Oakland, California</a> approved a 90-day freeze on rent hikes and an eviction moratorium to help the city deal with its ever-growing housing crisis. <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/12/22/cook-lake-counties-put-evictions-on-hold-until-jan-5/" target="_blank">Chicago</a> instituted an official annual moratorium on evictions from December 18 through January 5 to give tenants a holiday reprieve. This moratorium is also in effect when temperatures reach 15 degrees or colder or when severe weather conditions would make it dangerous to evict tenants. Moratoriums like these give cities time - opportunity to assess, reevaluate, and change any facet of policy that negatively affects tenants, recognizing that housing is a basic right and essential to pursuing other aspects of life. New York should be able to institute something similar.</p> <p>Currently, the only existing eviction moratorium in place is the annual and <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Tenants-Get-Holiday-Eviction-Reprieve.html" target="_blank">informal practice conducted by marshals</a>, who typically cease all evictions during the Christmas holiday into the new year. However, while this practice is neither sanctioned nor uniformly widespread, it does not address the larger issue of the vast number of low-income New Yorkers who are displaced from their housing each year. Another eviction moratorium, an official one, took place in 2012 after <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/nycha/about/press/pr-2012/nycha-extends-eviction-moratorium.page" target="_blank">Hurricane Sandy</a>. While no formal statistics could be found to show the benefits of these moratoriums, both led to more tenants in housing and reduced costs to the city for expenses like shelters.</p> <p>In the fast-paced City of New York, tenants have seen rapid gentrification, judges pushing for settlements instead of fair decisions, and landlords seeking quick evictions. A moratorium on evictions would effectively slow down this process, keep people in their homes, provide more subsidies to put more people into new homes who currently do not qualify, and save the city money.</p> <p>Lastly, New York stands as a beacon of change on many issues. Evictions are a national epidemic. A New York eviction moratorium would act as an example for the rest of the country, thus leading to fewer homeless Americans across the country. It should not take the Christmas spirit or a devastating hurricane to call the city to act in defense of its most vulnerable residents. A housing disaster is already taking place.</p> <p>***<br />Tyler Tagliaferro is a double major in Political Science and American Studies at Fordham University.</p> <p>

***
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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14769319811_04f439bf02_o.jpg" alt="housing" height="398" width="600" /></p> <p>photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/eblake/14769319811/in/photolist-ov7Ce2-7xLAJT-7xQr6J-otmVTQ-8LbhRF-7xQrxW-ng5MpF-7xQqwU-7xLBcP-odV6wp-8Lbin8-7FnSry-61mdcx-61qnWm-5YxWkS-5YxZNJ-61qisy-617SDm-5YtJAc-5YtHiz-cjPPgE-a8m9Ez-5YtLz8-2aAreK-617Pxq-61puS4-647qxz-5Yy17Y-66cjzW-5ZQ8mw-5YtHTZ-8fNNTk-5ZKU1n-5ZF5iE-5YtHL6-613CmH-5Yy229-8Q2MRm-7xLB4F-5YpHua-8yahHf-wDMQrT-5XjwNP-dUF7Ah-8n7DaW-nYVh2x-8n7CJ5-czyewN-nEEiSZ-8LbhWV/" target="_blank">Edward Blake via Flickr</a></p> <hr /> <p>One fear that is prevalent in every borough of New York City is the threat of eviction. Gentrification and the ever increasing housing affordability gap makes staying in an apartment harder and harder each year for thousands of tenants. Evictions are handed down in Housing Court, where the odds do not favor low-income tenants.</p> <p>As of 2015, an estimated <a href="http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/todays-read-new-york-city-activists-mobilize-right-counsel-eviction/" target="_blank">90 percent</a> of these tenants go through Housing Court without legal representation. In attempts to combat this, the New York City government has provided millions in funding to legal advocacy organizations to defend tenants in Housing Court and prevent evictions. As a result, New York saw an encouraging <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/nyregion/evictions-are-down-by-18-new-york-city-cites-increased-legal-services.html?_r=2" target="_blank">18% decrease</a> in the number of evictions in 2015 due to the increase in assistance of legal services. While this additional funding is making strides in helping combat high eviction rates, these efforts are not doing enough.</p> <p>In order to provide real assistance and protection to its low-income residents and tenants as well as reduce racial discrimination, New York City should call for an indefinite temporary moratorium on evictions.</p> <p>In September of 2015, I began work as a legal intern at the Safety Net Project at Urban Justice Center. For nine months straight, I spent hours at Bronx Housing Court with hundreds of tenants, conducting intakes for potential clients for the attorneys to represent in Housing Court. During this time, I realized that one way to address the housing and eviction crisis in New York City could be a temporary moratorium on evictions.</p> <p>In a city plagued with homelessness, a poverty crisis, and drastic <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/gentrification-doesn-poor-report-shows-article-1.2393396" target="_blank">rates of gentrification</a>, by instituting an eviction moratorium city government would not only be assisting its low-income residents, but also relieving its overburdened court system and the organizations trying to help tenants.</p> <p>A moratorium on evictions, while it sounds extreme and improbable, would actually be quite feasible and beneficial.</p> <p>Landlords, while not being able to evict tenants, would still be able to collect money settlements. This could take place in Small-Claims, Civil, or even the Supreme Court. During this indeterminate period, New York would be able to reevaluate its current housing crisis and come up with better multi-faceted solutions while thousands would not be threatened with homelessness.</p> <p>The city, not burdened with the cost of both evictions and rising shelter expenses, could shift its focus and funding to other programs such as new or increased housing subsidies. Because of the inadequate number of affordable apartments, new and additional subsidies would allow access to a wider population of New Yorkers, thus diminishing the homeless population. This would result in <a href="http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/todays-read-paying-keep-people-homes-can-save-cities-money/" target="_blank">annual savings at shelters</a> throughout the city as well.</p> <p>Housing Court and evictions demonstrate not only injustice against low-income tenants, but also racial discrimination. If you walk into Housing Court in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island, you see clearly that the majority of tenants are people of color. Approximately seven of every ten clients I spoke to at Housing Court were African-American women. This opens up an even wider conversation about discrimination based on race and gender where <a href="http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/06/study_eviction_rates_for_black_women_on_par_with_incarcerations_for_black.html" target="_blank">black men are locked up and black women are locked out</a>. An eviction moratorium would potentially limit these racially discriminatory practices.</p> <p>Various types of moratoriums have actually taken place all across the country and yielded positive results.</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/home/3063885-155/salt-lake-city-council-ready-to" target="_blank">Salt Lake City</a>, a one-year impact fee moratorium was imposed to help reassess the dysfunctional collection fee system. Recently, <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/04/06/oakland-approves-90-day-moratorium-on-rent-hikes-evictions/" target="_blank">Oakland, California</a> approved a 90-day freeze on rent hikes and an eviction moratorium to help the city deal with its ever-growing housing crisis. <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/12/22/cook-lake-counties-put-evictions-on-hold-until-jan-5/" target="_blank">Chicago</a> instituted an official annual moratorium on evictions from December 18 through January 5 to give tenants a holiday reprieve. This moratorium is also in effect when temperatures reach 15 degrees or colder or when severe weather conditions would make it dangerous to evict tenants. Moratoriums like these give cities time - opportunity to assess, reevaluate, and change any facet of policy that negatively affects tenants, recognizing that housing is a basic right and essential to pursuing other aspects of life. New York should be able to institute something similar.</p> <p>Currently, the only existing eviction moratorium in place is the annual and <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Tenants-Get-Holiday-Eviction-Reprieve.html" target="_blank">informal practice conducted by marshals</a>, who typically cease all evictions during the Christmas holiday into the new year. However, while this practice is neither sanctioned nor uniformly widespread, it does not address the larger issue of the vast number of low-income New Yorkers who are displaced from their housing each year. Another eviction moratorium, an official one, took place in 2012 after <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/nycha/about/press/pr-2012/nycha-extends-eviction-moratorium.page" target="_blank">Hurricane Sandy</a>. While no formal statistics could be found to show the benefits of these moratoriums, both led to more tenants in housing and reduced costs to the city for expenses like shelters.</p> <p>In the fast-paced City of New York, tenants have seen rapid gentrification, judges pushing for settlements instead of fair decisions, and landlords seeking quick evictions. A moratorium on evictions would effectively slow down this process, keep people in their homes, provide more subsidies to put more people into new homes who currently do not qualify, and save the city money.</p> <p>Lastly, New York stands as a beacon of change on many issues. Evictions are a national epidemic. A New York eviction moratorium would act as an example for the rest of the country, thus leading to fewer homeless Americans across the country. It should not take the Christmas spirit or a devastating hurricane to call the city to act in defense of its most vulnerable residents. A housing disaster is already taking place.</p> <p>***<br />Tyler Tagliaferro is a double major in Political Science and American Studies at Fordham University.</p> <p>

***
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</p>
Eviction Bonuses and Preferential Rents, Not 421-a, Should Be the Focus in Albany 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6259:eviction-bonuses-and-preferential-rents-not-421-a-should-be-the-focus-in-albany Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Cezu80_W8AEI-6j.jpg" alt="aff housing march rally" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p>An affordable housing march&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>We have long advocated for the elimination of the 421-a tax abatement because it has been nothing but a giveaway to developers masquerading as a means of affordable housing production. This is why affordable housing advocates across the city celebrated when 421-a expired on January 15.</p> <p>Since its expiration, arguments about its possible revival are popping up more and more frequently, along with lamentations about its demise. How quickly we forget the many published <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/tenants-take-hit-as-ny-fails-to-police-huge-housing-tax-break" target="_blank">analyses</a> exposing the fact that even though the controversial tax abatement has created little affordable housing, it has cost New York City taxpayers up to $1 billion in lost tax revenue annually.</p> <p>Only about 1,350 affordable apartments were created over the previous four years of this wasteful program. That is fewer than 350 per year, and with a price tag of $833,000 per affordable apartment created.</p> <p>Instead of discussing benefits for rich developers, all attention should be on fixing the major loopholes in the rent regulation system that houses 2.5 million tenants in approximately 1 million units with no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer.</p> <p>One of the most egregious of these loopholes is the "eviction bonus," which allows enormous rent increases of up to 20 percent in rent-stabilized apartments upon vacancy. This may be the greatest threat to the affordability and retention of rent-regulated housing, which is the foundation of strong and diverse communities and the reason that tenants looking to move are faced with unaffordable rents in every neighborhood in this city. The eviction bonus affects tens of thousands of low- and middle-income tenants – far more than those benefiting from 421-a.</p> <p>Then there are "preferential" rents, the other much-used landlord tool for driving rents and pushing tenants out of rent-regulated apartments. An estimated 325,000 low-income families are vulnerable to unaffordable rent increases upon lease renewal because the preferential rent system affects 1,000 times as many families than those that benefit from new 421-a affordable units each year.</p> <p>These were the reasons for a major rally of 300 community folks this week in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick, where Brooklyn residents described the many tactics used by landlords to evict rent-stabilized tenants in order to increase rents.</p> <p>The rent laws were renewed in June 2015, with nowhere near the reforms necessary to protect tenants in New York. Without strong rent regulations, tens of thousands of tenants will eventually be met with only two choices: end up in homeless shelters or leave the city altogether. Neither is acceptable.</p> <p>As the state moves beyond budget negotiations into legislative session, rent laws should become the focus of discussion, not the $1 billion 421-a developer giveaway. The millions of low-income tenants at risk of losing their homes and stable communities are more than enough reasons.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Delsenia Glover is the campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TenantPowerNY" target="_blank">@TenantPowerNY</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Cezu80_W8AEI-6j.jpg" alt="aff housing march rally" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p>An affordable housing march&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>We have long advocated for the elimination of the 421-a tax abatement because it has been nothing but a giveaway to developers masquerading as a means of affordable housing production. This is why affordable housing advocates across the city celebrated when 421-a expired on January 15.</p> <p>Since its expiration, arguments about its possible revival are popping up more and more frequently, along with lamentations about its demise. How quickly we forget the many published <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/tenants-take-hit-as-ny-fails-to-police-huge-housing-tax-break" target="_blank">analyses</a> exposing the fact that even though the controversial tax abatement has created little affordable housing, it has cost New York City taxpayers up to $1 billion in lost tax revenue annually.</p> <p>Only about 1,350 affordable apartments were created over the previous four years of this wasteful program. That is fewer than 350 per year, and with a price tag of $833,000 per affordable apartment created.</p> <p>Instead of discussing benefits for rich developers, all attention should be on fixing the major loopholes in the rent regulation system that houses 2.5 million tenants in approximately 1 million units with no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer.</p> <p>One of the most egregious of these loopholes is the "eviction bonus," which allows enormous rent increases of up to 20 percent in rent-stabilized apartments upon vacancy. This may be the greatest threat to the affordability and retention of rent-regulated housing, which is the foundation of strong and diverse communities and the reason that tenants looking to move are faced with unaffordable rents in every neighborhood in this city. The eviction bonus affects tens of thousands of low- and middle-income tenants – far more than those benefiting from 421-a.</p> <p>Then there are "preferential" rents, the other much-used landlord tool for driving rents and pushing tenants out of rent-regulated apartments. An estimated 325,000 low-income families are vulnerable to unaffordable rent increases upon lease renewal because the preferential rent system affects 1,000 times as many families than those that benefit from new 421-a affordable units each year.</p> <p>These were the reasons for a major rally of 300 community folks this week in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick, where Brooklyn residents described the many tactics used by landlords to evict rent-stabilized tenants in order to increase rents.</p> <p>The rent laws were renewed in June 2015, with nowhere near the reforms necessary to protect tenants in New York. Without strong rent regulations, tens of thousands of tenants will eventually be met with only two choices: end up in homeless shelters or leave the city altogether. Neither is acceptable.</p> <p>As the state moves beyond budget negotiations into legislative session, rent laws should become the focus of discussion, not the $1 billion 421-a developer giveaway. The millions of low-income tenants at risk of losing their homes and stable communities are more than enough reasons.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Delsenia Glover is the campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TenantPowerNY" target="_blank">@TenantPowerNY</a>.</p> <p>

***
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Proposed Zoning Changes Raise Questions About Small Businesses 2016-01-05T02:48:52+00:00 2016-01-05T02:48:52+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6062:proposed-zoning-changes-raise-questions-about-small-businesses Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/morschers_pork_store_queens_james_karla_murray.jpg" alt="morschers pork store queens james karla murray" height="461" width="600" /></p> <p>Queens, 2009; photo by James and Karla Murray from <em><a href="http://gingkopress.com/shop/store-front-2/" target="_blank">Store Front II: A History Preserved</a></em></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">As the mayor‘s recently proposed, and in many cases fiercely opposed, zoning text amendments have fanned the flames of New Yorkers‘ ever-simmering fear of gentrification, one type of at-risk tenant has gone unmentioned: small business owners.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether it is the famous <a href="https://twitter.com/Arepalady">Arepa Lady of Queens</a> who cooks up corn pancakes with mozzarella, the baby Jesus doll boutique showcased in Frederick Wiseman‘s recent film “<a href="http://filmforum.org/film/in-jackson-heights-film">In Jackson Heights</a>,” or the local bodega still selling expired $1 honey-buns, locally-owned and servicing mom-and-pop boutiques provide much of the diverse commercial life that has long characterized New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the de Blasio administration looks to change zoning requirements throughout the city, including to allow more and better retail space, and wants to see significant real estate development to increase affordable housing, there is a great deal at stake for small business owners - both current and prospective.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Small business are critical to the vitality of the community,” Rachel Meltzer, an assistant professor of urban policy at the New School’s Milano School, told Gotham Gazette. “In economics terms there are ‘positive spillovers’ in a community from having operating, lively, and functional business, but there are also benefits that extend beyond just what it means for that owner.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://citylimits.org/2015/12/03/why-support-small-businesses-its-more-than-the-economy-stupid/">column</a> for City Limits, Meltzer detailed how these local enterprises increase diversity, develop community, and provide economic stability.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet as rents skyrocket, chains <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/publications/state-of-the-chains-2014">descend</a> upon New York City, and bodegas transform into <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/nyregion/bodegas-declining-in-manhattan-as-rents-rise-and-chains-grow.html?_r=0">banks</a>, local shops into Duane Reades. The free market largely dictates these trends, while some continue to call for commercial rent control or, more moderately, adjusting leasing rules to help protect current tenants.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the city economy and population booming and neighborhoods changing, it is increasingly difficult for small businesses to survive. There is little city policy dedicated to protecting these institutions of community character from the ruthless churn of the New York real estate market.</p> <p dir="ltr">Commercial space is treated quite differently from residential space. Discussions around zoning guidelines, tax breaks, and other government policy almost exclusively centers around affordable housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There really is no [preservation strategy] that I know of, and I do research in this area.” said Meltzer about small businesses.</p> <p dir="ltr">Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD, an equitable development advocacy group), told Gotham Gazette that in one sense, this is understandable.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Rent stabilization,” he explained, “exists because there‘s a sense that [residential] tenants are uniquely vulnerable because the stability of your home is a tremendously important thing and it is uniquely necessary for family and neighborhood stability...It’s a different thing between a landlord and a business.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On the other hand, Dulchin says, “part of what we like about our neighborhoods are small- to medium-size indigenous businesses” and “as a neighborhood gentrifies, as rents go up, you see displacement pressure not just on the current residents, you also see lots of stores finding it very hard to hang on...I don‘t think the city has figured out what an effective tool for addressing that would be.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With gentrification on the move in all five boroughs and the de Blasio administration looking to change the rules of the game while also spurring more development, there’s no clear indication about what may be done to protect existing small businesses in the next hot neighborhoods.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer suggests a place to start might be expanding various zoning initiatives designed to support small business and stymy the invasion of national corporations. She listed legislation from the Upper West Side, where former City Council Member Gale Brewer (now Manhattan Borough President) passed storefront width restricts to stop the spread of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/nyregion/city-council-limits-size-of-banks-on-upper-west-side.html?_r=0">banks</a>, as an example. So far this measure has been successful.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal (one of the two zoning plans, along with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing) includes allowing for taller first-floor retail space in mixed-use development, but proponents note that the new allowances would still be unconducive to bigger chain stores.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, this past summer residents of the Lower East Side proposed a type of zoning amendment already enacted in San Francisco that would cap the number of chain stores allowed in the <a href="http://gothamist.com/2015/06/17/east_village_chains.php">neighborhood</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer also mentioned “productive zoning” as a potential tool, which instead of mandating spatial inputs like height limitations and store width, focuses on the outputs of the space - meaning what, generally speaking, the space will be used for. This way zoning can mandate retail space goes towards meeting certain communal needs, as opposed to merely stipulating what types of stores cannot be there through measurements.</p> <p dir="ltr">The legal limitations of what zoning can achieve are unclear, though, according to Meltzer. “I’m not sure to what extent you can say ‘you have to put this type of business here with this kind of owner,’” she said. “I am not a lawyer.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The ZQA text amendment, which is currently under City Planning Commission review and will soon move to the City Council, has some version of each of Meltzer‘s suggestions. City Planning told Gotham Gazette that the retail space permitted by ZQA is not suitable for big box retail (although Target started a program to get around <a href="http://fortune.com/2015/11/12/target-manhattan-small-store/">this</a>) and that in certain locations the city‘s FRESH program, which incentivizes supermarket development in health-deficient neighborhoods, will help fill the space.</p> <p dir="ltr">The lack of protective zoning for the small business entrepreneurs of the city, Meltzer says, is only indicative of a larger void in the government‘s supportive framework for those individuals and enterprises. The “institutional arrangement and responsibilities” fall short, she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">To fill the gap, Meltzer argues the government could create some type of bureaucratic infrastructure for retail space oversight - an entity that would have responsibilities comparable to that of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, but for retail space. Such a body could supply subsidies to businesses when it made sense and assure the spaces these businesses occupied were not being exploited by landlords hungry for profit.</p> <p dir="ltr">“HPD is really sophisticated and experienced in regulating housing and thinking about ways to preserve it,” she said. “There have been a lot of affordable housing developments that in the past have tried to be very conscientious about the retail that goes into those projects, but the success has been limited partially because the subsidy for housing is separate from the commercial subsidy. So when [the government says to the developer], ‘we will give you x dollars per unit,‘ that doesn’t include commercial space. There is no way to say ‘this is what the market is asking, we want a certain type of business that may not be able to pay that, so we will give a subsidy to fill that gap.’ There is not anything, at least that is coming out of the City, that does that in a large scale way like HPD or HDC does with housing.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer went on to say that if the city did try something like that, the small business services agency could be the one to oversee it, but none of this is part of the equation right now.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether or not subsidizing commercial space, like HPD does residential, is even a good idea is up for debate. Meltzer said herself that she was “not prepared to argue that we should be subsidizing commercial rent,“ but went on to say that such a practice could prove a powerful tool in supporting businesses in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, adding “I think it‘s the government’s responsibility to support these businesses to try to stay in business.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, businesses should only receive subsidies, Meltzer says, if they show adequate interest in adjusting to the changing climate of the neighborhood. There‘s no point in financing an owner who wants to run their business the same regardless of environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Supporting businesses in transitioning neighborhoods is where existing services provided by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) can be of use. In a response to an inquiry from Gotham Gazette, an SBS spokesperson said the agency was working to roll out programs targeting these businesses and listed business education and assistance, along with tools to help businesses navigate leases and the retail market as examples.</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS also pointed Gotham Gazette to two other programs geared toward supporting the city’s less powerful retail operations: <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/home/home.shtml">NYC Business Solutions</a>, which, among other things, provides businesses with free financial assistance, recruitment and training services, and referrals to pro-bono legal services, and Small Business First, a program aiming to consolidate small business resources and requirements currently spread across 15 different city agencies into one portal. (Unfortunately, NextCity <a href="https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/small-business-owners-worries-new-york-city">reported</a> in September that there has been little progress since the program launched in <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/120-15/de-blasio-administration-small-business-first-reduce-regulatory-burden-city-s">February</a>.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio has dramatically cut fines imposed on small businesses across the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/530-15/de-blasio-administration-reduces-fines-assessed-consumer-affairs-businesses-half-cuts">city</a> and worked, through SBS, to expand opportunities for immigrant <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/html/pr/2014_05_16_Immigrant_Business_Initiative.shtml">entrepreneurs</a>. The administration got a recent boost for its zoning proposals when a dozen ethnic and local business groups, including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the plans, as <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-support-housing-plan-business-groups-article-1.2484322">reported by the Daily News</a>. The proposals are being considered by the City Planning Commission before it sends recommendations to the City Council for consideration.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past couple of years there has also been clamor about commercial tenant protection, as landlords have been accused of dumping their property taxes onto small business owners and multiplying rents by four or five upon lease expiration. City Council Member Robert Cornegy, head of the Council’s small business committee, introduced legislation in July along with Council Member Mark Levine aimed at curbing harassment, but their bill <a href="http://nyc.councilmatic.org/legislation/int-851-2015/">has not moved</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many small business advocates point to the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which gives tenants a prodigious amount of lease negotiating power and has been floating around the City Council in various iterations for around 30 years, as the holy grail of business preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who helped craft the bill while working for Ruth Messinger in the ‘80s, says SBJSA is misguided. Among other critiques, Brewers <a href="http://www.ourtownny.com/columnsop-ed/20150513/brewer-why-the-sbjsa-cant-pass">insists</a> the law would make the lease negotiation process inefficient and there are “serious” doubts as to the bill‘s legality. She plans to propose a more moderate plan with Cornegy in the near future.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ultimately, Meltzer thinks tenant protection and lease renewal negotiation reform are “great,” but that the best hope for strong, long-lasting mom-and-pop commercial retail space stands in how the city negotiates with developers looking to build.</p> <p dir="ltr">“What we want to think about are the best points of leverage, which are new development,” Meltzer says. “Even in housing, you cannot do that much with existing orders. When a building gets built and the developers are trying to secure zoning and subsidies, those are the moments when the city can say ‘oh, OK, you want the rights from us? Here’s what you are going to have to do in order to build bigger.’“</p> <p dir="ltr">Commenting on the zoning proposals currently up for review, Meltzer said, “It would be interesting to know if in the zoning, because it is not finalized by any means, [the city] would start to incorporate things like that.“</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Colin O’Connor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/morschers_pork_store_queens_james_karla_murray.jpg" alt="morschers pork store queens james karla murray" height="461" width="600" /></p> <p>Queens, 2009; photo by James and Karla Murray from <em><a href="http://gingkopress.com/shop/store-front-2/" target="_blank">Store Front II: A History Preserved</a></em></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">As the mayor‘s recently proposed, and in many cases fiercely opposed, zoning text amendments have fanned the flames of New Yorkers‘ ever-simmering fear of gentrification, one type of at-risk tenant has gone unmentioned: small business owners.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether it is the famous <a href="https://twitter.com/Arepalady">Arepa Lady of Queens</a> who cooks up corn pancakes with mozzarella, the baby Jesus doll boutique showcased in Frederick Wiseman‘s recent film “<a href="http://filmforum.org/film/in-jackson-heights-film">In Jackson Heights</a>,” or the local bodega still selling expired $1 honey-buns, locally-owned and servicing mom-and-pop boutiques provide much of the diverse commercial life that has long characterized New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the de Blasio administration looks to change zoning requirements throughout the city, including to allow more and better retail space, and wants to see significant real estate development to increase affordable housing, there is a great deal at stake for small business owners - both current and prospective.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Small business are critical to the vitality of the community,” Rachel Meltzer, an assistant professor of urban policy at the New School’s Milano School, told Gotham Gazette. “In economics terms there are ‘positive spillovers’ in a community from having operating, lively, and functional business, but there are also benefits that extend beyond just what it means for that owner.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://citylimits.org/2015/12/03/why-support-small-businesses-its-more-than-the-economy-stupid/">column</a> for City Limits, Meltzer detailed how these local enterprises increase diversity, develop community, and provide economic stability.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet as rents skyrocket, chains <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/publications/state-of-the-chains-2014">descend</a> upon New York City, and bodegas transform into <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/nyregion/bodegas-declining-in-manhattan-as-rents-rise-and-chains-grow.html?_r=0">banks</a>, local shops into Duane Reades. The free market largely dictates these trends, while some continue to call for commercial rent control or, more moderately, adjusting leasing rules to help protect current tenants.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the city economy and population booming and neighborhoods changing, it is increasingly difficult for small businesses to survive. There is little city policy dedicated to protecting these institutions of community character from the ruthless churn of the New York real estate market.</p> <p dir="ltr">Commercial space is treated quite differently from residential space. Discussions around zoning guidelines, tax breaks, and other government policy almost exclusively centers around affordable housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There really is no [preservation strategy] that I know of, and I do research in this area.” said Meltzer about small businesses.</p> <p dir="ltr">Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD, an equitable development advocacy group), told Gotham Gazette that in one sense, this is understandable.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Rent stabilization,” he explained, “exists because there‘s a sense that [residential] tenants are uniquely vulnerable because the stability of your home is a tremendously important thing and it is uniquely necessary for family and neighborhood stability...It’s a different thing between a landlord and a business.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On the other hand, Dulchin says, “part of what we like about our neighborhoods are small- to medium-size indigenous businesses” and “as a neighborhood gentrifies, as rents go up, you see displacement pressure not just on the current residents, you also see lots of stores finding it very hard to hang on...I don‘t think the city has figured out what an effective tool for addressing that would be.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With gentrification on the move in all five boroughs and the de Blasio administration looking to change the rules of the game while also spurring more development, there’s no clear indication about what may be done to protect existing small businesses in the next hot neighborhoods.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer suggests a place to start might be expanding various zoning initiatives designed to support small business and stymy the invasion of national corporations. She listed legislation from the Upper West Side, where former City Council Member Gale Brewer (now Manhattan Borough President) passed storefront width restricts to stop the spread of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/nyregion/city-council-limits-size-of-banks-on-upper-west-side.html?_r=0">banks</a>, as an example. So far this measure has been successful.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal (one of the two zoning plans, along with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing) includes allowing for taller first-floor retail space in mixed-use development, but proponents note that the new allowances would still be unconducive to bigger chain stores.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, this past summer residents of the Lower East Side proposed a type of zoning amendment already enacted in San Francisco that would cap the number of chain stores allowed in the <a href="http://gothamist.com/2015/06/17/east_village_chains.php">neighborhood</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer also mentioned “productive zoning” as a potential tool, which instead of mandating spatial inputs like height limitations and store width, focuses on the outputs of the space - meaning what, generally speaking, the space will be used for. This way zoning can mandate retail space goes towards meeting certain communal needs, as opposed to merely stipulating what types of stores cannot be there through measurements.</p> <p dir="ltr">The legal limitations of what zoning can achieve are unclear, though, according to Meltzer. “I’m not sure to what extent you can say ‘you have to put this type of business here with this kind of owner,’” she said. “I am not a lawyer.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The ZQA text amendment, which is currently under City Planning Commission review and will soon move to the City Council, has some version of each of Meltzer‘s suggestions. City Planning told Gotham Gazette that the retail space permitted by ZQA is not suitable for big box retail (although Target started a program to get around <a href="http://fortune.com/2015/11/12/target-manhattan-small-store/">this</a>) and that in certain locations the city‘s FRESH program, which incentivizes supermarket development in health-deficient neighborhoods, will help fill the space.</p> <p dir="ltr">The lack of protective zoning for the small business entrepreneurs of the city, Meltzer says, is only indicative of a larger void in the government‘s supportive framework for those individuals and enterprises. The “institutional arrangement and responsibilities” fall short, she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">To fill the gap, Meltzer argues the government could create some type of bureaucratic infrastructure for retail space oversight - an entity that would have responsibilities comparable to that of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, but for retail space. Such a body could supply subsidies to businesses when it made sense and assure the spaces these businesses occupied were not being exploited by landlords hungry for profit.</p> <p dir="ltr">“HPD is really sophisticated and experienced in regulating housing and thinking about ways to preserve it,” she said. “There have been a lot of affordable housing developments that in the past have tried to be very conscientious about the retail that goes into those projects, but the success has been limited partially because the subsidy for housing is separate from the commercial subsidy. So when [the government says to the developer], ‘we will give you x dollars per unit,‘ that doesn’t include commercial space. There is no way to say ‘this is what the market is asking, we want a certain type of business that may not be able to pay that, so we will give a subsidy to fill that gap.’ There is not anything, at least that is coming out of the City, that does that in a large scale way like HPD or HDC does with housing.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Meltzer went on to say that if the city did try something like that, the small business services agency could be the one to oversee it, but none of this is part of the equation right now.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether or not subsidizing commercial space, like HPD does residential, is even a good idea is up for debate. Meltzer said herself that she was “not prepared to argue that we should be subsidizing commercial rent,“ but went on to say that such a practice could prove a powerful tool in supporting businesses in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, adding “I think it‘s the government’s responsibility to support these businesses to try to stay in business.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, businesses should only receive subsidies, Meltzer says, if they show adequate interest in adjusting to the changing climate of the neighborhood. There‘s no point in financing an owner who wants to run their business the same regardless of environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Supporting businesses in transitioning neighborhoods is where existing services provided by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) can be of use. In a response to an inquiry from Gotham Gazette, an SBS spokesperson said the agency was working to roll out programs targeting these businesses and listed business education and assistance, along with tools to help businesses navigate leases and the retail market as examples.</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS also pointed Gotham Gazette to two other programs geared toward supporting the city’s less powerful retail operations: <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/home/home.shtml">NYC Business Solutions</a>, which, among other things, provides businesses with free financial assistance, recruitment and training services, and referrals to pro-bono legal services, and Small Business First, a program aiming to consolidate small business resources and requirements currently spread across 15 different city agencies into one portal. (Unfortunately, NextCity <a href="https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/small-business-owners-worries-new-york-city">reported</a> in September that there has been little progress since the program launched in <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/120-15/de-blasio-administration-small-business-first-reduce-regulatory-burden-city-s">February</a>.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio has dramatically cut fines imposed on small businesses across the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/530-15/de-blasio-administration-reduces-fines-assessed-consumer-affairs-businesses-half-cuts">city</a> and worked, through SBS, to expand opportunities for immigrant <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/html/pr/2014_05_16_Immigrant_Business_Initiative.shtml">entrepreneurs</a>. The administration got a recent boost for its zoning proposals when a dozen ethnic and local business groups, including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the plans, as <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-support-housing-plan-business-groups-article-1.2484322">reported by the Daily News</a>. The proposals are being considered by the City Planning Commission before it sends recommendations to the City Council for consideration.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past couple of years there has also been clamor about commercial tenant protection, as landlords have been accused of dumping their property taxes onto small business owners and multiplying rents by four or five upon lease expiration. City Council Member Robert Cornegy, head of the Council’s small business committee, introduced legislation in July along with Council Member Mark Levine aimed at curbing harassment, but their bill <a href="http://nyc.councilmatic.org/legislation/int-851-2015/">has not moved</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many small business advocates point to the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which gives tenants a prodigious amount of lease negotiating power and has been floating around the City Council in various iterations for around 30 years, as the holy grail of business preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who helped craft the bill while working for Ruth Messinger in the ‘80s, says SBJSA is misguided. Among other critiques, Brewers <a href="http://www.ourtownny.com/columnsop-ed/20150513/brewer-why-the-sbjsa-cant-pass">insists</a> the law would make the lease negotiation process inefficient and there are “serious” doubts as to the bill‘s legality. She plans to propose a more moderate plan with Cornegy in the near future.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ultimately, Meltzer thinks tenant protection and lease renewal negotiation reform are “great,” but that the best hope for strong, long-lasting mom-and-pop commercial retail space stands in how the city negotiates with developers looking to build.</p> <p dir="ltr">“What we want to think about are the best points of leverage, which are new development,” Meltzer says. “Even in housing, you cannot do that much with existing orders. When a building gets built and the developers are trying to secure zoning and subsidies, those are the moments when the city can say ‘oh, OK, you want the rights from us? Here’s what you are going to have to do in order to build bigger.’“</p> <p dir="ltr">Commenting on the zoning proposals currently up for review, Meltzer said, “It would be interesting to know if in the zoning, because it is not finalized by any means, [the city] would start to incorporate things like that.“</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Colin O’Connor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Brooklyn Neighborhoods Look to Address School Overcrowding, Avoid Rezoning Issues Seen Elsewhere 2015-10-26T19:12:03+00:00 2015-10-26T19:12:03+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5951:brooklyn-neighborhoods-look-to-address-school-overcrowding-avoid-rezoning-issues-seen-elsewhere Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bk_overcrowding_forum.jpg" alt="bk overcrowding forum" height="338" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">The community school forum (<a href="https://twitter.com/JoAnneSimonBK52/status/657302873550794752" target="_blank">photo</a>: @JoAnneSimonBK52)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>As rezoning problems plague some city school districts, leaders in one area of Brooklyn are looking to avoid similar pitfalls while reducing overcrowding.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Carroll Gardens last week, local officials and parents gathered in the PS 58 auditorium to discuss overcrowding issues facing three elementary schools. Like others across the city, District 15 - which includes the schools at hand, PS 58, PS 32, and PS 29 - is facing challenges around booming development and school-aged populations, school crowding and zoning.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday’s forum, featuring several area elected officials, school leaders, and moderated by Professor David Bloomfield of CUNY, was an attempt to get ahead of these issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Often when we’re dealing with overcrowding, we’re not able to address it until it’s a full-blown crisis,” said Paige Bellenbaum, a local district leader. A parent of second- and third-graders at PS 58, Bellenbaum noted that since 2005, the school’s enrollment has more than doubled.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bellenbaum and other concerned residents heard from and spoke to a panel of elected and appointed decision-makers. The panel included local lawmakers, Department of Education (DOE) planning officials, the School Construction Authority (SCA) external affairs director, PTA parents with rezoning experience, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">Amid unprecedented growth and development in District 15 - which contains Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Sunset Park schools - those who spoke cited the need to “work together in advance to get ahead of the curve,” as Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon put it. City Council Member Brad Lander and State Senator Daniel Squadron, also co-organizers of the event, expressed a similar point.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the district looks to the DOE and SCA to add capacity and rezone neighborhoods, anxiety is high. Local officials organized the forum to begin a dialogue earlier than has occurred in other places facing similar issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 15, the average utilization rate for classrooms is already 111.5 percent. PS 58, its principal explained, has been forced to cap entry into third and fourth grades. “In 2005, enrollment was about 400 students. In 2015, it was 996,” Bellenbaum said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Recently, overcrowding-caused rezonings of <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141028/windsor-terrace/parents-say-proposed-district-15-rezoning-forces-students-travel-too-far" target="_blank">four district schools last year</a> and the 2012 rezoning of two <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/nyregion/at-an-overcrowded-school-in-park-slope-no-one-wants-to-leave.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Park Slope schools</a> have caused controversy. Perhaps compounding anxiety about rezonings are the current uproars concerning PS 8 and PS 307 in downtown Brooklyn and <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/10/19/for-two-sharply-divided-manhattan-schools-an-uncertain-path-to-integration/" target="_blank">PS 191 and PS 199</a> on the Upper West Side. PTA parents from other public schools that had experienced the rezoning process gave advice to parents from District 15 at last week’s forum.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kim Glickman, co-president of the PS 8 PTA, offered her advice to District 15 parents on participating in school rezoning processes. “As leaders of your own schools, you need to be able to understand what the triggers causing the school to be overcrowded are and to be able to speak to them clearly,” Glickman said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Because race and class lines are not as sharply drawn around the three District 15 schools as they are in the other aforementioned school pairings, it is unlikely that a rezoning dispute in the neighborhoods will be the kind of <a href="http://insideschools.org/blog/item/1001036-how-not-to-turn-schools-into-gentrification-battlefields" target="_blank">“gentrification battle”</a> seen elsewhere. <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K058.pdf" target="_blank">PS 58</a>, <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K032.pdf" target="_blank">PS 32</a>, and <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K029.pdf" target="_blank">PS 29</a> were also all deemed either “good standing” or “reward” status by the DOE in its assessment after the 2013-2014 school year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, school district rezonings almost always leave some parents frustrated as their home zones are changed and their children are assigned to different elementary schools than they had planned.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although overcrowding has not yet reached a crisis level in District 15, it has had a corrosive effect on its schools, speakers at the forum said. And, given the scale of development happening in the district - the Lightstone Group’s 700-unit residential complex is being built in the PS 32 zone, for example - the creation of many more school seats will be necessary to accommodate all of the students it will likely receive. Already, PS 32 has been using trailers in its rear yard for about fifteen years because of overcrowding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Lightstone building students (“200-ish” of whom will eventually go to PS 32, according to Council Member Lander) will get seats in the school. A 436-seat annex will be added to the school, Lander and CSA officials recently announced.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So, it’s good that we’re building 400-plus seats,” Lander told community stakeholders. “But it does speak to the fact that it won’t create enough new capacity to solve our problems collectively.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The annex is also not slated to be completed for a few more years, at which time the rezoning conversation will be at the forefront as officials determine which students are assigned to the new seats.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Community Education Council 15 President Naila Rosario explained with a powerpoint, overcrowding is already having negative effects, including the elimination of enrichment programs, worse building maintenance, and the loss of rooms for art, music, and special services.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though overcrowding appears in many ways as an inevitable result of more people moving into a neighborhood, it is perfectly preventable, according to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit advocacy group. Haimson, who was at last week’s forum and frequently speaks to school capacity issues, says policymakers can take concrete steps to keep overcrowding from happening.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The median utilization rate for elementary schools is over a hundred percent across the city,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette. The problem, she said, is fixable, though there has been a lack of political will. The DOE’s five-year capital plan includes 38,754 new seats for students, a figure that Haimson and her allies believe should be at least doubled.</p> <p dir="ltr">The PS 32 annex is part of that capital plan, and while it will add seats in District 15, it is clear the district will need even more capacity to serve all of the students in the area.</p> <p dir="ltr">A 2014 <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/7E13_123A.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that one third of elementary schools in New York City registered at least 138 percent of their capacity in 2012. During February of last year, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña created the Blue Book Working Group, which was tasked to review the space utilization formulas of the DOE’s “Blue Book” and recommend reforms to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">After the group gave <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2183985/blue-book-working-group-recommendations.pdf" target="_blank">its recommendations</a> to the DOE last December, the department did not publish them until July, when <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/07/28/city-to-tweak-how-it-calculates-school-space-needs/" target="_blank">it announced</a> that some of them would be adopted. But it rejected the recommendation to shrink class sizes to those outlined by the Contracts for Excellence Law: on average, 19.9 students for kindergarten through third grade, 22.9 for grades 4-8 and 24.5 for grades 9-12. As <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150729/sunset-park/de-blasio-not-doing-enough-fix-school-overcrowding-critics-say" target="_blank">DNAinfo recently pointed out</a>, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to abide by these sizes during his mayoral campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">City school officials were criticized several times at the forum last week in Carroll Gardens.</p> <p dir="ltr">The DOE has not built schools in Sunset Park, which has District 15 schools, where money was allocated to do so in order to ease overcrowding. “Sunset Park has been slotted to have schools for at least the last ten years,” one audience member said. “It’s not a budget issue.”</p> <p dir="ltr">One parent, to enthusiastic applause, asked the panel why schools weren't included in new residential developments. When in response, SCA External Affairs Director Michael Mirisola said that his organization is not able to force the creation of schools, an audience member angrily interrupted, “Why not?”</p> <p dir="ltr">It is up to local elected officials and the de Blasio administration to require public benefits like school seats in development deals. Officials are really only able to do so when developers are utilizing rezonings and other public incentives when they build. The administration and local officials in District 15 are currently negotiating a possible deal with the developer of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site, where a rezoning may be allowed so that a larger development can be built in exchange for public benefits including school seats.</p> <p dir="ltr">Haimson touched on another overcrowding issue, though not one at play in District 15 per se, decrying the state ensuring in law that any newly approved charter school is guaranteed space. “Here, we have this massive overcrowding problem in New York City where there are communities that have waited 20 years for a school, and yet any charter school can snap its fingers and the city has to give them space or pay for their rent,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette before the forum (she also spoke briefly as an audience member during the Q&amp;A).</p> <p dir="ltr">The DOE has faced criticism from Brooklyn residents for its handling of the PS 8/PS 307 District 13 rezoning, among others. Early talks with the department could prevent District 15 from having an adversarial relationship with the DOE when its rezoning process begins in earnest. The purpose of last week’s forum was to get dialogue started so that the lines of communication are open and community input is front and center.</p> <p dir="ltr">“By coming together here with no specific group of so-called winners or so-called losers or people who want one thing and others who have a different goal, it is a really important step,” Sen. Squadron said in his remarks. “But it does not end here, because we have also seen that early engagement alone does not force the Department of Education to do what they're supposed to.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been corrected to indicate the schools at the center of rezoning talks on the Upper West Side - they are 191 and 199, not 32 and 29 as initially indicated</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bk_overcrowding_forum.jpg" alt="bk overcrowding forum" height="338" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">The community school forum (<a href="https://twitter.com/JoAnneSimonBK52/status/657302873550794752" target="_blank">photo</a>: @JoAnneSimonBK52)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>As rezoning problems plague some city school districts, leaders in one area of Brooklyn are looking to avoid similar pitfalls while reducing overcrowding.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Carroll Gardens last week, local officials and parents gathered in the PS 58 auditorium to discuss overcrowding issues facing three elementary schools. Like others across the city, District 15 - which includes the schools at hand, PS 58, PS 32, and PS 29 - is facing challenges around booming development and school-aged populations, school crowding and zoning.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday’s forum, featuring several area elected officials, school leaders, and moderated by Professor David Bloomfield of CUNY, was an attempt to get ahead of these issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Often when we’re dealing with overcrowding, we’re not able to address it until it’s a full-blown crisis,” said Paige Bellenbaum, a local district leader. A parent of second- and third-graders at PS 58, Bellenbaum noted that since 2005, the school’s enrollment has more than doubled.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bellenbaum and other concerned residents heard from and spoke to a panel of elected and appointed decision-makers. The panel included local lawmakers, Department of Education (DOE) planning officials, the School Construction Authority (SCA) external affairs director, PTA parents with rezoning experience, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">Amid unprecedented growth and development in District 15 - which contains Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Sunset Park schools - those who spoke cited the need to “work together in advance to get ahead of the curve,” as Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon put it. City Council Member Brad Lander and State Senator Daniel Squadron, also co-organizers of the event, expressed a similar point.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the district looks to the DOE and SCA to add capacity and rezone neighborhoods, anxiety is high. Local officials organized the forum to begin a dialogue earlier than has occurred in other places facing similar issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 15, the average utilization rate for classrooms is already 111.5 percent. PS 58, its principal explained, has been forced to cap entry into third and fourth grades. “In 2005, enrollment was about 400 students. In 2015, it was 996,” Bellenbaum said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Recently, overcrowding-caused rezonings of <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141028/windsor-terrace/parents-say-proposed-district-15-rezoning-forces-students-travel-too-far" target="_blank">four district schools last year</a> and the 2012 rezoning of two <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/nyregion/at-an-overcrowded-school-in-park-slope-no-one-wants-to-leave.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Park Slope schools</a> have caused controversy. Perhaps compounding anxiety about rezonings are the current uproars concerning PS 8 and PS 307 in downtown Brooklyn and <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/10/19/for-two-sharply-divided-manhattan-schools-an-uncertain-path-to-integration/" target="_blank">PS 191 and PS 199</a> on the Upper West Side. PTA parents from other public schools that had experienced the rezoning process gave advice to parents from District 15 at last week’s forum.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kim Glickman, co-president of the PS 8 PTA, offered her advice to District 15 parents on participating in school rezoning processes. “As leaders of your own schools, you need to be able to understand what the triggers causing the school to be overcrowded are and to be able to speak to them clearly,” Glickman said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Because race and class lines are not as sharply drawn around the three District 15 schools as they are in the other aforementioned school pairings, it is unlikely that a rezoning dispute in the neighborhoods will be the kind of <a href="http://insideschools.org/blog/item/1001036-how-not-to-turn-schools-into-gentrification-battlefields" target="_blank">“gentrification battle”</a> seen elsewhere. <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K058.pdf" target="_blank">PS 58</a>, <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K032.pdf" target="_blank">PS 32</a>, and <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2013-14/School_Quality_Guide_2014_EMS_K029.pdf" target="_blank">PS 29</a> were also all deemed either “good standing” or “reward” status by the DOE in its assessment after the 2013-2014 school year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, school district rezonings almost always leave some parents frustrated as their home zones are changed and their children are assigned to different elementary schools than they had planned.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although overcrowding has not yet reached a crisis level in District 15, it has had a corrosive effect on its schools, speakers at the forum said. And, given the scale of development happening in the district - the Lightstone Group’s 700-unit residential complex is being built in the PS 32 zone, for example - the creation of many more school seats will be necessary to accommodate all of the students it will likely receive. Already, PS 32 has been using trailers in its rear yard for about fifteen years because of overcrowding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Lightstone building students (“200-ish” of whom will eventually go to PS 32, according to Council Member Lander) will get seats in the school. A 436-seat annex will be added to the school, Lander and CSA officials recently announced.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So, it’s good that we’re building 400-plus seats,” Lander told community stakeholders. “But it does speak to the fact that it won’t create enough new capacity to solve our problems collectively.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The annex is also not slated to be completed for a few more years, at which time the rezoning conversation will be at the forefront as officials determine which students are assigned to the new seats.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Community Education Council 15 President Naila Rosario explained with a powerpoint, overcrowding is already having negative effects, including the elimination of enrichment programs, worse building maintenance, and the loss of rooms for art, music, and special services.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though overcrowding appears in many ways as an inevitable result of more people moving into a neighborhood, it is perfectly preventable, according to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit advocacy group. Haimson, who was at last week’s forum and frequently speaks to school capacity issues, says policymakers can take concrete steps to keep overcrowding from happening.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The median utilization rate for elementary schools is over a hundred percent across the city,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette. The problem, she said, is fixable, though there has been a lack of political will. The DOE’s five-year capital plan includes 38,754 new seats for students, a figure that Haimson and her allies believe should be at least doubled.</p> <p dir="ltr">The PS 32 annex is part of that capital plan, and while it will add seats in District 15, it is clear the district will need even more capacity to serve all of the students in the area.</p> <p dir="ltr">A 2014 <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/7E13_123A.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that one third of elementary schools in New York City registered at least 138 percent of their capacity in 2012. During February of last year, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña created the Blue Book Working Group, which was tasked to review the space utilization formulas of the DOE’s “Blue Book” and recommend reforms to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">After the group gave <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2183985/blue-book-working-group-recommendations.pdf" target="_blank">its recommendations</a> to the DOE last December, the department did not publish them until July, when <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/07/28/city-to-tweak-how-it-calculates-school-space-needs/" target="_blank">it announced</a> that some of them would be adopted. But it rejected the recommendation to shrink class sizes to those outlined by the Contracts for Excellence Law: on average, 19.9 students for kindergarten through third grade, 22.9 for grades 4-8 and 24.5 for grades 9-12. As <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150729/sunset-park/de-blasio-not-doing-enough-fix-school-overcrowding-critics-say" target="_blank">DNAinfo recently pointed out</a>, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to abide by these sizes during his mayoral campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">City school officials were criticized several times at the forum last week in Carroll Gardens.</p> <p dir="ltr">The DOE has not built schools in Sunset Park, which has District 15 schools, where money was allocated to do so in order to ease overcrowding. “Sunset Park has been slotted to have schools for at least the last ten years,” one audience member said. “It’s not a budget issue.”</p> <p dir="ltr">One parent, to enthusiastic applause, asked the panel why schools weren't included in new residential developments. When in response, SCA External Affairs Director Michael Mirisola said that his organization is not able to force the creation of schools, an audience member angrily interrupted, “Why not?”</p> <p dir="ltr">It is up to local elected officials and the de Blasio administration to require public benefits like school seats in development deals. Officials are really only able to do so when developers are utilizing rezonings and other public incentives when they build. The administration and local officials in District 15 are currently negotiating a possible deal with the developer of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site, where a rezoning may be allowed so that a larger development can be built in exchange for public benefits including school seats.</p> <p dir="ltr">Haimson touched on another overcrowding issue, though not one at play in District 15 per se, decrying the state ensuring in law that any newly approved charter school is guaranteed space. “Here, we have this massive overcrowding problem in New York City where there are communities that have waited 20 years for a school, and yet any charter school can snap its fingers and the city has to give them space or pay for their rent,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette before the forum (she also spoke briefly as an audience member during the Q&amp;A).</p> <p dir="ltr">The DOE has faced criticism from Brooklyn residents for its handling of the PS 8/PS 307 District 13 rezoning, among others. Early talks with the department could prevent District 15 from having an adversarial relationship with the DOE when its rezoning process begins in earnest. The purpose of last week’s forum was to get dialogue started so that the lines of communication are open and community input is front and center.</p> <p dir="ltr">“By coming together here with no specific group of so-called winners or so-called losers or people who want one thing and others who have a different goal, it is a really important step,” Sen. Squadron said in his remarks. “But it does not end here, because we have also seen that early engagement alone does not force the Department of Education to do what they're supposed to.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been corrected to indicate the schools at the center of rezoning talks on the Upper West Side - they are 191 and 199, not 32 and 29 as initially indicated</p>