We like to imagine that we live in a small town. That's why we're so neighborhood focused and 'hood proud. The City is simply not human-sized, and we yearn for a communal homestead. The fact is, the whole metropolitan area of 25 million people or so is a living organism, and what we do affects the whole body. The incremental changes here or there, when multiplied 1,000 fold, can mean the difference between a healthy body and a rotting gut.
Glad to see Conor Dougherty in The Old Gray Lady catching up with the real story. It's about time the mainstream media laid bare the reality - you cannot expect go NIMBY and not hurt others in the process. Maybe in a small town out in the Midwest, where jobs are scarce and no one really wants to move there anyway. But we in Brooklyn are a victim of success. There is no reason to also be a victim to shortsighted anti-planning zealots who don't recognize just how necessary it is to build lasting affordable housing, even as we protect the existing stock. Homeowners have ulterior motives when it comes to neighborhood "character." Character is what made Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill and the West Village astronomically expensive. They're almost museums in a crowded and thriving metropolis chock full of working people forced to look farther and farther afield for housing. Folks, the hot dog vendor on my work corner commutes every day from the Poconos. He's hardly alone. I've met dozens of immigrant laborers who chose the American Dream hours away rather than live in poverty right here. There is a middle ground between over-building and under-building, and the Q has fought for it, poorly at times. Allow the RIGHT kind of growth, the kind that helps level the playing field while recognizing that new housing is good, so long as it isn't out-sized or inappropriate (think finger buildings in the middle of blocks).
Some excerpts from this fine article that highlights that this is an American problem, not just Brooklyn. People are moving to Cities where their prospects for employment are less, based purely on home prices. I know it for a fact! Brooklynites are moving in droves, Upstate, Detroit, or towns with QofL but limited employment options like Portland and Boulder, but even those zeitgeist towns are feeling the same overheat at Brooklyn, and housing prices are zooming.
I particularly fancy the description of Council meetings, from this excerpt. Been there, done that, albeit at the glorious CB9.
To most people, zoning and land-use regulations might conjure up little more than images of late-night City Council meetings full of gadflies and minutiae. But these laws go a long way toward determining some fundamental aspects of life: what American neighborhoods look like, who gets to live where and what schools their children attend.
And when zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.
The lost opportunities for development may theoretically reduce the output of the United States economy by as much as $1.5 trillion a year, according to estimates in a recent paper by the economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti. Regardless of the actual gains in dollars that could be achieved if zoning laws were significantly cut back, the research on land-use restrictions highlights some of the consequences of giving local communities too much control over who is allowed to live there.
“You don’t want rules made entirely for people that have something, at the expense of people who don’t,” said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.