The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Civic Minded and the Bedford Armory

People ask the Q all the time how they can get involved in local goings-on. The Community Board #9, from my perspective, is effectively dead for the moment while it tries once again to regain its composure and dignity in the face of a full-frontal attack by the group calling itself MTOPP. Unless you like your politics mean and dirty, I suggest you align yourself with Assembly person Diana Richardson's "Civic Minded." Granted, the Sour Sally's at MTOPP might come and make trouble there too, but let me tell you Diana don't play. She's got the smart tongue to put AB in her place should she come a-knockin.' Demetrius, god bless him, hadn't the heart to fight fire with fire.

So...the biggest fight on the table, for the lower income good people of Brooklyn, is the fate of what was long a military outpost - The Bedford Union Armory, up on Bedford and, um, Union. While that might seem a decent hop from Lefferts, it really isn't. It's no farther than, say, mid-to-north Park Slope, and the Slope's got an armory with quite a nice YMCA rec center. But the Bedford Union Armory (not to be confused with the Bedford Armory on Atlantic) has become one of the last serious opportunities for the City to develop both affordable housing AND recreation AND community center. The EDC (that brought you Downtown Brooklyn, Hudson Yards, Battery Park City among others) chose a fairly conservative developer, Slate, that was quickly knocked out due to its sneaky-Pete dealings. But think about it - this is on of the largest City-owned properties around. The City could choose not to go with a for-profit model at all, and build ALL affordable housing.

Check out this great article in the Guardian about the valiant efforts of the Crown Heights Tenants Union and others to stick it to the Man. Great reading, this, and lots of background info.

 Folks, this is where the true leanings of Brooklyn's leadership and lefty residents can be either heroes or goats. You hear a lot about how home owners care deeply about their low-income renting neighbors. But do they really? Let's see if they (you?) can put political muscle behind an All-Affordable complex with low-cost rec center. Let's be clear - NOT public housing, but damn close. If you're surviving on minimum wage, you need a place to live. And this, my friends, might be it. Close to trains, the Museum and Garden, schools and amenities. Come out on the 22nd of October and show your support and voice your opinion and meet your neighbors and leaders. It's a good time, y'all.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Q. All affordable housing makes no sense. First, it does not make any economical sense to a developer to build under that proposition. So then the land just sits there. Everyone loses. Second, while I agree with you that there is a large working class in the PLG neighborhood, and that's it's tough to scrape by where the average salary is 30k/yr or whatever, that's not the accurate picture. Namely, the low annual salary the media uses to make us feel sorry for the working class is reported income. How much of unreported income is completely ignored? You know: side hustles, babysitting, tips, cash businesses, etc. While I am all for preventing unsavory landlords from using illegal means and intimidation to push tenants out, I'm not that sympathetic. My family was pushed out of Manhattan. I now live in PLG. It's cool; neighborhoods evolve.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

You have no idea how hard it is to find an apartment at the low end, do you? Who cares that some income is unreported? Are you the IRS now?

The point is, the City needs to create a low-rent apartments. Period.

And of course it makes sense to a developer, as long as the subsidies are large enough.

The City has plenty of money to do this. And used to create public housing. There's absolutely no reason this can't be accomplished.

Danny said...

I think that there are numerous social benefits for the residents of mixed-income housing. Rich, poor, and middle-class people can learn a lot from each other just from rubbing shoulders, but that cannot happen if we live in segregated housing and segregated neighborhoods.

For that reason, I don't think all-affordable is a smart move.

Make sure you have more than a token amount of affordable units, and make sure there are units affordable at every band of the income spectrum, but don't concentrate poverty in one place.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Every civilized city on earth creates lots of subsidized housing. We've bought into the bizarre propaganda that the market is sufficient, with minor tweaks.

What we're talking about here is a reasonable acknowledgement of the inherent inequities of steroid capitalism.

Anonymous said...

Q, I realize that affordable housing is not readily available too everyone. I can appreciate that finding low rent apartments can be hard on the low end. But defending status quo changes nothing. So I agree with you we need to build smartly, but not sure about 100 affordable housing. 80/20 housing seems to be ok. Is that enough affordable housing? Maybe not. But it's more affordable housing than nothing at all. Besides, there are many benefits to gentrification: less garbage, less dog poop on the sidewalks, less crime, fewer vagrants, better schools, etc. I grew up in NYC in the 80s. I don't miss any of that stuff. I like to think I'm pretty liberal and sympathetic to the working poor. But I must admit I get irritated when some of the "working poor" (or their many kids) have super nice sneakers, or smoking cigarettes, which costs 15 a pack these days. My spouse complains about the pot smoking. The smoke doesn't bother me, but where does one afford a joint when they are only making 30k a year?

My point about the unreported income is that the annual income for the household is not as dire as it is discussed in the media.

Bunny Hentman said...

Oh god the sneaker trope. I sincerely hope this is a troll.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon 1:05: You make a lot of oft-heard complaints, and call you out for insensitivity. But whatever. Let's just say we get the PLUSES of upper mobility in neighborhoods. We were discussing the downsides, which to longtime residents, there are many.

A few points to consider. No one in my neighborhood is paying $15 a pack. They buy from this kid on my block for $5. He gets them from the black market, either off a reservation or down south where there's almost no tax. A pack of cigarettes would be about $2 if it weren't for the sin taxes.

The "working poor" are not the same as the unemployed, unemployable poor. The working poor are generally too damn busy with work and family to cause the kind of dysfunction you and Danny seem concerned with. I honestly don't know WHAT to do with the unemployable, and every society has them, due to a host of conditions. Smart people have been trying to deal with this as since the Industrial Revolution.

To Danny: The armory would not be segregated housing anymore than an all-rent-regulated apartment building, of which there are many. Don't worry; we're not talking about re-ghettoization, if that's what you mean. The fact is, the building IS in the middle of a gentrifying neighborhood. Don't you think it behooves us ALL to keep some housing for the working poor, many of whom support the middle and upper classes through the service industries? I would argue this IS the way you keep it a mixed, diverse neighborhood.

As to how much money someone has or makes in the underground economy, and what their priorities are for spending that money - it's really a choice, man. You can go to a fancy restaurant for tapas and pay $10 for a beer if you like. Some guy chooses shoes. What's the big deal? I'll bet that guy thinks you're a chump for paying $100 for dinner for two. Actually, I kind of do too, but that's again a cultural choice. My parents were cheapskates, so I guess I get it from them. I drank 40s outa paper bags. I got trashed for $10. What a bargain!

Let it go about the shoes. You're showing cultural bias, and black folks in particular don't appreciate it. Next you'll be complaining about how much black folks spend on their hair. Big, big mistake.

And don't get me started on how much white folks spend on their weeks on the Cape.

Bunny Hentman said...

Also a "joint" (LOL) costs less than a beer at a bar. It's one of the safest, most affordable recreational substances. I'm so sad that people like anonymous now live PLG. There goes the neighborhood. I honestly would prefer to live with the pile of trash in front of popeye's over the stink of white (and wealth) privilege.

Anonymous said...

@bunny, and Q. Soooooooooooo, a few points: I'm a person of color. I'm not wealthy, but i might as well be in PLG. Wealthy was not defined, so I'll just leave it at that. I grew up poor, but my parents were educated, so I definitely had an advantage there.

Second, I'm not a troll.

Third, that link about Nike is absurd. But let's concede that point for a moment and that poor people deserve a new pair of nice sneakers every once in a while. Let's turn to the lol "joints." While it's true a joint may cost as much as a beer. Let's say $7. Have a joint 5 x week, that's $35. that's about $140 a month. Grossed up, that's $1820 a year. Gross up this after tax amount up, we're probably talking $2200 in pre-tax dollars even at the lowest income bracket. We're now talking real money. For someone making $22k/year, that's TEN PERCENT of their annual income on "lol" joints. Housing is an issue, I concede. But come one, don't make excuses for irresponsible spending habits. Don't even get me started on having children at a young age without an education...

Fourth, my examples are not cultural bias. I used cigarettes as an example. I would say the same thing about white people smoking. Some white people may be spending lots of money going to the Cape in the summer, but are these the same people who say they cannot find affordable housing?

Fifth, I'm not sure whether Q is condoning black market cigarettes, which is usually run by organized crime. I'm not touching that one. Same thing about tax evasion. How do you think government is able to afford good schools, and affordable housing? Through collecting the very same taxes that you say is "no big deal!"

Finally, let's be clear, I too want a mixed diverse neighborhood. Seriously. I want Bedford Armory to be rehabbed so the entire neighborhood can enjoy it. I embrace and respect hard working class families that make up a substantial portion of this neighborhood. I make no qualms about the loafers and poor decision makers.

Anonymous said...

Q, you are right though. My comments are a little insensitive. But I need to be curt - gotta get back to work.

Alex said...

... or EDC could sell the property to the highest bidder, then use the money for various city improvements with No guarantee that the $$$ will be spent in CD9, or Brooklyn at all... just like our local activists managed to accomplish with DCP and DOT.

MikeF said...

NYS gave the armory to the city with the condition that they city can't sell it.

Alex said...

Okay. 200 year lease. They could find a way.

MikeF said...

meh, by the time this project is done it will be a different neighborhood. I don't see a rush.

Anonymous said...

Clarkson expresses his view that "society" should cover the cost of vices for those who without means. Thus, the government, Philip Morris and the taxpayers should operate a joint-venture that inflicts the most harm on those with the least. This view will impinge a much harsher toll in the age of legalized pot, which has the potential to become a huge tax generator.

No one in my neighborhood is paying $15 a pack. They buy from this kid on my block for $5. He gets them from the black market, either off a reservation or down south where there's almost no tax. A pack of cigarettes would be about $2 if it weren't for the sin taxes.

So the young entrepreneur is arbitraging cigarettes, which means he's exploiting the difference in tax rates (reservation rates or down south rates vs NY City rates), thereby paying himself with stolen tax revenue.

Will the cigarette model provide the standard for evading state tsxes on pot sold to those on the low end of the economic scale? Then we head down the slippery slope of sales of other recreational drugs.

Kenny said...

Why affordable housing? Why not a homeless shelter? Or housing for refugees?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

That's right Kenny. Because the people who check you out at the grocery store or clean your apartment or work as a para at your kid's school are homeless refugees.