August 27, 2007
Bloomberg's Bossist Approach to Willets Point
By Harry Siegel
More on Willets Point and the City's policy of "municipal blight:"
Despite the roughly $1.1 million a year the area generates in direct tax revenues for the city, most of Willets Point has never been connected to the sewer grid (the only storm drain is used by Shea Stadium), so Porta-Potties and cesspools abound, and its roads are hardly paved nearly always flooded.
Other than a largely successful push by the city to reduce mob influence, The Iron Triangle, as the strip it's known, has been left to fend for itself, and a hardy culture of industrial businesses has evolved to profit from an environment most of us would see as uninhabitable. Squint, and you're liable to think it's a set from Mad Max.
So far as the Bloomberg administration is concerned, it's all blight. And the city, which has long aspired to redevelop the area, likes it that way.
The blight is what gives City Hall a strong legal case for using eminent domain to claim private property assessed at some $181 million (a figure that urban affairs and planning professor Tom Angotti notes is comparable to other areas zoned for heavy industry) and to bring in private developers to remake the area wholesale.
NoLandGrab: Though the municipal blight of Willets Point is on a much larger scale than the MTA's Vanderbilt Railyards in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the concept is the same: government negligence used to create characterisitcs of "blight" in order to justify the use of eminent domain.
The article continues by explaining the Bloomberg administration policy in a nutshell:
...the Bloomberg administration is reverting to an M.O. of forcefully displacing politically unconnected private owners on behalf of wealthy and plugged-in new private owners, while purchasing the backing of much of the usual resistance from the left by compelling the new ownership to include affordable housing. This also allows the administration to tout the number of new subsidized units that have gone up on its watch, few of which are actually very affordable. Some 60 years into the city's endlessly subsidized eternal housing "crisis," the shell game continues apace.
Posted by lumi at August 27, 2007 10:40 AM