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May 1, 2010

AY Report: PlaNYC Sans Nabes, Bond Rating Agencies Slam

Atlantic Yards Report

PlaNYC after three years: neighborhoods are still missing, according to Angotti

In a Gotham Gazette essay headlined PlaNYC at Three: Time to Include the Neighborhoods, urban planning professor Tom Angotti, director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development and author of "New York For Sale" (MIT Press, 2008), writes about how the city's land use processes generally ignore neighborhoods.

Unmentioned--likely because it represents an even more egregious example of excluding input--is Atlantic Yards, a project on which Angotti has consulted for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods

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Angotti writes:

April 22 -- will mark the third anniversary of PlaNYC2030, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's self-proclaimed "long-term sustainability plan." While the city has taken many steps toward the plan's goal of "a greener greater New York," particularly in energy conservation, one gaping hole remains in the plan.

PlaNYC2030 left out any role for the city's hundreds of neighborhoods, 59 community boards, and the countless civic, community and environmental groups that care about the future of the city. It was a top-down plan, conceived at City Hall with minimal input, and it was never approved as an official plan. In the long term this will only undermine the ability to sustain the plan itself, and both implement and improve it.

A slam at the bond rating agencies

Remember how bond ratings agency Moody's made the questionable assumption that there would be 225 events a year at the Barclays Center? There's no effective oversight regarding rating agencies like Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch.

In Ratings Agencies Are Overrated, Hugo Dixon (editor of Reuters Breakingviews, the commentary arm of Reuters) and Christopher Swan write in the Times:

Why do markets still pay attention to what rating agencies have to say? After their appalling record predicting the subprime mortgage crisis, it is astonishing and sad that investors still seem to quake when Standard & Poor’s reduces Greece’s rating to junk status and downgrades Spain’s.

A Martian would find it hard to understand why anybody gives any credence at all to S.& P. and its rivals. It’s not just that they were pumping up the subprime market. For example, the agencies gave a AAA rating to Abacus, Goldman Sachs’s synthetic collateralized debt obligation, after smart investors saw trouble in the market.

They point to other miscues and then explain how the ratings agencies remain embedded in the current system. Still, they conclude:

It is high time regulators and investors dethroned them from their privileged status.

Posted by steve at May 1, 2010 8:28 AM