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February 10, 2011

The Just City: tensions between democracy and equity, heightened scrutiny for megaprojects, and a public share in the profits (and new taxes?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Just City is Harvard planning professor Susan Fainstein's effort to "to apply abstract arguments concerning justice to actual planning situations," as she said during a panel at the New School on Tuesday, and "to respond to the triumph of neo-liberalism"--thinking dominated by the free market--"in planning doctrine."

While New York has seen substantial growth in the last 40 years, it has also seen the widening of inequality. So there's reason to dispute the argument that benefits of growth will trickle down, she said.

She's long been a critic of the Bloomberg administration. In an article, The Return of Urban Renewal: Dan Doctoroff’s Grand Plans for New York City, in the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of Harvard Design Magazine, Fainstein wrote:

For planners who do not believe that the market always produces choices best for the city, seeing the city once again engaged in planning that makes explicit the changes to come is welcome. Thus, in one respect, the current thrust toward comprehensiveness and public investment is a step forward in making visible and contested a process that otherwise remains hidden. But the methods by which the plans are developed, the emphasis on sports complexes, the encumbrances on the city and state’s fiscal integrity, and the sheer magnitude and density of the proposed projects can only cause serious misgivings.

Fainstein seemed to lump in Atlantic Yards with Yankee Stadium. The latter, she said, exemplified "a style of promoting growth that has been going on in New York... Bloomberg came in and said he wasn't going to give big subsidies to sports teams but in fact has done so... So all the teams got their stadiums, or their arenas."


Posted by eric at February 10, 2011 11:25 AM