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October 2, 2011

Could the Atlantic Yards Monopoly Be Even Less Regulated Than It Is? Why A Mega-Monopoly Continuation Isn’t Workable

Noticing New York

Just how unregulated can the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly be? Probably more unregulated than anyone can possibly imagine. Anyone, except perhaps the developer/subsidy collector himself, Bruce Ratner, who seems always to be able to envision the next steps to which his firm’s lack of accountability can be taken, and then implement it.

The signals being sent by Governor Andrew Cuomo indicate that Ratner’s fondest wishes for no effective regulation will be accommodated. One such signal is the appointment of mega-project booster Joe Chan for a top-ranking job at the Empire State Development (Corp.), the agency that theoretically supervises and regulates the megadevelopment. (See: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, Post: Atlantic Yards booster Joe Chan to leave Downtown Brooklyn Partnership for ESDC and Downtown Brooklyn economic development czar stepping down for state job, September 14, 2011, by Rich Calder)

The fact Atlantic Yards will be so blatantly unregulated should make clear to those considering the matter that seeking to regulate a continuing Ratner monopoly of vast size is not a solution. What is really needed is for the unjust and unjustifiable Ratner mega-monopoly to be broken up.

...

The answer, the only answer, is to break up Ratner’s mega-monopoly. Those who think the answer is to more effectively and meaningfully “regulate” Ratner’s monopoly are wrong. This is not 1913 when phone company president Vail was amenable to constraints to provide public benefit. Times have changed. The regulated have changed and the regulators have changed. You cannot expect to regulate a mega-monopoly like Ratner’s with politicians like Bloomberg and Cuomo in office. And you would still need an independent judiciary to enforce the law. Whereas once Professor Wu might have surmised that regulation of the 1913 phone company was tantamount to being ineffectual because it was superfluous to the good intentions of phone company president Theodore Vail, regulation of the Ratner mega-monopoly is, per se, going to be ineffectual for another reason: Because Ratner, running the show, will simply shrug off any meaningful restraints that the misguided struggle to impose.

link

Further coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Noticing New York's White: "Just how unregulated can the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly be? Probably more unregulated than anyone can possibly imagine."

Noticing New York's Michael D. D. White was not at the meeting September 26 in which Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams met with local elected officials and community members regarding Atlantic Yards, but his take on recent events, Could the Atlantic Yards Monopoly Be Even Less Regulated Than It Is? Why A Mega-Monopoly Continuation Isn’t Workable, is well worth reading:

Just how unregulated can the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly be? Probably more unregulated than anyone can possibly imagine. Anyone, except perhaps the developer/subsidy collector himself, Bruce Ratner, who seems always to be able to envision the next steps to which his firm’s lack of accountability can be taken, and then implement it.

The signals being sent by Governor Andrew Cuomo indicate that Ratner’s fondest wishes for no effective regulation will be accommodated. One such signal is the appointment of mega-project booster Joe Chan for a top-ranking job at the Empire State Development (Corp.), the agency that theoretically supervises and regulates the megadevelopment.

One example unmentioned in White's critique: the state's unwillingness to crack down on blatant and continuing violations by trucks drivers of of site and city regulations.

Regarding the ESD

Regarding the Adams meeting, White writes:

It is an example of how the principal role of State Officials is to run interference and provide a insulating layer of separation between the entity actually responsible and in charge (Forest City Rather) and the community itself. In essence, ESD and its state officials are like the high-priced secretary who, with impeccable manners, brushes you off by telling you that her boss is not in but she will be sure to communicate to him everything you want him to know and she is sure it will be “looked into.”

Challenging the reponse

He also critiques the "cryptic and timidly expressed" joint press release from BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:

Does the third of those points, “open the development to additional teams,” with its ensuing etc eteras mean anything other than dismantle the Ratner mega-monopoly? Wouldn’t it be more courageous, frank and evocative of principle to simply say “dismantle the Ratner mega-monopoly and bid it out properly to multiple developers”?

...Here is a suggestion: Address a number of these matters simultaneously by saying that public funds should not be used to subsidize the mega-project’s excessive density and call for a per-acre limitation on subsidies (that excludes seized streets and sidewalks from the acreage calculation) that should not exceed what developers of normal density projects ordinarily get. This would help take the profit and the wind out of the sails of the Ratner’s eminent domain abuse monopoly.

Posted by steve at October 2, 2011 11:02 PM