As I was parsing through my inbox this week I came across a compelling question from one of my commentors. Dupreciate’s email read as follows.
While we’re chattin, I was wondering if you’ve seen this short/doc series yet:
Has less to do with dog poop and more with crude oil – interested in your take on the ordeal.
While I could have answered his question in two or three sentences, I was feeling chatty and contemplative this particular morning. As a result, “Dupreciate” got a two to three paragraph missive that eventually degenerated into a balf-baked Socialist/sociological rant to savor over his lunch hour. While far from perfect, I believe this tome merits sharing. Here it is, in all its abject glory…
Hey, I just watched episode #2 of this series and got the general gist. Although I do not make it very explicit on my blog, I am appalled by all the irresponsible development going on both in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Although the previous sentence may sound like some vague bullshit statement, I chose my words (READ: irresponsible) very carefully, as it encompasses a variety of very troublesome issues, not just the oil spill. Here are a few of them:
Simply put, the practice of trusting the developers police themselves needs to stop. If Scarano and the number of properties damaged by shoddy construction practices (like 106 Green Street) does not attest to the need for strong government intervention, nothing does.
If these very people cannot be trusted to erect a building that is in compliance with building code and zoning laws, why the fuck should we expect them to give a damn about the environmental hazards that may or may not be present underneath them? Soil testing (as I understand it) is not mandatory. It should be. Petroleum is not the only toxin that we should be concerned about. For example, there was once a Paris Green manufacturer near McCarren Park. I do not expect you to know what â€œParis Greenâ€ is, so I will tell you: it is a very toxic paint that was popular during the Victorian era. If my memory serves me correctly, arsenic is one of its by-products. Or it was cyanide? I do not remember which.
If you want to scare yourself shitless, go through the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives and run a search on all the industrial accidents that have occurred in the north Brooklyn area. Mind you, thatâ€™s only what merited reporting. This does not include 150 years+ of surreptitious illegal dumping.
About a year ago I read an interesting book about how the slums in Detroit came into existence. Although there were a number of city-specific factors at play (like the demise of the American auto industry), there are others that I find relevant to what is going on not only in North Brooklyn, but in NYC at large. I am talking about the destruction/neglect of affordable rental property. One of the biggest mistakes Detroit made was its (over)development of properties for sale at the expense of rental property. They let the inner city decay as the â€˜burbs flourished.
I strongly suspect the â€˜luxury housingâ€™ that is being built here is going to make slums flourish as well. Once you render a neighborhood prohibitively expensive to the middle class (which is the backbone of Manhattanâ€™s workforce— and I consider any family whose yearly income is $45,000 – $100,000 as being â€˜middle classâ€™), they move further out. This completely undermines the purpose of rent-stabilization— which is largely responsible for PREVENTING New York City from becoming another Detroit. Pardon my pinko thinking, but once a city begins to neglect the core of its worker-force, a whole lotta bad is going to follow.
Speaking for myself, the properties that have been razed in my ‘nabe have facilitated crime. About Â¼ of my block has ceased to exist, and the result is my having to shoo junkies from hanging out on my stoop. Magic Johnsonâ€™s condos are not going to fix this social problem. If anything, it is only going to make it worse. I find it impossible to believe that they are going to dredge up 130 families to buy into this monstrousity. So, the property (and many others like it) will probably have high vacancy rates. High vacancy rates = high crime.
All the while, the working class and elderly (who sorely need housing and add value to the neighborhood at large) are being driven out in droves. This is more than a little depressing. My husband and I often wonder if/when weâ€™ll be next. I hope this long-winded socialist tome has given you a clear picture of my take on this subject.
I am neither a city planner nor an economist, but it doesn’t take a so-called expert to recognize the rapacious land speculation that is going on in north Brooklyn (or all of Brooklyn, for that matter). Not unlike the barons of industry before them, these land jobbers are squeezing our neighborhood down to the last dollar, quality of life (or inadequate infrastructure) be damned. Thus, the finger buildings will continue rise until it is no longer in the developer’s financial interest to build them.
Even Williamsburg’s canines have caught ‘finger fever’. I guess the real estate there has gotten so expensive, even the dogs have to maximize their air rights.
I found this ‘Turdhenge’ at 111 N. 4th Street. Note the mezzanine on the turd to the right. Not to be outdone, Greenpoint has also gotten high-rise hysteria. As I noticed at 200 Franklin Street yesterday.
I wonder if this ‘product’ is part of the new waterfront (re-zoning) I have heard so much about?