Wednesday, January 17, 2007

ESDC to PACB: more evasion on the crime issue

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) blew off criticisms of alleged high crime in the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint, as I wrote yesterday, describing comments to the authority submitted after the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

However, the ESDC did address the crime issue in a document (p. 8 of PDF) sent to the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) after its 12/8/06 approval vote and before the PACB's approval vote 12/20/06.

Or, more accurately, the ESDC mentioned the issue and defended its position without actually responding to the criticism.

Bluffing the PACB

The ESDC summarized some criticism:
It was asserted that the Blight Study misrepresented crime in the Project Site, that street crime is rare, and that most of the crime occurs in the five northern blocks of the Project Site, not on the southern blocks (Blocks 1127, 1128 (partial), and 1129). In fact, the Blight Study accurately reported the crime statistics for the precincts and sectors covering the Project Site, based on consultation with the New York City Police Department. As detailed in the Blight Study, the Project Site falls within three police sectors with the majority of the Project Site (Blocks 927, 1118, 1119, 1120 and 1121) located in Sector 88E, which has the highest crime rate of the three sectors. These Project Site blocks comprise approximately one third of the land area in Sector 88E. While the other two sectors have lower crime rates, because block by block statistics are unavailable, there is no support for the assertion that there is no significant crime on Blocks 1127, 1128 (partial) and 1129.

What's missing

That does nothing, however, to prove that the high crime rate in Sector 88E can be attributed to the blocks including the project site. The original crime study, as I noted, offers unfounded assumptions about the source of the crime. It states:
As indicated above, it is not possible to isolate crimes that have occurred within the project site boundaries. However, because five of the twelve blocks that comprise sector 88E are part of the project site it is reasonable to assume that crime rates on at least this portion of the project site are significantly higher than average. Given the physical characteristics of the project site, this high crime rate is not surprising.

That crime study says nothing about the population of those nearly-empty blocks and the significant population on the other blocks of Sector 88E.

So it's not reasonable to assume that crime rates on that portion of the project site are significantly higher than average. And that may be why the most recent document danced around the issue, without repeating the "reasonable to assume" line.

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