Saturday, December 05, 2009

Abatement: the simple way to remove blight

Urban design expert David Sucher, commenting on the Appellate Division decision blocking the state's use of eminent domain for the Columbia University expansion, observes:
If you are really concerned with blight, “abate” it

There is another tool which government has to control “blight.” It doesn’t cost nearly as much as purchasing the land and so far as I understand, it can be very very effective. It’s called abatement. There is little doubt that a local government can use abatement if it wants to.

Of course the standard for forcing someone to abate the nuisance they are creating requires some real facts and not merely hand-waving claims. So it is not as useful for institutions and organizations which wish to get land cheap or without having to bother with capitalism.
In New York City, that means that the Department of Buildings and other agencies should enforce code violations.

However, the Empire State Development Corporation punted when asked what agency was responsible for the upkeep of the grounds around the Vanderbilt Yard.

Obviously, you can't abate the "blight" of a working railyard via code enforcement. But neither a rezoning nor a request for proposals was proposed to remove that "blight."

2 comments:

  1. Given chronic corruption and incompetence in the NYC DOB, and the approximately 3 million violations of record that are on the books, Mayor Bloomingdales does not seem too interested in abating landlord created blight. Indeed, I'm waiting for Bloomingdales to blame blight on, guess who, greedy rent regulated tenants!

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  2. yes, true blight can be abated, but w/o true blight what is there to abate? nothing.

    the answer to the purported "blight problem" of the Atlantic Yards site handpicked by Forest City Ratner—if there is actually any problem at all—is a rezoning, and fair auction of the rail yards, not a wholesale taking of private property. But that wouldn't give Ratner a real estate monopoly, which was, after all, the purpose of the bogus "blight" finding.

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