Sunday, October 02, 2011

Daily News claims Goldstein "disses neighbors" by pursuing as-of-right renovation/addition

Also see follow-ups from Gothamist (which quotes neighbor Kathryn Roake as telling Daniel Goldstein's architects "I hope their house burns down") and The New York Observer.

The Daily News article today hyped as an "exclusive," Daniel Goldstein fought the Atlantic Yards project, but disses neighbors with his own construction, reminds me of the tabloid reporter described in The Submission, Amy Waldman's new 9/11 novel:
A tabby all the way--that's what she was. She had no ideology, believed only in information, which she obtained, traded, peddled, packaged, and published, and she opposed any effort to doctor her product.
So Goldstein, a co-founder of Develop Don't Dstroy Brooklyn, bought a new house in Park Slope and planned a renovation and addition. His neighbors don't like it, according to the Daily News:
Next-door neighbor Kathryn Roake, 59, says Goldstein's 18-foot, three-story addition to the back of his building will block the light to her beloved fruit and vegetable garden.
She and another neighbor also think that construction will damage their houses.

What's missing

Here's what's missing from the article: whether Goldstein's plans violate zoning in some way, or whether he's requested a variance from the Department of Buildings.

No, and no.

Nor was any evidence offered showing that the addition would, in fact, block the sun, despite the Daily News's conclusory caption:

So the Daily News elevated a garden-variety dispute into a tabloid story.

The AY connection

Particularly laughable is the connection to Atlantic Yards. The story begins:
The Brooklyn activist who led the resistance to the Atlantic Yards project has angered his new neighbors with a construction project of his own.
Atlantic Yards is just a few orders of magnitude larger than Goldstein's 3-story extension. It required a state override of zoning, eminent domain, and significant subsidies and tax breaks.

And a study of the environmental impacts indicated that it would, in fact, block the sun in certain locations.

But the headline and caption embrace the strained parallel:

Meanwhile, the Daily News has missed several issues of accountability regarding the Atlantic Yards story.

The same reporter who wrote the Goldstein story attended the meeting community leaders had with Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams on September 26 but either didn't write--or wasn't permitted to write--a story.

Goldstein's response

The Daily News said Goldstein did not respond to requests for comment.

I contacted him and he gave me this statement:
Soon after we bought our home we reached out to our neighbors to meet them. They did not respond positively as you can see in the Daily News article. We haven't filed plans yet, but once we do we will be building well within zoning and within the law and we'll be certain to protect our neighbors' property and our own.
Why didn't he respond to the Daily News?
I didn't want to have a discussion with my neighbor in the press. But now that it's been in the paper, I'm responding to your query.
But didn't the article leave the impression that Goldstein had ignored contact from the neighbors?
As I wrote, we reached out to both neighbors and you can read their response to our initial communication in the DN article.
In other words, the Daily News didn't mention that Goldstein tried to contact them first. Then the neighbors threatened to sue.

8 comments:

  1. Murdoch and RATner. Two pigs in a pod.

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  2. Actually, the Daily News is owned by (real estate magnate) Mort Zuckerman. Murdoch owns the NY Post.

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  3. Interesting story - however I don't really understand the purpose of the first Amy Waldman quote; a good reporter is supposed to be interested in information, not ideology.

    Isn't that how a decent journalist is supposed to be?

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  4. Well, a good reporter should evaluate information, not merely dole it out as a news item in itself. Not every piece of information is worth a news story.

    I interpret ideology in this context as including a willingness to evaluate the information in context. And ideology could include such things as democratic discourse, not partisan politics.

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  5. The reason many people were sympathetic to DDDB was because it (purportedly) shielded long-time residents from an outsider's attempt to alter the light, sound, and feel of the neighborhood. It was the mother of all NIMBY efforts. In the end DDDB lost every major lawsuit, so the AY project was also 'legal'. The fact that Goldstein didn't request a variance is dodging the issue: he is doing to his neighbors exactly what Ratner is doing: proceeding with his dream of building on a site regardless of what the neighbors think by positing he's within his rights. Hypocrite doesn't even come close to describing this...

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  6. Um, there's a difference between legal (as in state override) and as-of-right.

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  7. DDDB wasn't going to the mat to prevent any use of eminent domain, it was trying to prevent eminent domain from being exercised at that particular location. If the AY proposal had been as-of-right DDDB would still have tried to block it because of it's impact on the neighborhood.

    Look at your own reporting on how parking and traffic are being affected - if AY had been as-of-right you would still have the same concerns. Same with all the environmental impact reports. The big issue for AY is the impact on the community; the big issue for the 15th street neighbors is the impact the addition would have on them. Same thing.

    Don't get me wrong; I think he has every right to build his addition and people in NYC constantly have to deal with these kinds of issues. The complaining owner could have bought where there was no risk posed by zoning allowances. I just think FCR had the same right (since the Supreme Court had just settled the matter with the Connecticut case) and Goldstein is justifying himself with a very FCR-like defense. To me, the irony is rich.

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  8. The issue goes well beyond eminent domain (and if you think the state court's decision was solid, well, ask Ronald Chen).
    http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2011/04/ay-eminent-domain-decision-among-worst.html

    AY could not have been as-of-right because city zoning bars sports facilities from within 200 feet of residences.

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