Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kicking off mayoral campaign, de Blasio casts himself as a reformer. He never fulfilled promise to monitor Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement.

In his mayoral campaign kickoff today, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, according to the Times, cast himself as a reformer:
“Let’s be honest about where we are today: a city that in too many ways has become a tale of two cities, a place where City Hall too often has catered to the interests of the elite rather than the needs of everyday New Yorkers,” Mr. de Blasio said.
...Mr. de Blasio applauded the mayor’s anti-obesity and antismoking initiatives, as well as his national push for immigration reform. But he also hammered the mayor — and obliquely, a major Democratic rival, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker — for the “back-room deal” that allowed Mr. Bloomberg to seek a third term.
But de Blasio has his own blind spots, such as reliance on the ACORN and Working Families Party activists who supported Atlantic Yards to the hilt. That means he's been unwilling to hold developer Forest City Ratner to the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement it signed, even though he pledged to do so.

de Blasio on Atlantic Yards CBA

Consider de Blasio's remarks at the the 8/23/06 hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
I support the project because I believe that we're at a crisis in New York City when it comes to affordable housing... And I think we're in a crisis when it comes to economic development and providing real jobs for the community. But I also want to stress as much as I believe this project will help move us forward in terms of economic development and especially affordable housing, I also believe very strongly the need for accountability in relationship to the Community Benefits Agreement. I think the Community Benefits Agreement is historic. I think it sets a model that I hope will be followed throughout New York City going forward... but it must be adhered to. And it's the responsibility of all of us and especially as we elected officials, to ensure that it is scrupulously adhered to.
Has there been accountability in relationship to the Community Benefits Agreement? Forest City Ratner has not hired the long-promised Independent Compliance Monitor.

Has the agreement been scrupulously adhered to? See above. 

Or note that the subsidized housing in the first Atlantic Yards tower, while 50% of the units, evades another pledge: that 50% of the affordable units, in floor area, be assigned to family-sized units, 2BR and 3BR. 

Of 181 subsidized units, only 36 will be 2BR units. Moreover, the distribution of those larger units will skew significantly toward households earning six figures rather than be spread evenly among the five affordable-housing "bands."

Has de Blasio done or said anything about these issues? No. And he's been rather friendly toward Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, source of campaign support.

(I interviewed de Blasio at length about Atlantic Yards in September 2007, and asked him about the CBA in July 2011, though not about the first tower.)

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