Today’s Headlines

  • If School Bus Drivers Strike, City Will Buy Students MetroCards — or Pay for Car Costs (News)
  • Reynoso, Van Bramer to DSNY: Make a Better Plan to Clear Snow From Bike Lanes (AMNY)
  • If a Reanimated Robert Moses Could Ram These Projects Through, Would You Want Him To? (Crain’s)
  • Driver Hits and Drags Woman By Queens Midtown Tunnel and Peels Off — Still at Large (Post)
  • Cops Crash Into Civilian Car, 4 Injured; FDNY Ambulance Driver Wounds Brownsville Boy (Post 12)
  • Cuomo Guy Larry Schwartz Skips Out on Almost All MTA Board Meetings (News)
  • The Posturing for the Next Round of MTA/TWU Negotiations Has Begun (Post)
  • Vacca Wants City Ferries to Run From the East Bronx to Manhattan (BxTimes)
  • QChron on Revised 111th Street Safety Plan: But What About the Parking?
  • Expect Less Traffic on the Bayonne, Goethals, and Outerbridge Starting Tomorrow (Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • HamTech87

    Bronx-Manhattan ferry story link is wrong.

  • Still no comment from Mayor de Blasio on the 8-month-old in a stroller who was killed on the sidewalk by a van driver.

  • bolwerk

    Re Crains bit, absolutely no thought was put into any of this stuff at the policy
    level. And any time you see big new housing complex advertised?
    Well, that’s not where you’re going to live. You don’t make enough

    Repurposing existing track beds to allow light-rail commuter lines and commercial development – one of the few arguably boldish ideas on the list, with qualification. Extensive new rail service without investment in new routes, at-grade or not, is fantasy.

    Suspended tram line encircling the five boroughs and parts of New Jersey – okay, if that route makes sense, then why not just use conventional rail or light rail? It’s the same kind of thinking guiding Cuomo’s airport train.

    Develop airspace above Metro-North rail beds to increase housing and unite neighborhoods – cool, but not exactly gonna lead to explosive housing development.

    Rezoning Newtown Creek area for “makers” – nothing wrong with redevelopment of an industrial zone, but fuck classing some people as “makers” and notice how badly this rendering utilizes space? It’s a shit-ton of green lawn space. Should having more structural density, less empty green space. It’s exactly the kind of thinking that constrains our housing to begin with. Per-acre density is achieved by height, not building streetlife-friendly attached housing. It consumes as much land as would be consumed for parking, and just omits the parking.

    Shrinking the city’s highways in advance of impending automation, and reclaiming surplus space for public use and commercial development – I like it! Should have been done yesterday.

    Extend the No. 1 subway to Red Hook, Brooklyn – hmm, okay? Fine by me I guess but not exactly going to lead to a housing supply boom.

    Converting waste-transfer stations into eco-friendly fuel producers – may be meritorious, but what does it have to do with accommodating more people?

    A hotel, residential, convention and park complex to bring the Javits Center to its full potential – because people live in hotels, convention centers, and parks? Not mentioned, this project includes some guy who looks like Snidely Whiplash gleefully running away with a big check.

    Transforming unused space under elevated infrastructure into public plazas – yeah, that always works. Every time. The picture even includes parking. I love being under an elevated structure surrounded by cars. You do too.

    Adding multiuse buildings to underused schoolyards – okay on a case-by-case basis? Again with the Snidely Whiplash thing.

    Enhancing private developments with more public space – could really do this with public developments, but that would involve awkward thoughts like considering the well-being of poor people.

    Turning subway stations into places to linger – so obviously idiotic.

    Overall it’s just a wishlist from well-connected consulting firms. Generally note the obsession with “airy” urban space in the pictures. Generally note the lack of mixed use urban space that makes older neighborhoods appealing.

  • Paul H

    Re: reinvisioning the city and whether we need a Robert Moses to do it, you might flip the question and ask if Jane Jacobs was the leader, rather than a dozen mini-Robert Moses would any of these projects have life?

  • BrandonWC

    Looks like Chrystie Street is going to be paved Thursday and Friday

  • van_vlissingen

    I agree with most of what Bolwerk said. But any development along Newtown Creek should be mindful of the potential for future flooding, most of this area was built on top of wetland. The further back you are from the water in such an area, the better it will be for future residents during the next megastorm

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here’s how the work earnings of the average serf has fared relative to inflation, according to recently released American Community Survey data, for comparison with the transit fare and the wages and benefits of the average transit worker.

    And here is the data for those 25 and over by educational attainment.

    Make Wall Street pay for it? Employment and compensation is falling there too. Even the hedgies are finding out what happens to top predators when excess predation collapses the bottom of the food chain.

    Basically, the serfs are shafted by the executive/financial class with regard to pay at work and then shafted by the political/union class with regard to taxes paid and services received. It’s worse for each generation in turn, as a result of generational inequities.

    To top it all off ACS data shows a 20 percent increase in NYC median gross rent — after adjustment for inflation — from 2005 to 2015. That’s for all rental units, including public housing and those with regulated rents, so you can imagine what has happened to those not in on some deal. How do people pay? Roommates and living with parents/children, as average household size in rental units is up. Squeezed, just like on the subway.

  • Toddster

    Agreed. Especially with the “underutilized school yards” and the “subways as destinations”. It really illustrated how out of touch some of theses designers are.

    I would bet the SLCE team would have a hard time finding a principal who feels they have underutilized space. Some schools have small areas where teachers park that could be re purposed…but many schools also have to close down streets for recess because they have no outdoor space. Just because there are no children using these grounds when these designers walk past them at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm on their way to and from work, when school isn’t in session, does not mean they are underutilized.

    The Perkins team one is also especially egregious. You don’t improve a subway bursting at the seems by turning it into a destination. And the line about how it could increase property values in the area…because what the East Village and LES really need are increased property values…

  • Joe R.

    Agreed on the property values. I don’t know why so many in planning positions get all giddy about such and such project potentially increasing property values. All that does is make already unaffordable housing even more unaffordable. The only beneficiaries from increasing property values are developers, real estate speculators, and potentially the city (if real estate taxes rise with property values). The first two are a case of yet more money going to the 1%. In the case of more property tax revenues, NYC already spends too much money. It doesn’t need more, nor will giving it more help with fiscal discipline. If the goal is to have more affordable housing, then we should be doing things which either hold the status quo on property values, or even cause them to decrease.

    The bottom line is a lot of these consultants who think up these projects favor things which send more money to their friends in the real estate business. And given these proposals, most are pretty out of touch with reality.

  • bolwerk

    The answer to that is plain. They don’t work for you. They work for developers and owners, both of whom have incentives to see higher values. On a broader scale, it’s suburban-think. In the suburbs most people are owners, or are supposed to be, so they want higher sale prices. We’re more likely to be renters, so we mostly want lower rental costs.

  • bolwerk

    I guess a nuanced answer requires some qualification: there is a case to be made for managed value increase. It’s a bit like monetary inflation. Zero inflation is impossible, carelessness leads to high inflation, and slow inflation is generally much better than any kind of deflation. So I’d guess you kind of hit your sweet spot when your property values are going up a few percent a year, and the real values are probably going up very slightly relative to normal dollar inflation.

    Higher value isn’t automatically bad either. It needs to be qualified regarding whom is getting the benefit of that value and how! Consider: a 10-story building with an average monthly unit price of $2000 is better than a 3-story building with an average unit price of $2200, all other things being equal (granted, that never happens). The owner gets more rents, so his value is better. More people get housing somewhat cheaper, so society is better off.

  • Joe R.

    True but even from a suburban homeowner’s standpoint I’m not seeing the benefit of higher property values, at least for those who buy a house and plan to stay in it for 40 or 50 years. All those people get from higher property values are higher real estate taxes. Their homes most likely won’t be sold until after they die. At best their children will benefit from higher property values, not them.

  • Flakker

    Brooklyn Brewery not expanding operations to West Shore of Staten Island

    Not transportation-related in the usual sense but it’s my understanding that their key rationales for expanding there included access to the underused freight rail line. I’m bringing this up because of the Crain’s proposal for Newtown Creek: barge and freight train transport for goods (I don’t think these people understand logistics or starting “small businesses” but let’s assume they do). Clearly a big problem with the Advance story if true is that the NYEDC is paying businesses to make different intra-state choices, but besides that, they’re not choosing Staten Island… because land and labor and taxes are too costly in New York City, duh. And Staten Island has better rail and sea freight potential than Brooklyn.

  • Joe R.

    Right, housing prices should rise to keep pace with inflation, meaning no increase in real price. Unfortunately, in NYC they’re 2 to 3 times higher in real terms compared to the late 1970s, which was likely the last time housing was relatively affordable in large parts of the city.

    Yeah, your apartment building example is something which never really happens. In theory it sounds good when you say higher property values might result in more housing being built on a parcel of land, so average housing costs per capita remain the same. In practice zoning and/or construction costs often prevent that (it gets much more expensive to build when you start going above maybe 5 or 6 stories). For starters, you need elevators to build much higher. And I think there are regulations regarding sprinkler systems.

  • bolwerk

    Well, they obviously get really pissy about that, but they nonetheless want higher valuations. They just don’t want to bear the costs. They probably would prefer we do that. :-p

  • bolwerk

    It pretty much can’t happen in our insanely constrained market. Nor is it a goal of any public policy in the USA that I am aware of to make it happen.

  • Flakker

    Trams & plasma-arc waste stations at least are definitely from consultants who have companies pushing these technologies as clients.

  • Kevin Love

    Some lives don’t matter.

  • walks bikes drives

    When it comes to cleaning bike lanes, I realize they don’t often plow to blacktop, but do they have to push the snow from the street into the bike lanes? Also, isn’t that what salt is for? Plow it ad best you can and then salt the hell out of it so it melts? For lower depth snowfall, just plow a protected lane forward, instead of angling the plow, to have the snow pushed off both sides, to the curb and the buffer. I don’t understand what is so hard!

  • Maggie

    Could a circular-route suspended tram line really work in practice? Stations, headways, noise, emergency egress, ADA accessibility? At first I hated the elevated concept, then it started growing on me.

    And is it actually feasible to repurpose track beds with rail trails for biking / walking and commuter service? This would be incredible on the CSX tracks through the Bronx, and so many other city corridors, but I always thought freight train owners were able to kill the idea or charge prohibitively.

    Turning subway stations into places to linger – hahahahahahahahahahahahahaa. Deep breath. Too funny

  • bolwerk

    There are a handful of suspended trams in the world. The most famous is probably in Wuppertal. Apparently the reason for building it was because it limited construction costs of suspending a tram over a river in a geographically constrained space.

    Functionally, it’s basically a monorail. I doubt even noise inherently presents a problem, but I see little sense in introducing a whole other system.

  • Miles Bader

    Zero inflation is not impossible, and deflation is also a thing.

    They are generally consider bad (not least because they discourage consumption), but they’re possible…

  • Bleak

    They borrow against the increased value. Yippee! Got a boat!

  • bolwerk

    Zero inflation is only possible over the short term, and even then you can argue managed zero inflation is impossible or at best only circumstantially possible. It is impossible in the long term.

    Seems to me basically it’s possible to keep inflation at near zero, and the best poison is managed low inflation vs. low deflation. (In some cases managed higher inflation is desirable.)

  • Joe R.

    In other words they use it to live beyond their means. Collectively the entire country borrowed against rising home prices and it almost buried us in 2008. Not a good way to run your finances.

  • Miles Bader

    Well of course any precisely constant rate of inflation is impossible to maintain in a conventional economy.

    But Japan’s inflation rate has been hovering around zero since the mid-90s, usually less than 1% and often dipping into deflation; on average, it probably is more or less zero over that period.

    Because one of the major impacts of inflation/deflation is on people’s perceptions and planning over the medium/long term, such average figures are very important.

    [Japan’s very low inflation rate is generally not considered a good thing, and is presumably more an artifact of the screwed up economy rather than management.]

  • bolwerk

    Fair enough that averages could get near 0 in the long run. Still, from the standpoint of monetary policy, you basically don’t get both growth and zero inflation. And Japan’s recent inflation uptick seems like a generally welcomed sign, no?

  • Miles Bader

    Yes, the recent increase is seen as a good thing, and as I understand it, is at least partially the result of intentional government manipulation. Last time I noticed, the rate was slipping again though (despite the government’s efforts)…

  • bolwerk

    Austerians play a long game! :-p

  • Vooch

    NYC avenues and arterials should all be snow emergency routes. No parking allowed during Snow Emergencies. Plenty of US cities have this system. It helps speed up recovery before, during, and after a snowstorm. It reduces costs of show removal and gets the city back in order more quickly