Thursday’s Headlines: Island Hopping (or Hoping) Edition

This morning, it’ll be cold and, eventually, rainy, but Streetsblog will start the day at Delancey and Allen, where the Department of Transportation says it has fixed the “Island of Despair” of its own making (remember our shocking video here). (Update: Story is here.) After that, we’ll go to the Board of Elections to watch them count the absentee ballots in the Andrew Gounardes-Marty Golden race (Democrat Gounardes has an almost-insurmountable lead, but ya gotta count every vote!). (Update: The Board of Elections has put off the count until Friday!)

Here’s the rest of the news:

  • The mayor was on “Morning Joe” to defend his sweetheart Amazon deal — and made it sound way sweeter than it really is ($13.5 billion in tax revenue? Just yesterday it was only $10!). He also claimed that the city and state can go after Amazon when (oh, did we cheekily type “when” instead of “if”?) the company fails to hold up its end of the bargain.
  • Meanwhile, in the hyperbole file, would-be Public Advocate Danny O’Donnell said Long Island City has started to look like Dubai.
  • And lots more pols are hating on the deal. (WSJ)
  • And, channeling her days covering the Atlantic Yards mega-project, Politico’s Dana Rubinstein evokes the Public Authorities Control Board as a potential stickler. Sorry, the PACB? Rubber, meet stamp.
  • Half-priced Metrocards are coming (NYDN), but Streetsblog has a different take. So did Vin Barone at amNY.
  • The Council will try to get a piece of the Amazon pie. (NY Post)
  • The Citi Bikes are coming! The Citi Bikes are coming! (Bklyner)
  • Religious leaders pledged to address road safety from the pulpit, a campaign organized by TransAlt. (1010WINS)
  • Another taxi driver has committed suicide (NY Post), but the Council says it is trying to help. (NYDN)
  • Many groups opposed to a fare hike had a big rally. (amNY)
  • Lime and Jump bikes will stay in Staten Island for another three months. (Advance)
  • In case you wanted the L-pocalypse in a sweet cartoon version, here’s how NY Mag’s Aude White inked it (based on interviews by Friend of Streetsblog Emma Whitford and future friend Rachel Bashein). (Spoiler alert: It’s good, but it’s a less-good version of what national treasure Bill Roundy does every week in “Bar Scrawl” in the Brooklyn Paper.)
  • Watch how four Russians found an ingenious way around a ban on people crossing a bridge on foot. (Jalopnik)
  • And, finally, Jacob deGrom won the Cy Young Award, which has nothing to do with livable streets, but everything to do with justice in general. (ESPN)
  • BrandonWC

    I took the Delancey Island curb on a Citibike yesterday morning and it was still way too much of a bump. Didn’t feel like the asphalt around the base changed anything appreciably.

  • ortcutt

    Most of Amazon’s incentives are linked to things that are “following through”. If they don’t actually bring workers to LIC and keep paying them, then they won’t get the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit or the REAP tax credit. These are pay-as-you-go subsidies. Amazon doesn’t get a big chunk up front and then we just hope they follow through on the substance of the thing.

  • Joe R.

    There is some truth to what the public advocate said. I used to work 4 blocks from the future Amazon headquarters. I haven’t been to the area for years. When I looked at the site using Google streetview I was stunned at how many huge buildings are by the waterfront. Not necessarily a bad thing, but these buildings to me look more like luxury condos than the bare bones, affordable housing which is in short supply in NYC.

  • Fool

    The majority of Long Island City units are market rate rentals. Because of the increase in supply it is documented that market rent rents in Astoria, Long Island City, and Sunnyside declined.

    Housing is in short supply period. NYC buildings less housing per resident than San Francisco does.

    These apartments are not mostly empty. The buildings are majority occupied. Since the majority of rentals, it is impossible to be bought mostly by real estate speculators. You are either ignorant or a liar.

    Prohibiting foreign non residents from owning property meaningless when you are arguing, blindly, against rental properties. This is such a racist misconception of property markets across the world.

    You are just wrong in so many ways I want to consider you satire.

  • Joe R.

    Quote from the article:

    The upzoning and overdevelopment in Long Island City has seen luxury towers pop up next to the largest public housing complex in the United States. The luxury towers lay mostly vacant, snatched up by real estate speculators, while the Queensbridge Houses are falling apart, neglected by our City and State.

    I’m assuming the Public Advocate would know the truth of the situation here. If he’s lying, it will be easy enough for others to call him out on it.

    Regardless of whether or not the majority of apartments in LIC are market rate rentals or condos, the fact is real estate speculation is a real thing, and it’s making an already bad situation worse. It’s no longer a free market when a small number of people can manipulate it to their advantage. Same thing with speculators in commodities markets. This should all be illegal. If you buy a condo, it should be occupied. If you buy a commodity, you should have to take physical delivery of it.

    Because of the increase in supply it is documented that market rent rents in Astoria, Long Island City, and Sunnyside declined.

    Then why does it say they rose here?

    https://qns.com/story/2017/05/04/renting-one-room-expensive-long-island-city-anywhere-else-nyc-report/

    Even if they did decline, a decrease from, say, $2800 a month to $2600 a month is small comfort to those making $30K or $40K annually.

  • Fool

    https://qns.com/story/2018/04/02/queens-rental-prices-continue-big-decline-home-prices-soar-new-heights-report/

    There is a lot of housing reform that need to happen in the area to bring down housing costs. It is universally recognized in economics that more supply is the solution that provides the highest return at this margin in the supply and demand curve.

    Here is a detailed report from the state government of California that can be summarized as “selfish or ignorant NIMBYs are the cause of high housing prices.”

    http://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/plans-reports/docs/SHA_Final_Combined.pdf

  • Joe R.

    I fully agree increasing supply (or decreasing the population) is the primary long-term answer to the urban housing crisis. However, that doesn’t preclude introducing regulation to limit interference in the free market.

    NIMBYs who expect their neighborhood to be the same as it was when they moved there in 1960 are the cause of lots of problems beyond high housing costs.

  • fdtutf

    When I looked at the site using Google streetview I was stunned at how many huge buildings are by the waterfront. Not necessarily a bad thing, but these buildings to me look more like luxury condos than the bare bones, affordable housing which is in short supply in NYC.

    That’s what they are. I have two friends, a couple, who share an apartment on something like the 22nd floor of one of those new buildings with a friend so they can all afford the rent. I visited them once, and the view of Manhattan is spectacular. But they are luxury condos.

  • Joe R.

    Yeah, this is the new normal. My brother was complaining that the house next door is like a boarding house. I told him this is what happens when 1800 square feet homes sell for something like $875K. You’re not going to get the couple with a few children that was the norm when we moved here 40 years ago buying these houses. People buy them, rent the entire thing out, perhaps each floor and the basement to a separate tenant, or perhaps live in one of the defacto “apartments” while renting out the rest. Renting basements and garages in private homes is technically illegal here, but lots of people do it out of necessity. Others have 3 or 4 working people splitting the rent in an otherwise unaffordable apartment like your friends. It looks like there’s 5 or 6 people sleeping on cots in the basement next door. Probably low wage restaurant workers who otherwise couldn’t afford anything.