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  1.  

    Joe R.

    Arguing against a chemical factory next to a school is not the same as saying your neighbor can’t split his house into a few apartments. Or renting some of them short term. Or building a new place bigger than the old one. Or running a little shop, law office, or medical facility on the ground floor.

    Huh? I never said I was against any of those things. That’s quite a bit different than a developer building a 6-story apartment next door. I’m against speculators who buy houses, rent them out short term, then kick out the tenants when they feel like selling. I’m certainly not against a long term owner renting out part of their house. My brother had exactly that arrangement for a long time. He rented the top floor and finished attic in an elderly woman’s house. She just wanted a good tenant, didn’t care about getting what the market would bear, so she only charged him $600 a month. It worked out great for both of them until she got sick, was put in a nursing home by her niece, and my brother was forced to move back in with us when the niece more than doubled his rent. He eventually bought his own place in the Rockaways, but it’s been a struggle compared to his old arrangement where he was a mile from work.

    The idea of using part of a private home for business dovetails nicely with what I said about putting in more nearby retail when you increase density. Sadly, this type of thing seems to be mostly illegal in NYC.

    Really, if someone wants to run a shop on the ground floor in a residential area, that should be allowed as of right.

    I’d like to see this as well, and not just because it facilitates greater density without more car use. I’m tired of all the generic chains taking over NYC retail. Mom and pop stores were driven out by high commercial rents. It would be nice to see them return being run from private homes. I’m all for relaxing zoning enough to add a few floors to house if need be both for family members and for business reasons. With some reasonable restrictions like you said, I think it would work out nicely. It might also help solve the unemployment/underemployment issue.

  2.  

    ahwr

    I cannot understand for the life of me why the new bus terminal has to be in NYC.

    Because that’s where people are trying to go. Half of riders walk from the PABT.

  3.  

    Larry Littlefield

    “$10 billion is maybe enough to fund a 7 train extension and swampland bus terminal.”

    It probably isn’t but $10 billion SHOULD BE enough to fund a 7 train extension on a lower level of Gateway a-la the 63rd St tunnel to a new station at Secaucus Transfer, and a bus station there. FOLLOWED BY the replacement of the existing terminal where it is, with an office building on part of the site.

  4.  

    ahwr

    With real estate, the supply is the available housing stock, and the demand is people wishing to buy that stock to live in long term.

    The demand also includes people wishing to rent housing short term. That includes short term stuff like airbnb. Or run little shops.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@42.0405657,-74.1193142,3a,75y,172.39h,81.78t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s8YijpAvXtST4J0Ko-D96GA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5321454,-122.6986969,3a,75y,105.73h,86.82t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-cENJzxsi_Vpb-ToChy0vA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.9347681,-74.0199288,3a,75y,83.41h,84.93t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sKmehlyweFbt01A1h9_oGQQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Why is it right to exclude all uses other than long term owner occupied housing? Why are the people with enough capital to purchase a house, and who want to commit to living in an area long term, the only people that mass tracts of land should be reserved for. It’s like devoting mass tracts of space to the exclusive use of people getting around in cars, de jure or de facto.

    Arguing against a chemical factory next to a school is not the same as saying your neighbor can’t split his house into a few apartments. Or renting some of them short term. Or building a new place bigger than the old one. Or running a little shop, law office, or medical facility on the ground floor.

    you need to put in transit, disincentivize car use before you increase density, and get rid of parking minimums so you encourage people without cars to move in.

    Traffic problems aren’t the end of the world. Your neighborhood character of low traffic streets is less important than expanding the housing stock enough to allow housing to remain affordable. This applies to people complaining about traffic, parking, historical properties, views and similar issues in Park Slope, East Village, every little town in Nassau and Westchester, and cities, suburbs, towns, and villages all over the country. There are people everywhere who complain about over development, poor infrastructure etc…who want to send new people somewhere else, just like you. The only fair solution I see to that is to tell everyone no. Let housing get built wherever it’s going to get built. As money allows, build infrastructure to accommodate it. Massive government investment before anything gets built like at Hudson Yards, or choosing the occasional property to be preserved in perpetuity as some historic monument/museum has to be the exception, not the rule.

    Many parts of areas like mine where you might like see apartments aren’t close to easy walking distance of retail.

    Yea, there’s no retail because zoning prohibits it. Really, if someone wants to run a shop on the ground floor in a residential area, that should be allowed as of right. I’d be fine if that was turned back a bit, and done with some minimal restrictions attached, like limiting the number of deliveries by anything bigger than a large van to once every month or two, not allow places to be open too late or serve alcohol, or stricter noise regulations than in ‘commercial’ areas. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it would be an improvement over the status quo.

  5.  

    Fool

    I cannot understand for the life of me why the new bus terminal has to be in NYC. $10 billion is maybe enough to fund a 7 train extension and swampland bus terminal.

    But seeing as how Metro North and LORR could not coopoerate, why would Port Authority give up land in NYC and admit the MTA can operate across state boarders.

  6.  

    Ben Fried

    Thank you! There were so many essential people involved, without any one of whom the defense of the bike program may have failed. Proud that Streetsblog was a big part of that.

    Special shout out to Streetsblog alum Noah Kazis, who did the blogging equivalent of hand to hand combat vs. Jim Walden and pored over thousands and thousands of pages of email printouts to pull together the various strands of the NBBL Files.

  7.  

    ddartley

    AMNY says the ferries will be “fuel efficient,” but I’m worried that they’ll still nevertheless spew large black clouds every thirty seconds, like most of the other ferries operating here. I can’t believe that that can’t be environmentally insignificant.

  8.  

    Simon Phearson

    And any time spent on the matter would be docked from the attorneys’ credited time, so that it wouldn’t boost the firm’s overall pro bono participation rate.

  9.  

    Larry Littlefield

    I think pro-bicycle seniors will live to see themselves the majority of their generation.

    http://www.thevillagebicycleclub.com

  10.  

    JudenChino

    I tried getting various legal blogs interested in the story but none would take the hook. Abovethelaw thought it was funny. I mean, what a fucking joke. I’ve worked in Big Law for a while now and firms like GD&C and other mega firms go buck wild in their marketing about how much they care about Pro Bono.

    Of course the case terminated when GD&C refused to continue to provide Pro Bono services. A full on trial against the City? The type of resources necessary for that. The pro bono stuff I see, is usually housing court, helping asylees, helping the poor avail themselves of services and things like that. Domestic violence clinics etc . . .

    And these fuckers were using the resources of a litigation powerhouse against a fucking bike lane. Shame Shame Shame. I even got a recruiter call about their corporate practice a while back and I was like nope. All so these rich, entitled, connected, selfish motherf–kers could preserve more free parking.

  11.  

    Reader

    Think about how many actual seniors were killed by drivers in the last 6 years. Now try to think of a single thing “Seniors for Safety” did to prevent those deaths.

  12.  

    NYCBK123

    All of the people involved in this NBBL charade could have used their money, connections, and time for something good. What a waste.

  13.  

    Tyler

    On the sidewalk directly in front of 9 Prospect Park West…

  14.  

    Eric McClure

    What Doug said.

  15.  

    christineward

    They sure dont they dont care its all about money greed is wicked

  16.  

    christineward

    If you ask me its all about money people dont care for people these days shameful they building all these houses on the water front knowing the next hurricane we get people going to lose there life and home smh its all about money

  17.  

    christineward

    Thats right

  18.  

    christineward

    This is crazy farrockaway is surrounded by water the next hurricane we get its going to be under water why they keep building for what they need to make something positive for the kids there nothing in the rockaways ymca cost money to get in people barely have money to pay rent

  19.  

    Larry Littlefield

    If there were any justice and Gibson Dunn had a pro-bono page on its website to highlight the firm’s values, it should be required to keep this lawsuit right at the top for the next 30 years.

  20.  

    Tyler

    “You’re making Gibson Dunn look dumb. Stop taking their calls.”

  21.  

    Larry Littlefield

    This bike lane along a park turned out to be the Bastogne of bike lane infrastructure.

    Unlike Hitler, NBBL chose to withdraw rather than face unconditional surrender. I guess they weren’t too crazy to listen to the generals in the end.

  22.  

    Benjamin Kabak

    So did Katie Marquart, the Gibson Dunn pro bono coordinator, finally realize the firm was giving away its services for a case that clearly shouldn’t have qualified for a minute or pro bono work, let alone years? I’d love to know the real story behind why the suit was finally dropped.

  23.  

    van_vlissingen

    This is a good point and normally I’d concede.
    But we know that sea level rise is coming – the only question is how much. (That depends on what we as humanity decide to do). We will lose broad channel with as little as 1M of sea level rise – in other words Broad Channel is doomed no matter what.
    Can the A train withstand that?

  24.  

    JudenChino

    That’s a good point. But the DoT could at least humor with some speed bumps. I agree though that design is more important. You can have all the physical signs in the world, but the layout of the road itself, ” is a sign, a signal” to the driver as well. We forget that by thinking, oh, a sign, that’ll do it. Like cutting the speed limit to 25 mph isn’t going to be effective if all the arterial avenues in Manhattan still look like 4 lane highways,

  25.  

    ohnonononono

    Probably, and/or “Buy America” provisions since it’s public transportation.

  26.  

    Joe R.

    This issue isn’t that it causes harm in that one location but rather that excessive use of stop signs tends to make drivers take them more causally. In places where stop signs are rarely used, when drivers see them they do exactly that—they stop. Here in NYC I’ve seen my share of drivers who don’t even slow down at stop signs, never mind actually stop. Most of the time this isn’t harmful because these intersections could technically have yields, or even be uncontrolled. It becomes harmful when they encounter one of those rare times where a stop sign is properly used. Here if they don’t actually stop, harmful consequences can result.

  27.  

    JudenChino

    Do you know if they have to be built in the US because of the Jones Act? Or does that not apply since these ferries won’t carry freight? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_Marine_Act_of_1920

  28.  

    JudenChino

    Ok, but I don’t see the harm in an all-way stop sign there.

  29.  

    Joe R.

    Just go here and buy tires if tacks are an issue:

    http://www.marvelcompoundtires.com/Bicycle-Tyres_c_13.html

    I started using airless tires in 2007 and haven’t looked back since. It’s a real pleasure going out for a ride knowing I can’t get a flat.

  30.  

    David Meyer

    This particular part of the Rockaways is actually not in the 100-year floodplain and only marginally in the 500-year floodplain. (See map below from the city’s initial environmental assessment.) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/276d360701f55a5cce3826773c5b9c2c20224334c7c73a40a7ad7ceb824bc58a.png

  31.  

    ohnonononono

    Good thing our shipbuilding industry is getting a boost from the ferry production! Oh, wait, no, that’s Louisiana and Alabama, where labor costs are low.

  32.  

    snobum

  33.  

    ohnonononono

  34.  

    toussant lbisso

    R.I.P. Mr Pinkney ! The comments below give me the impression a number of
    Persons don’t believe it is correct for no charges against the perpetrator of this
    Crime , more than one person doubted whether no charges would be laid if
    The victim was nypd ! Cuba cops are chosen by the community !

  35.  

    Doug G.

    Perfect analysis as always, Ben.

    I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that your coverage of this case was outstanding. While most of our local media, including the Times, preferred to focus on said/she said, conflict-based stories and JSK hit jobs, Streetsblog remained focused on real reporting. Seriously. “The NBBL Files” should win some sort of award bestowed by a prestigious university for excellence in journalism.

    So thanks. As much as Hainline, Steisel, Weinshall, and company set back the cause of safe streets in New York City — which, as you note, should not be understated — it would have been a lot worse without your work and the work of everyone at Streetsblog.

  36.  

    mistermarkdavis

    I have driven, biked, and walked on PPW. I like the redesign. I would say the average speed of drivers unencumbered is certainly above the speed limit, but the redesign protects pedestrians and cyclists from scofflaw drivers.

  37.  

    Larry Littlefield

    “Given the long passage of time, we believe the most responsible choice for our groups’ members and our community is to ensure that the bike lane is as safe and effective as possible going forward.”

    When I come across tacks or broken glass, I guess I’ll know where it came from.

  38.  

    Joe R.

    Besides that, by its nature Rockaway helps protect the rest of NYC from the Atlantic Ocean. It can’t do that if we continually alter its form to suit development.

    Agreed 100% on New Orleans. We should have just let it return to nature after Katrina. There are some areas which just shouldn’t be inhabited by humans. The old timers recognized this by not building along much of the NYC waterfront. It’s a shame we’re setting ourselves up for a disaster of epic proportions when nature eventually reclaims these areas.

  39.  

    Larry Littlefield

    I agree, and am annoyed rather than pleased.

    What probably happened is they were finally prevented from just stringing the case out, and told to make their first submission/show up in court. Then the jig was up. If I were running the city, I’d make them show up rather than allow them to slink away. But DeBlasio was as much on their side as anything, something that is now coming back to haunt his housing plans.

    Years and time and money wasted by a bogus lawsuit. Whereas the same people had no objection to a highway improvement publicly disclosed as mass transit but built as widening by four lanes with no review at all. And they talk about bait and switch.

    This shouldn’t be just forgotten, as in no harm no foul. It should be considered a marker of what the NYC political class, a whole generation of it, really is. And many of them are still around.

  40.  

    Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    POWER TO THE PEOPLE! https://vimeo.com/22214720

  41.  

    MollyOpp

    I am amazed yesterday’s press release didn’t contain napkins with dried tears on them from NBBL

  42.  

    Joe R.

    Maybe Tony Avella should take a few courses in traffic engineering. He might finally realize stop signs and traffic signals aren’t the solution to every safety problem. I’m glad DOT refused his requests. It’s a pity they don’t have the backbone to refuse a lot more such requests.

    BTW, those streets look ridiculously wide. That’s the problem. Narrow them, perhaps use the new land for much needed housing.

  43.  

    Joe R.

    I think the suit was dropped because most of the members of NBBL are dead. In fact, it’s worth remembering most of the bike lane opponents in this city are from my mom’s generation. The opposition is dying off or moving to Florida a bit at a time.

    I’m glad this sad saga is finally over. Maybe now the city will be emboldened to start adding more improvements which benefit cyclists and pedestrians.

  44.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    You are entirely correct about this.

    Lindsay wanted to return the inhabited portion of Broad Channel to nature. This is the right move not only environmentally (that peninsula consists of marshland, and is properly part of a nature reserve) but also socially (the population there is a reservoir for an unspeakably foul element).

    The environmental justification for retreating from impermanent land applies to Rockaway as well. Instead, we are making the same mistake that New Orleans has made; we are trying to freeze in place a land formation that is naturally variable.

  45.  

    GorgonBiker

    Aren’t we gonna have a rally or party to celebrate PPW Bike Lane Lawsuit drop?

  46.  

    Mike

    NBBL is dead. Long may it stay that way.

  47.  

    Joe R.

    Some reading on speculation:

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/billionaire-speculators-greed-makes-life-hard-renters-and-would-be-homebuyers

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-hotspots-and-rampant-speculation-could-lead-to-another-crush-2016-06-09

    My thoughts on laws to stop speculators are to prevent the market manipulation they cause. Speculators have caused similar price spikes with gasoline and other commodities. If we both truly believe in free markets, then those markets should reflect the real supply and demand. With real estate, the supply is the available housing stock, and the demand is people wishing to buy that stock to live in long term. Speculation affects rents as well as the prices of private homes. In fact, one article mentions speculating on condos. It’s in NYC’s interest to stop speculation cold. If these people want to invest, try the stock market.

    Class 1 properties have a much lower tax rate than other classes. Not sure why what happens in Texas should be more relevant than that.

    The problem is more that rentals have too high a tax rate, not that private homes have too low a tax rate. I’m all in favor of lowering the tax rate on apartment buildings to match that of private homes. This will also lower rents without impacting the profits landlords make. NYC can certainly find a way to trim a few billion or more from the budget. Start by cutting the NYPD in half. The fact is we tax way too much in this part of the country but we really have very little to show for it in terms of what these taxes buy.

    Permit the housing. Builders will come and throw up denser housing. You don’t need transit to incentivize that. You want transit and restrictions on autos for the sake of your quality of life. That’s a different issue.

    Note that even suburbs with far less density than you envision end up with major traffic problems. That’s the issue here. If you put up lots of new housing in areas where people primarily get around by car you end up with traffic nightmares. I’ve seen it by me with just the new development allowed by present zoning restrictions. So you need to put in transit, disincentivize car use before you increase density, and get rid of parking minimums so you encourage people without cars to move in. Cars don’t scale in an urban environment. That’s really the reason this site exists. You can’t have downtown Brooklyn or Astoria density in an area like mine without also having the access to transit plus better access to retail within easy walking distance. Many parts of areas like mine where you might like see apartments aren’t close to easy walking distance of retail. Another part of this complex puzzle then might be to start rezoning some residential blocks for commercial.

    Really? That’s your solution?

    It’s part of the solution. The idea is to get more land for housing first by using land which presently has car storage on it. If we develop in the right way then very few people here will need cars. If people want them, then let’s see what the market value for private garages is. Whatever distortion NYC may have caused in the real estate market pales next to the huge market distortions in the cost of car ownership thanks to things like parking minimums or free curbside parking. You may complain private homes receive subsidies which benefit those with higher incomes but indirect automobile subsidies are an even more insidious example of the same. Moreover, at least owner-occupied dwellings have some larger societal benefits like stability. Not sure there are any benefits to encouraging car ownership in NYC but there are loads of downsides.

  48.  

    Bernard Finucane

    It’s a strange, sad place. Naturally beautiful, and on the edge of a huge population center. And pretty much a dump.

    https://www.google.de/maps/@40.5968633,-73.753226,3a,75y,16.05h,107.62t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sakdNBHrJs3fn-OxxGW4blw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    I don’t get it.

  49.  

    Miles Bader

    a) Blanket upzone entire city by 2x

    Just get rid of geometric zoning completely, it’s a stupid idea that has caused far more harm than good.

  50.  

    ahwr

    Use what amounts to virtual eminent domain to seize property from people by suddenly driving up the price of their housing to the point of unaffordability?

    How is it eminent domain? If someone doesn’t pay taxes the city can issue a lien against the property. I’d have no objection if they don’t foreclose on it if the resident is near the poverty line until the property changes hands. For people with decent incomes? That the city is no longer protecting their neighborhood from development hardly makes them charity cases.

    Prices will drop to reflect the true value of these homes.

    How is it the true value if you’re restricting who has access to them and how they get used?

    Parking minimums are a problem. That another problem exists doesn’t justify maintaining the inequities in the zoning code.

    . There’s a major shortage of urban housing. …It’s not NYC’s job alone to fix the affordable housing issue…Let’s also reign in real estate speculators….

    Did you read the paper I linked? You’d be well served to.

    Not sure either where you get the idea that property taxes on single family homes here are reduced, either. Our property taxes are about $5K annually

    http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/Interactive/2013_Conference/REPORT_PropertyTaxes_12062013.pdf#page=12

    Class 1 properties have a much lower tax rate than other classes. Not sure why what happens in Texas should be more relevant than that.

    A lot of the rest might well have homes which remained in the family simply because they couldn’t find buyers given the exorbitant prices.

    Why are you distorting your scenario by not letting people sell to a developer that would allow more people to live in the area?

    There just isn’t a huge market for what would probably be $2000+ a month apartments in areas like mine

    http://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/nycs-construction-craze/

    https://smartasset.com/mortgage/price-to-rent-ratio-in-us-cities

    Apartment construction prices in Queens are $200-300/square foot. Land prices in your area right now sound to be in the $3 million an acre range. At 5 million an acre with a residential FAR of 4.0, that’s a land price of less than $30 per square foot of housing. Far below construction costs, with a lot of construction targeting more expensive finishes to satisfy an upscale market. Apartments in your area could be built for $250 a square foot including land. Modest thousand square foot condos could go for $300k. Nationwide historical price to rent ratio was about 15. It’s likely above 20 now. Was close to 25 in 2007. Anyway, the rent for this modest family apartment using a ratio of 15 is <$1700 a month. Using the ratio of ~30 you have in Queens it would be half that. Studios or small one bedrooms could go for under a thousand in new construction in your area. More affordable than the housing there now. But not affordable for many. New construction tends not to be. People at the bottom of the housing market still benefit from this sort of middle class affordable housing, because it reduces price pressure on existing nearby apartments.

    how much affordable housing would really end up being built?

    Having new construction be your main source of affordable housing is a backwards approach to a big problem. Get rid of NIMBYS, let new housing get built, and older housing stock will provide plenty of affordable units.

    The apartment buildings that exist in my area are right off main arteries like 164th Street or Jewel Avenue.

    Because that’s where zoning permits them?

    It’s MUCH easier to fill up apartment buildings when they’re near transit

    Yes, and allowing development a bit further back allows for less desirable = cheaper housing to develop there.

    What it comes down to is if you want to densify this radically, you have to build the transit first

    Why? Permit the housing. Builders will come and throw up denser housing. You don’t need transit to incentivize that. You want transit and restrictions on autos for the sake of your quality of life. That’s a different issue.

    You also have to hope real estate values don’t skyrocket to the point that just luxury housing gets built. NYC in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t have that problem. NYC today does.

    Don’t have to hope. There is not unlimited demand for luxury housing. It’s ridiculous to assume that there is. Development is severely restricted, and has been for a long time. Going into the 50s, that wasn’t the case. That’s why the city didn’t have this problem then. Building in your area replaces luxury priced housing for middle class priced housing.

    Think for example how much housing could be built where we have parking under the #7 viaduct.

    Really? That’s your solution?