Weekend Reading– “Brooklyn’s Affordability Crisis is No Accident”, Stephen Smith, The Atlantic Cities

One lesson New York City should’ve learned from its 1961 rezoning was that public officials can’t predict the future. That year officials wrote a code designating large swaths of the city for manufacturing, even as New York was losing this and would continue to for decades.

Some of these areas have since been reconverted to residential uses under Mayor Bloomberg. But as Stephen Smith points out in his Atlantic Cities article “Brooklyn’s Affordability Crisis is No Accident”, the mistakes haven’t nearly been wrinkled out. In Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg, three neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn, there has been a strong demand for housing from those priced out of Manhattan. But the zoning there allows for only moderate densities, and still preserves too much industrial land. This has prevented the necessary new housing from being built, thereby elevating prices and spreading gentrification into parts of Brooklyn once occupied by the working class, who “are now being displaced to neighborhoods like Canarsie, East New York and Jamaica, where they struggle with long commutes”. It’s yet another example of how regulations have made New York and other cities unaffordable for this demographic, and will continue to if “desirable neighborhoods don’t start shouldering more of the burden of increased urban demand.”


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