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Op-Ed: Parking Concerns Can't Outweigh Affordable Housing

Recent development controversies in New York City inspired one writer to set some priorities.
September 24, 2016, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Maciej Bledowski

"So many development battles in major cities around the world fall into easy narratives (villainy versus virtue, for instance) that we tend to imagine them all possessing moral fault lines that are clearly visible: a set of capitalist savages on one side, and on the other, the marginalized agents of a more noble civic mission," begins an article by Gina Bellafante, who seeks to poke holes in that scenario.

The target of Bellafante's critique, are debates surrounding issues like a campaign called Save Manhattan Valley.

In this instance, the enemy was not a future condominium tower with an in-house aromatherapist and windows the height of an Italian cypress. Instead, it was the city’s planned demolition of three parking garages it owns on West 108th Street, to make space for the construction of an 11-story building that would add 258 units of affordable and supportive housing for the poor and the elderly.

There is another similar example from Sunnyside, Queens, of a proposed development made up entirely of affordable housing that would replace an existing parking lot. That project, according to Belafante, is likely to be "scotched," as residents complain about the loss of parking. Sally Goldenberg and Gloria Pazmino have since reported that the developer of that project has withdrawn a request for a zoning change.

With these examples as evidence, Bellafante makes a controversial claim, even in the nation's home of public transit: "It seems as if the moment has arrived for drivers to take the back seat."

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Published on Friday, September 16, 2016 in The New York Times
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