Monday, September 24, 2007

Columbia Issues a Til Ticket to Ride

In Friday's Spectator, the paper writes about the Columbia proposal to relocate the Til tenants to comparable housing "within the community." This news is very much a mixed blessing. On the one hand, according to the university, the tenants will be given new apartments under the same potential ownership option that all of the Til folks currently have. On the other hand, as CB9 chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc told the Spectator:

"I was "flabbergasted" about a press release being issued without first having communicated with the TIL Tenants and gotten their concurrance if they actually decided or not to accept the offer and it needs to be an outstanding offer that will benefit the TIL Tenants and the community at large..
HPD has made it clear that the TIL Tenants will decide their future and CB9M has made it clear will will support the TIL Tenants no matter what their decision is, expected to be made freely and without coercion from any quarter."

So what Columbia has done in this situation, is to hold separate negotiations with HPD behind the tenants back-only to present them with a take-it or-leave it proposition. This is not really any kind of good faith bargaining. It also doesn't address the larger housing issues that are bound to be generated by the displacemenrt effects of the university's expansion.

So while we are glad that there may be a possibility that the Til tenants will be able to stay "within the community," we are disappointed that the univesity believes that the way to expand is to do so unilaterally through the issuance of diktats. Clearly, real engagement is missing and, as yesterday's Times editorial said, Coumbia needs to overcome its decades of "aloof detachment" if it is going to win over its neighbors.