Monday, November 05, 2007

Developing Congestion

We have argued for a while about the inconsistencies involved in the Bloombergistas support for a congestion tax, and their seemingly contradictory support of development that causes more congestion. In fact, so great is the contrast between the two positions, that Brian Ketcham has joked that the current mayor's trying to undo all of the environmental damage done in the past five years by the former mayor.

Well, the contrasts may in fact be even more contemporaneous, and might demonstrate a form of policy schizophrenia that deserves a good shrink. As the NY Daily News reports this morning, there are a lot of folks on the Far West Side who are up in arms about the zoning proposal for the area that calls for the building of an additional 20,000 parking spaces. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried gets this confusion just right: "It sounds to me like the development people are not talking to the environmental people at City Hall," said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who represents the area. "It would encourage more people to drive cars into the central business district. If you build off-street parking, they will come."

And the confusion extends of course to the corporate supporters of the mayor's congestion tax who rail against the dangers of asthma on the one hand, while they build their auto-dependent projects in the nabes where respiratory diseases are rampant. We're thinking of two real estate entities in particular, Related and Vronado, firms that frankly are threatening to give hypocrisy a bad name with their phony environmental shilling.

You simply can't have it both ways. If you're going to battle the evils of congestion, at some point you're gonna need to reduce the kinds of development that causes it-in spades. We have suggested a box store moratorium in regards to this dilemma. Once again, Gottfried gets it right: "Gottfried, though, said more parking will create more congestion. "If increased development is going to be accompanied by increased automobile traffic, it will strangle itself," he said."

And while we're at it, isn't it time for the press to examine the incestuous relationship between this administration and the two aforementioned real estate companies? An editorial in today's Daily News only touches the surface of the intertwining that has led to aggrandizement at the expense of neighborhoods.

Here's the News' take on the "special relationship" between Vronado, Related and the city-in regards to the new Penn Station: "Clearly, Vornado and Related are positioned to reap a bonanza. But the zoning rules say that in exchange, they must make transportation improvements. Which is where the plan to build a new Penn Station enters the picture. Even a $1 billion contribution to the project would be dramatically less than the value that's been created for them by the city and state. Which is why Spitzer and Bloomberg must hold them to every penny of their obligations while shielding New York taxpayers."

While we're at it, let's begin to look at all of the special deals involving these two favored nations over the past five years. A close examination would underscore just how much the supposed "above special interests" mantra of the current administration is simply a chimera.