Stop and Shop?

New York City Council
Rita Joseph, Member
Representing District 40
930 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Call 718-287-8762

Facilitate a discussion with the New York City Planning and HPD, EDA, and so on regarding development activity in the area (such as new housing, redevelopment of the Sears location in relationship to the Lowe’s Theater complex, and anything else concerned residents would like to know about the impact (positive and negative) of new development.

U.S. Congress
Yvette D. Clarke
Representing District 9
123 Linden Boulevard, 4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Call 718-287-1142
Web: Brooklyn Office

Advise on obtaining State and Federal support for eliminating food deserts and help understand the owner’s position regarding long-term development plans for the property, if any. Federal intervention and resource processes take time and leverage. The community and other stakeholders might as well explore ASAP.

Stop & Shop Plans to End its Lease December 31, 2022 (Reviews)
(Other News) 1009 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226

Primarily concentrated in the northeastern United States, Stop & Shop has a positive reputation. [It’s a] massive supermarket with a relatively decent selection of products and reasonable prices compared to Prospect Heights. The meat department isn’t deficient, and the deli area is large and staffed by accommodating people who will go out of their way to help you. Source

The following data is public information on the ownership and land use of the property. Persons interested in conducting research on properties in this area are sought. The vacant land resource offered in this location is a highly prized commodity.

window sign

What if the new market isn’t an improvement?

New stores should be told one truth. The community may be low and moderate-income, but 60% to 70% of their market will be found in just 30% of households. Know that selling to them is fair to everyone. That is why we shop there or do we?

Land UseCommercial & Office Buildings
Lot Area107,142 sq ft [? 1 hectare, ha]
Lot Frontage292.08 ft
Lot Depth224.75 ft
Year Built1995
Years Altered1998, 2020
Building Class Store BuildingsOne-Story Retail Building (K1)
Number of Buildings1
Number of Floors1
Gross Floor Area141,599 sq ft
Total # of Units4
Building InfoBISWEB
Property RecordsView ACRIS
Housing InfoView HPD’s Building, Registration & Violation Records

Use the links above for additional detail regarding the representatives of this property, its owners, banks, and creditors linked to the area. Interested researchers, please have a look around. For example, the BISWEB and ACRIS data includes multiple page records of business transactions.

The market area for this location is extensive. A thorough look and the economic power held by the community is based on fair food prices and investment in the community’s future. The responsibility of all property owners is to see well beyond their bottom line. This community’s retail district depends on continuously maintaining and producing affordable housing along with a viable, hardworking, well-organized business association.

Block:5126 Lot:1
Police Precinct:
Lot Area:
107142 sf
Lot Frontage:
292.08′Lot Depth:224.75
Year Built:1995
Number of Buildings:
Number of Floors:
Gross Floor Area:
141,599 sf (estimated)
Residential Units:
0 Total # of Units: 3
Land Use:
Commercial and Office Buildings
Commercial Overlay:
Zoning Map #:


Interested participants seeking a detailed understanding of the development issues posed by this site are encouraged to leave a reply for coordination with other researchers on this issue.

Triangulation is a common practice in large market areas. The strategy of franchise corporations such as Stop and Shop is to place three in an area, manage the inventory among them, measure profitability and dump the least of them.

Using multiple sources of data or multiple approaches to analyzing information is a means designed to enhance profitability. There are twelve Stop& Stop locations on the map (right). Three are in Brooklyn.

  1. What is the history of openings and closings across the New York Metro Region?
  2. Is there a history of backing away from market areas experiencing stress?
  3. What role does the property tax on this multi-million dollar property play in negotiations?
  4. What government actions are possible to eliminate the disruption anticipated?

The following map is from the Department of City Planning (DCP) Population FactFinder.  It details the 8.8 million New Yorkers counted in the 2020 Census.

A typical market area for a grocery store can range outward and stay within a half-mile radius. Thereafter the data is altered by overlapping competition and other factors. The full range of households attracted to this location is best determined by a survey of customers, the nearest intersection of residence, a shot at getting income in a range, and the average amount spent monthly for comparison with 2020 Census data – specifically household median incomes.

Primary Market Area by CT                                                                             

10 Tracts | Brooklyn: 790.01, 792.02, 510.01, 790.02, 792.01, 794, 512, 510.02, 514, 516.02          

Garden Walls

The garden walls of Albemarle Terrace represent many additions since they were constructed. The following illustrates some of the designs inherited or constructed by individual households.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Revokable Consent: is described (here). It is a pdf. Review for application.

This is a flawless wall solution.

Place Design

Designers of the Nature City
All of the answers are right here in tiny forms as this glimpse from Timothy Beatley, author of Green Urbanism (there are ads)

Would Real-Time Digital Be Useful?
Georgia Institute of Technology’s students are using CCTV video to map actual vehicles and people into Google Earth. Would this help or hinder the public dialogue on planning and community development?

Key Components of Ann Arbor’s Main Stree

In comparison to all of the digital animation of urban life out there, the following is fresh air just outside the fantasy world of a movie theater.  Thanks Kirk, any other small college towns in MI like Albion, Kalamazoo, or Detroit have a main street. On the point of digital exploration there are exceptions.

To New Yorkers, these “one street wonder – pedestrian pocket” stories are instructive.  Our density puts these streets throughout the city, but we tend to disregard their beauty and importance. The urban design investment could help by finding more work like the above or finding a way to send Kirk off to examine places like Denver’s 16th Street for a comparison.  The peak at what is possible is illustrated in this early morning walk by a casual observer. It is bumpy but worth a moment, before moving on.

Perhaps it is obligatory is NYC’s plan to reduce space for vehicles with plazas for people, but NY Times reporter David W. Dunlap explains it with a rye sense of history in this NYT video.

All of this aside, one key question has to be asked. How can the places like those selected above become the subject of the ideas briefly outlined in the following bit of instruction from Janine Benyus author of “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”? Please forgive the introduction… it is well worth a few seconds of aggravation.

Dori on Design

U.S. National Design Policy Initiative has several enthusiastic points to make. Take a moment. Have look.

AKNA’s IT History


In 1996, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) deregulated telecom services in NY, promising that increased competition would bring down prices for cable, internet, and phone service and improve service, including bringing high-speed internet to all New Yorkers. Instead,  20 years later, New Yorkers are paying too much and getting too little while a digital divide based on access to information grows, and good-paying jobs are lost. The PSC has started a proceeding to evaluate the state of telecommunications in New York State by issuing a report by its staff  (the report is called Staff Assessment and can be accessed here).  They have set up public hearings throughout New York State in July and August 2015  (See Update in Oct 2015 here)

The New York City hearing Wednesday 15 July 2015 (See AKNA Testimony)

Common Cause/NY urged anyone concerned with the state of telecommunications (internet, cable, and phone) to testify.  A robust turn-out by public and tech community members will get the PSC smart to the real state of telecommunications in New York.  If Verizon lies to us, why not to the PSC?

Goal: reliable, affordable high speed internet, cable and telephone service

Following is some of the experience at the AKNA

In early 1972, the telecom schematic for the south side of Albemarle Terrace was drawn as part of a general order to document telephone installations.  This is followed by three orders #21710 (1976), #96727 (1982), #27483 (1994), and a final notation to the schematic made in 2001 that looks like the phrase expressed by the term “SNAFU.”  

In the Fall of 2001, Verison installed a splice in a good shaft on the gable wall of 2126 Albemarle Terrace was installed.  It seals telecom lines for the south side of the terrace (buildings in the photo above on the right).  There are no further revisions made to the Tabular Record for Account Code 32C, Tax District 500 P for C.O. Area Brooklyn 050 Division. This is the last recorded project. The result of the reconstruction of “Ragga Muffin,” a retail clothing store on Flatbush Avenue, led to the removal of phone lines on their roof to the roof of the adjacent Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In the Spring of 2011, Cablevision (Optimum) was rolling out 75 Ohm drop cable to the two terrace blocks and sent a representative door to door to pre-sign up customers. They were offering to buy out any Direct TV subscribers who had contracts.

They started, but some of the neighbors (mistakenly) asked them to stop because Cablevision was cutting into the sidewalks and patching them with asphalt. Some homeowners were concerned that they would then be open to Landmark violations because of the damage to the sidewalk and/or responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged sidewalk sections.

Note: the NYC Landmarks Commission would be concerned, but their jurisdiction is limited to the facades of buildings on the Terraces.  Violations to the facades of the district would be the subject of a lien on the property by the City of New York on the property that would have to be cleared before a sale.  As for all the rest (gardens, and so on), our care and sensitivity are expected.

Eventually, Cablevision repaired the sidewalks with cement, but Cablevision stopped the fiber rollout.  A tragic circumstance of blaming the victims and lack of public leadership in basic enforcement of franchise agreement. Nick and Raina (of Kenmore) called Cablevision several times, trying to get them back.  Getting past the customer service reps is impossible, and they have no idea and cannot help.

In the Fall of 2013, AKNA conducted a survey to use the information to lobby for assistance.  The lesson learned here was to have the lobbying strategy in place before taking the survey.  See the survey data here.

In the Fall of 2015, two Optimum technicians put a ladder up the gable wall of 2126 with a huge spool of 75-ohm drop cable to serve their commercial clients.  And in the Spring of 2015, a series of Verizon technicians entered the south side of Albemarle Terrace (even numbers) to repair landlines.  The story on the north side of the block is long and needs to be told.  I put a brief video presentation for AKNA here to describe our deplorable telecom conditions.

In the Summer of 2015 residents of the south side of Albemarle Terrace managed to get the attention of a Verizon Engineer who after considerable analysis presented a plan for moving forward for the south side and for all of the Terraces with one caveat — the permission of residents to move forward.

The “right of way” process was completed for the FTTP (fiber to the premises (image here) and the details of it are here.

As the Summer of 2016 began to fold over the hope of a Spring installation suggested on the “right of way” documents we signed, a draft was a letter written.  The intent is to send it to everyone our small band of patient believers could influence.  The first draft read as follows:

We are 390 people in 140 households that have bent over backward to get Cable Vision, Time-Warner or Verizon to provide us with service. We recently completed a project led by Lourdes, Engineering (NJ) in contract with Verizon Engineering with all of the forms required of us to assure the provision of service.  Like Cable Vision and Time-Warner, Verizon remains unavailable for comment or the courtesy of a response due to ‘contractual issues’, and franchise agreements all seen by us as the haze of the telecom wars, union/corporate misdirection coupled with the ineptitude of public agencies and political representatives.

I hope you have staff on this or committees put to the task but first find out who is buying their lunch as nothing is happening, information is not flowing and in a democracy, only one group of people pay the price of failed leadership in the brave new world of too big to fail.

In closing, we remind you of Margaret Mead and her point about not doubting the ability of a small group of people to change the world, as it is the only way it ever has changed.  We, therefore, leave you with this one thought that we are just 140 households, and given our history of patience, we are now very interested in creating change.  Look us up.

Sincerely yours,
The Residents.

Winter 2016

Then as winter settled in we received this note:

Dear resident,
The local deployment team has indicated that construction is underway.
Barring any unforeseen delays, service will be available in January 2017.
You will receive confirmation when you can place an order for service.

Representatives from the local deployment team met with Mr. Rex Curry,
the owner of 2126 Albemarle Terrace, and went over different design plans.
He indicated that he will be in contact with all of his neighbors and will
relay information to the association. You might want to check with him for
more specific information.

Thank you and best regards,

Will Freshwater
Verizon FiOS TV | Sr. Consultant, Contract Management
Video Franchise Management Team
One Verizon Way, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Rex Curry did meet with some of the guys from Lourds, but not about schedules or sharing update information.  But, as you all know we are beg for forgiveness kind of group. The first rule of management Will be, information weakens as it moves toward the top, while decisions remain best when made closest to the source of the relevant information.

The Hopeful Prologue

Well, who knew it would take so long to get service? Our work ranges from being super polite and meeting some really nice people from V to conducting work with enraged groups of researchers trying to find out what is going on.  We may never know what worked or didn’t work, but we can always ask for forgiveness.

P.S. if you care to respond, please do so through the website so that all our residents can participate. Anyone wishing to add something about the “existing condition” of your phone, satellite, or internet service, please do so in the  COMMENTS section below.

A summary of the communication and data services currently in use by house number would also help us assess needs and/or compare costs. This data was )compiled. Those willing to share ISP provider data (DSL modem, satellite, and so on) and the monthly cost say so, and IT team will follow up directly.  It will be used to update the first AKNA Survey

Special Districts

Review Districts

Following is a review of the Special District language. The view expressed in the Department of City Planning’s Zoning Handbook is that the advent of contextual zoning has reduced the demand for special district formation (e.g., Clinton type protection is between the lines of this policy) and thereby raises the bar for the status of special in the zoning text.

For example, the special district player in Washington Heights is made special by the alleged need to build a 7-story deep bathtub in Manhattanville and then go up 10 to 15 stories to serve Columbia’s interest in a 21st c. campus. It is not likely that CD12 (aka displacement city) will need to protect itself (as in Clinton) or promote this form of specialness as a blue zone approach. To give it a try, the following is offered as a method for discovering language or precedents that may prove helpful in determining a course of action on this theme.

RLC – From the Washington Heights Study.

DCP’s Website Banner on Special Districts Page
OverviewCitywideBronxBrooklynManhattanQueensStaten Island

Before the passage of contextual zoning, the most widely used affirmative zoning technique was special district zoning. This technique permits areas with unique characteristics to flourish rather than be overwhelmed by standard development. Over the years, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has codified special zoning districts to achieve specific planning and urban design objectives for limited, well-defined areas. Each district stipulates requirements and provides zoning incentives for developers who offer the specific urban qualities the Commission looks to promote in that area. It has proven to be a lawful way of using private capital to carry out public policy, but not without its challenges.

We have an interest in reviewing them all with the assistance of a small graduate team of aspiring planners. The DCP has combined access to these places by Borough — a link will take you to all of them.

Excluding the banner, the special districts in New York City using a simple word count is as follows: Manhattan (30) Brooklyn (13) Staten Island (6) Queens (3) Bronx (4).

Special Atlantic Avenue District (Brooklyn)
The Special Atlantic Avenue District was created to preserve the scale and character of Atlantic Avenue, including certain architectural features of the buildings. The special district provides flexibility in arranging building bulk, mandates street-level commercial uses, and establishes design guidelines for renovation and new construction. Demolition of buildings is prohibited except for unsafe structures or to make way for a new development for which a building permit and financial commitments have been secured. To improve the visual character of the avenue, special sign regulations are imposed for commercial establishments.

Special Battery Park City District (Manhattan)
The Special Battery Park City District was created to govern extensive residential and commercial development in an area close to the business core of Lower Manhattan, following a master plan for Battery Park City.

The centerpiece of the master plan is the office complex. To the north and south of this complex are two large residential neighborhoods with street-level retail uses. One central element of the plan is a continuous esplanade providing public access to the Hudson River waterfront. In addition, the district contains special design controls concerning floor area ratio, required building walls, and permissible building height.

Special Bay Ridge District (Brooklyn)
The Special Bay Ridge District was established to protect the existing scale and character of the Bay Ridge community. The special district distinguishes the scale of development in the midblock from that on the avenue frontage. The midblock street zone encourages two- and three-family homes with a maximum height of three stories. The Avenue Zone promotes the rehabilitation of existing structures and limits new development to a six- to eight-story maximum. In addition, notable setbacks, curb cuts, open space, tree planting, and ground floor commercial requirements have been included to preserve the character of the existing street wall both along the avenues and side streets.

Special City Island District (Bronx)
The Special City Island District was adopted to preserve the nautical uses and low-rise residential character. The special district regulations restrict the size and illumination of business signs, limit building heights to three- to five stories, and ensure adequate parking. The only commercial and manufacturing use permitted are those which reflect the nautical flavor of the island or serve the retail needs of the residents.

Special Clinton District (Manhattan)
The Special Clinton District in Manhattan was created to preserve and strengthen the community’s residential character, maintain the mixture of income groups present in the area, and ensure that Clinton is not adversely affected by new development.

Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)
The Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District was established to stabilize residential development while protecting the area’s industrial base. The district allows limited new residential infill and requires special permits for significant new industrial products. Existing residential buildings are permitted for enlargements, alterations, and repairs, and construction of new residential buildings is allowed if the buildings are next to an existing residential or community facility use. New manufacturing is limited to specific light industries compatible with residential uses.

Special Franklin Street Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)
The Special Franklin Street Mixed-Use District was established to balance residential and industrial uses by remapping the area from an M1-1 district to an R6 (M1-1) district. The district allows residential and community facility uses according to R6 district regulations. All existing industrial uses may expand by 3,000 square feet [? Size of a tennis court], or 50 percent, whichever is less. A more extensive expansion may be granted by a special permit from the City Planning Commission.

A new user group, Use Group M, has been established, allowing light industries and commercial uses in Use Groups 6, 7, 9, and 11 to occupy vacant storefronts.

Special Fulton Mall District (Brooklyn)
The Special Fulton Mall District in Downtown Brooklyn was established to create an attractive shopping environment in a city street mall plan. Special retail use, sign, facade, and circulation improvement regulations are provided. In addition, a special assessment district has been created, through state legislation, to maintain the mall.

Vehicular traffic (except buses) is prohibited within the mall. Major public amenities required within the district include improved transit access, street furniture, street lighting, tree planting, and special sidewalks and roadbeds.

Special Garment Center District (Manhattan)
The Special Garment Center District was created to maintain the viability of apparel production in selected mid-blocks in the city’s Garment Center by making a Preservation Area within which the conversion of manufacturing space to office use is restricted. Conversion to office use in the Preservation Area is permitted only by certification of the City Planning Commission that an equal amount of comparable floor area has been preserved for specified manufacturing uses. The legality of this unique district is currently being litigated.

Special Grand Concourse District (The Bronx)
The Special Grand Concourse District was created to protect the distinctive art deco composition and scale of the Grand Concourse by establishing bulk and design regulations and limiting commercial uses to designated locations that will not conflict with the boulevard’s traditional residential character. The district consists of a Residential Preservation Area and three commercial sub-areas. New construction must conform to R8X (Alternate 1) guidelines.

Special Greenwich Street Development District (Manhattan)
The Special Greenwich Street Development District was established to foster and promote the orderly expansion of commercial development in Lower Manhattan adjacent to Battery Park City and the World Trade Center.

This district attempts to implement an integrated plan for improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation and to encourage the development of a variety of retail and service establishments to meet the needs of the area’s working population. This is accomplished through a series of pedestrian circulation improvements and certain lot improvements in the district for floor area bonuses.

Some unique features of this district are its provisions for involving both the developer and appropriate public agencies in constructing specific pedestrian circulation improvements.

Special Hillsides Preservation District (Staten Island)
The purpose of the Special Hillsides Preservation District is to preserve the hilly terrain and unique natural features of Staten Island by reducing hillside erosion, landslides, and excessive stormwater runoff. The primary concept for regulating development under this special district is the slope coverage approach. As the development site becomes steeper, the permitted building coverage decreases, but the permissible floor area on the site remains the same.

Special Hunters Point Mixed-Use District (Queens)
The Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District was created to permit limited as-of-right status for the enlargement/alteration of existing residential buildings and new infill residential construction. All residential and community facility uses are subject to R5 district regulations. In some cases, a special permit is required for certain residential and community facility uses. New manufacturing and commercial uses, or enlargement of existing buildings containing such services, are allowed as-of-right as long as these developments or enlargements contain no residential uses and do not cause significant adverse environmental impacts. In addition, such new developments or enlargements must meet M1 district performance standards.

The Special Court Square Subdistrict has been created within this special district to encourage high-density commercial development in an area well-served by the subway system.
Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District (Manhattan)

The Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District was established to enhance the pedestrian configuration and appearance of the area surrounding the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In addition, it is intended to promote new development compatible with the Convention Center by mandating street walls and streetscape improvements that supplement the underlying zoning district regulations.

Pedestrian circulation improvements consist of landscaped sidewalk widenings and through-block walkways, street trees, and retail frontage along Eleventh Avenue. Height and setback regulations govern all new buildings along Eleventh Avenue, the Convention Center Plaza streets, and the through block walkways. In addition, mandated street wall setbacks and sky exposure planes regulate the distribution of building bulk to define the public spaces on which each front and frame the edges of the Plaza.

Special Limited Commercial District (Manhattan)
The Special Limited Commercial District attempts to preserve the character of commercial areas within historic districts by restricting commercial uses to those compatible with the historic district and mandating that all commercial uses be in completely enclosed buildings. In addition, limitations are also set for the size and illumination of signs within the special district. One such special district has been mapped in Greenwich Village.

Special Lincoln Square District (Manhattan)
The Special Lincoln Square District was established to enhance the character of the area surrounding Lincoln Square as an international center for the performing arts. The district mandates the height of building walls along certain streets and the placement of arcades and types of commercial use at street level as a means of guiding the orderly redevelopment of the Lincoln Square area. In addition, the district offers special floor area bonuses by permit from the City Planning Commission for new development. The following public amenities: mandatory arcades, subsurface concourse connections to subways or subway improvements, and lower-income housing as outlined in the provisions of Inclusionary Housing.

Special Little Italy District (Manhattan)
The Special Little Italy District was established to preserve and enhance this community’s historical and commercial character. Special use regulations protect the retail area along Mulberry Street. Other regulations encourage residential rehabilitation and new development on a scale consistent with existing buildings, discourage the demolition of noteworthy buildings, and increase the number of street trees in the area.

Special Lower Manhattan Mixed-Use District
The Special Lower Manhattan Mixed-Use District was enacted to permit limited residential development in an otherwise industrial 62-block area in Manhattan south of Canal Street. That portion of the district, which is mapped as an overlay on existing manufacturing zones, permits certain older manufacturing buildings to be converted to loft dwellings and joint living-work quarters for artists. New contextual residential development is also permitted where the district is mapped as an overlay on existing commercial zones. At the same time, retention of the underlying zoning protects the economic vitality of this area.

Special Madison Avenue Preservation District (Manhattan)
The Special Madison Avenue Preservation District is intended to preserve and reinforce the unique character of Madison Avenue and the surrounding area (from 61st to 96th streets). Bulk and street wall height provisions limit the height of new development to the scale of existing buildings, require a continuous building facade along Madison Avenue, mandate ongoing ground floor development of a selected list of appropriate shops, and require the provision of usable recreation space at rooftop levels. Within this district, the maximum permissible floor area ratio is 10.0. Since building height is limited, greater building coverage is allowed.

Special Manhattan Bridge District
The Special Manhattan Bridge District was established to preserve this Lower Manhattan community’s residential character, minimize residential relocation on development sites, and provide for selective demolition and rehabilitation of existing buildings. A special floor area bonus is allowed to provide new community facility space and dwelling units for low- and moderate-income families. It is possible to transfer development rights from a site containing existing buildings to new development within this district. The district mandates that street trees be planted in connection with new development. Unless renewed, this district was designed to “lapse” on September 1, 1991. Have to update this, any of you all have a line on this…

Special Manhattan Landing Development District
The Special Manhattan Landing Development District guides off-shore development from Battery Park to the Manhattan Bridge along the East River. This district is under review.

Special Midtown District (Manhattan)
The Special Midtown District was established to guide all development within the midtown central business district. The special district includes three areas of special concern that are subject to additional regulations. These sub-districts are the Theatre Subdistrict, the Preservation Subdistrict, and the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict.

The Special Midtown District has a base FAR of 15.0 along avenue frontages and a FAR of 12.0 in the mid-blocks. The base FAR in the Preservation Subdistrict is 8.0 to restrict development on the side streets surrounding the Museum of Modern Art. The base FAR of the Theatre Subdistrict core (on Broadway and Seventh Avenue frontages around Times Square) is set at 14.0 FAR, the FAR in the mid-blocks between Sixth and Seventh Avenues is set at 12.0, and the FAR in the mid-blocks between Broadway and Eighth Avenue is 10.0.

The core of the Theatre Subdistrict has the highest concentration of legitimate theaters and entertainment-related uses. Therefore, the Theatre Subdistrict requires a City Planning Commission special permit to demolish any of the 44 legitimate theaters that are not designated landmarks.

The Theatre Subdistrict has special use and signage requirements (in keeping with the area’s character). A flexible development rights transfer provision has been established for the preservation of landmark theaters. In the Theatre Subdistrict, a new building above a certain size must reserve at least five percent of its floor space (not FAR) for entertainment and theater-related uses. Areas outside the Preservation Subdistrict and the Theatre Subdistrict are eligible for an as-of-right FAR bonus for urban plazas, through-block galleries, and theater retention. The only bonus available in the Theatre Subdistrict core is the City Planning Commission special permit bonus for rehabilitation listed theaters. The Preservation Subdistrict is not eligible for any floor area bonus. Other remaining areas can receive a floor area bonus for subway station improvements and the rehabilitation of theaters.

Certain urban design features, such as continuity of street wall and retail uses, off-street relocation of existing subway stairs, and provision of on-site pedestrian circulation spaces, are mandated. The special district also includes certain use and signage controls for the Fifth Avenue and Theatre Sub-districts. Special daylight evaluation criteria are included to ensure the availability of light and air on midtown streets. The Special Midtown District represents a shift away from discretionary zoning to more predictable, as-of-right development.

Special Natural Area District (the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island)
The purpose of the Special Natural Area District is to preserve unique natural characteristics, such as aquatic, biologic, geologic, and topographic features having ecological and conservation values, by reviewing all new developments and site alterations on primarily vacant land. Natural features are protected by limiting topography modifications, preserving trees, plant and marine life, and natural watercourses, and requiring clustered development to maximize the preservation of natural features.

Under the regulations of the special district, the City Planning Commission must certify that all new development in mapped natural area districts meets applicable preservation standards.
Special natural area districts have been mapped in the Greenbelt and Von Briesen Park areas of Staten Island, in Riverdale, and in Fort Totten. These areas are endowed with steep slopes, rock outcrops, creeks, and a variety of botanic environments.

Special Northside Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)
This mixed-use district is designed to meet the needs of a neighborhood where housing and industry co-exist. The City Planning Commission selectively mapped mixed-use areas — R(M) when the area is primarily residential and M(R) when it is industrial — to allow controlled residential or light manufacturing expansion where such uses can grow and function without conflict. This and the Coney Island district were the forerunners of MX (I know I worked on them).

R(M) and M(R) districts combine the regulations for R6 and M1 areas. In an M(R) district, manufacturing uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other M1 district. Existing residences may be enlarged and new residential construction is permitted as-of-right on blocks that are already primarily residential. New residential construction is permitted on certain other sites after approval of a special permit by the City Planning Commission.

In an R(M) district, residential uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other R6 district. Limited expansion of selected light industries that do not conflict with residential uses is permitted. Other industries become non-conforming and are allowed to remain but not to expand. New industrial development requires a special permit from the Commission.

Special Ocean Parkway District (Brooklyn)
The purpose of the Special Ocean Parkway District is to strengthen the existing character and quality of the community and to enhance the scenic landmark designation of Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. All new community facility developments or enlargements are limited, except by special permission, to the residential bulk regulations of the underlying districts. All developments with frontage on Ocean Parkway are required to provide a 30-foot unobstructed front yard, subject to limitations on paving and landscaping, thereby preserving the character envisioned by the original designer of the parkway. Accessory off-street parking for all new developments must be completely enclosed and all new developments along Ocean Parkway are required to provide street trees. Isn’t that special…

Special Park Improvement District (Manhattan)
The Special Park Improvement District was created to preserve the character and architectural quality of Fifth and Park Avenues. It limits the height of new buildings to 210 feet or 19 stories, whichever is less, and mandates street wall continuity.

Special Planned Community Preservation District (The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens)
The Special Planned Community Preservation District designation protects the unique character of well-planned communities that have been developed as a unit. Those communities characteristically have large landscaped open spaces and a superior relationship of buildings, open spaces, commercial uses, and pedestrian and vehicular circulation. In many cases, they have been threatened by development pressures. No demolition, new development, enlargement, or alteration of landscaping or topography is permitted within the district except by a special permit of the City Planning Commission. Preservation districts have been mapped in Sunnyside Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Parkchester, and Harlem River Houses.

Special Scenic View District (Brooklyn)
The Special Scenic View District is intended to prevent outstanding scenic views from a public park, esplanade, or mapped public place. No buildings or structures are allowed to penetrate a scenic view plane except by a special permit of the City Planning Commission. To protect the waterfront view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge, a special scenic view district has been mapped for the area west of the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade.

Special Sheepshead Bay District (Brooklyn)
The Special Sheepshead Bay District was devised to encourage development that will strengthen and protect the neighborhood’s unique waterfront recreation and commercial character. In the area immediately north of the fishing fleet wharves, commercial uses are restricted to uses that support waterfront and tourism-related activities.

All new development along Emmons Avenue must provide widened sidewalks, street trees, and plazas which may contain sitting areas, landscaping, kiosks, and cafes. Floor area bonuses are provided for plazas, arcades, usable residential open space and additional accessory commercial parking. Special density and height limits have been established. This district is under review.

Special South Richmond Development District (Staten Island)
The Special South Richmond Development District was established to guide the development of predominantly vacant land in the southern half of Staten Island. The special district maintains the densities established by the underlying zones and ensures that new development is compatible with existing communities.

To maintain the existing community character, the district mandates tree preservation, planting requirements, controls on changes to the topography, height limits, and setback and curb cut restrictions along railroads and certain roads. It restricts construction within designated open space (a defined network of open space set aside for preservation in its natural state). To preserve designated open space without penalizing the owners of such space, owners are permitted to transfer development rights from the designated open space to the balance of their property. The developer must submit a topographic survey and a report on the availability of public services as a prerequisite to any application for development. A performance bond must also be provided to assure continued maintenance and improvement of public open space.

Special South Street Seaport District (Manhattan)
The purpose of the Special South Street Seaport District is to facilitate the preservation and restoration of the seaport’s historic buildings following an approved development plan. The low scale of the port is retained by transferring development rights above the low buildings to specified neighboring locations for commercial development.

Special Transit Land Use District (Manhattan)
The Special Transit, Land Use District relates development along Second Avenue to a future subway line. The special district requires builders of developments adjoining subway stations to reserve space in their projects by providing ease for public access to the subway or other subway-related use. The resulting new subway entrances and mezzanines would be airy, attractive, and functional instead of sidewalk obstructions that impede pedestrian circulation. The district is mapped at locations between Chatham Square and East 126th Street.

Special Union Square District (Manhattan)
The Special Union Square District was established to revitalize the area around Union Square by encouraging mixed-use development. Its urban design provisions provide compatibility between new products, existing buildings, and Union Square Park. The district mandates ground-floor retail uses, off-street relocation of subway stairs, and the continuity of street walls. In addition, unique streetscape and signage controls enhance the physical appearance of the district. Within this district, a floor area ratio bonus for subway improvements is available by special permit of the City Planning Commission.

Special United Nations Development District (Manhattan)
The Special United Nations Development District attempts to guide the midtown area adjacent to the United Nations. A significant feature of the district regulations is a unified design concept. In addition, the primary floor area ratio for the district was increased from 10.0 to 15.0 to promote exceptional public amenities needed in the area and to implement the development plan.

Share this:

The Informals

In super generalized terms, by 2030, there will be nearly eight billion people on the earth. About two billion will live in informal settlements throughout the world. Almost one billion people live in those distinctive and creative enough to become projects for investigation.

There are many settlements to discover, and that is your task. Find colleagues and share a phrase from the poetry of Octavio Paz describing the sprawling urban landscape of Mexico City as “a paradise of cages.” Is that an excellent description as well as carefully judgmental? However, a visit to SenseableMIT reveals a different assessment. The tech invasion of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro is a unique form of physical research. The MIT site (here) and well worth your time.

The Well Known

The most unwieldy and well-known places are connected to major cities such as Accra (Agbogbloshie), Mumbai (Dharavi), Cape Town (Joe Slovo), and Mexico City (The Favelas, un paraíso de las jaulas). Other settlements within the developed world are far more challenging to locate and define for a cause other than “it’s the best we seem able to do.” As with any other type of constraint, a cage reveals creativity. That, too, is discoverable in the examples below.

Dharavi @ Mumbai

Dharavi slum was founded in 1882 during the British colonial era. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For the context, go to a Google Map.

Agbogbloshie @ Accura

Agbogbloshie is a former wetland known as the dump for locally used electronics from the City of Accra. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For context, go to Google Maps.

Rocinha @ Rio

Rochina is the largest favela in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For additional context, go to Google Maps. Finally, go to the MIT links above for more detail regarding the 4D video sketch below.


Sustain this question. How and why are cities producers of homelessness and displacement? List the goals and objectives of a detailed analysis of the cages. Is the conversion of a favela into an explorable fourth dimension, a metaverse, a helpful exercise? How easily could they be made safe and secure? Does the known and possible richness of economic degeneracy of presumed physical decadence produce a quality of life for those who choose to stay, can leave or are willing to return to invest?

Remote Sense

Jack Dangermond is the founder and president of Esri, a geographic information system software company approaching $6 billion in assets since its formation in 1969.

The technology to watch systems deteriorate and thrive at the local, regional and global level of observation is available. Jack illustrates the power of geospatial data in a mere six minutes. Still, the solution offered is frustration personified, but only if the tragedy of the commons moves from the pasture to the planet. or the alternative (here) “let’s all work together” is realistic.

Without a doubt, he expresses a powerful sense of urgency. It is worrisome, but Jack sees how geography has a way of combining the self-interest found at every doorstep with the regional thresholds of common interest and, after that, the hope of a global capacity to manage change.

The technological capacity to combine orbiting remote sensing tools and the somewhat ominous ability to predict land/ocean uses as they change is astounding. In addition, Esri’s interest in supporting open source business and pubic agency planning and development data is comforting.

With regular programming and artificial intelligence mapping and analysis, Jack calls upon all people and organizations to the geospatial platform. He sees it as a central tool for understanding local, regional, and global conditions as one with the power to improve planning, policy- and decision-making on the ground in every “layer” imaginable.

Do you or your organization use a GIS system for making decisions in an area of public interest? Examples are housing, public safety, air, and water quality, tenant organizing, public markets, food deserts — you get the idea.

If you are unfamiliar with this resource, consider opening a public account where information is made freely available by ESRI with the help of local, regional, and national organizations. Have a look (here)

An example from a member of The Report is available for review (here).

    Please Respond

    No Limits Preservation

    Review the designation reports and a citywide map of all city landmarks (here).

    Report PDF (here)

    On September 18, 2007, the school at 2274-86 Church Avenue became a New York City Landmark. The designation report includes “The Town of Flatbush,” “Public Education in Flatbush,” and a description of the campaign to build the now-demolished school. The information also includes a brief biography of the building’s architect John Culyer whose contribution to the development of New York City is unquestioned. That vanished historic structure is in the upper right corner of the map at Church Avenue and Bedford Avenue. Except for the image (above) and the designation report (here), the building became a story, not a place in 2016. Its future as a place that respects the past is now in question.

    On March 2, 2016, Sarah Crean wrote its brief epitaph, “Demolished: Landmark Flatbush District #1 School” (here). Although the building lost its structural integrity, the cause of its demolition was a deficiency of interest from potential investors coupled with the lack of initiative by its city government managers.

    The Albemarle-Kenmore Terraces Historic District is part of this community’s historical legacy. However, the building loss speaks to what it takes to save a landmark. In late 2021 the construction of Nine DeKalb Avenue (Brooklyn’s First Supertower) neared completion at 73 stories. It will offer over 400 condominium apartments for sale and occupancy in 2022. It seems unlikely that this massive structure would express historic preservation values, but there is a story here.

    In 1932, the architects Halsey, McCormack & Helmer designed the hexagonal structure of the original building on the site as a bank. Due mainly to the building’s impressive atrium and the decade in which it is a part, it became a New York City Landmark in 1994. With the permission of the city’s Landmarks Commission, the new architects  (ShoP) integrated the bank into the final design. The initial debate on this development is whether integrating the original design into the building is appropriate.  From an architectural critic’s point of view, it has succeeded.

    Nevertheless, from a “development as social change” perspective, the debate could not be more heated or significant. Turn the page.

    Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace

    The Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace Historic District was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on July 11, 1978. The designation was due to the work of the Albemarle-Kenmore Neighbors Association (AKNA). A brief history of this effort will be found (here).

    If you have an interest in the preservation of the buildings that comprise this district please subscribe. If you are a participant in the ongoing debate on the role of the NYC Landmarks Commission as a conservation partner in the city’s land-use development you are welcome to subscribe. The members of the AKNA will consider participation in support of your interests.

    Chapter 74 of the New York City Charter (here) empowers the eleven-member commission to designate a landmark, landmark site, interior landmark, scenic landmark, or historic district. The membership of such commission shall include at least three architects, one historian qualified in the field, one city planner or landscape architect, and one realtor. The membership shall include at least one resident of each of the five boroughs.

    Rainfall Flooding

    “Hurricane Ida devastatingly impacted our area, the urgency to understand this kind of threat and determine the risk it poses became abundantly clear.”


    Use the link below to see a full version of this map and the article. A strategy to protect the community from the likelihood of more intense rainfall is available now. Question the integrity of the E21 Street catch basins due to recent construction. (E21 Post) This is a reasonable first step. Would you explore Portal 311 (here) on this issue?

    Source: RPA Measuring Flood Risk in New York City Housing and Basements

    About 180,000 small residential buildings in NYC are vulnerable to rainfall flooding – 168,000 have basements, 123,000 below grade. In addition, the community is susceptible to “nuisance flooding,” however, the city’s data is incorrect regarding the “below grade” data.

    Issue: The community has been made more vulnerable due to concrete and other material dumped into the catch basins at Kenmore and Albemarle. As the map suggests nuisance and deep flooding surround the historic structures of the community, along with new multi-story construction. An investigation may be needed. Mitigation may be essential. However, AKNA, the school, and whatever the new Church-Bedford site will yield ad “development” would likely be at the lower end of a very long list of remediation actions under the heading of flooding resiliency for this city. Assurances are needed with all new construction.

    A 311 Portal is available to call out this problem. A good first step has been to question the data. Note the new build (existing and proposed) is not on the map, and second, call out trouble with the catch basins on the East 21st. Street and wherever you see a problem. I have observed three dumping acts that could have compromised catch basins along E21 Street. They were, 1) during the construction of the new building on E. 21st. 2) during construction on Albemarle Terrace and 3) during sidewalk repairs along with the Dutch Reform Church. Only the new E21 construction was reported.

    Take a Moment to Examine the Big Picture

    Focus on Priorities


    “Bring Your Own Brigade” HERE

    Lucy Walker captures the horror of California wildfires and explores the “global fire crisis” in a CBSN two-hour documentary.

    After the first hour, the horror of fire is well established. Then another source of horror in the documentary begins. Reconstruction with the presumption of resilience with new re-building standards accompanied by comprehensive resistance to all forms of mitigation. Only the fire is permanent. Everything else can be taken to ash.

    Embers function like a virus.

    Destruction produces an unusual libertarian contract that Ms. Walker describes as a form of “self-immolation under the mantra of personal freedom,” Her European values are carried in no small part due to two horrifying wars of fire. This American reaction made her California experience seem “insurmountably foreign.”

    Last word. The Westcoast fires may seem insurmountably foreign in the Northeast, but it is not wise to think in his way.

    Historic AKNA

    The Montagues & The Chobans

    I was a director of a community service department at Pratt Institute when I first came to Albemarle Terrace in the early and late 1970s. My students and I were conducting land use and building condition surveys for the Flatbush Development Corporation. At that time, there wasn’t a block in Flatbush that did not carry the burden of a vacant or abandoned building. The survey helped to prioritize the energy of a community-based nonprofit development corporation in its preservation efforts.

    I also knew the area in our work for Irving Choban to produce an architectural details record of Flatbush Town Hall (Synder). As a lawyer and historian, he was tenacious in saving this High Victorian structure (more here), getting it on the National Register to prevent demolition in the late 60s. It became New York City Landmark in 1966. He was a tenacious man. He lived on Kenmore Terrace. He is why we live in a historic district.

    In 1998, I brought my wife to see Albemarle Terrace and meet with Richard and Dorothy Montague. They raised their two boys and decided to move to upstate New York and sell their home on Albemarle Terrace. I knew Richard as a writer for the New York Post. The day Rupert Murdoch took it over, he and Roberta Gratz, author of “The Living City,” left the Post to its dust and grime. Along with Roberta, Richard’s greatest joy in writing is to chronicle moments directly in front of all of us. He wrote the following article about our little part of New York as an editorial for Newsday. I hope you enjoy it, and it is a beautiful bit of writing.  It describes what it was like in 1978 when they learned they had succeeded in sustaining a part of Brooklyn’s history through its architecture. 

    Two Short Blocks of a Great City’s Past

    Richard Montague (1931-2018) Newsday Sunday, July 23, 1978

    Like any place else, New York’s essential characteristics are rooted in times past.”

    Nathan Silver, Lost New York

    A little after 8 o’clock on a recent Wednesday evening, a Brooklyn lawyer named Irving Choban and his wife, Rosalind, had an open house for their neighbors.

    The house is an attractive two-story brick structure on a dead-end street in northern Flatbush.  It is older than either of the Chobans; it is 59.  Along with 30 other similar buildings close by, it has been designated the day before by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission as a part of a new “Albemarle-Kenmore Terraces Historic District.”

    So, for the next couple of hours, in the Chobans’ comfortable living room at 2118 Kenmore Terrace as full of cheerful people, all members of the terraces’ block association, celebrating their official recognition.

    That was a landmark for everybody too.  Represented by Choban, who is the official historian of Flatbush, and Donna Sanft of Albemarle Terrace, the association began asking its first hopeful questions about how to go about obtaining “landmark status” five years ago this fall.

    The new Albemarle-Kenmore historic district is one of the smallest in New York.  There were 31 others Brooklyn Heights, for instance), plus 526 individual landmarks, 13 interior landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall, and five scenic ones, of which Central Park is the best known.  The commission has sought out, examined, and designated them all in only 13 years.

    Sometimes the choices are easy, undisputed, and without commercial implications.  Other times, as demonstrated by years of litigation in the Grand Central Terminal case just decided – in favor of preservation –by the U.S. Supreme court, there could be intense, expensive contention.  In either case, the values involved are always appreciably more than financial.

    The new Brooklyn landmark is “historic” because, as a commission survey puts it, the terraces built between 1916 and 1920 are “part of the general history of Flatbush.” They exhibit well cared for examples of the “neo-Federal” style;  include designs that developed from the English Garden City movement (adapted to Forest Hills Gardens in Queens in 1903); and were among the earliest row houses to have garages, setting a style that is now standard in many parts of New York.

    But there are other features to be appraised; the languorous sway of the tree branches in the vagrant winds of idle summer afternoons; the cascades of red and yellow leaves and bouncing acorns from the oaks under the blazing blue sky of fall; the door wreaths, lights and family carolers at Christmastime, and the small back yards in spring, with their moist flowerbeds, budding shrubs and secret corners hiding moss and violets.

    In his book of photographs and thoughts on “Lost New York,” the vanished buildings were torn down over the years, architect Nathan Silver quotes Lewis Mumford: “in the city time becomes visible.”  Silver thinks, “Architecture provides the only measurable way to discover the past in the urban environment.”

    Discovering the past doesn’t interest everybody. Landmark designation is not automatic preservation of either monuments or neighborhoods. Some have subsided into decay.  Others have been daubed with graffiti, chipped, and hacked at, even hauled to scrap metal dealers.  Those that have escaped that kind of abuse are not always decently cared for.  There has not been a surplus of money for maintenance in recent years.

    Nevertheless, the landmarks everywhere in the city serve honorable, dignified, and particularly today, invaluable purposes.  They are as different as possible from the fast-food architectural style common in much of New York construction.  They were created and built with care, imagination, and civilized intelligence.  They are sentinels of a kind, guarding tasteful traditions that are sometimes neglected as the landmarks themselves.  They have the artistic durability to reward admiration and care, no matter how long it has been deferred. 

    Consequently, they are essential to New York’s recovery and restoration as belated fiscal reforms, a revival of industry, accessible jobs, and schools worth of the name.  It is inevitable that other monuments and buildings will join “Lost New York.”  The vitality of the living city depends a great deal on how many more are found, appreciated, and saved.

    A pdf of The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designation of the Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace Historic District on July 11, 1978. A copy is available (here). The photo is dated 1917.

    If you would like to participate in the ongoing preservation efforts please subscribe (here).

    My Neighborhood


    Everyone’s neighborhood is the representation of national issues. The issues reported here describe how it affects me personally, my family, and my neighbors. Those issues can be explored and arranged in the carousels below. The benefits of content management systems used by websites and weblogs such as this one are “tags and categories,” In this case, the content is organized under the parent heading “My Neighborhood.” Sub-categories can then be assigned, such as Internet, politics and plans, and several others that examine issues that reflect my experience, that of my family, friends, and neighbors.

    I live in a tiny place on a closed street with just twenty-two, three-story, brick buildings completed before 1920. The New York City Landmarks Commission accepted the residents’ application for designation as a historic district in 1978 (more here).

    All of the following are arguments, so before exploring “the neighborhood” The Report recommends reading the basics first (here)


    Local to Global Politics

    The political structure of dense urban areas reveals the sense of position. It is similar to what a person knows as proprioception. Similar to a person, a political body can be professedly unknowing and still have the capacity to produce decisions and consensus. In effect, accepting faithful democratic leadership allows large populations to take steps up a metaphorical ladder without examining each rung.

    Democratic leadership can call people to heroic efforts built on little more than intuitive knowingness of a good purpose. Don’t get this wrong, it can also lead people to bitterness and cynicism. Today, the problems of urban life require a deeper understanding of the ways political science links to the environmental sciences involved in running a city and making its neighborhoods capable of enduring and defeating stress.

    The evidence that human beings can change their physiology by thought and intention is growing (here). Moreover, the way we care for ourselves is similar to the practice of managing and building cities. Medical research calls it an interoceptive focus. Urban anthropology calls it Anthropocene. These terms help encourage greater environmental intent in deciding how and where humans re-build the earth from the material of its crust and the goodwill that is natural to our souls.

    The “activism” link below will take you to a page (image left) and an opportunity to conduct research and report on issues of importance to you, your community, and our common future in this unique part of the world.

    Below, you will find descriptions of our political body as geographically associated with districts of representation. Following that a set of post/article carousels that sketch out ideas that interact with law, politics, and science from the “neighborhood up.” Please participate and enjoy.


    Stop and Shop?
    New York City CouncilRita Joseph, MemberRepresenting District 40930 Flatbush AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11226 …
    CD Choice
    Examine Choices On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional …
    Club Democrats
    Take a look at all of the "political clubs" in Brooklyn.  Rarely …
    Connect the Council
    City Council The relationship between the city, the state, and the national …
    Connect Senate
    Connect Senate Members & CD9 NYS-63 Senators The relationship of constituents to …
    Connect Assembly
    Assembly Members NYS-151 Assembly MembersYou know where you live.  Use the map …
    Connect Community Districts
    Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth …
    Connect School Districts
    There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth …

    My Neighborhoods (new to old and old to new)

    Stop and Shop?
    New York City CouncilRita Joseph, MemberRepresenting District 40930 Flatbush AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11226 Call 718-287-8762Web: Facilitate a discussion with …
    AKNA’s IT History
    Background In 1996, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) deregulated telecom services in NY, promising that increased competition …
    We must, indeed, all hang together or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. AND You don't make …
    No Limits Preservation
    Review the designation reports and a citywide map of all city landmarks (here). Report PDF (here) On September …
    Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace
    The Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace Historic District was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on July 11, …
    Historic AKNA
    The Montagues & The Chobans I was a director of a community service department at Pratt Institute when …
    CD Choice
    Examine Choices On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test …
    Caduceus Erroneous?
    Caduceus Erroneous? Geopolitical challenges such as a pandemic or the multiple impacts of climate change instruct humanity's genius …
    New Building on 21st
    The map (left) is clipped from the NYC zoning maps 16d and 22c to show the location of …
    A Better Deal
    The total estimated annual payroll for seven Congressional Districts with significant employment in health care and social assistance …
    Wireline 2017
    It was a busy April morning in 2017 when three clean Verizon Cable trucks rolled onto the Terraces …
    VZ Engineering (Com-Hydra)
    Verizon Engineering is likely to be the only Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) that decides not to upgrade …
    Corporate Verizon In 2008, Verizon promised New York City people that it would wire all corners of the …
    AKNA Broadband
    Letters to Verizon and our political representatives were mailed 7.17.2015 The image above represents our first set of …
    DoITT Report Summary
    Corporate Verizon The findings of the report are as follows: Verizon is not in compliance with its agreement …
    The videos posted below were taken just for fun… But, then again, they are a record of the existing …
    Will The V-Shoe Drop? An excellent Wikipedia summary of Bandwidth throttling describes the intentional slowing of Internet service by …
    Columbia’s Manhattanville
    Regulatory Taking and Columbia University Columbia Manhattanville (Rendering RPBW/SOM) Over the last …
    INWOOD: Just another zoning change…or is it?
    The Re-Zoning Sherman Creek and Inwood The rezoning of the Sherman Creek …
    Metro = Megacity/Megacorp + OBDCEarthday, urban land use, and management in the …
    The Urban Challenge
    Best summary of the global urban challenge is by Bruce Katz "and …
    Form-Base Miami
    Density is a central factor in creating the experience of urban intensity, …
    Seven Years to Develop 22 Acres with 22 Left
    The New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Monday, March 1, …
    Waterfront 2020
    The details on a Reach by Reach basis are well worth some …
    Planet of Cities
    This history of human settlements is a story of continuous growth and …
    One Bryant Park
    In thoughtful research reporting, the requirement, to sum up, should become a …
    Zoning GHG
    New York City's newest set of proposed zoning changes will re-write rules to …
    AIA for Mayor
    The American Institute of Architect's New York Chapter (AIANY) released a mayoral …
    Doomed to be Tiny
    The Art Students League and The Resistance As the proposal stands now, …
    Town Prospector
    The New York City Master Plan – published in 1968, presented the …
    Limited Expansiveness
    Sirius, 2006, by Lita Albuquerque, photo by Jean de Pomereu (Domus) From …
    Human cognitive mapping abilities are well documented. The addition of GPS devices …
    The Unlimited Inside
    Unrestrained Outside & Unlimited Insides. How does density save the wilderness, support …
    Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns. A letter …
    Broadband Map
    A click on the map above (or HERE) will take you to …
    AKNA Tech
    Platforms like Mindmixer, ShareAbouts, ChangeByUs, ioby, and others offer new ways to define …
    Will The V-Shoe Drop? An excellent Wikipedia summary of Bandwidth throttling describes the …

    Urban Politics (new to old and old to new)

    "We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and …
    Extinction "The purpose of this section is unified by one-word 'extinction.' It is a daily event all over the earth. It is a difficult word to absorb as a part …
    The Charter Revision of 1977 created community planning boards in NYC when the decentralization of authority was a popular idea. It aligned with social change forces seeking civil rights and social justice, …
    The Fairness Doctrine
    What are additional efforts needed to curb the American Super Power to make fools of ourselves? I came across Tech Against Terrorism that might be useful. It is an international …

    Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns. A letter for comment on how to get their help (a …
    Furious Yet, Effective
    The growth of corporations in energy production, manufacturing, and finance will continue to produce great wealth and pain, cover-ups and obfuscations. …
    Privacy Politics
    So what, if a few people get stopped and if they refuse to respond to a lawful order to give …
    Clip of the Chicago Seven. Raised fists had value at the 1968 Democratic National Convention Tom Hayden died in October …

    Getting Internet (new to old and old to new)

    The first issue was recognizing that getting access to high-speed internet was going to be difficult. But, it was vital for my kid and essential for me to work that became extremely important in 2020.

    Caduceus Erroneous?
    Caduceus Erroneous? Geopolitical challenges such as a pandemic or the multiple impacts of climate change instruct humanity's genius to bring about systemic change …
    So what, if a few people get stopped and if they refuse to respond to a lawful order to give up the data …
    Survey Visit
    Chris of By Byers Engineering Company 285 Davidson Ave., 203 Somerset, NJ 08873-4153 Chris of By Byers Survey visit “for right of way” occured …
    What to Expect
    I'll believe it when I see it. Expectations are difficult to manage and different for everyone as everyone needs will vary. I found …
    Verizon’s Political Contributions
    The Center for Responsive Politics keeps a record of corporate dollars for political representatives. The table and map (below) looks at the House of …
    Verizon Timeline
    The strike over the next few weeks is as good a reason to begin the clock on how long it will take to …
    VZ Engineering (Com-Hydra)
    Verizon Engineering is likely to be the only Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) that decides not to upgrade a single strand of wire …
    Thank fabco!
    On January 11, 2016, at 11:58:21 AM, Charles Zollo, AKNA's contact person from the Engineering Firm — Lourdes, wrote to us regarding their …
    NYS Attorney General
    As we keep our fingers crossed about Verizon's accountability to AKNA and NYC, please take a moment to add this squeak to our …
    Community Forum 11.17.15
    On November 17, 2015, AKNA attended the FiOS Rollout Forum conducted by Common Cause NY led by Susan Lerner, and the Consumers Union …

    Broadband Map
    A click on the map above (or HERE) will take you to a website that illustrates all of the broadband …
    Will The V-Shoe Drop? An excellent Wikipedia summary of Bandwidth throttling describes the intentional slowing of Internet service by an ISP (Internet …
    Corporate Verizon June 18, 2014, DoITT Report Slams Verizon DoITT is the agency responsible for a level of review.  Please …
    The videos posted below were taken just for fun… But, then again, they are a record of the existing and rapidly …

    District Mapping (new to old and old to new)

    Stop and Shop?
    New York City CouncilRita Joseph, MemberRepresenting District 40930 Flatbush AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11226 Call 718-287-8762Web: Facilitate a discussion with the New York City …
    CD Choice
    Examine Choices On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on …
    Club Democrats
    Take a look at all of the "political clubs" in Brooklyn.  Rarely are these outfits exposed as nonviable components of local leadership, …
    Connect the Council
    City Council The relationship between the city, the state, and the national government is complex. A close examination of issues that confront …
    Connect Senate
    Connect Senate Members & CD9 NYS-63 Senators The relationship of constituents to the State Government's 63 members of the NY Senate can last …
    Connect Assembly
    Assembly Members NYS-151 Assembly MembersYou know where you live.  Use the map and report your Assemblymember in the comment section below.  Before …
    Connect Community Districts
    Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth Congressional District.  The map and links below seek participants. Engaging …
    Connect School Districts
    There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District. How will changes in Federal and therefore state …
    Election Districts
    I am interested in working for elected leaders by organizing election districts closest to polling places. I've moved the d-base driven map …
    9th Congressional Data
    The Ninth Congressional data is very revealing and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape, and its many …
    Indivisible Brooklyn
    The idea of a CD Nine Indivisible faded into Indivisible Brooklyn (IB). Despite the failure to build a CD by CD network, …
    26 June Summary
    Same old Congress, and same old story for District 9 Democratic Primary CANDIDATEVOTEPCT.Yvette Clarke*14,80451.9%Adem Bunkeddeko13,72948.1% 28,533 votes, 99% reporting (528 of 532 precincts) The …
    The Clarke Record
    The analysis that follows is part of a long-term effort to establish an independent group of observers and analysts who live or …
    Affordable Housing
    We can dream and have goals, but it is impossible to think things into existence. Direct action is required to be creative. …
    Ranked Choice Vote
    It is possible to be represented differently. FairVote is a reform idea calling for multi-member districts. Voting could be about ranking the …
    Election Districts
    Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, says the world is getting better, and from a “regression …
    Bunkeddeko vs. Clarke
    Should Clarke have lost June 26, 2018? Yes, but she won. Is Clarke’s record of deep blue co-sponsorship for the Democratic Party …
    CD9 Stress
    Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a …
    Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns. A letter for comment on how to get their help (a set of …
    Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns. A letter for comment on how to get their help (a set of …
    CD9 Stress
    Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a …
    Bunkeddeko vs. Clarke
    Should Clarke have lost June 26, 2018? Yes, but she won. Is Clarke’s record of deep blue co-sponsorship for the Democratic Party …
    Election Districts
    Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, says the world is getting better, and from a “regression …
    Ranked Choice Vote
    It is possible to be represented differently. FairVote is a reform idea calling for multi-member districts. Voting could be about ranking the …
    Affordable Housing
    We can dream and have goals, but it is impossible to think things into existence. Direct action is required to be creative. …
    The Clarke Record
    The analysis that follows is part of a long-term effort to establish an independent group of observers and analysts who live or …
    26 June Summary
    Same old Congress, and same old story for District 9 Democratic Primary CANDIDATEVOTEPCT.Yvette Clarke*14,80451.9%Adem Bunkeddeko13,72948.1% 28,533 votes, 99% reporting (528 of 532 precincts) The …
    Indivisible Brooklyn
    The idea of a CD Nine Indivisible faded into Indivisible Brooklyn (IB). Despite the failure to build a CD by CD network, …
    9th Congressional Data
    The Ninth Congressional data is very revealing and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape, and its many …
    Election Districts
    I am interested in working for elected leaders by organizing election districts closest to polling places. I've moved the d-base driven map …
    Connect School Districts
    There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District. How will changes in Federal and therefore state …
    Connect Community Districts
    Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth Congressional District.  The map and links below seek participants. Engaging …
    Connect Assembly
    Assembly Members NYS-151 Assembly MembersYou know where you live.  Use the map and report your Assemblymember in the comment section below.  Before …
    Connect Senate
    Connect Senate Members & CD9 NYS-63 Senators The relationship of constituents to the State Government's 63 members of the NY Senate can last …
    Connect the Council
    City Council The relationship between the city, the state, and the national government is complex. A close examination of issues that confront …
    Club Democrats
    Take a look at all of the "political clubs" in Brooklyn.  Rarely are these outfits exposed as nonviable components of local leadership, …
    CD Choice
    Examine Choices On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on …
    Stop and Shop?
    New York City CouncilRita Joseph, MemberRepresenting District 40930 Flatbush AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11226 Call 718-287-8762Web: Facilitate a discussion with the New York City …

    Black Rock

    Black Rock City

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is harveywood.png

    In 2010, Black Rock City (aka Harveywood) was the fourth largest city in Nevada, but only for a short while. The total population was 51,515 paying guests as the marker, not including a couple thousand undocumented, smuggled in amidst the art. Larry Harvey’s motivations vary for having this big party. They change with each new experience, annually repeated since 1986. Perhaps that is why he wears an unusual hat. He is a designer and an architect, a friend and observer of life.  He is tightly wrapped by the kind of humor that only a real sense of tension can produce. While its control has surpassed the management capacity of the few unique people that began it all, its epitaph remains incomplete. But one part has been written. Long live Harveywood, but from now on, we will cap this party at 50,000 souls.

    Without a doubt, any discussion of establishing a super urban density and a pure wilderness is likely to engage the subject of living in the desert wilderness of northwestern Nevada for a short while as an event. This idea confronts a void, fills it with art and design, and then goes away. Just beneath the surface, there is a lot of responsible talk and action about taking only pictures and leaving only footprints, and thus the Black Rock City party’s actual theme is revealed. It offers real proof of how messy humans will be to make a point. The point is a big one. No matter how temporary, that bit of dessert will always have a mark, and it is a warning.


    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image014-1.jpg
    1. Harlem Piers: W Architecture and Landscape Architecture Spring 2007
    2. Columbia Manhattanville: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Marilyn Taylor/SOM, 2016
    3. Apollo Theater: Beyer Blinder Belle with Davis Brody Bond, under renovation (wiki)
    4. Loews-Victoria Theater: RFP issued, no completion date (wiki)
    5. Harlem Park: TEN Arquitectos, no completion date
    6. Kalahari Apartments: Frederick Schwartz and GF55 and Studio JTA, September 2007
    7. Uptown New York Reissuing: RFP, 2006
    8. Latino Entertainment Corridor: Architect TBA, no completion date
    9. East River Plaza: Greenberg Farrow Architects, spring 2008

    Comments, images, pictures, stories, site plans are welcome on these locations. Additions are welcome (posted 2010)

    Open Spaces

    Ten percent of Planetizen’s Top 100 Public Spaces in the United States were in New York City. It was based on a crowdsourcing survey initiated by regular contributor Chris Whitis. The “interested participants” factor suggests another important point for investigation.

    Resource Planning Act Assessment


    The acronym “SLAP” describes “space left after planning.” The use of the urban public place demands a new aesthetic. Thus, one makes the meaning of an urban place something more than a preserved hunk of “green” or platform for architecture.

    The public space is also a place of last resort, where people can press unrelentingly on the button of unresolved social or economic issues. Of course, we can all name hundreds of places with equal quality or grander views as those listed below, but in an urban design thought experiment — how would the following “top ten” type places work if they were “occupied” by aggressive but thoughtful social change agents?”

    1. Bryant Park 
    2. High Line Park 
    3. Brooklyn Bridge Park 
    4. Central Park
    5. Paley Park
    6. Grand Central Terminal 
    7. Teardrop Park
    8. Madison Square Park 
    9. Fort Tryon Park
    10. Mosholu Parkway

    Urbanization is only problematic if it cannot be stopped.  

    Cities build strength in response to restraints. In this context, you can get ten cool open spaces. Once the technology represented by “the city” is restrained to “a geography,” it might be possible to achieve a purpose greater than that of the wilderness. A place that humans can only return to damage.

    The Resource Planning Act Assessment issued every decade by the U.S. Forest Service finds the primary cause for the loss of natural forests and rangelands is residential and commercial sprawl, along with other land-use changes. Additional threat factors include climate change, wildfires, insect infestations, bacteria, and fungi. These trends in the nation’s renewable resources project to 2060. Current land-use policies supporting the population and economy threaten the resource base connected to rural areas and the natural habitat disruption.

    Protecting the Underground

    The Resource Planning Act Assessment is completed every ten years by law in the Forest, and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act, a 1974 law (Pub. L. 93-378). The latest RPA Assessment draft is available for public comment through Sept. 30. Draft and final reports can be accessed (here). Public comments on the draft 2010 RPA Assessment were filed at: The 2020 RPA Assessment is here.

    Mentioning the use of parks for “occupied” by aggressive social change agents may have engendered a picture of college students, the disenfranchised, underrepresented, and politically oppressed. What should have entered your thoughts on the subject of protest and change should have been one word — “fungi.” Skeptical? Have a look at SPUN.

    Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN

    Here is some of what the scientists from around the world are saying about ways to save the life on earth that all benefit from but may have never known or understood. Now is the time.

    Mycorrhizal fungi are a group of network-forming soil fungi that form symbiotic associations with plants. Nearly all plants form symbiotic associations with mycorrhizal fungi. These associations have shaped life on earth for more than 475 million years.

    Fungal networks are one of the biggest untapped levers in climate science. Billions of tons of carbon dioxide flow annually from plants to fungal networks. This carbon flow helps make soils the second largest global carbon sink, after oceans.

    Habitat loss is the largest driver of biodiversity loss worldwide. Without their plant partners, fungal networks cannot survive. Logging, agriculture, and urbanization cause drastic disruption to the structure and physical integrity of underground fungal networks. This impairs their ability to sequester carbon, move nutrients, and promote soil aggregation.

    Nearly all crops depend on mycorrhizal networks. Yet industrial agriculture employs aggressive tillage, and vast quantities of chemical fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides which devastate fungal networks. Without their fungal partners, crops require more chemical inputs and are more vulnerable to drought, soil erosion, pests, and pathogens.

    Extreme temperatures, drought, and floods threaten the ability of global fungal networks to move nutrients and store carbon. Disruptions arising from climate breakdown, like intense wildfires, destroy plants and the fungal networks underground.

    The Scientist of SPUN

    Evaluation of measures to protect these places from being overwhelmed is requested. Thanks!

    Red Hook

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is redhook-1.gif

    18. Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal, Bermello Ajamil and Partners, April 2006.
    19. Fairway, Fairway Partners, May 2006.
    20. Revere Sugar Site, Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, no completion date.
    21. Ikea, Greenberg Farrow Architecture, 2007.

    Comments on the development of these locations for urban design issues are sought.

    New York Magazine 2006

    Lower Manhattan

    6. David Childs/SOM; World Trade Center Transit Hub Santiago Calatrava; Tower 2, Sir Norman Foster; visitor center
    7. 101 Warren Street; SOM, Ismael Leyva Architects, 2007
    8. William Beaver House; Developer Andras Balazs, no completion date
    9. Staten Island Whitehall Ferry Terminal; Fred Schwartz, 2005
    10. Battery Maritime Building; Renovation, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, 2006
    11. Beekman Street Tower l Gehry Partners, Ismael Leyva Architects
    12. 80 South Street: Santiago Calatrava
    13. Pier 17; Beyer Blinder Belle, no completion date
    14. Drawing Center; Architect TBA, 2011
    15. East River Waterfront; SHoP and Richard Rogers Ken Smith Landscape Architects, 2009
    16. Brooklyn Bridge Park; Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2012
    17. One Brooklyn Bridge Park/360 Furman Street Creative Design Associates, fall 2007

    New York Magazine 2006

    One World Trade Center was expected to incorporate a high level of social responsibility in urban design introducing new architectural and environmental standards.  Yet when completed in 2013, it will offer on a small footprint, 2.6 million square feet of office space in 70 office floors, a public lobby with a 50-foot ceiling, an observation deck at 1,265 feet above the ground with a restaurant, extensive shopping, and ample parking. Call me crazy, but that reads like the “same old” pitch to me. Millions of dollars are committed to a vast public process for Lower Manhattan Development following the World Trade Center tragedy in a $2 million meeting at the Javits Convention Center. It also gave rise to the “small is beautiful” idea when a dedicated group of design professionals from all fields began to forge a new vision for New York.  It also fueled the idea that APA-Metro should establish an Urban Design Committee and press for answers to how public engagement in design and planning can be more effective.

    See: 18 – 21 Red Hook

    Public Place/Public Process

    Course of Action

    If criticism is a method that gets to the truth, then so be it. But, when it does not, then what? The Urban Design Discussion group put together a “Public Place Public Process” to get started on engagement methods.  After all, criticism begins and ends with a public that is by many accounts in a coma.  This link opens up a 40 page summary of submissions to an Urban Design Committee. It is a PowerPoint (2.4M pdf): San Antonio Presentation.

    The Urban Design discussion combines the thinking of planners, designers, and architects to accomplish one thing – to move social and environmental equity forward on the nation’s list of priorities.  The solution to the global challenge is urban.

    In 2006, fifty projects identified by New York Magazine (NYM) offered a start by scrunching some of the world’s best architects into a group to stimulate the mind’s eye.

    The signatures are clear in the image pictured left. There is coherence as individuality but could an advanced public process improve it as a statement ” of a larger community?”

    The lack of reciprocity between the tightly defined images of the developer’s market image research and the experience of the public.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image009-Copy.jpg
    New York Magazine

    The following examples (1-5 or more) will require ongoing review.  As Brooklyn’s northwest coast begins to develop, we expect it to reveal a new public realm in a receding industrial waterfront.

    Community pressure produced a demand for inclusionary housing bonuses to exact 20% to 30% of the units as affordable in Brooklyn and opened the gate for the first expansion of the General Exclusion Area, formally known as the Manhattan Exclusion Zone.  (Note: all maps are by Jason Lee for New York Magazine)

    1. The Edge: Stephen B. Jacobs; master plan by FXFOWLE and TEN Arquitectos, September 2008  (view NYC Construction Top Projects pdf: here) Scaled back from 1.5 million to 1….  what else?
    2. Palmer’s Dock: FXFOWLE, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009  (Impact of tax credits on design discussion in Journal of Tax Credits pdf article: here
    3. North 8: Greenberg Farrow Architecture, spring 2007
    4. Domino Sugar Site: Rafael Vinoly Architects, no completion date.  The story at this link must be a hoax: Hoax?
    5. Schaefer Landing:  Karl Fischer Architects, 2006

    SEE: Sites 6 – 17: Lower Manhattan

    Planning Together: Part V

    The Wicked Problem Plan

    Financial crises, health care, hunger, income disparity, obesity, poverty, terrorism, and sustainability are examples of wicked problems further complicated by climate change, biodiversity loss, persistent poverty, and food insecurity.  The difficulty is knowing how everything happens all at once and why everything is connected to everything else.  Wicked, right?  Maybe not, with a wicked problem plan for knowing how and why all you need is where. The Report picks Flushing.


    Flushing, Queens

    The planning process for dealing with wicked problems would simultaneously initiate three interdisciplinary actions. Evaluate community business visions, examine technical capabilities, and conduct a comprehensive assessment of community/user needs. If there is a match, you have a plan.

    If the geographic units for a constant data flow are clearly established (even as a sketch), it may be possible to fully understand the interdependencies and relationships that reasonably account for billions of interactions. It begins by getting everything to the east of College Point Blvd. to focus on everything west of it with a vested interest. It provides the grist of a plan.

    The interest could range from open space access to job retention to affordable housing. It is easy to get resistant to change because the fight is to get a piece of the action.

    Beware of the work to produce a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Unregulated agreements between local, influential actors and developers are at the core of the accountability problem for the lack of implementation.

    The Flushing Creek environment as it stands now has astounding contradictions. The UHaul is readily available to move displaced families while the Assi Food and Households Goods Market is closed. The vitality of the UHaul appears to stay, while the market is to be replaced with housing and the possibility of retention within a new complex.

    Permissible data points and technology set the restraints for the capture and distribution of all the business interests. Gathering these interests determines the full effect of the standing Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) as it attempts to alter the current zoning envelope.  These points can also be drawn out for data on a building-by-building, square-foot-by-square-foot basis on a vast set of variables. Of them all, what are the most relevant (see map below).

    Another Brief but Interesting Digression

    One other vital element too often forgotten is technology demands a continuous ability for experimental thinking. In other words, the process needs art. (See: Galileo). For example, if given an unchanged boundary and the prospect of extensive high-density locations, is it possible for a city’s total floor area to be unlimited and still retain a viable open space ratio? If the answer is an essential yes, how would a rising sea matter?

    Back to the Wicked Problem Plan

    Extending access to information beyond a library or a laboratory to enrich life requires confidence in integrative disciplines. The tools needed to accomplish robust interdisciplinary methods must first discover the knowledge in people. In this case, the people of Flushing. The meaning of data can be found in a person. Small specialized groups can deal with wicked problems at the local scale. They are strengthened further with rapid communication systems. Where are they? Who are they? They can support a wealth of joint actions and, most notably, a shared understanding of the effort. The grist for a plan becomes known, and for the people, it turns to “it depends” questions.

    Apologies – another brief digression

    Urban construction is an intentional operation that entangles those nearby. Human responsibility has moved from its single-center (the human in nature) to the duality of multiple centers numbering in billions of known interactions. The new centers are the ones from which gigantic numbers of small groups move toward and away simultaneously.  These two forces circle indefinite urbanized structures and their constructions. One force moves to a center (a dot on a map, the centroid example), and another is accelerating outward and away from the data – from wilderness to farm to lanai garden. This human force rarely recognizes the species made extinct to produce a sweet pear for consumption on a high-rise balcony. The centers are unfixed, always incomplete, yet capable of continuously producing observable results of continuous replacement.

    OK, OK, put it this way, the data set has been prepared. It awaits your use. The dots (centroids for GIS nerds) on this map represent place-based data. It can be enriched enormously for the empowerment of the people of Flushing. The data is tabla rasa, and it awaits purpose. Who will use it? Who knows how to use it? Find them, and you have a plan. Is there an MYSQL and ArcGIS person available?

    Observation of a meaningless or harmless intervention is now impossible.  Everything changes once an event is observed.  The big difference today is everything in urban development is intentional.  For example, we experience design most often in various symbolic and visual communications.  One of the more relevant communication documents relevant to this examination is the Generic Environmental Impact Statement which reviews many aspects of state and local EIS processes. (see pdf here). The context of a document such as this stands available for comparisons and critiques of impact.

    Any course of action involving the manipulation and management of natural resources may result in altered conditions. The Flushing waterway, from a natural estuary a half millennia in the past to the use of waterways for industrial use a century ago, to the attempt at naturalization in the future, can all be construed as having adverse effects, but know this, all action agendas have conflicting results. Thus, the mitigation argument demands an accommodation to what planners and developers know about the stewardship of natural resources including human life quality. There is no bounded rationale insurance.

    We are surrounded by material objects that are products of a design process. Unfortunately, a few products end up as discarded material. A recent article on the Gowanus Canal and Flushing Creek by the Architectural League (here) exposes the issue of what development actually costs. Here is a quote from that article.

    Bodies of water (the Hudson River, Bronx River, Flushing Creek, Coney Island Creek, to name a few) receive harbor sewage and legacy contaminants. Industries on a rising waterfront risk release of what are called “fugitive chemicals” with every storm. Aquifers, the city’s last reserve in case of drought or water system failure and Long Island’s sole supply of drinking water, are exposed to indestructible and bioaccumulating “forever chemicals.” Buildings (schools and residences especially) harbor lead paint and pipes. The air is compromised outside and in by emissions from highways and gas cooking stoves.

    Mariana Mogilevich • May 26, 2021

    We engage in work and life through various activities expected of us. We use a long list of organized services. Each is designed to respond to complex systems and environments for living in a city made for play, work, and learning. So the question for a planner serving a community that feels and senses a threat is clear. The best way to get really close to defining the issue is to smell and taste the cash it breaths. Once disclosed Mariana’s critique will not sound like a post-mortem, it would have the sound of hope.

    Famous Chinese hot pot chain opens first U.S. restaurant at Tangram in Flushing, from QNS. In the Sichuan cuisine of China, Shoo Loong Kan’s 5,029-square-foot restaurant represents a kind of bipolar urban development. It is unfearful of the long-term impact due to the lack of assigning a share of those costs to the present as “it” looks to the Flushing Creek waterfront.

    A Wicked Plan is Better

    What is required is a double repositioning of the design problems associated with wicked problem planning in gaining participants within an interdisciplinary forum. The comprehensive plan idea pretends to mash them together, but it does not. The first presumption of planners and participants is that people will move into action based on information.  The opposite tends to be true far more often. People will likely engage in analytical reports based on their independent actions using stories based on empirical knowledge they can explain to others. Activity helps make additional information more absorbable, used, and understood as applicable to a current situation. In the day you are in now. The required steps are to move from the familiar and expected to new experiences leading to new data acceptance. The data is always there, always waiting for reasons that will bring it to use. Once established, reciprocity is formed in the learning experience between residents and agents of change. The idea is simple – accept the wicked and deal with it as a thing akin to bull riding in 8-second intervals.

    The last aside. The following editorial can be found in The New York Post dated May 3, 1973.

    Planning and Communities

    When the City maps out community development projects, it is not uncommon to find that the plans as drawn have familiar features.  It often turns out that they follow the boundary lines of least resistance.

    In other words, an organized neighborhood with a coherent development plan of its own stands an infinitely better chance of challenging proposed “improvements” – under either private or public auspices – than an area lacking the ammunition to fight City Hall.

    As this newspaper reported yesterday, professional consultation is available for community organizations with such needs from the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development.  Its client is the public.

    “Community action” is a familiar phenomenon by now; some politicians’ allegations that it has failed are, in fact, an indication of its success.  The non-city planning centers are productively serving similar purposes. When a neighborhood is told that changes are going “according to plan,” it is important that the neighbors share in the drafting.

    To know that The Post is today from what it was in 1973 is to know all one needs to know.

    Part VI – Planning Together (Is it Doublespeak?) or back to Index

    Planning Together: Part IV

    bird s eye photography of high rise buildings


    A Story of Megadevelopment Impact

    Zoning is used to protect people. Today it exists to help residents oppose change. Something is wrong. It is a metaphor for our times. Here is a story from way back in the olden days– say the 1940s and 50s. Change for the worse has begun.

    Council legislation seeks “long-term” planning. (LTCP) Neighborhoods need strategic planning

    A decade before WWII, an immigrant family came to the city and turned a small business idea into a large successful business within two generations. Family investors acquired equity in a few land purchases and expanded business locations.  The effort ensued with hardship and sacrifice, but investors continued to over the decades to build a community. Then big outside investors began to see the community as safe for investment and ready for displacement.

    Small family groups like this began in places such as the Lower East Side in Manhattan. It continues in neighborhoods such as Flushing in Queens today. The same dreams continue to live — acquire capital and invest in expanding local businesses. A bakery factory is envisioned. A storage warehouse and a site for the assembly of human-power-assist vehicles are planned.  The vehicles will be designed by brilliant industrial design engineers, the grandchildren of veterans in the Flushing family who served in the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion. These plans are done quietly and without much fanfare in the ordinary course of business growth and investment located in an area west of College Point Blvd.

    Unknown to this community, investors associated with the New York Real Estate Board meet with the Department of City Planning (DCP) Director. They present several projects coming onto the table for negotiation, and they provide an advisory on pre-planning projects coming off the shelf. The total investment is estimated in 2017 dollars is $250 to $400 billion.  The Director is pleased. As sensitive property acquisitions are ongoing, independent calls to the affected community’s business groups and political officials were not advised. At that moment, the dreams and traditions of small local investors are attacked. While considering billions in financial concessions, The DCP, the agency responsible for the city’s land use and community development, became a contributor to durable inequality policies in New York City. 

    Why does zoning exist to help residents oppose change?  Huge residential investors (REITs) can legally combine with large but ordinary local real estate investment groups. They can hire planners and architects to look for opportunities in older, mostly industrial urban areas. In many ways, they appear on the scene like marvels of certainty. In other ways, it is a valid symbol of a tragic time when the availability of overwhelming capital can quietly blame residents for opportunity hoarding, referring to those who had been quietly investing in the community since WWII.  (See story on another angle of the subject (here).

    Zoning has become the battleground of sides. It offers a binary choice of capital in vast amounts or the perception of comparative nothing. It threatens decades of ordinary neighborhood transformation. It produces well-known t-shirts such as “Blight Me” and “Develop, Don’t Destroy.” Although most development occurs within a set of existing (albeit complex) as of right rules, zoning is now used for various reasons, and perhaps too many. From the basics of land use planning to forecast municipal finance or its use to help with preservation, it has a history of racially motivated exclusion, and more recently, funding affordable housing inclusion.   (see Manhattanville) In other words, it is not pro-growth vs. anti-small growth. The zoning situation has become New York City’s wicked problem (wiki).

    A Brief Digression

    This view of problems has a fascinating history and following. When Richard Buchanan (Case Western) connected design thinking to wicked problems, the impact created a substantial change in problem-solving from definition-to-solution into a condition-change assessment. Read his paper (a pdf is here). The questions surrounding community design draw from planning, architecture, and engineering as creators of a physical realm. However, changes in community conditions occur in the overlap of these professions with the psychology of a place.

    In today’s community development practice, we see two separate forces that believe they are correct. Both are at odds on how and why investment functions. It is wicked because the two parties are unaware of the other; thereby, they are without data: their values, outlook, economics, and culture conflict. Points of intervention are possible but difficult to imagine. The uncertainty poses the creativity possible in ambiguity, but the ships have already passed in the night. Finally, the forces of resistance often lead to their repression. Whether imposed or internalized, the impact of repression alters mental health conditions. It is far too easily ignored, but the results of stress, anxiety, and depression have proven harmful to the individual and have a community impact.   

    The Carbon Neutral Strategy

    Calculating carbon footprints is still in its infancy. Still, the standard calculation today is based on an estimate of $400 per ton of emissions.  If you are Bill Gates, you more than double it to make another point.  He recognizes the Green Premium cost and is quite willing to say he can easily afford to pay it. He is not sure about the rest of us, so he suggests we ask and decide what we can do as individuals. 

    Policymakers can take on only so many problems at once. Getting on that “only so many” list will require concerted political action. A regional support strategy will help local organizers get on that list. For example, it could alter or stop an environmentally suspect development project in Flushing Queens.  Drawing encouragement from regional to citywide to neighborhood organizations willing to focus resources on one example can be used to push climate change to the top of that list. 

    Political leaders need to sense concerted political action from their constituents.   Climate change and the Flushing Meadow project can be encouraged as an example of a grave error that must not be allowed anywhere in the region.  Digging into the specifics of these errors will help every participating organization.  Some examples are:

    • The Flushing Development is not paying the Green Premium. The project needs to tell the energy systems companies, services, and utilities what it will pay to address climate change.
    • The Flushing Developers, architects, and engineers have no idea what a zero-sum, carbon-neutral project would look like. 
    • The developer is only complaining about its profit margin. Simultaneously, the project’s failure and its cost will fall on the city and the state when the community is flooded and stays flooded.
    • The list of households most likely to be displaced by climate change (flooding/storm surge) is about 4,000 today.  The Flushing project could double that figure and quadruple the cost.

    A focus on getting a more aggressive regional and citywide partnership on this project is needed.  The attention can help produce a carbon-neutral development or stop one that isn’t.  Either way, it is an important market signal. The political action statement is straightforward. Not paying attention to the carbon footprint issue today could put your grandchildren on the endangered species list tomorrow.  It is that serious. The science of this argument and proof of this project’s failure to recognize the problem is the work that lies ahead.

    The big question: Is the idea of a Long-Term Comprehensive Plan capable of adjudication? Can it confirm or refute any of the fears of the people? Can it alter the inexorable facts of climate change and its impact on Flushing? As a BOA site will the developers, provide services and funding covering lifetime health-related illness from work or living on the proposed site. You get the drift.

    A Muddling Strategy

    Zoning is well-established police power, yet it is officially opposed and challenged, questioned, and denied—a political pawn of progress. Consider the possibility of an impeccable elimination of racism, classism, sexism, and the all-around favorite “placism” in the zoning text and resolution as policy. \Is there a way to bring its original health and safety purpose more explicitly focused on the pace of neighborhood change? Deliberate but incremental negotiations could help charge ordinary people’s expectations with a new interest in community investing. Plans for a mutually determined and purposeful change quality can be absorbed by the community, but gradually. This helps alter the lock on the status quo and governmental privilege systems into more of an emollient for progress.

    Rusty Toaster Pill

    The New York Metropolitan Region is a megacity, yet zoning (or changes to it) only considers a few blocks at a time. Given mobility throughout this region, its people can live in places where they can become most productive.  The missing resource is the lack of information, innovation, and opportunities to meet and optimize these choices. Instead, the “transit-rich” locations in the city are sold for minor capital improvements. These deals between a failing private corporation (MTA) and the local, state, and federal government responsible agencies. The inevitable common-sense conclusion could be zoning is failing communities that are not transit-rich by establishing transportation dependency in all others. A rapidly advancing capacity for equitable movement would be to make everything in the region within reach of everything else within an hour or less. 

    One excellent example is Downtown Brooklyn, NY that is the most transit-rich region of New York City. The fight over Atlantic Yards an expansive uncovered rail yard serving the Long Island] Railway. New York City partnered with a developer, Bruce Ratner, to develop the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. (contention) The construction of an arena, the Barclay’s Center, was first to develop, to yield the headline.  How to Build a Sports Complex by Promoting 2,000 units of Housing.  The proposal engendered legal and political battles for a decade.  The use of eminent domain, how the developer would bid the project, and even the developer’s vision were challenged in the courts by residents. The Civilians, a musical theater troupe, produced a popular musical farce detailing indignation only to prognosticate the ephemeral promise of affordable housing.

    Meanwhile Back in Flushing

    In 2010, the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation received a grant under the New York State Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program.  The State used it to develop plans to replace vacant and underutilized properties and revitalize Flushing’s waterfront area. If approved, the development would serve as an extension of Downtown Flushing.  The Special Flushing Waterfront District was established by a vote of 40 to 4 margin on 12/10/2020. This brings the process to the final ULURP process. Unfortunately, we have not seen the application.

    Impressive Eye Candy

    Flushing is For Sale

    The Hill West Architecture firm has an impressive portfolio of projects (here) with a few waterfront locations.  However, the Flushing development concept has yet to make it to their list or map all projects (here) real and digital hopes. The proposal’s renderings available now are useless preliminary sketches projecting the total floor area allowed in a set of unchallenged zoning approvals. New York Yimby seems to have the best set of illustrations (here).  But let’s pretend the following is real and will be built, and the architecture might look like this project in Brooklyn.

    On the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

    The proposed 1,725 units are criticized for including a minimal amount of affordable housing and 879 hotel units. However, as housing advocates know, hotel rooms are used to house displaced families as an alternative to warehoused children in shelters.  Is there an “off-table” agreement here to provide such units as needed, and if so, how might it be included in the city’s incentive package without been seen?

    Office space and community facilities, and retail space are estimated at 700,000 sq. ft. Parking & BOH: involves 440,500 square feet, and the waterfront public space may have about 160,000 square feet. Is that closed Assi market sized into this structure? Would the rent be fair?  Will there be competitors?

    On to:

    Part V – Wicked Problem Planning or back to Part III on the energy displacement issue, or back to Index

    New York Colleges and Universities

    There are nearly one-half-million students of higher education and over 1.1 million students in the NYC public education system. A resource of enormous power given 1) affordability and 2) focus on priorities of the city through scholarships and education incentives. These institutions have an enormous stake in the health, housing, and general welfare of New York City people.

    2,5732014Barnard College
    18,0902014Baruch College
    3,7722010Berkeley College Midtown NYC Campus
    11,1572010Bronx Community College
    17,4102015Brooklyn College
    1,2702016Columbia Business School
    1,2442020Columbia Law School
    31,4552020Columbia University
    8,8462017Fashion Institute of Technology
    15,2862015Fordham University
    7,0782011Hostos Community College
    23,0182013Hunter College
    15,0002014John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    15,9682016Kingsborough Community College
    17,5692010LaGuardia Community College
    12,0002019Lehman College (CUNY)
    3,8832013Manhattan College
    12,0632019Manhattan Community College
    5,5192020Medgar Evers College
    17,2822016New York City College of Technology
    51,1232018New York University
    6792010NYU Grossman School of Medicine
    1,3952015NYU School of Law
    12,8432015Pace University
    5,8542015Parsons School of Design | The New School
    4,5562014Pratt Institute
    19,5202016Queens College, City University of New York
    15,4932015Queensborough Community College
    4,2012017School of Visual Arts
    20,4482014St John’s University Queens Campus
    5,8372011St. Joseph’s College New York
    1,8912010SUNY Maritime College
    16,1612012The City College of New York
    8762015The Cooper Union
    9392016The Juilliard School
    10,2542014The New School
    6,3482014Yeshiva University
    8,5112015York College

    Help in finding the faculty that combine housing, climate and social justice would be helpful here.

    Thanks for the contributions to date: OCCUPY

    CD Choice

    Examine Choices

    It has never been more important.

    On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on criteria established by voters. Clarke won by a slim margin. Challenged again in 2020 she won again big time. Adem Bunkedekko was the closest rival, capturing 17% of the vote among four other bird-dogging candidates – all democrats.

    Political leadership has gone to hell. New York leaders are useful when they respond to an urgent condition on a single issue. There is no outright fear for democracy, because better than most, they know it is practically gone. None of that is occurring. The only live-die-repeat is incumbency and the dead ones are the challengers.

    Step One

    Have a good long look at the candidates and their “watchers.” (See examples: Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball.) Ballotpedia’s fine details are here. Money equals victory. A national watch group, Open Secrets has the data to prove it, including the outliers that illustrate exceptions. The deep end of the data pool is with reports at the New York State Board of Elections.

    Leaders with skills in critical thinking, creativity, responsiveness, and obedience will do well. Proof of unselfish giving is through service that includes a record of judgments publicly specified with grace and dignity. After reviewing the public expressions of our federal leaders, are challenges within the party positive and optimistic? Does the officeholder or the challenger have a bias toward getting results? Finally, good leaders know how the practice of listening to be heard gets their constituents to help themselves do the hard stuff.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5124f-9th-cd-2018.png
    Adem and Yvette

    Adem Bunkeddeko Lost in the first race by a slim margin, and he machine tanked him in the second

    He got more votes the second time, yet adding votes from the three additional not really serious, probably “bird-dog” candidates, he would have still lost. The third time is the charm, I said. Off years are best. I hope he will write a review of the loss. Meantime, he now works as an Executive Director for CORO. He has been cultivating young leaders who seek to make a difference in our city and tackles the complex issues affecting New Yorkers. Please drop him a line at and if you want to know more before you do that, visit Adem’s Website and Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also has Instagram and Snapchat if you must.  If snail mail is your thing, you can write them to this mailing address: Friends of Adem, P.O. Box 130-427, Brooklyn, NY 11213.

    Yvette Clarke
    Drop the candidate a line on the federal website. She has Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. To write via snail mail the local address, 222 Lenox Road, Suites 1 & 2 Brooklyn, NY 11226, and a D.C. address, 2351 Rayburn HOB, Washington D.C. 20515. I would be amazed if you get an answer beyond stat and pat. She is a guaranteed tow-the-line Democrat, so there is that, I suppose.

    Step Two

    The national Campaign Finance Institute confirms the long-term success of this legislation in its testimony to the NYC Campaign Finance Board in 2017. (The Act). After thirty years, the NYC CFB has protected voters. Perhaps the best example is NYC representatives sustain the “F” rating from the NRA in their demand for stringent legislation regarding the use and purchase of weapons for war. That is where the feds (your representatives in Congres) come into the picture to confront and confirm national policy.

    In NYC, the Campaign Finance Act has kept the local government on the side of working New Yorkers for the last three decades. A $6-to-$1 match of small donations turns a $100 donation into $700. The law has strict contribution limits and an outright ban on all corporate money, and an excellent enforcement record.

    Political Action Committees

    The Political Action Committees (PAC) come into the picture today as a permanent part of federal election campaigns. They represent almost 40 percent of an elected candidate’s campaign funding. A challenger is far less likely to be supported by a PAC.  The PAC phenomenon began in the 1950s, but since then, their corrosive influences over Congressional Representatives reflect the concentration of wealth in the U.S. and the rule that corporations have a right to political speech as people and that money is speech.

    Unlike people, wealthy corporations can live forever. Corporate outfits such as the NRA and the Koch brothers have a large bag of political tricks designed by well-paid political operatives to protect specific interests, not including the bot/troll issues that confuse voters further. It was a sign of real trouble when New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer asked his constituents to help fight against Koch Brother attack ads against a fellow Senator, Joe Donnelly (D) from Indiana with a help him Keep His Seat! Email blast.

    Representative Government, Election Waves, and Money
    Three Republican Congressmembers (Faso, Tenney, Katco) in NYS may have “toss-up” elections in 2018. To keep things in perspective Faso’s 2016 spending was: $2,904,089, Tenney’s was $885,895, and Katco’s was $2,384,152. These races could contribute to a wave-election referendum on the chaos in the Executive Branch and the House of Representatives and shift as many as 25 seats to Democrats. (See NY Mag summary here). The 2018 mid-term election might have a single issue.

    Peter King, a member of the Republican Party, is completing his 14th term in Congress, having served since 1993, and he quit. Clarke has been there twelve years and barely serves and runs on “good attendance” and perks from PACs.

    Federal Committees of NY Senators

    By way of Ballotpedia

    Chuck Schumer is a Member of:
    Joint Committee on the Library
    Joint Committee on Printing
    Committee on Intelligence (Select)
    Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

    Kirsten Gillibrand is a Member of:
    Committee on Aging (Special)
    Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
    Committee on Armed Services
    Committee on Environment & Public Works


    Participants were able to produce a slim margin in 2020,



    The playground was made of 12×12 inch pressure-treated Douglas Fir in lengths from three to eighteen feet. The photos say everything. There still is a park there today. The timber is gone, there is a Head Start Center, a fire station/rescue station, and new housing has replaced the tenements that Hilton Als described as burning.

    Google Map Image

    I was on the steps with new beginning thoughts. He was the one demanding to know why I was there, doing “stupid shit”, and I said it was to finish the playground and a place for community theater or shows, pointing to the trellis. The genius of rage came right up into my face at that moment. All he said was I was “a lame, white motherfucker, it’s too late, too fuck’n late, and walked up the steps past me.”

    The Genius of Rage

    In his closing, Hilton Als read a portion of the Homecoming essay saying, “and now it is happening to you,” and that is when that whole experience of Brownsville came rushing back into my life. (here) I have both of their thoughts in my mind now, Hilton’s and the guy with the knife. It is still happening and it is too late.

    This post is motivated by another place-based examination of community development. It is an experiment of mine in looking back at the history of Lincoln Square/Center as an attempt to compare it to the recent five-year build of City Center (here). I’m guessing, but I think the thread of it might be displacement as the transitional function of institutional racism, a cycle of recurrence that must be stopped.

    Club Democrats

    Take a look at all of the “political clubs” in Brooklyn.  Rarely are these outfits exposed as nonviable components of local leadership, and when they are it seems to matter little. Those who have a detailed understanding of the inner workings, tips, and tricks of a Board of Elections system needs to be understood by the ordinary person in much greater detail.

    The Report

    Congress Member for Life

    There are nineteen political clubs in Brooklyn that attempt to decide what issues candidates can speak to with credibility. For the candidate, they will examine records of accomplishment of their opponent and coach on the hot buttons of the day (i.e., health care costs, immigration, DACA).

    The political clubs and their candidates are the up-from-the-grassroots owners of a process that makes the top-down discussion of congress members, senators, and judges come alive as constitutional actors. It is in these settings where ordinary people determine who runs and how. The analysis continues by district and office from local to federal that allows participants to compare incumbents to a challenger. But why are incumbents 98% successful in defeating possible challengers. Why is AOC the outlier? The answer is made obvious below. Review with the knowledge that there are over 300,000 registered voters in this CD9! The focus of our analysis is on the one percent. Ironic.

    Why did the founders make representatives every two years if we get them for life? I have a “legacy” representative in Congress with a “D” rating. So The Report supported an alternative candidate (Adem). His candidacy sought the office for two congressional election cycles. He almost won the first time, got the “club” attention, and got crushed the second time. Is an incumbent representative the best option of the clubs? Yes. Why then do primary elections become chock full of opposing candidates. Does it seem obvious that diluting the field with multiple unknowns is used to assure the status quo?

    Why Does the Democratic Party Sustain Incumbency as a Priority? Is the System Broken?
    JUNE Primary 2018 and 2020 – In Brooklyn, a Primary Win is a Win in November.

    Democratic Primary June 2018: Fundraising efforts increased to get out the vote after this close

    Yvette Clarke*14,80451.9%
    Adem Bunkeddeko13,72948.1%
    Four Candidates Assures IncumbencyVOTESPERCENT
    Yvette Clarke (Incumbent)37,10662.3%
    Adem Bunkeddeko10,64717.9%
    Chaim Deutsch5,6229.4%
    Isiah James5,5769.4%
    100.00% of precincts reporting (532?/?532) (source)

    Once the choice of candidates for a political office or a judicial appointment is complete and aimed at the next election cycle, the value of local issues in the form of votes is exposed. An incumbency win is therefore easily recognized as a big money win on the issues and far less so on the issues affecting people’s lives. What do you think about 50% of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is paid to the military people, but the medical and science people have to fight for scraps in the battle for the other half? Are the big-money interests dangerous? Are they looking out for you?

    A candidate does not have to be rich to be a leader, but improving the grassroots knowledge of the problems of wealth, power and government is a starting point of high value on every question related to the quality of public life. The cash from a PAC and other significant funding sources compare directly with vote capture and the percentage of contribution from ordinary citizens and public matching remains a token.

    The capacity of civic engagement to get results is being pushed toward, well-known as well as unexpected breaking points. The big paying interests only have one interest in mind — to keep the government as a predictable entity, not an honest one, or fair or even one that cares. With this level of power, it is not possible to see a difference between the availability of cake and day-old bread. That is the terror of it.

    Tale of Two CTs

    City Center
    Lincoln Square

    Robert Venturi once observed Las Vegas as the only uniquely American expression of architecture. No one ever says it is a product of thoughtful planning. In 2006, when MGM Mirage and partners decided to build City Center, Las Vegas, NV, New York news aptly described it as an entertainment-based retail project. A comparison with an older effort confirms why metaphor-desperate architecture critics get super busy; however, I think lousy planning is the more useful element to engage. Enter stage left, Lincoln Square, Center, and Circle.

    A viewpoint for examining the similarities and differences from one other kind of uniqueness can be useful. America is not built on ancient traditions, universal religion, ethnicity, or race; our founders believed they could be built on ideals. The principles of human dignity are given the highest value. Without the rigorous implementation of this core value, community development tends to fail this purpose. The question is not if the development practice in Lincoln Square, NYC, and City Center, Las Vegas was racist. The question is, how much racism is in play?

    These two real estate investments are instructive of American urban development. They stand fifty years apart, but it might as well be five centuries regarding their exposure to values. Robert Moses broke ground on the Lincoln Center project with President Eisenhower. The biography of both patriarchs confirms a systemic racism component. Both believed Black people should be treated equally but did not think they were equal, and many of the policies and actions of both remain as proof.

    Lincoln Square is an example of racialized architecture rationalized in New York City because the backdoor (parking/shipping) of Lincoln Center is Amsterdam Avenue adjacent to public housing. The entry plaza logically favored the Broadway/Columbus intersection. This was a reasonable architectural decision for many reasons. However, one reason rarely, if ever mentioned, is that architecture as a profession has no design solution for racism. They are subservient; the racism of their clients is included. The profession received clear notice of this problem in 1968 at their 100th convention (here).

    Lincoln Center’s development is not as apparent as the proliferation of Confederate monuments from 1900 to through the 1920s, which continues through the 1950s. Lincoln Center did not support segregation with intimidation. On the other hand, it did support rules of law ito demolish a mostly Black neighborhood in the name of high-culture.

    The Civil Rights Movement pushes back, and Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Park is now Emancipation Park. A record of the effort to remove intimidating monuments is kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). On the other hand, the high culture of Lincoln Center uses the grade sheet of their traditions. They seek to convert participants into high arts as their earnest effort to confront racism and claim success in programmatic terms.

    Lincoln Center represents issues that architectural design or sculpted monuments cannot handle. Its creation was born of the slum clearance, race intimidation movement known as Urban Renewal. It developed through the redlined 50s and into the late 60s in NYC. The civil rights response pushes back but is compelled to accept reconciliation measures. Reconciliation also occurs in the offerings of special district law in 1969. The Lincoln Square District’s roots can point a bit remarkably to its transformation. It led to comprehensive inclusionary zoning laws, albeit fifty years later.

    As a renewal program, the special district design attacked the southern diaspora of poverty into the North with displacement strategies. As for tactics, restitution-like compromises such as the promise of affordable housing and well-funded ‘top-down” cultural services can be agreeable goals to the “fighters” and the losses, grave as they may be, deemed acceptable.

    Understanding these programs’ rectitude provides the added depth needed to understand the term “systemic” in race relations and economic change.  The displacement practice, once quoted to me once as, “you are free, just not here, because you can’t afford it,” continues to this day and well examined in a report from the University of Pennsylvania’s City Planning program (here).  Displacement is a percentage game, and if human dignity was the measure, the players on both sides are losing. Penn’s work is an excellent update of Chester Hartman’s book, “Displacement: How to Fight It,” developed by Dennis Keating and Richard LeGates (1981). The truth in both publications, now decades apart, is the displacement process has only changed on the margins. Therein lies the terror of it all.



    A small portion of New York City (Map: CT 145) covers an area of eight typical city blocks just west of Central Park. It had a 2000 population of 4,500 people living in 2,900 housing units that sustains a low vacancy rate of about 2%. The land area is 60 acres to yield a residential density of 48,000 people per square mile. (Facts to be updated following 2020 Census – see below.)

    The area includes the Fordham University Law School, and it is just south of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, and a dozen other cultural miracles. It is not just a neighborhood composed of multiple-story apartment buildings; it is a destination experience established by cultural centers, the splendor of Central Park’s open space, and the Time Warner 12-story shopping “mall” without the standing auto-surround. The daytime population density can be doubled with ease and well supported by a transit system at this location that can deliver 5,000 people per hour, 24/7/365.

    Zoning Resolution Chapter: 82-00 Map:  8c Effective Date: 4/24/69

    The public goal (1969) of the Special Lincoln Square District is to enhance the area as an international center for the performing arts. To achieve this goal, urban design along Broadway will follow street line rules. Arcades for interior urban-room retail and service facilities provide a compromise for regulation and limits on street-level uses. Supply-side development bonuses are through special permits that offer added square footage for housing rented at lower (but not low) rents governed by Inclusionary Housing R10. and subway improvements. The demand side bets on good shows, a friendly neighborhood, and a sincere hope that the NYC mass transit services do not collapse.

    Lincoln Center is a life-long learning opportunity in community development. Despite a long history of cultural engagement efforts as compensation for a vast mid-50s clearance of thousands of families, a tabula rasa planning strategy, and elements such as the fortress edge at Amsterdam Avenue, the entire project remains an unfulfilled story of transitional urban power.  Its future continues to be written for the success it still might get, not by crossing Amsterdam, but in recognizing how well the social fabric of this part of Manhattan is willing to attack its drift into a binary culture and ignore new opportunities that offer exceptional new levels of depth.

    Instantanious Urbanism

    The comparison with another entertainment-retail center for the high-spend culture has America written all over it. It is instructive of the “binary problem” and a warning of competing solely for the high-end. The City Center was a five-year design and build “hit”, not unlike graffiti, but way neat and well worth the time exploring innovations.

    The $9+ Billion Las Vegas City Center (left to right): KPF’s Mandarin Hotel, (392) Libeskind, and Rockwell’s Crystal’s premium goods mall, Pelli’s Aria, (4,000) Helmut Jahn’s Veer, (335) Foster’s ill-fated Harmon. (demolition was in 2015) Also in the City Center, Rafael Viñoly Vara hotel and residences (1,495). A “who’s who” of architect high-end destination creation. The City Center project broke ground in 2006, and despite significant construction difficulties, including nine deaths in sixteen months, the new skyline hit the press in late 2009. The plan for this massive development was based on speed regardless of the human cost and a systemic “rent-comes-first” problem.

    The entire project is symbolized by the demolition of Foster’s Harmon hotel, but like New York City’s development projects, the greater effort survived the 2008 recession. In Las Vegas, all bets are all on the black. Undeterred, billions spent in building the City Center out of nothing that can be remembered occurred even though Las Vegas sits amidst the aridest desert on Earth. Most of the 2.6 million residents trust in the spin on Lake Mead as shrinking (or not), rejecting any notion of a prolonged era of despair due to the rains of 2016/17.

    The fresh knowledge of anguish from the City Center project became available when the Las Vegas Sun received a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the causes of construction deaths and lax regulatory assessments. The tragedy of a worker’s family is described (here). You can read all of the stories by Las Vegas Sun for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service (here). One of them points to NYC’s positive response to construction safety. Please read the work of Alexandra Berzon of the Sun who explored the pace, fear, and death, and terror that accompanied the creation of City Center before taking in the five minutes on the spin on the final product in the following presentation.

    Bill Smith managed construction of the $9 billion City Center completed in 60 months.

    All of Las Vegas began as a city of no-rules sprawl. The property taken didn’t make the news. It produced thousands of hotel and residential condo units spread through multiple structures on a 67-acre site. The Vara overlaps residence floors with a 1,500-room hotel. Regular housing is included in the Mandarin Oriental and a 37-floor twin tower. The housing and related residential accommodations combine a complex of hotels, shops, and gambling entertainment. Whether the housing is composed of permanent residents or time-shared ‘hotel-condo participants is of small consequence. The community with this density can resolve the service implications with reasonable ease based on density. That leaves median income and whether racial and gender disparities are becoming dispositive.

    Developing business models on the provision of unique destination-retail cultures (high or low) are coupled with a base of rental units, permanent, and condo-hotel housing. Development of this kind suggests the need for a comparison built on the demography of a place, before, during, and after. Such a comparison could yield measures by which the fast “time is money” impact of capital project disruptions that often lead to forced and economic displacement also provide proof of balance. There would be sufficient generational investment for those found in the wake of this harm that will never occur to that household again. It would be a guarantee that the cycle of poverty ends with an emphasis on every child regardless of the cost.

    AKA: Near Win Wheel

    The resident population of Las Vegas will be close to three million people in 2020, and before the 2020 pandemic, this city had 42.52 million visitors in 2019. There are just two “isms” that describe gambling in Vegas, “tourism” and “capitalism.”

    The increased competition for gamblers as entertainment-based retail comes clear in a joke you would not hear at City Center. “What is the difference between an online casino and a live casino? – When you lose online and cry, no one will laugh at you.” The enclosures of the modern casino encourage over-confidence, leading to the illusion of security. Our brains like this as a sense of pleasure and contributes to the idea that an educated guess can be precise. Illusions of control also negate outcomes of chance into more extreme emotions, such as a “near win” means getting close to one.

    To the visitor, the core illusion is gambling is a personal decision not influenced by the environment or knowledge of “the odds.” Both support and encourage the fantasy of winning and a sense of superiority despite a uniform failure (not-wining) rate. This phenomenon is well understood; however, the public policy allows gambling while discouraging it as a dangerous, potentially addictive practice.

    A growing proportion of society participates in gambling. The economic impact occurs in every public jurisdiction. It is not treated as a preventable problem, but a percentage of the population issue, leaving it to post-trauma “hot-lines” to resolve. Proof of a high-quality education system will occur when the “casino” as a land-use disappears or when no one other than the fabled 1% gamble.

    Demographic Comparisons

    Every resident, business, and neighborhood in the nation has a census tract. The Bureau of the Census has made significant improvements in providing online access to data for ordinary people. There are thousands of tables on who we are as a nation, city, state, county. The census tract is the “where” of this data. Knowing the actual condition of our lives yields an assessment of fitness and reasons for action based on comparisons. The first and most important bit of that knowledge is to know that the patriarchy that beats society into submission cannot be used to dismantle its house. One must know how the house got there in the first place.

    The creation of the structures you enter to live, work, shop, or play must be safe structures. To assure these objectives, the regulations governing land use and the practice of architecture, engineering, and construction are strict. When errors are discoverer and repair is impossible, the building comes down, as in Foster’s building in Las Vegas. The structures also have social and economic impacts, but these products are not well regulated or measured. The ideals of the American Constitution demand fair treatment measures under the law, fair and just compensation and unfettered access to quality education, and a “we the people” promise of fairness in the pursuit of happiness.

    Following, you will find a glimpse of the 2010 data on two U.S. Census tracts illustrated in the description of these two locations. This glimpse will await the final publication of the 2020 Census. Both locations are products of a largely racist power structure focused solely on the flow of capital as exhibited by the value of the real estate. The fulfillment of America’s constitutional ideals is deemed irrelevant or, at best, secondary to that flow of capital.  Ironically, improving the flow of capital is touted as the best remedy to whatever set of problems a social justice agenda might present. Therefore, the quality of life becomes a material consequence of profit. Rightly so, until a tipping point occurs when the measure of quality lowers until it is only viewed as the ability to subsist.

    Population, Sex, and Race

    Census Tract 145 Manhattan (2018 estimates) has a total population of 5,960. It is 64.4% White, Non-Hispanic, and 38% of the population 15 years and older have never married. Census Tract 68 Las Vegas (2018 estimates) has a total population of 5,077. The White, Non-Hispanic population is 23.2%, and 45% of the population 15 years and older have never married.

    2010 City Center (CT 68)
    Total population3,986
    Median age (years)35.1
    Sex ratio (males per 100 females)101.9
    Age dependency ratio56.6
    Old-Age dependency ratio17.0
    Child dependency ratio39.6
    One race99.0%
    Black or African American7.4%
    American Indian and Alaska Native0.0%
    Some other race12.3%
    Two or more races1.0%
    Hispanic or Latino origin (any race)45.4%
    White alone, not Hispanic or Latino41.7%
    2020 City Center (CT 68)
    to be written

    2010 Lincoln Square (CT 145)
    Total population6,245
    Median age (years)34.3
    Sex ratio (males per 100 females)105.0
    Age dependency ratio33.8
    Old-Age dependency ratio20.2
    Child dependency ratio13.6
    One race97.3%
    Black or African American3.8%
    American Indian and Alaska Native0.3%
    Some other race1.4%
    Two or more races2.7%
    Hispanic or Latino origin any race)14.4%
    White alone, not Hispanic or Latino69.4%
    2020 Lincoln Square (CT 145)
    to be written

    Something to add or say? Click – here

    Earth’s Fifty!

    No doubt that urbanization has been a messy business. The rapid pace of development over the last couple of centuries has led directly to life-threatening conditions in a rush to mechanize every aspect of life. People were packed into camps to harvest forests of wood, mountains of granite, and every available mineral with trade value. For thousands of years, absolute command over the environment has been the central organizing force, from tribes roaming the prairies for fruits, grains, and meat to the construction of massive urban towers to sustain these endeavors across the globe. I am therefore comforted with the knowledge that it has only been fifty years since we noticed the mess and began efforts to make improvements.

    Whenever infection has taken a life, it did it wherever people gather. In strict epidemiological terms, the more significant the diversity of people in a natural gathering area, the more likely the subtle protections of the human immune system will protect all. Concerning human medical history, this is relatively new data. Today, more people know the biology of DNA finds all humans to be identical. They are learning that physical differences are unique, beautiful, even exciting but fundamentally meaningless.  In just the last few decades, this knowledge is filtering an entirely new value system into American culture and mostly in urban areas.

    There is no stable connection between urban areas and coronavirus impacts. What is significant is how cities manage an infection with compact actions and resource preparedness. Dense cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Berlin have contained COVID-19 very well. Where greater preparedness is needed, suburban cities such as Detroit, Michigan, Macon, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana, suffer right alongside dense areas like New York City with a similar impact. 

    In past attempts to solve urban social problems, the focus has been on eliminating inhumane physical conditions, it also had a tendency to place blame on people trapped in them. The effort to uproot the causes of their plight and poverty was intellectually criminal because good people did little on the larger issue. The failure to criticize the social and economic order as a principle reason continues to this day. It was fully expressed by the inhumanity of two world wars. The enormous successes of the nonviolent anti-war revolution for civil rights through the end of the 20th century reveal the courage of ordinary people. It also exposed an increasingly reactionary American culture due to the mere tinkerings from the top down on the edges of greatly needed reform.

    Only recently, has relief from the view of urban life as unhealthy begun to fade. Hundreds of new and exhilarating urban places found expression in cities like New York throughout the country. For decades the history of urban success builds on the city’s capacity to identify and resolve the causes of potential disorder. These causes can be intense or subtle actions, but all are well-studied and tightly defined by deeply funded social science institutions and economists. Leadership and the flow of information in urban areas through interagency communication efforts allow course corrections and rapid policy changes in response to community demand. While many of the city’s top leaders have been taught hard lessons over the years, they remain well served by the deep structure of nonprofit city-wide and community-based institutions throughout the city. Without this structure, the distribution of essential resources during a city-wide emergency of any kind would be impossible to deploy.

    The deep structure of urban governance produces trust in its diagnostic capacity for defining problems and then acting to get solutions. The city has taken its lessons in neighborhood economic disinvestment to create new kinds of banking institutions. Other social innovations help purge deterioration in rental housing before it spreads or in the case of the city’s public housing stock expose the failure of city and federal commitments in exquisite detail. Most recently, the city has focused on the depth of its communications resources to slow the spread of a pandemic with efficiency. Holes in its safety net are recognized with laser-like first responder precision and with this exposure repaired with the substantial institutional depth the city can muster.

    Public institutions produce solutions to attacks on the quality of life by helping us to understand in highly sophisticated ways how and why we attack one another. The lessons through decades of urban crisis at various levels of impact continue to reveal the need to prevent and respond dramatically to the “tragedy of the commons” problems. The shared commons of the city are easily recognized by residents as our public health, education, open space, and transportation systems.  On this point, there are futures all dense urban areas must carefully evaluate in the aftermath of every crisis.

    Public Health and Education

    There is no doubt, improvements in human health and education systems occur by fully defining the health concerns produced by commonly used environments. With this responsibility, a deepening in our common understanding of the issues depends enormously on the quality of public education. Today the practice of investment in health and education is grounded in policies to eliminate inequality and build better pathways to equity. We know as an undisputed fact this eliminates a long list of the health and economic disparities in life for all people. We have benefited from previous generations who also demanded reform with a noble cause. Nevertheless, we also know that many of the actions for transformation failed by forcing displacement and rehousing few. In the last fifty years of the 20th century, attempts to demolish homes, cultures, and the economies of entire neighborhoods produced a valuable urban institutional resistance defined by two words, “never again,” but as political leaders (as all of us) admitted to errors and vulnerability, the entire city learned to accept a new kind of strength.

    Public Infrastructure

    Parks, open spaces, and transportation networks of the urban public realm are assets of the reform movements and business interests of previous generations. The so-called ‘lungs of the city,’ expressed by an extensive park system, and tree-lined streets are also like the city transportation infrastructure. Neither is a static or unchanging system, and both desperately need to improve as a safe, seamless, and unfragmented component of urban life. The well-tended park reminds us of the self-cleaning capacity of nature, the same role for mass transit can occur with the same principles of self-protection.

    The Way Forward

    The COVID-19 crisis offers many opportunities for reflection on the importance of national moral leadership and responsiveness, but there are more pressing issues. First, this recent crisis brings to the world a second major challenge to the quality of life on earth. Second, the vast landscape of human knowledge is at our fingertips. Third, this should make us all reasonably pleased, and this is why.

    The science of geology states with confidence that the earth is about halfway through its 18 to 20 billion-year life cycle. For all the analysis of all the other “x-ologies,” we value; this alone should give people good reasons to take a deep breath and reflect.

    New pathways for the growth of humanity in cities we are building all over the earth for the next few thousand years are here today, waiting for continuous improvements. Long waterfront parks will expand urban resilience as each reaches to extend its pleasures in an unfragmented, linked urban park system from the hills of the wilderness into the valleys of every neighborhood. All the massive structures constructed by our forebearers for public education and health await reinvestment and re-invention as centers for learning. We can make them all cleaner, brighter, and more beautiful than ever before. We will move with confidence onto the swift, super-clean, and revitalized mass-transit system for access to these exciting new resources. Every crisis tells us just one thing. We have more work to do.

    Know the following things:

    It Is too late for sustainable development because the public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages so realize that.

    1. Growth advocates change the justification for their paradigm rather than changing the paradigm itself.
    2. The global system is now far above its carrying capacity.
    3. We act as if technological change can substitute for social change.
    4. The time horizon of our current system is too short.

    This is why the term resilience is now used more often than not.  The main changes are upon us and Dennis Meadows who say the above is right.  It is time to invest in resilience.

    The estimates for a stabilized and sustainable world called for about 3% of the world’s GDP.  Resilience will cost more than that, but now there is no choice.