Embed Density

highwater

We live in a culture that embeds information and where the most important things tend to go unsaid. All of us put information into machines that will retrieve data on practically anything imaginable, from an alarm clock to an AI for more complex decision-making. Perhaps this will release the unsaid portions about the vital function of cities in human life.

A recent Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell (Flooded City) does not make this point directly but exhibits its results with great clarity. Goodell talks about flooding in New York involving high or low ground impacts with storm surge or microburst variables. The unsaid stuff defines a vast combination of intellectual and architectural ramparts outlined as plans in various locations throughout New York City.

A talking head presentation at the New America Civic Hall (9.15.16) proved to be very un-civic but managed to remain polite. All New Yorkers will look at a sea rise map, make a quick am “I in or out” assessment and log that in for a personal assessment of risk. Unfortunately, many of the people attending were either outside the lines. Those who were wet on the map had an obvious self-interest with the prospect of land poverty but could not express them over all the talk of the new walls, ramparts, bounded rationality, and cognitive dissonance presentation about investments in resilience.

Promises

I suggest how to escape the Chicken Little problems the “flooded city” approach creates. The last half of the American century has offered two promises (maybe three). The first is the promise to eliminate disadvantage as discovered by the individual, the family, community, and nation. The American vocabulary, literature, art, law, and architecture present an exquisite language born of the poetry and forums of each for change and communication. The framers of the Constitution strengthen us. We have been given the tools, created the space, and found ways to speak truth to power. We are skilled in dialogue. We remain encouraged by each battle for social justice and civil society. We are routinely encouraged to confront the world’s history in ways that will keep that promise alive.

While not as refined, the second promise adds powerful new energy to the promise of eliminating disadvantage.  It is the promise of sustainability. From the Club of Rome to its reflective twenty-five-year reunion at the Smithsonian, a more accurate word, Resilience, now communicates the correct challenge and implies a variety of post-trauma conditions. We now deploy resilience officers throughout the world, but their task is not to look at high water and low land. The resilience mission is different – find ways to draw a line in the sand. It matters far less about where there will be high water until we know how to draw that line in the sand. There is no crystal ball. Pointing to facts is all that scientists can do. Describe where a part of the sky has fallen. Right now, that is more useful than why to avoid tragedy.

rollingstonegoodell

Historically, there is the “duck and cover” hedge and the old MAD way to a resilience challenge. The worldview of mutually assured destruction is also composed of private investors who are very active in their demand for public dollars to drive down risk. We need a much broader outline of ways to invest publically in resilience that may come down to clearly explaining the difference between the circle and the grid in urban design as we see it in the national highway system and the urban crisis.

The content embedded in the promises leading to eliminating disadvantage through fairness and sustainability can help define the architecture presented as walls and ramparts that encircle something. In this design, there is an inside and an outside. Without injecting these two promises into the process, the design of the walls and ramparts will damage more than any violent fire or storm.

Future articles and public discussions should take a lesson from Elizabeth Kolbert. Her extraordinary review of the science of global change over the last half-billion years defines our entry into the Anthropocene epoch, the knowledge of which might save us all.

Elizabeth Kolbert is author of Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Sixth Extinction


The Isle de-Jean Charles

It is time to get dangerously practical about the local impact of global problems. I would apply the Isle de-Jean Charles Climate Change Refugees (video here) to a New York City example: The action taken in Louisiana occurred when they were down to the last two percent of their land. (get the untold story on the 98%). Can New York or any other city afford to set that standard or hedge that bet that way?

Un-rough the math here,  $100 million in relocation funds for 20 households applied to the 35,000 families in, let’s say, Canarsie, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. The bill would come to $175 billion. Resettlement at 20HH/year would take a millennium. At 500 HH/year, the cost would be $2.5 billion/year, and it would take 70 years. So buy the property, strip it of its toxins, wait for the ocean to come and you have an artificial reef over the foundations, counter the acidity and make seafood.

An investment of this kind protects the future. It would prevent the “land poverty” plan currently in play to reflect the ramparts’ tragedy, not the ocean’s. For a place like Canarsie, or the Rockaways (the natural rampart), the test should be whether a quid pro quo is in place, or just another caveat emptor slap in the face, aimed at people of color.

Truth to power, you cannot get that pitiful amount today for a place like Canarsie. The policy for change remains in the MAD world of catastrophic resolution. The Chicken Little approach does not have a chance unless you do one simple thing. Put that line in the sand and be a little scary.  Draw the wall, present its ramparts across the landscape of NYC or any other place on the planet, and have the courage to ask and answer two questions.  

Who’s In? Who’s out? Straight up, without weapons, humans are not built to kill, with no claws or fangs. Still, when one group of humans is forced to say to another group facing a life-threatening condition, “you are not selected” now or even in the evolutionary sense, I do not know which group is worse off.

Rex L. Curry

A third promise awaits development given an implementation plan.  The positive side of the formation of ramparts and walls is the opportunity to recognize a dense, contained urban life offering new forms of growth. The challenge is to put a stop to the grid humans have drawn on the earth.  The grid is a symbol of the infinite. The sphere or circle is limited. The fuel of unlimited growth within this circle (ramparts and all) is to develop methods for all that enters the encircled urban world will leave in a non-toxic form. Today over 80% of what flows out is toxic.

Today the planners, engineers, architects, and climate scientists assess the impact of the sea rise, storm surges, and microbursts pounding down the Hudson River Valley on the city’s property. The Flooded City article points out the big picture these professionals paint for owners and policymakers.

For example, a rise in sea level far less than a meter places 71,500 buildings and $100 billion of property in NYC’s high-risk flood zones. Sea rise is not a complex assessment. Remote earth sensing devices can measure elevation to less than a meter. Some devices calculate small fluctuations in gravitational forces, and for any area in question, they can do so in time. The ramparts and walls encircling vulnerable properties using these tools also exhibit various wrongheaded priorities of great value for reforms and the discussion of fairness.

The below-ground world of tunnels and conduits (vehicles, gas, power, clean, gray, and black water) of New York City is not climate-proof. Yet, given the positives of the walls and ramparts, the capacity to fragment infrastructure systems to function independently is implied. Still, the policy is dishonest unless the question “who is in and out” is answered.

Global processes are geologically instantaneous events in the context of the last half-billion years. They occur daily but remain well outside of human experience. We are unlikely to “duck and cover” or step back from the waves of an unobservable rise of the ocean at the base of a massive river basin. Creating the incentives to do so is the challenge of our time.

Nevertheless, insisting on acquiring and removing toxins from NYC’s waterfront and flood-prone zones may be the best plan of action for no other reason than it will take a century to accomplish. The planning work as it stands today favors protecting property in the short term. It emanates from the boardrooms and public conferences in the old way.  It is about producing jobs through relatively high yield, short-term investments under the heading of resiliency. The discussion of the chemical, biological, and most importantly, financial toxins encircled by these old ways requires a sharper focus by its critics.

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 Representatives for Brooklyn and surroundings.

AKNA’s representative is Yvette Clarke (D-NY District 9, First elected 2006, election 2016 (won) next election November 6, 2018.

She serves on two committees: Energy and Commerce and Small Business. She received $3,500 from Verizon and $4,000 from Cablevision Clarke’s total campaign contributions was $519,110.  But a total of over $80,000 is from the communication and electronics sector. (Source)

The purpose of the money from Verizon and the others is obviously designed keep Clarke’s office away from Verizon.  Is that why there is (no FiOS, bad cable and poor wireless service) in her district?

Yvette D. Clarke received 82% of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside the district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.) and received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside the state. (Rank: 399 out of 421.) That was 2016.

For more government information, sources see Call to Action (service map) and Representatives for additional research on political leaders and other candidates for relevance.

Notes: In the 2014 Cycle, Senator Schumer received $5,000 from Verizon, and Senator Gillibrand received $10,000 from Cable Vision. Congressman Joe Crowley (Queens District 14 Elected in 1998) received $35,700 from Verizon and Cablevision in 2014.  Since the 1998 election, he has received over $3million in total contributions. Crowley serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee that determines all Federal methods for raising revenue.  Some insight comes from the huge increase in contributions to members elsewhere:  

See Tweet re: Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

Disclosing: Broadband Internet providers gave, on average, 2.9 times more money ($67,272) to members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee compared to members of the entire House of Representatives ($23,186).

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 get high-speed service following the completion of the AKNA end of the process.  The main question is simple.   How long will it take? The clock is ticking.

By The Associated Press:
April 11, 2016, 3:42 P.M

NEW YORK — Unions representing more than 36,000 Verizon landline phone and cable workers threaten a strike starting Wednesday morning if the company doesn’t agree to a new contract.

The unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, say Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers. Verizon says health care issues need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown, and it wants “greater flexibility” to manage its employees. The latest contract had expired last August. Both sides say negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Verizon Communications Inc. says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in if the strike occurs in nine Eastern states and Washington, D.C. The company had 178,000 employees as of December.

The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.

Inside Information? In March 2016, the following letter portended the Verizon strike. Please read it for the exquisite use of political sentiment that suggests inaction on their part while pointing out their $39 billion profit.

“It is our understanding that the [CWA and IBEW] have offered to negotiate substantial savings in health care for the wireline workforce, but there are additional areas of concern for your workers, including job security, the treatment of sick and injured workers, pensions and the contracting out of work. While we recognize that changes in technology and customer preference have led to a decline in landline service, driving the need for some contract changes, we also want to be sure that Verizon preserves good, family-supporting jobs in our region.”  Click to read.\

Senate Letter

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 and resist fiber placement.  The proof is in 30% to 60% of the old network rots. Decades of unmaintained, old copper lies struggling to offer Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers (DSLAM) and landline phones from the 1970s.

Therefore, the Verizon business plan must include selling these wrecked lines to other providers eager to serve this self-made vacuum. Verizon’s sale of the old stuff to Fairpoint in New England is a recent example of a local effort to sustain DSL copper investment for the lack of an alternative.  There would be life and speed in copper if kept dry, and many long for POTS. However, that is a plain old telephone service network, and manly saw PANS, the pretty amazing new stuff, as distractions to the higher purposes of communication.

Historians may write it this way. The old technology was focused, and the com-network regularly improved to sustain the win/win principle of Universal Service. When traded in for competition between long-distance carriers, we lost it all, and for what? The 1984 breakup of Ma Bell produced a monster, the Com-Hydra.

RLC

Bottom line, the mountain of negative service problems throughout the Northeast makes one wonder if Verizon is an agent operating a cyberwar strategy. But, willing or unwilling, true or false, the national interest and security are not as threatened by the bad guy with an encrypted cell phone. Instead, it is a huge local exchange carrier making our LFAs (franchise agreements) worthless. Shouldn’t I hear a bell ringing in every attorney general’s office in the Northeast?

Verizon aggressively seeks the wealthiest clients and government agencies.  Verizon refused to replace copper service for many buildings inundated by hurricane floodwaters in lower Manhattan, forcing owners and tenants to go months without service when the copper solution was a couple of weeks. Is the impossible possible here? The neat thing about lures, like the old bait and switch, is the surprise. Right in your face, they are promising a modern communications network and at the same time saying it will never happen.  AT&T and CenturyLink, and so on, are similar, but only because they appear to be chasing the big VZ wireless dog.

The following is provided as a musical interlude to provoke thought. Use it to evaluate this question and decide on an action.  Share it if you feel like doing so, and 2X speed is OK if rushed (the little gear bottom right).

In other words, it is not just a metaphor. A moment of reflective thought is also offered (HERE) below. The story is HERE.

Midtown Eastside

432aerial
Aerial of 432 Park Avenue

Manhattan is a “playground” for wealthy people; public policy is interested in keeping enough households to ensure the maintenance and basic services. It is called eighty-twenty. The building at 432 Park Avenue is its new beacon, sans the “twenty.” All 104 condos are sold, including the penthouse, at $95 million. The lower-cost units started at $7 million.

New York City’s building machine exhibition has begun. (Have a look http://432parkavenue.com).  What do machines need?  People to maintain them.

In October 2012, Aaron Betsky of Architect thought it oozed privilege and wealth. Still, it did so with “elegance, borne out of its simplicity as much as its height, that makes it clear that it is still possible to make a beautiful skyscraper.

More about Aaron Betsky’s argument is in this 12min. video

432 Park Avenue is taller than One World Trade Centre by ten meters, discounting the height of its spire, and it has started something much bigger than big buildings.  It is the percentages.

“I see the Macklowe building down Park when I step out my front door at East 89th. In the morning, the pure square building, with its huge square windows, does have a Brutalist cast, but it also has a haunting aspect, like a painting by Giorgio de Chirico. The night is my favorite time, the deep blue of the protective film on the window glass giving the building a lonely, melancholy aspect as if it were the only one of its type on Park Avenue. Which, for the moment, it is.”

December 2012, the Real Estate Section of the New York Times

432 Park Ave. is not on Park Avenue, but it is “big” enogh to be there.

A machine city is a thing of parts designed and operated by people running corporations to fulfill functions. The fate of 36 East 57th St. next to 432 Park Avenue illustrates the function of density as a creator and destroyer of the city’s machine parts.

The difference in the photograph (top left) to the photo below illustrates the power of the 432 building (bottom). It displaced the little 36 building (middle photo) for $65 million. Its land area is just 5,020 sq. ft. The gross floor area of the building was just 77,500 square feet. A new building can be four times this amount but wait. The 432 building topped off at 96 stories in 2015. The lot area is 34,472 sq. ft. While the 432 lot is seven times larger than the 36 building, it produced a tenfold increase in gross floor area at 745,174 sq. ft. Three hundred people in the building would make the density per square mile at just over 200,000 people. A density handled easily in New York.  If the density is not the problem, what is?

The $65M acquisition of the 36 building brings the cost of an acre in this part of Manhattan to $1.2 billion. The price is high, but it is an expense of an inconvenience adjacent to the extreme presented by 432 Park Avenue. The 21st century like every century before, will consume everything in the 20th deemed unworthy of its history. The bar is set high, and the demand for more feet, more stories, more rent, people, and machines to run them is clear.

The current resident community known as Turtle Bay and Midtown East responded with their own zoning initiative. Still, the issue is less about zoning than what the old zoning allowed developers to conceive and what it portends for the future of Manhattan.  They hired consultants and produced detailed images and zoning text available (here). As the East River 50s Alliance, they resist the possibility of the following potential development scheme produced for them by Michael Kwartler & Associates (ESC). 432 Park Avenue is not pictured.  It is on 57th Street and three blocks to the east (Third, Lexington, and Park). On 57th Street between Park and Madison, the building’s Park Avenue address is a side story on corruption.  You out there, any ideas?

Current Zoning

The Right Questions are not about Zoning and Height

The right question is why these new, enormously profitable buildings are not LEED Platinum and engaged in creating the demand for new industry, jobs, and investment that address global warming issues, affordable housing. Is it just because of the condo loophole?

Require them to be sustainable (not just profitable).  If they are not, the rest of the city will pay the price in more ways than one.  Let someone count the way to the depth and breadth a city’s heart can reach. As this neighborhood (wealthier than most NYC neighborhoods) confronts the Department of City Planning’s substantial zoning powers, the entire question of unsustainable development is drowned and silenced by the litigiously dull, sad, and excruciating weak arguments against the police power of zoning. The fear of building height or the effect of a building’s mass on the city is a fear of the unknown.  It is composed of two main elements. The unknown of mass and the volume of people with money (m = ?V). It should be called the 80/20 problem in reverse.

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is a tool developed in New York City’s never cold housing market to produce workforce housing units.  The deal is 80% market rate 20% affordable based on the chart below. This policy, among others, helps to assure an accessible labor force and economic diversity nearby. In addition, rent is affordable if it is around one-third of a household’s income.

A family of four would pay around $2,300 a month if 33% income using this measure.  Several adjustments are possible, but even this amount is less than the 2016 median rent in New York City at around $3,200 a month. Households that fit into the following income ranges meet the affordability thresholds for housing eligibility.

AMI:2016
Household
Size
  30% of AMI50% of AMI60% of AMI80% AMI
Income:extremely lowvery lowtax credit maxLow
1$19,050$31,750$38,100$50,800
2$21,750$36,250$43,500$58,000
3$24,480$40,800$48,960$78,336
4$27,180$45,300$54,360$86,976

The East River Alliance neighborhood has a $109,000 median income, which means a substantial portion of its 45,000 households can smell the hot specter of displacement caused by dropping this new mass into their community.  Being offered a lottery shot at long-term affordability is not a solution. It is a threat. It is not the buildings. It is the policy, stupid (I love that line in all its forms).

If comments on this subject are of any interest the deep end stuff is here:

City Land.org website: http://goo.gl/iOCjR7 An excellent initial summary of the issues. The Community Group’s website: www.erfa.nyc The text and the argument for change. The City Planning website: http://maps.nyc.gov/census/ for a look at the area.

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 wheel.  It only takes a minute to do this speed test recommended by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and now Latitia James with the question are you getting what you are paying for using this link.

https://ag.ny.gov/internet-speed?wssl=1

Why?
The Office of the New York State Attorney General is investigating consumer Internet speeds. We encourage New Yorkers to test their broadband speed at home and submit the test to help our office determine what internet speeds consumers are receiving.

We are way below the speed promised, so it is imperative to help this office.  Eric is probably the best AG NYS has seen in a very long time.  The top law enforcement officer of NYS will have a great deal to say about Verizon’s franchise agreement if we help him do it…

If you are wondering where Scott Stringer is on this you have to go back to 2013 for the audit report: have a look here Audit Report on the Compliance of Verizon New York, Inc. with Its Cable Franchise Agreement FM12-085A December 9, 2013  He is pressing for Mayor – perhaps he knows where this body is buried.

The Do it Now AKNA IT Team

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 led by Charles Bell.

Public forums are one way to hold Verizon NY (VNY) and Verizon Communications, Inc. accountable to their franchise agreement with NYC in compliance with FCC regulations. This session made it quite clear that Verizon policies and practices mislead thousands of families regarding the availability of FiOS and the repair and retention of traditional landline services essential to many families.  It is also obvious that pressure on Verizon from the public (us) through our elected representatives will help. 

The forum highlighted how Verizon officials are telling many organized community groups and individual households that “your area has one delay on the block entrance” and “when this is secured, the cable will have a clear path to your area.”  Then nothing happens. One building owner stated she contacted Verizon for service. Still, following her request, she received a letter stating Verizon was in negotiations with the owner of the building and said but, “I am the owner, and they haven’t contacted me.”

Common Cause and Consumers Union are national organizations with millions of members. They will continue to gather information and educate the public on this important issue.  They recommend that AKNA take actions to help keep our communication costs down and get higher quality service are as follows:

  • Sign and send the Certificate of Proposed Work to Lourdes and then let AKNA with any questions, or if you have not received it.
  • Sign the petition and receive campaign updates
  • Email your name, address, and phone number to receive details on their progress

Say or write the following to our representatives 

“Verizon is failing our community. Please find out what is going now in current negotiations between DoITT and Verizon. Please respond with your findings for publication to the AKNA web-log

City Council TERM ENDS 2021
Mathieu Eugene (District 40) mathieu.eugene@council.nyc.gov  or call 718-287-8762 
State Senate and Assembly
Sen. Kevin S. Parker (District21) parker@nysenate.gov
Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd AD) bichotter@assembly.state.ny.us or call 718-940-0428
United States Congress TERM IS APPARENTLY NEVER ENDING
Yvette D. Clark Brooklyn Office  https://clarke.house.gov  or call (718) 287-1142

#WAITING4FIOS

Corporate Verizon

In 2008, Verizon promised New York City people that it would wire all corners of the city with high-speed fiber optic cable, bringing competition to internet, video, and phone service in New York City to improve service and bring down prices. Verizon promised to make high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet available to any New Yorker who wants it. Now, 7 years later, too many New Yorkers are waiting.

Common Cause/NY, Consumers Union, and Borough President Eric Adams sponsored a FiOS public forum on Tuesday, November 17th at 7 PM at Brooklyn Borough Hall.  Obtaining Verizon FiOS and the impediments to obtaining that service.

AKNA Will Be Attending

Please join Eric Adams, Common Cause/NY and the Consumers Union
Tuesday, November 17th. All are welcome to attend and be heard. Click here to RSVP

More Information:
Brooklyn Borough Hall |askeric@brooklynbp.nyc.gov | www.brooklyn-usa.org
209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

A good place to look for current news on issues the Federal Communications Commission manages will be found in the New York Times’ Times Topics section. (here)

I like my bird phone!

Albemarle Kenmore Neighbors Association

Before the advocacy effort began, the AKNA community, like many in the United States, streams their data through digital subscriber line (DSL) modems over copper telephone lines. These lines are in rapid, if not catastrophic, deterioration since their post-WWII installation. Other nations, recognizing the public benefit first and profit second, made high speed available to all as quickly as possible. The United States, on the other hand, requires a broad base of public support to advance a particular cause or policy. Democracy should be exhausting in furtherance of a cause, but not in obvious importance of advance communication services.

Wire or fiber provides for telephone communication and internet services such as entertainment media and an ever-widening range of services such as security and other home management devices. Apart from the annoyance of outages and disruptions sourced to the phone lines or extreme weather, this system works at a reasonable cost and meets most needs in the experience of very few residents. Releasing the consumer’s power to affect change has many pathways. One thing became clear. This community will watch its old system deteriorate, decay, buzz, and crackle, or it can work diligently to acquire reliable telephone and internet services.

Located in a diverse, moderate-income community, the Albemarle and Kenmore are sheltered by its high quality of historic district architecture. Value is competitive, and it includes how well information is delivered on waves of light and electricity.  Verizon contributes directly to the failure of reliable cooper lines through disinvestment and only serves the community willing to fight them legally, and the list is very long.

The result of fiber is a low cost, fast connection that can be MOdulated and DEModulated, thus modem.  The copper phone lines serving AKNA provide less than 7 Mbps (megabits per second).  Most people experience less than two. Nevertheless, when converted by your modem to produce what you see on your computer, television, and other devices, these megabit packets are converted until they fail. When they do, there is no recourse.

The condition of AKNA’s copper lines.

Correctly installed cooper can produce up to 50mbps service.  Fiber optic cable (named FiOS by Verizon and Optimum by Cablevision) is thin optically pure glass that carries information with light for low signal loss. Data moves at high speeds over greater distances. “Legacy copper “legacy” is retired, but getting installed without high-end market demand is why the war began.

Copper and Fiber

Copper wire transmits electrical currents and provides good speed for voice and data within a building. Still, from there to your phone company and internet service providers (ISP), such as Verizon or Optimum, things can change.  The copper cable that telecom companies such as Verizon use are decades old, and much of it is not set up well.  The failure of Verizon to bring optical fiber close enough to make a connection is AKNA’s central problem. The ethernet cable  (pictured, top right) is only as good as the wire leading up to it.

Understanding internet speeds and bandwidths are important. Bandwidth is a measurement of consumed data resources expressed in bits per second (Mbps); it’s also referred to as maximum throughput.  Fiber provides greater bandwidth than copper and has standardized performance up to 10 Gbps. (gigabits per second) Here is the tricky part, a cooper cable (e.g., Cat-6 cable similar to the picture top right) can relay 600 megahertz (MHz) over 100 meters.

Comparing megabits and megahertz is like comparing apples and oranges, but a short answer is 100MHz is equal to 200Mbps. The megabit (the apple) measures data bits while megahertz (the orange) measures frequency, two very different things, but cables like these can handle 1000 Mbps speeds (gigabit Ethernet) at 100 MHz.  What AKNA needs is either material.  What it does not need is the current rate of decay of the old lines.

Broadband Infrastructure

Just like clean water, the telecommunications infrastructure of our community is important.  Unlike our water, it is not entrusted to a well-thought-out public trust. It is sold at auction and licensed to corporations such as Verizon by the FCC, the City, and New York. When it is vital to think long term, the pressures from the top-down, federal to regional, state, and local seem to weaken the city’s broadband infrastructure. This is one of those sneaky problems because most city residents who want access to the internet have it. They don’t know how bad it is. In fact, the New York State Broadband Program Office, Annual Report 2012-2013 claimed erroneously that 97% of city residents had access to high-speed broadband. This is wool over somebody’s eyes. The reality is very different. Since then, the office has become more accountable. (See the Verizon NSA Scandal article link below)

The experience with broadband service by the city’s neighborhood businesses and residents is summed up in one word – unreliable.  The likelihood of a blackout condition for telecommunications is a harsh reality. There is no backup, no hospital generator, and redundancy, such as switching from a Verizon account to Time-Warner Cablevision or others for service. This is a public/private arrangement in the licensing marketplace; however, a feeble regulatory structure allows the private sector to follow the money the same way, similar to the financial crisis of 2008. The city’s largest corporations in newer buildings enjoy high speeds (100 Mbps).  Smaller firms, businesses, including new tech startups, located in older buildings do not.  The state of the corporate mind is to avoid a gold standard approach at all costs.  But, it is worse than that….

In the New York City Council’s response to the Mayor’s FY 2015 Budget and 2014 Report said, “Last year, Verizon agreed to pay the City $50 million because of delays in projects associated with the Emergency Communications Transformation Project, the large scale effort to transform and consolidate the City’s 911 Emergency Dispatch System.”

This speaks to the potential of an injurious relationship between Verizon and the needs of New York City’s residents.  This and the June 2015 DoITT report require an earnest review of this relationship.  It seems that instead of moving forward, this corporation has decided that New York City needs to be punished for demanding accountability.

Deepend Resources:

The dispute between Verizon and NYC started in 2014 when de Blasio said Verizon was breaking its promise to expand its Fios fiber-optic service citywide. Three years ago, the city sued Verizon for failing to live up to its installation agreement. Deploying fiber in dense metro areas is an expensive proposition.

Nov 24, 2020
Report: Verizon, NYC settle six-year broadband dustup …

Verizon FiOS request for Right of Way

Verizon FiOS has heard the AKNA internet group’s pleas and is surveying our street for possible installation! You might be receiving a letter in the mail asking for Right of Way or Access to your home to commence with the installation. Here are some answers to common questions:

1. Granting Right of Way or Access does not require you to subscribe to FiOS service once it is installed. Rather, it gives you (and any future residents) the option to do so at any time in the future. You do not have to pay unless you choose to subscribe.

2. What is FiOS? FiOS is Verizon’s brand of fiber internet, which offers speeds up to 1000 Mbps. For comparison, if you have Verizon DSL now, you’re getting between 3 – 15 Mbps, which is 0.3% – 1.5% of fiber speeds. In real-world terms, this means streaming video won’t stutter, websites will load almost instantaneously, and your internet connection will be more reliable. FiOS also offers TV service and land-line as part of a bundle, but it routes all three services over one data line.

3. We won’t know how they will run the fiber and get it into our homes, but Verizon requires Right of Way before its engineers can assess the site for installation strategies. Yes, this uncertainty is troublesome, but it will be less invasive than the gas-line installations of last year.

4. We’re not certain that we need unanimity, but it’s safe to assume so. For example, if I were to refuse ROW, and the fiber was running West to East (Flatbush to E 21st), I would be foreclosing access to all houses East of me. There’s also the chance that if not enough people grant ROW/Access, Verizon passes us over. If that is the case, THERE WILL NOT BE A SECOND CHANCE for a long time.

5. Internet speed affects property value. Multiple articles and studies have been published to that effect:

  • Gigabit Internet Connections Make Property Values Rise
  • The Impact of High-speed Broadband Availability on Real Estate Values: Evidence from the United States Property Markets

6. Verizon will not be changing the existing telephone or cable wiring in your home. This merely puts a fiber terminal (a small metal box) in your house. If you choose Fiber service, it’s up to you to figure out how you want to send the signal around your home (Ethernet, WiFi, or over existing copper).

Please email Rex and/or Ian with any more questions you might have, look for updates on this site, and crossed fingers that the terraces enter the 21st century this year!

City Council Hearing

The whole council hearing was slow and inept because our Council Members, like NYC Members of Congress, get a few bucks from Verizon, etc. as well.

Nevertheless, Councilmember Brad (“Spanky”) Lander managed to get to the point.  (Look up your City Councilmember funding from Verizon?)

Testimony to the Public Service Commission (PSC) (here)

Resident Survey (completed!)

The AKNA IT project will produce a choice for affordable communication services. Without a choice, selecting affordable options for these internet services are unlikely, if not impossible.

The following image was delivered to the President of Verizon right after it became obvious that leverage, not law, would get the community, at least a small part of one, access to the world of information. Oh, and just before the major VOIP plan for a telephone launch to kill copper.

Please use the next page link and complete our survey Thank you for responding.

The survey was completed, the data was filed, and the community had a choice for access to the world of information—it system change at its best, with one thing missing. High-speed broadband service should be unrestricted, and costs should be audited at cost plus a transparent public re-investment plan. The “rats-nest” testimony for the City Council topped it off. (here).

AKNA Mail

We began this project in June 2015 following a visit from Chris Wasserman, Verizon Engineer.  He agreed to answer any question.  We sent four in July 26, 2015.  He responded August 12, 2015.

From: Wasserman, Christopher
Sent: Wed August 12, 2015, 11:51 AM
To: Rex Curry
Subject: Albemarle Questions

  1. What will the installation cost anything?  No
  2. Will the new line set up be as it is across the street?
    I don’t know how it is set up across the street.
  3. Do you want hard copies (email summaries) of correspondence with PSC, CWA, and V?
    I need to know which option everyone likes.
  4. Can I get any encouragement?  I have 12 households signed up.
    No–sorry

See correspondence with Verizon Headquarters and Political Representatives here.

We sent the following reply.

Thank you, it is good to have a person to talk to about our future.

The conditions of the copper lines will continue to deteriorate on the Northside of the Terrace. We made a brief video that answers question #2 in detail. We will be glad to schedule a site visit at any time for the north side of the Terrace.

On question #3, we can accept all three in the following order of preference for the south side of the Terrace.

  1. Along our common roofline is conduit suitable for copper and fiber
  2. Along with our community-owned easement below grade, suitable for copper and fiber
  3. Along a fully refurbished line that is currently in use (but failing) through our cellars that is suitable for copper and fiber

As the “through building” lines have deteriorated, the current preference for the north side is:

  1. In conduit suitable for copper and fiber across the roofline
  2. In conduit suitable for copper and fiber across the easement and below grade

Finally, we are working on the issue with people on Kenmore and the north side of Albemarle Terrace.  We will have everyone on the north side signed up by the end of the month.

AKNA Broadband

Letters to Verizon and our political representatives were mailed 7.17.2015

The image above represents our first set of formal letters to Verizon officials and AKNA political representatives. We shall see if a response occurs and report them in future “my neighborhood” posts.

If nothing else, this website will be a record of our experience as a small historic district in Brooklyn attempting to join the 21st century.

The correspondence went to Verizon’s engineering staff, the heads of franchise operations at the DoITT and Verizon’s Franchise Director.   The letters expressed our interest in the development of a relationship that would lead to affordable high-speed internet services over existing copper lines or fiber.

We requested a follow-up from their offices regarding the engineers survey of the Terraces  June 24, 2015 to accomplish

  1. reliable, non-crackling and buzzing voice lines, and second,
  2. data lines that would not repeatedly fail or throttle down to one or two megabits per second.

Not too much to ask really.

On the South side of the Terraces we agreed to three methods for review and final selection (signature page above).  These were

  1. along our common roof line in conduit suitable for copper and fiber
  2. along our community owned easement suitable for copper and fiber or
  3. along a fully refurbished line that is currently in use (but failing) through our cellars that is suitable for copper and fiber

We requested personal advocacy regarding the ‘ lack of service” from our political representatives Congresswoman Clark and Councilmember (permanent incumbent) Eugene Mathews (termed out 2021). In addition, we helped in getting an appropriate response for service from Verizon (or Cablevision).  We also asked for the participation of the technology officer in their respective offices by monitoring our progress as of July 2015. They did nothing.

Coorespondence

The following is best summed up in this “City Council” post . Did anyone else complain or ask for accountability from Verizon who pays its CEO $30 million a year?  I know, you’re afraid the big bad V will take your smart phones away. Really? By the way, if you did and you have correspondence from from V or DoITT please share.

From: Subject Received Size Categories
RE: FiOS Service Availability Request
2126 Albemarle Terrace
BROOKLYN, NY 11226 — Rex Curry 10:05 AM June 23, 2015

Good morning Mr. Curry:

Thank you for your inquiry.  Please accept this e-mail as written confirmation that Verizon has received your complaint and will respond as soon as possible, but no later than 10 business days from today.

Best regards,

Will Freshwater
Video Franchise Service Manager
Verizon
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007
Freshwater, William A Verizon Response – FiOS Video Service Availability Request
2126 ALBEMARLE TR, BROOKLYN, NY 11226 — Rex Curry 9:42 AM 17 KB

Exactly 10 Days latter this email arrives the deadline minute (hmmmm I sense V-robo)

June 30, 2015 @ 9:42 AM

Good morning Mr. Curry:

Thank you for your patience while we investigated your inquiry. Our Service Deployment team is in the process of surveying your neighborhood to determine how to best deploy FiOS video service to your building.

Once that survey is complete, our local representatives will contact the owners of your building and of adjacent properties to obtain written permission granting access for placement of our facilities.

Verizon cannot begin construction to deploy FiOS service to your address until we receive that permission. We will inform you when the situation changes.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.

Thank you.

Will Freshwater
Video Franchise Service Manager
Verizon
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007
william.freshwater@one.verizon.com

and then I got this response:

I am in receipt of your cable complaint SR #1-1-1117511421, to New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (“DoITT”) regarding your request for Verizon FiOS service.

Verizon sent this agency the following update:

 “Our Service Deployment team is in the process of surveying your neighborhood to determine how to best deploy FiOS video service to your building. Once that survey is complete, our local representatives will contact the owners of your building and of adjacent properties to obtain written permission granting access for placement of our facilities.  Verizon cannot begin construction to deploy FiOS service to your address until we receive that permission.”

 “We will inform you when the situation changes.”

Thank you for contacting the City of New York

Sincerely,

Peter J. Schwab
Executive Director, Franchise Administration
New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications
2 MetroTech Center, 4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

SandyNet of Sandy, OR

Sandy, Oregon, is a rural town of 3,600, so they don’t have a lot in common with our neighborhood regarding information infrastructure. But they did get fed up with ISPs who refused to run a broadband data line to their town hall and built their own Gigabit fiber network, available to citizens at $40 or $60/month (depending on speed). They did it without using tax dollars, and the project is on track to break even in roughly half the time modeled. Please read about how they did it, or watch the video below about all its benefits for this town.  

It says a lot that our nation’s largest metropolis cannot cut through the red tape created by the corporations that control our connections to provide that kind of power to its citizens, but a small town can. We’re proud of Sandy’s accomplishment, even if also a little jealous.

Susan Crawford

This is not about us. The most important hour you can spend on this issue is with Susan Crawford. Here’s why:

  1. Americans need a fast, reliable Internet. They are not getting it.
  2. The market has failed to supply this new, but basic need.
  3. A utility model will make it available at reasonable prices for all.
  4. Public pressure to change existing policy is needed.

Telecom companies and give thousands of dollars every year to NYS legislature and New York City’s government gets $150M+ every year.

Susan Crawford knows why this is not in the public interest. Watch it…

Thank you for spending the time.  Now you know why your IT bill continues to rise.

“Because America has deregulated the entire high-speed internet access sector, the result is expensive, second-rate carefully curated wired services for the rich, provided by Comcast and Time Warner; expensive, third-rate, carefully curated wireless services (or no service at all ) for those who cannot afford a wire; close cooperation among incumbent providers of wired and wireless services; and no public commitment to advance communications networks the rest of the developed world is adopting.”

Susan Crawford, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, Yale University Press (2013), pg. 260.

As a percentage of the population, fewer Americans have high-speed internet access than South Korea. There is a reason for that, and it is not good.

Resources

This is an outreach page. It will list people and organizations who are leading the way for reliable and affordable access to the Internet. Suggestions and comments to improve the resource page are welcome.

This outfit works for a free and open internet.  They work in support of ISOC, to assure the beneficial, open evolution of the global Internet.  They can help promote local initiatives that help solve problems faced the New York area. New York Chapter is here.

Those heading for deep end of sustaining net neutrality turn to this resource  for your professional development as an ISOC member in the New York area.  The “orgs” and “sources” list on this site is extensive.  If you come across one that is especially useful for a neighborhood like yours or mine (AKNA) please let us know. See menu “CONTACT.”

DoITT Report Summary

Corporate Verizon

The findings of the report are as follows:

  1. Verizon is not in compliance with its agreement since it has not truly “passed” all residential households in New York City.

The report states, “…the argument that “passing” premises with fiber optic cable includes no requirement of any proximity to that premises is manifestly untenable. At a minimum, the term “passed” must be understood to require sufficient proximity to permit Verizon to comply, at least as a rule, with its six-month deadline to fill NSIs.”  According to the franchise agreement, Verizon can recommend “non-standard installations,” which is jargon for offering Direct TV to customers or limiting service to the use of a DSL modem.

  1. Verizon continues to show residential household addresses as “unavailable” despite claiming to have passed all residential households in the City.

The FiOS franchise agreement provides that an order for service received for a residential household after that premises is “passed” with fiber optic cable must be satisfied within six months of the order. But if the order cannot be filled within six months, Verizon must notify the resident, explain the reason for the delay, and state a new deadline not more than six additional months away for filling the order. For the first service to a building, this order is referred to in the contract as a “non-standard installation.”

The following findings charge Verizon with avoiding customer requests by “cooking the data,” resisting demands for data, and attempting to cover it up during the City’s audit.

  1. Verizon does not complete all non-standard installation service requests within the six-month and twelve-month deadlines required by Section 5.4.2 of the franchise agreement.
  2. Verizon’s procedure was to not accept and log a request for cable service at premises that Verizon had not “passed,” a violation of Section 2.5 of Appendix A of the franchise agreement.
  3. Verizon did not consistently record an NSI with “yes” or “no” indicators and left some NSI indicators blank. Verizon did not communicate to prospective customers when service would be available for the non-standard installation and did not consistently treat inquiries.
  4. Verizon does not communicate accurately and effectively with prospective customers.
  5. Verizon failed to cooperate fully and timely with DoITT’s audit to violate Section 11.1 of the franchise agreement.
  6. Verizon’s complaint process focuses only on paying subscribers, and Verizon generally does not accept complaints or inquiries from prospective customers.
  7. Anecdotal evidence shows that Verizon, in some instances, does not provide timely service unless the management company enters into a bulk agreement for the building.
  8. Verizon does not maintain a manual of procedures.
  9. Data integrity issues exist within Verizon’s database.

Call to Action

The approximate FiOS footprint in four of NYC’s 5 boroughs as of June 30, 2014 (via the Broadband Map) Brooklyn and the AKNA area is highlighted (right)

A letter to our representatives in the City Council and U.S. Congress is being prepared. It will call their attention to this website resource and cover the following points.

Your comments and suggestions are requested on the following. Besides, AKNA members are asked to share any contact they may have enjoyed with Yvette Clark or Mathiew Eugene’s replacement next year or so.

AKNA is in the Ninth Congressional District (top left).  This District is ranked fiftieth in the nation, and it is the lowest ranking district in New York City for access to quality broadband services.

Yvette Clark’s position on “net neutrality” was right on the mark at the beginning of the year.  The security of our district regarding people to people communication was the key issue her office presented.  The right words are not enough.

AKNA is in the Fortieth City Council District (middle left) and shares in the poor ranking dilemma of Brooklyn’s access to quality and security.  Councilmember Eugene’s primary focus on young people is greatly admired, as no group in New York City needs these services more greatly.

Actions aimed at Verizon by our representatives are needed.  A thoughtful and coordinated approach toward the behemoth Verizon is needed to fully understand the dynamic between the NYC government, its agencies such as DoITT, and NYS and Federal policies on this question.  All confront the ability of the FCC to encourage and require compliance.

The value of tax rebates to the providers (Verizon in our case) on the cost of infrastructure “deliverables” will be measured by the FCC’s new requirements for higher speed delivery to customers. The question AKNA’s media advocates and political representatives must ask is this:

If the ISPs do not get their speeds to FCC state and city standards will they still get all their lucrative tax credits and related incentives?

No doubt Verizon and their subsidiaries such as Earthlink will continue to sell DSL modems and service, but…Verizon will violate consumer laws and regulations if they call it “broadband” and attempt to use DSL’s lower speeds and quality as an excuse for not deploying broadband to all Americans in a timely way and compliance with “net neutrality.”

The New York City Council’s response to the Mayor’s FY 2015 Budget and 2014 Report said, “Last year, Verizon agreed to pay the City $50 million because of delays in projects associated with the Emergency Communications Transformation Project, the large scale effort to transform and consolidate the City’s 911 Emergency Dispatch System.”

The potential of an injurious relationship between Verizon and New York City’s residents’ needs concerns us greatly. The $50M fine and the June 2015 DoITT report suggest a critical review of this relationship is needed. It seems that instead of moving forward, Verizon has decided that New York City needs to be punished for demanding accountability.

The FCC main point in the 2015 Broadband Progress Report follows:

“Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.”

The 4 Mbps/1 Mbps standard set in 2010 was deemed inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.  DSL services to 4 million of AT&T’s 16 million broadband subscribers and 2.6 million of Verizon’s 9.2 million subscribers will not meet this new standard. AT&T’s fastest DSL offerings only reach 6 Mbps down, while Verizon’s DSL speeds top out at <10 Mbps, and a Verizon spokesperson speaking to Ars Technica said, “We currently do not have any plans to enhance that.[DSL].”

Wired and Wireless

The language of telecommunications takes some getting used to, so here is a brief summary of the basics.

Line Technologies are:

V-ONT


Fiber to the Premise
(FTTP) is the “Gold Standard” in broadband technology. FTTP is the most expensive to deploy, but can deliver consistently high speeds reaching 1 Gigabit (1,000 Mbps) and higher.

The companies can “data cap’ you for wireless, meaning go over = pay more. Fiber is a fixed monthly fee for service and competitive via ISP providers.

Cable Modem uses coaxial cable connection to deliver broadband with download speeds ranging from 6 Megabits (Mbps) to over 50 Mbps. Bandwidth is managed through shared connections. Therefore, although broadband is widely available throughout New York State, advertised speeds may not always be maintained during peak usage times.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) uses copper telephone lines to deliver broadband with download speeds generally fewer than 10 Mbps. Aging networks can degrade service over time, which can decrease speeds delivered to the home.

Note; Many people will connect their DSL into a Router (NetGear/Linksys, etc.) and then use its the router’s wireless transmission in their homes to connect to growing list of ‘smart home’ devices such telephones, computers, TVs, DVD players, game consoles, security systems, home/pet watch cams, heating and ventilation systems, even cooking and cleaning equipment.

Broadband Over Power Lines (BPL) uses existing electric wiring along with fiber to deliver broadband through electric outlets. Requires special equipment installed at the home with limited availability in New York State.  Not to be confused with in-home power line devises that use the wires in your home for the same purpose.

Wireless Technologies are:

Fixed Wireless/ WiMax uses a combination of a fiber backbone and wireless towers to deliver broadband at speeds comparable to DSL. It is quickly deployed at lower costs with a wide reach. Many plans have data usage caps.

Mobile Broadband is a combination of cellular and data service generally for use on mobile devices. Typically complements wireline connections, but some companies provide home broadband service delivered over mobile broadband networks. Many plans have caps that limit usage.

Satellite is a two-way transmission of Internet data passed between satellite and a dish placed at the home. Because data traverses long distances, latency delays can occur. Most plans have data caps, but satellite broadband is 100% available in New York State.

White Space is an emerging technology that uses the empty fragments of TV spectrum scattered between frequencies. It is less expensive to deploy in areas without major infrastructure, with the ability to travel through physical obstacles, such as trees and mountains, without diminished signal. The FCC requires networks to follow strict requirements not to interfere with existing broadcasts.

Investigations

The videos posted below were taken just for fun… But, then again, they are a record of the existing and rapidly deteriorating condition of our 19th-century phone lines.  Don’t get me wrong. This copper is important to us. It remains available for communication during power outages. It is reliable if it is well maintained, so have a look. I think we are in trouble. The north sideline…

Verizon

Corporate Verizon

June 18, 2014, DoITT Report Slams Verizon

DoITT is the agency responsible for a level of review.  Please volunteer to delve into its mysteries and possible service to AKNA. The New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) June 18, 2015 report analyzed Verizon’s FiOS service in New York City. It concluded that it failed to deliver by a wide margin.  The audit found 40,000 open requests for FiOS service 75% been open for a year or longer.

Verizon responded to DoITT’s findings on June 12, 2015. The full text of the response is included as an addendum to the DoITT report.  DoITT has made it clear that Verizon’s responses did not materially alter the facts stated in the findings.

  • It has spent $3.5 billion in its New York-area FiOS rollout of 15,000 miles of fiber.
  • That the report is made public just before labor negotiations begin with the largest union is a ploy.
  • The report is based on erroneous factual conclusions and incorrect interpretations of the Agreement, particularly its conclusions on Verizon’s passing all of the City’s households with fiber-optic facilities.
  • The challenge we have is gaining access to properties, which of course, would expand availability. We look forward to working with the City to seek solutions to this issue.

If you subscribe to WSJ, the story is HERE.  The full report can be downloaded as a PDF HERE.  Or go to the DoITT site above with the option for a text version and other documents on this issue.

If you want to fight against broadband discrimination and promote net neutrality know this — three bills in Congress have already been introduced to makes us pay more for slower speeds.

Throttled?

Will The V-Shoe Drop?

An excellent Wikipedia summary of Bandwidth throttling describes the intentional slowing of Internet service by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Throttling can occur at different locations on a network for good reasons, such as preventing crashing.

New “net neutrality” rules by the FCC aim at ending the slowly developing practice of  “pay for speed” policies by ISPs.  On this point,  Engadget has a good summary of the AT&T fine ($100M).

The obvious question for residents of NYC is whether Verizon is preparing to sell the “rats nest” we call landlines and continue attempts to end these landline services.  

Jon Brodkin, June 4, 2014 in a New York Times Op-Ed put it this way…

AT&T and Verizon are pushing hard to shift traditional landline service, which has mostly operated over copper lines, to a system of Internet-based phones by around 2020. If the Federal Communications Commission approves the switch as is, it could come as a shock to the 96 million Americans who still rely on landlines.

A good place to look for current news on issues the Federal Communications Commission manages will be found in the New York Times’ Times Topics section. (here)

AKNA Tech

Platforms like Mindmixer, ShareAbouts, ChangeByUs, ioby, and others offer new ways to define and solve problems shared by a neighborhood.

Ideas become productive (move toward implementation) because these platforms support resource gathering aimed at a problem that people share

 

 

Broadband Map

A click on the map above (or HERE) will take you to a website that illustrates all of the broadband in New York City.

  • The red dot on the map illustrates 380 Ocean, the only building in our area that gets high speed (over 50 Mbps (megabits per second). It is provided by Verizon.  Click the address to see more. 
  • The blue buildings (like Erasmus High School) are those where it is possible but like us at under 7 Mbps
  • The grey buildings (I put a square around AKNA) get less than that because of how the phone lines work (or don’t work) and the map legend reads “unknown”. 

Note: The little ‘b’ is for ‘bit.’ (Mbps) It is a capital ‘B.’ It is for ‘Byte’ (MBps). Mb and MB are abbreviations for the smaller vs. larger data sizes. (Thanks, Ian.)

The map is not fully up to date as most of Flatbush Commercial has an Optimum or FiOS line.

Representatives

Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns.

A letter for comment on how to get their help (a set of three or four questions/issues are all that are needed)

City Council

Rita Joseph won the ranked voting fun.

Council Member: Mathiew Eugene: District 40 – Democrat
Chair – Committee on Youth Services
District Office:
123 Linden Boulevard Brooklyn, New York 11226
District Office Phone
718-287-8762 

Legislative Office Address
250 Broadway Suite 1789 New York, NY 10007
Legislative Office Phone
212-788-7352
Legislative Office Fax
212-788-8087
Email Mathieu Eugene Eugene’s Council Website

It may be necessary to make a special interest in Councilmember Eugene contact if your are interested in additional research

State

Senate

Sen. Kevin S. Parker D-District21
55 Hansen Place Shirley A. Chisholm SOB, Suite 650
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: (718) 629-6401

Assembly

Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd Assembly District)
District Office
1414 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11226
718-940-0428
Website

Federal

Yvette D. Clark, U.S. Congress
Brooklyn Office
123 Linden Boulevard 4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Phone: (718) 287-1142
Fax: (718) 287-1223
DC: (202) 225-6231
Committees: Energy and Commerce, Ethics, Small Business

See this District’s Ranking on the National Broadband Map

Schumer, Charles E. – (D – NY) Class III
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6542
Contact: www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck

Gillibrand, Kirsten E. – (D – NY) Class I
478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4451
Contact: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/


Building a Better Deal with Verizon

The following people provided support for the DoITT Report describing Verizon’s “spectacular failure”.

  • Council Member Dan Garodnick, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development.  garodnick@council.nyc.gov
    • 250 Broadway, Room 1762
      New York, NY 10007
      T: (212) 788-7393
  • Council Member Ben Kallos BKallos@council.nyc.gov
    • 250 Broadway
      Suite 1738
      New York, NY 10007
      212-788-6865
  • Council Member Mark Levine District7@council.nyc.gov
    • 250 Broadway, Rm. 1816
      New York, NY 10007
      212-788-7007
  • Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause NY slerner@commoncause.org  net  neutral advocate
    • 80 Broad Street #2703
      New York, NY 10004, USA
      212.691.6421
  • Professor Tim Wu,Columbia Law School  wu@pobox.com  He coined the phrase “net neutrality”
    • Jerome Gsreene Hall, Rm 730
      435 West 116th Street
      New York, NY 10027
      212-854-2322

Last, but only vaguely least you can contact

The Public Advocate for the City of New York
Email: GetHelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov
1 Centre Street, 15 Floor North.
New York, NY 10007

Note: The budget of the Advocate is so low, that it remains largely ineffectual.

Town Prospector

The New York City Master Plan – published in 1968, presented the community districts equivalent in population and total employment with cities throughout the United States, a distinction smaller cities only enjoyed comparatively.

Hopefully, exploring outfits regarding small urban centers such as The Urban Prospector will bring attention to the enormous potential of small towns and villages in a network. Bringing public leadership forward in “finding value in cities” — is the tagline of this interesting blog.  The images presented are stimulating and demand attention. If you are interested in making small urban centers work, have a look at The Urban Prospector. The thoughtful posts examine Christopher Kok’s part of the world. (here). His instincts are correct support the policy framework of think tank outfits like Brookings.

As the many articles by William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program on the “Population Slowdown for Small Town America” clearly illustrates, the issue of urban center development in the context of a regional network is consequential. Also, see the writings and work of Bruce Katz (here) and on the issue of mega-regions (here).

Doomed to be Tiny

The Art Students League and The Resistance

As the proposal stands now, the ASL is turned into an artifact.   It is being readied for placement in nothing more than photographs of where it once was. I have three ideas for addressing the problem faced by the membership of the ASL. Each one recognizes the status of the existing conditions.  Each has an outside chance of keeping ASL a part of the New York City artist community.  All three would be a slam dunk.

ASL

PART I

A concern of every institution of learning is to reflect effectively on its experience. This responsibility now remains posited firmly before the entire membership of the ASL. At present, to “not vote” or to vote “NO” has been predefined as an act of futility, if not the essence of an”absurd vote.” This has made the ASL part of a radically changed society, but more importantly, it is now required to assess this new condition’s terror fully, but look on the bright side. The coalitions of those who resist “the project” have an opportunity to establish new principles for adoption by a more innovative, possibly energized ASL board and membership. These principles arose from the three new realities embedded in the project and revealed in its proposals’ ongoing evaluation.

Without a doubt, the ASL members are not investors. They are plaintiffs (here). Therefore, the ASL will re-dedicate its aesthetic vision, art, and talent to recognizing social inequality and the best of its ability, take the steps needed to move toward its eradication as a social pathology in this city and this nation.

  • Never has the seriousness of this issue been more clearly revealed than in the value of residential and commercial floor area defined by this project.   Over one-third of all renters (2/3 of all residents) in NYC now pay over half of their income in rent payments.  Rent has increased by 8.6% from 2007 to 2011, while the cities median income decreased by 6.8% in the same period.1  The income gap in Manhattan is comparable to areas of great social distress, such as Sierra Leone.  None can present the beauty and dignity of being poor with greater clarity than the artist.  This truth must remain in the heart of ASL.

PART II

The second fact revealed by “the project” is equally disturbing to any rational observer not blinded by the ways gold can darken our future. The nature of membership in the ASL society has been revealed as a token, each participant a mere actor on a stage of their choosing but damned by their will to lead.  In the face of this great change, the ASL society’s value is strained by clouds of tradeoffs, exchanges, and quid pro quo rationalizations.  If there is to be art, the artist must see the truth. Unfortunately, the ASL leaders have delivered nothing more than a sense of hopelessness. For this, the members of the resistance should be saddened yet resolved to move forward with new leadership.

  • The resistance to “the project” recognizes the capacity of great wealth to overwhelm the old and weak with its power.   With this knowledge, the resistance to “the project” will pledge their unyielding energy to a new purpose.  The resistance to the project and membership of the ASL, therefore, call for the resignation of the board, not in distrust, but with common recognition that new leadership is the only chance the members might have to recover from the overwhelming sense of worthlessness bestowed upon the history and legacy of the ASL by the current board.

PART III

The third strategy has value in two ways. First, if heard by the developers and deemed reasonable, it offers an overwhelming motive to maximize the project’s potential and, therefore, pause to re-evaluate.   This may yield the time to assess the ability of “the resistance” to move the following proposal forward. Second, it offers the possibility to acquire a briefly postponed vote to obtain a serious review of a wholly new future for the ASL.

An innovative proposal has yet to be fully considered.  It is equally controversial, but it suggests a vision for art in our society is now required to leap into the future instead of being “bought out” of it.   In reviewing the literature and the law, the only way to assure that the ASL will survive as an institution is to reinvent itself completely.

  • Therefore, the resistance offers to yield to “the project” all of the land held by the ASL in trade for a doubling of the equivalent floor area in perpetuity and in a manner that will meet the needs of artists for the next millennia.   Charge the developers responsible for providing for the ASL a superior space, dedicated to the future of fairness and the truth that art brings to life and society.  The ASL has the opportunity to weave its belief in this unique part of human energy into the mission of urban development.  The opportunity for rebirth is the rarest of all gifts.  This is the true offer; it is not in the few coins now tossed on the table.

A personal note:

In reviewing the literature and the law, it is doubtful this option could inject the ASL into the future. The reason for the “unlikely success” of this option is that half of the resistance to the proposal as it stands is resistance to change itself.  It is therefore challenging to establish a majority view toward inclusive forms of change.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to retell and remind all who can hear that New York City’s history is filled with institutions’ energy in buildings that are no longer here.  Far too many of them remain lost to a hope that parts of the human spirit cannot be crushed forever. Like MAS, the ASL should be an institution capable of recognizing its fate and therefore return to the challenge of art.


[1] See report released by New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, the “State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods 2012”

Here is a 2016 NYT Article on the chaos that since (here)

One Bryant Park

In thoughtful research reporting, the requirement, to sum up, should become a higher priority. In Skyscrapers and the World of Tomorrow posted to Planetizen on September 1, 2011, by editors Jeff Jamawat, Kris Fortin, Tim Halbur, and Victor Negrete, the questions sought to define the place for massive buildings, but the article ends by suggesting the problem lies in a lack of a clear, agreed-upon vision for the future. Lots of luck with that one, but they give it a try.

The vision’s content requires data that confirms the efficacy of the following steps.

  1. add full life cycle analysis (e.g. embodied energy) to LEED certification (McEeaney, Toberian)
  2. advance smart building technologies (Black, Leung, Appel)
  3. remove barriers to high (even ultra) density in the right places (Glaeser)
  4. prevent bottom-feeding architecture and beware the onset of tower blight (Kunstler)
  5. remove political gridlock (everybody)

Top of the line sellers provides the data needed for the first two steps thanks to high-end technology buyers (see video below).  Much of the data from these systems are proprietary and slows the change rate, but it is a pay-it-forward change. These investment institutions are strong and global.

The remaining three define the lack of clear vision problem less optimistically.  All of our democratic institutions face demands for NASA-style investment goals amidst fix-it-first philosophies.  How do we dissolve the contradictions of these two different approaches?

In our recent national history, we attacked a similar problem from the top-down and the grass-roots-up with top-end ideas such as the Great Society and things like Headstart in a local precinct. Part of it included an investment in demonstration cities, later renamed Model Cities, while another part vociferously disagreed with an America entering a permanent state of war.  All of this began a process that forever changed the vision of the urban world.

Today, envisioning the city and our future is inseparable, but this begs the question.  The vision will remove the barriers, release unlimited wealth for growth, and break the gridlock cities left in a wilderness known as The Republic of States. Urbanized areas need to be separate and inviolate for a vast new set of powers. That is what is missing. That is what we need.

Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park from Cook+Fox Architects on Vimeo.

Waterfront 2020

The details on a Reach by Reach basis are well worth some urban design quires and perusals.  To this end, the following stipulation is offered for examination.

We have long known that what we see is what we think is there and that this can be correct or incorrect at any time but always considered correct, and we know that not every observation we make is exact.

We know errors in perception and measurement exist. Nevertheless, these elements of the human condition are fundamental and accepted collectively in science and psychology.  The more critical issue is our responsibility to seek or develop statements that have such lasting clarity in describing the conditions of our time. They will continue to make sense in the distant future despite these errors.

I want your opinion of the waterfront draft on this basis (and how much jargon can plan one take?). Bill Woods at City Planning made this his life. He should be in the APA hall of fame.

Armed with this knowledge, please read the Waterfront Plan for recommendations and procedures most likely to reduce error when discussing measurements. Second, suggest ways to find these errors during the implementation of plan components that provide for adjustments.

Design Police

Nevertheless, the New Yorker only needs to recall the 6th Avenue commercial office bonus scheme to realize the limitations of the public’s regulatory interest in extending Central Park to the south with urban plazas. One only needs to look at a “restrictive declaration” used in Astoria to recognize a public access failure when you see it. Both represented a straightforward and honorable desire but were interpreted very differently by the developer’s bottom line. Today we have a double bottom line approach.  Please bring this do no harm value to your review of the plan’s revision as follows: 

The New York Department of City Planning website asks you to get involved with Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. It offered a set of links (since removed below).  Each seeks thoughtful people to reflect on “new public realm†and to deduce the purpose of the update from its 1992 version under Wilber “Bill” Woods.

Seek out the following and provide your view using the resource links below and share facts and opinions with this blog or the other venues known to many of you by the headings below:

1. Read the Draft Recommendations
2. Send us your comments online
3. Read a recap of the workshops
4. Subscribe to our email newsletter

We are getting up to date on the progress of the waterfront plan since the process slowed can be examined by going the the “index” page (here) and entering “waterfront” in the search engine.

New York City’s 500+ miles of blue-interface connection to regulatory entities such as the NYC Building Code, the Clean Water Act, and the long list or labyrinth of permits demand site-to-site complexities.  A ” code ” example is the call for waterproofing every new structure within a few hundred feet of the waterfront at 14 feet ABOVE mean-high tide is a “code” example.

Another is the use of the word elevated about the inevitable rise of sea levels.  It suggests the need for other measurements to sustain public access’s fundamental value as the foundation of the public interest. Perhaps it would be a good thing to see NYC function and Venice, has in the centuries to come, or plan as well as our friends in the Netherlands. It would seem prudent in a ten-year plan to outline factors in NYC’s interest as far into the future.

Unlike the folks in the Netherlands that have confidently stated the country to be climate-proof”, NYC-DCP selection is climate resilience. It says:

While Vision 2020 is focused on the next ten years, the plan recognizes the need to plan for a much longer timeframe. The New York City Panel on Climate Change. See 2010 Report (354 pgs) from the NY Academy of Sciences. It has been projected that sea levels are expected to rise anywhere from 12 inches to 55 inches by 2080. Also, severe storms and the floods associated with them are expected to occur more frequently.

As a coastal city, many New York neighborhoods experience flooding and storm surges. These risks are expected to increase as the effects of climate change are felt.  The Department of City Planning is working with other City agencies to assess the risks associated with a sea-level rise set of conditions to develop city resilience strategies. Plans include regulatory and other measures to improve the flood resistance of new and existing buildings and explore soft infrastructure approaches to coastal protection.

The Water Will Come

Apologies

That is far more introduction than needed.  I implore you to read the DRAFT (may not be available) using your urban design lens as a planner or architect and offer your opinions. Observations from other cities, states in the USA, or throughout the precious orb of life we call earth.

Urban Planning and Design in New York City has about a thousand members worldwide sharing data on issues in the broad context of Urban Design experienced from Da-Bronx to Dubai. The objective is to use this area to sift through problems that may occur with revising the 1992 NYC Waterfront Plan (or other issues). It connects to various WebEx, Google Docs, WindowsLive locations, and so on. In addition, members are encouraged to develop individual draft development areas.

Vision 2020 citywide policies were completed and offered as FINAL in March 2011.  It will seek to accomplish the following eight goals:

  • Expand public access to the waterfront and waterways on public and private property for all New Yorkers and visitors alike.
  • Enliven the waterfront with a range of attractive uses integrated with adjacent upland communities.
  • Support economic development activity on the working waterfront.
  • Improve water quality through measures that benefit natural habitats, support public recreation, and enhance waterfront and upland communities.
  • Restore degraded natural waterfront areas, and protect wetlands and shorefront habitats.
  • Enhance the public experience of the waterways that surround New York – our Blue Network.
  • Improve governmental regulation, coordination, and oversight of the waterfront and waterways.
  • Identify and pursue strategies to increase the city’s resilience to climate change and sea level rise.

We shall see.  Download a copy waterfront.