Monday, October 12, 2009

Blighted Development sites

Brad Lander, the Democratic nominee for City Council in the 39th District (which includes the Columbia Waterfront) has already started working on issues before even taking office (as the Democratic nominee, he is the most likely contender to win in the general election), and we must say that the first issue he chose to tackle is a very commendable one.

He sent out an email last week asking local residents to email his office information about any blighted development sites. The email said the following:

Earlier this week, the Daily News published an Op Ed I wrote on what the City can to do address the problem of stalled or abandoned construction sites. The article focuses on 824 Friel Place in Kensington -- a particularly egregious example -- but as I've been knocking doors around the district, I've seen the problem in every one of our neighborhoods. Addressing the problem is going to require working both on a site-by-site level (bring together neighbors to confront owners and lenders, and to work together for short and long-term solution), as well as new citywide policies.

If you live near a blighted development site, please email us about it at We're putting together a list (we will build on the interesting map initiated on the Brian Lehrer show) so that we can help address individual sites, and bring people together to work toward broader solutions.

This is a very important issue citywide, and our neighborhood is no exception. If you know of a site, we urge you to please send in the information and let Brad's office work on a solution.

An excerpt from the above mentioned Daily News Op Ed sums up the issue best as follows:

New York City has the power to do something about this. We can change the rules so that blighted construction sites have to be quickly cleaned up … or we’ll take them over, and turn them into something useful, like affordable housing for families who need it, or community gardens (if the site is a vacant lot). The main obstacle here is not money. It's our willingness to confront developers whose failure has become a blight to our neighborhoods. We’ve been all-too-willing to use eminent domain to help developers acquire property for mega-projects. Why not use the City’s tax, emergency repair, and foreclosure powers to help our neighborhoods confront real blight?

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