Mar 262013

We’re keeping after the media’s coverage of development issues in Brooklyn. The latest is this: New York Magazine recently published a piece by Ben Adler claiming that My Brooklyn argues that development caused gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn. This is an oversimplification of what My Brooklyn argues. Adler makes no mention of policy tools such as rezoning and subsidies, both of which played a key role in the gentrification process. This oversimplified piece received a properly level-headed corrective from our friend Dan Steinberg, who has the facts down so well he doesn’t need to go on a crazy rant. Dan, posing as MRKNISH, states:

“Obviously gentrification is driven by market forces and housing demand. The My Brooklyn film looks at how public policy failed to leverage a hot real estate market to create real public benefits (ie inclusionary zoning). It was instead designed to fuel speculative development at the expense of those who have lived in these communities for decades. Remember, these public land use actions created substantial economic value that was essentially handed over to developers.

And why are we talking about ‘market forces’ when one of the focal points of the film was the City Point project? City Point (luxury housing) received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies–it was hardly the invisible hand of housing demand that evicted dozens of small, locally owned businesses here.

Finally, Adler is wrong to evoke the law of supply/demand in arguing that luxury housing construction will ultimately lower rents for working families. Economists have demonstrated that this is not how segmented housing submarkets function.”