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Books and Reports

How To Kill A City: Gentrification, Inequality, and The Fight for The Neighborhood
by Peter Moskowitz
Published by Nation's Books 2017

How to Kill A City spotlights four cities, New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco and New York City in describing what has become a worldwide pandemic, what we will call manufactured gentrification. Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City:The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, wrote, "Peter Moskowitz offers a smartly written and fiercely logical indictment of city governments for selling out longtime residents to aggressive developers and rich investors and calling it growth. This book is a wake-up call to communities to say no to state-sponsored gentrification and join together to resist their own demise." Sarah Schulman, author of Gentrification of the Mind, calls the book "A fascinating analysis of late-stage gentrification in which corporate control of cities renders them uninhabitable to most people" and she praises Moskowitz for "defining housing as a human right rooted in community instead of real estate profit."

Moskowitz writes, "Entire neighborhoods are becoming stash pads for the global elite who see real estate as a safer investment than the stock market. Often few people are really living in these buildings, except for a month or two out of the year...Absentee home ownership has grown by 70 percent in Manhattan since 2000. Even if you believe that attracting billionaires to New York is a good idea, it's hard to understand why these apartments are assessed at rates 1/100th of what they are worth. Because of New York's tax code, a $100 million apartment in one of these new, super-tall glass buildings is usually only taxed as if it were worth $3 million or $4million. And even Mayor Bloomberg's more progressive successor Bill de Blasio, has done little to challenge this status quo..."

In walking through Manhattan Moskowitz says: "I hit Seventh Avenue, and in front of me is St. Vincent's or what used to be St. Vincent's...It closed down to make room for a condo development that now takes up the entire block and where apartments go for $20 million. Down the block was a good vegetarian Chinese restaurant that recently closed when its rent was raised from $5,000 to $25,000 a month."

The Creative Destruction of New York City
by Alessandro Busà
Oxford University Press 2017

The introduction to Chapter 7 entitled "A Different Brand of Mayor," Busa quotes Sarah Goodyear: (CITYLAB 9/11/13):

"De Blasio won...because better than anyone else, he articulated the sense of loss that many New yorkers are feeling these days. He acknowledged the residents of the city who are always looking over their shoulders, waiting for the next rent hike, the next demolition, the next conversion of a local store to a national chain. He spoke to the folks who are barely hanging on as the city gets bigger and stronger and richer around them."

Busa also quotes reporter Konrad Putzier (The Real Deal 2/1/16): "Since taking the reins, de Blasio has proven to be far from the radical leftist... Rather, he has arguably been a solid real estate advocate."

Busa writes: "'s super-gentrification is 'upgrading' the city to standards that are unaffordable but to the very wealthy...When did people tell their government bureaucracies to drain city budgets to subsidize big corporations and banking giants? Or to give out massive tax breaks to developers and buyers of luxury units, when affordable housing is shrinking at a record pace?...There must be something better than this. As people wake up and challenge the established consensus around city building, there will be a chance for us to see another kind of creative destruction. And hopefully, it will be the creative destruction of established norms, slogans, and political practices that have made this system so disconnected from the needs of the citizens of New York..."

"Vanishing New York" is another powerful expose of unbridled greed and how the policies of the real estate industry, led by REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York), is tearing apart the social fabric of New York City.

Excerpts from "Vanishing New York"
by Jeremiah Moss
Published by Harper Collins 2017

"...this book isn't about how we all lose our personal city. It's about how the city has been taken from us. It's not just a story of death, it's the story of murder...The spirit of the city as we knew it has vanished in the shadow of luxury condo towers, rampant greed...This is not unique to New York. Hyper-gentrification, the term I use for the force that drives the city's undoing — gentrification on speed, shot up with free-market capitalism — is a global pandemic...

And in every afflicted city, the story is the same: luxury condos, mass evictions, hipster invasions, a plague of tourists, the death of small local businesses, and the rise of corporate monoculture...If you take away just one thing from this book, let it be this: hyper-gentrification and its free-market engine is neither natural nor inevitable. It is man-made, intentional and therefore stoppable..."

Zoned Out! is a powerful expose of unbridled greed and how the policies of the real estate industry, led by REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York), is tearing apart the social fabric of New York City. REBNY'S dirty money in politics has paved the way for billionaire developers to bulldoze neighborhoods and landmark buildings in order to build more luxury high-rise buildings with multi-million dollar condos. REBNY's draconian land use and labor policies are a major factor behind New York's lack of affordable housing and homeless crisis, thousands of small businesses being forced to shut down and the alarming number of fatalities of construction workers in New York City.

Excerpts from "Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City"
Tom Angotti and Sylvia Morse, Editors
Contributors Philip DePaolo, Peter Marcuse, Samuel Stein
Published in 2016 by Terreform, Inc.
180 Varick Street, Suite 1510 NYC

Today, New York City is one of the most segregated and unequal cities in the world. The island of Manhattan, at its center, the ultimate (and only) destination for many outside visitors, is the most unequal of all counties in the nation (Roberts 2014). Beyond Wall Street, Times Square, and the luxury towers and town houses lie the apartment blocks, row houses and public housing where working people live. The divide between Wall Street (the 1 percent) and the 99 percent is gaping; the luxury condos selling for up to $100 million are not far from the 59,000 homeless people sleeping in shelters every night; and the billion-dollar bank headquarters hover above the huge pool of service workers in bars and restaurants making sub-standard wages without any benefits...

In one of the most dynamic land markets in the world, increasing home prices and rents constantly churn over neighborhoods. These changes often benefit property owners, but renters - the majority of New Yorkers — are constantly on the run, forced to pay higher rents and priced out. Entire neighborhoods are transformed by gentrification...

The driving force behind all of this is the real estate market, which seeks new opportunities for investment in favorable locations that yield the highest economic return (the ABC's of real estate are commonly known as: location, location, location). Higher returns on investment in land mean higher rents and home prices. Since these rising housing costs are not matched by increases in income levels for working people, new development means more displacement and segregation — unless government steps in to balance the scales.

This is the proverbial real estate capital of the world, and when prime locations are ripe for development, the real estate industry presses city governments to provide the appropriate set of planning and housing policies that will help them realize the future value of their investments in land. It is no coincidence that the single largest contributor to the campaigns of local elected officials is the real estate industry.

The city's planning and housing bureaucracies are responsible for translating the needs of the real estate industry into policy. They appear at community meetings to advise people that development is coming and declare that the only thing anyone can do is to adapt and perhaps get some small benefits out of it. Market-rate development and rezoning are presented as some mysterious forces that cannot be stopped. The city uses its authority to create an air of inevitability that robs people of any power to control the future of their communities. The city's planning department promotes exercises in community-based planning, but whenever neighborhoods have developed their own well-reasoned plans the official planners throw them away. This happens even after the City Planning Commission has officially reviewed and approved the community plans, as the chapter on Williamsburg shows....