Anatomy of Density Series Session: 4

Densification Advice for New York City’s Next Mayor

On June 10, the Urban Expansion program hosted its final session of the Anatomy of Density webinar series, “Densification Advice for New York City's Next Mayor.” Director of Urban Expansion, Solly Angel, served as moderator of a diverse panel of local experts, who made short presentations to address the city’s housing-affordability crisis. Senior Fellow Alain Bertaud then offered his responses, which included:

On the one hand, it seems [there is] a general opposition to any new supply of housing and on the other hand, there is also a regulatory straitjacket, which has been built over the years and which is incredibly intricate. Jessica’s [Katz] description of what will allow for a basement apartment to be legalized is absolutely mind-boggling....What is interesting is that the panel [each] takes on a slightly different section of the market-aspect malfunction of the city. Barika [Williams] has an approach which is more centered on the low-income people who are mostly the victims of the system. And the way she described that the lack of transparency or the way decisions are taken, there is a general suspicion that anything that will change will be at the detriment of the people who deserve the most....In a way we are confronted with an extremely conservative city, and a city thrives on change....If it cannot change, if now we have reached a system where everything is frozen, then I wonder, frankly, what is the future of New York City?...I work worldwide, and cities compete with each other and when a city is dysfunctional, people vote with their feet and leave. And I wonder if, maybe one day, New York will have reached this point. 

Afterwards, the panelists had a spirited discussion as they pondered how to move forward to address this important challenge.


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