Furman Center: Policy Breakfast

– Good morning everyone. I am truly delighted to welcome you to our first policy
breakfast of the semester. I’m especially excited
about this policy breakfast not only because of the
importance of the issue and the brilliance of the panelists but also because this is the first debate that we’ve had that ties very directly to our Dream Revisited
blog and now I’m looking, where is it, here’s the book. And we launched the Dream Revisited blog just over five years
ago on MLK Day in 2014 with support from the
Open Society Foundations. Our idea was to try to spur candid and constructive dialogue and debate about issues related
to housing segregation and opportunity, the governing
ideology in this country is that every child, no matter where she starts on the economic ladder and no matter where she lives, should have access to the
same set of opportunities but as you all know, the
reality is far from this ideal and arguably increasingly so, as income and wealth and equality
grow in this country the divides between, the gap between the resources provided by
different neighborhoods grows as well, and further, we thought that we were seeing a growing ideological, a widening ideological divide and a digging in, in
discussions about the nature of these neighborhood disparities and policies to address them, especially with regard to race, and
to many of the debates we heard we felt were either too tired or too high level to
really be useful for policy and so we wanted to curate
a set of fresh debates that would revisit some of
these big picture issues like whether or not
integration should be a goal in an of itself, what are the causes of segregation, whether I’m Jon Vogel sitting right here, and
what are some of the consequences of segregation
on such outcomes as oh sorry, there’s that one,
I guess that one’s missing. The consequences of
segregation on outcomes like on health disparities, on
access to financial services and political discourse and we also wanted to include debates on very specific and concrete policy
issues like how to design and finance mixed income housing, right, with our own Carol Lamberg
that’s here in the audience. And also how to, what’s the best way to help voucher holders reach a broader set of neighborhoods. In each of these debates, in each case, we invited somebody, someone,
in this case Rob Collinson to write an initial essays on the topic and then we asked three additional people who we thought would bring
different perspectives to an issue to respond,
and all of these debates are still available on the
Furman Center’s website and in addition, they’re
now available in a new book that we have published that builds off the first 25 debates, and it also edits the blogs, it
organizes them thematically, the debates, and then it also offers a new set of introductory essays that Justin Steil and I
wrote that contextualize the debates and also pull out key themes. And I’m very happy to
announce that we also just relaunched the blog
with a 26th discussion about the issue of local
control over land use decisions. It’s a terrific discussion and I encourage all of you to read the
essays and, in addition, many but not all of the
authors are here this morning for a live debate, which we’ve never done on this important issue, we’re also joined by Paula Segal, a civil rights lawyer who brings a wealth of relevant experience on this issue, and also my colleague, Vicki Been, who of course, as always, will definitely moderate the discussion and draw out the key areas of agreement and disagreement, and I just wanna end by saying the core premise of our policy breakfast series, and also the Dream Revisited series is that discussions about policy disagreements can be both civil and constructive that we can learn from speaking to and listening to people
with whom we disagree. And so with that, I wanted to say enjoy the discussion and
thanks every much for coming this morning and there are a few seats up here in the front for those of you that are standing in
the back, so thank you. (audience applauds) – Thanks, Ingrid, and thanks
to all of you for coming, we’re delighted to see the interest in this topic, obviously
as the city considers charter revision, these
are really important issues that could shape
the nature of the city for decades to come, so
we’re really delighted to see everyone here,
we’ve got lots of knowledge and talent, both up here
leading the discussion and in the audience, so on that, I need to remember to
tell you that we will be will have people
circulating with note cards and so you can write
your questions on those as the debate unfolds
here, or you can post on Twitter, whichever you prefer, or however old you are (laughs). Or at least, that’s how I
feel when I’m dealing with my kids and Twitter, right? So we wanted to just in the
spirit that Ingrid talked about I mean the purpose of these policy debates is really to provide a safe space where we can dig deep, where we can really try to get specific and
get beyond a lot of the generalities and cliches that often mark our public debate, in a safe space, and in a constructive and civil way. We’re gonna launch right in, our aim today is really to discuss who should have power over land use decisions,
and by land use decisions I mean everything from whether a re-zoning should be approved to issues about even variances and other things,
but land use decisions about housing, about other kinds of uses. We’ll start the conversation
by talking about some of the pros and
cons of decision making at different levels of government, obviously that’s a key
question on which our nation was founded and imbues
all of the Constitutional and other principles as
well as the relationship between states and their local governments and between local governments
and their neighborhoods. So we’ll delve into the
question of the merits of allowing very local or sub-local units to make decisions instead of, so the city instead of the state,
neighborhoods or other sub-local jurisdictions
instead of the city or the local government,
and we’re gonna start with a city/state issue
and then we’re gonna move to the city and then its sub-local areas. Those of the students
in the room who are in state and local government,
or take land use or debate these issues,
there are text book explanations about which
decision maker is best to make various kinds of decisions and when you want
decisions to be at a more centralized level and when you want them to be at a more de-centralized level so the theory goes that local residents have a better understanding
of how a particular land use, or a particular proposal will affect their
neighborhood and they also will tend to be the ones who are bearing the most of the cost of any land use that happens in their neighborhood. Whereas the benefits often will be spread throughout the city or perhaps even spread throughout the state. On the other hand, each local
government and its residents may act only in its interests and forget the interest or ignore the interests of the larger population, the state or the city, depending on what we’re talking about an
pay too little attention to those broader societal needs. Or, even worse, and going to the theme of the Dream Revisited, each neighborhood or other sub-local unit, may act in ways that are discriminatory,
that concentrate poverty in certain areas of the jurisdiction and Councilmatic vetoes or
other forms of sub-local or neighborhood control can drive really segregation and the concentration of poverty within a jurisdiction. So some decisions need to be made either at the state level
rather than the city level or at the city level
rather than a sub-local or neighborhood level, and some decisions are better really made at that local level and so our goal today is to tease that out with some level of specificity. So how do we avoid, to
put it all back together how do we get that expertise at the local and sub-local level, while avoiding the parochialism, NIMBYism, and prejudice that might occur if we
allow land use decisions to be made at that sub-local level. So that’s the general
theory, so I wanna start with my wonderful panelists and their bios are all in the materials that you have on your seats, so I’m not gonna spend time on that there, except to say that it’s hard to imagine a better panel and a panel with a more
diverse set of views. Let me just launch
right in, do I have that basic theory about the pros and the cons of de-centralized versus
centralized government decisions right, or are there other things that you think should be on the table? So, David? – So I think you have it right, although there are other dimensions
that are worth noting that I think will help
inform the discussions going forward, the biggest one is that when you move local or up you don’t just change the scope of the decision maker but you very much change the identity of
the decision makers. As elections get smaller, either elections or participation gets smaller, it’s much more likely to be the more heavily invested parties are more likely to participate. Those of you who know local government law know something called
the home voter hypothesis that in local elections,
people who own homes are the most likely to vote in order to protect the value of their homes, this is true for participation in sub-local decision making, people who show up at
land use decision meet, whatever governing mechanism you have, as you move higher, we have mechanisms for aggregating weakly attached opinions, so we have political
parties that actually cut and are competitive and governors and mayors are well known enough that people, even people
who are not heavily invested and not information rich,
can develop opinions about a de Blasio or a Cuomo, in ways that’s very hard to about the people on your community board and so while the scope of decision making has effects on the kind of, whether it’s just for the neighborhood
with its information with the now-local knowledge versus broader interests, but lack
of that local knowledge it also cuts the direction of who’s likely to be involved because as you get smaller, you’re much more likely to get the views of the most heavily
invested which are usually home owners and richer,
whiter, what socioeconomic blah blah blah, along those lines and as you get higher, the interests of more transients, so renters, even people who are not
from the jurisdiction might be interested in
moving to the jurisdiction are more likely to be involved and so that’s another dimension along which this, when you’re making the higher versus lower
decision in decision making it’s worth taking note
of, how much do we care about the interests of less attached or less heavily invested,
already invested characters. I, if you read the essays,
know am a pretty strong proponent of centralized decision making and one of the strong reasons for doing so is to access the opinions of say, renters and the broader employers
and other interests that are less heavily
invested at the time. – Okay so, as Huey Long would say, if you don’t vote, you don’t matter, and which level of government
we’re talking about determines who actually turns out not just to vote, but
to participate as well. Elaine, did you wanna jump in? – Yeah, just a clarification. I wish that it was the
simple, and I would say simple prejudice or NIMBYism,
that is really the driver. I think the thing that
you did not talk about was the overlay of our
system of white supremacy. Which means that white people get to
determine what whiteness is and then to systematically
discriminate against and kill people that they deem not white. The fact that we have that as a bedrock for the United States means
that none of the decisions that you’ve talked about,
whether it’s higher level or more local, can escape that framework. – And indeed, may map onto it, right in that sometimes a state may
be whiter than a city, right? – But also, it’s not a
matter of these individuals got it wrong this time,
and maybe next time they’ll get it right, the thing is with structural racism, they’re
always getting it right. It works as it is intended to work and so that becomes an added challenge, because if we don’t actually,
I mean if some people don’t even acknowledge white supremacy, so if we don’t acknowledge
it, don’t understand it aren’t trying to
systematically fight against it at whatever level, it will severely limit our ability to have
really based on the merit kinds of discussions and
policy making, et cetera. – So let me ask you, let me just follow up on both of those comments
by asking the entire panel is there anyone who, on the panel, who believes that the state
should make all decisions about land use and the
local government make none? Hearing none. The city should make all decisions and neighborhoods should
make none about land use? Okay, so we’ve paired down,
we’re making progress. Let’s just put it that way. Now, let’s try to zone in on that and home in on that, sorry,
and get more specific. When should a state be able to trump the local government in
making the land use decisions? Let’s start with affordable housing. Should the state be able to dictate how much affordable
housing a local government must provide, let me start,
Paula, let me start with you. – Okay, so that seems like a question that’s really about,
what setting the floor, for what municipality
is, then require people who are building housing
in their area to do and that seems fine.
– Not require, but allow. – I changed your
question, I know (laughs). I did that on purpose. – I understand, but the
question is land use decisions and the people who are
making land use decisions are not the builders, right, so developers other.
– Okay, so New York City actually has an as of
right land use paradigm and New York City is where I work, I’m an attorney for
community-based organizations and mostly what we’re dealing with is a zoning resolution
that we’ve inherited from 1961 that set out a set of rules and established a set of maps that tell the owners of properties
what they’re allowed to do without asking anybody’s
permission in the city. The state could come in and then say okay great, you’ve got a lot
that’s zoned residential, wonderful, you’re gonna
follow all of the bulk rules and you’re gonna have
residential use there because that’s what the
zoning resolution says good for you, you don’t need to go check with anybody at the
Department of City Planning but you do need to make sure that 20% of those residential units
are deeply affordable and permanently so, and that seems fine with the system we have,
what we’re talking about when we talk about land use decisions, in the city of New York, is changes to and exceptions from those
rules that we have inherited. Those rules are not necessarily good, they reflect a structure
of white supremacy they reflect the ideas about the future that people had in 1961, but at this point those are the baseline
rules, and when we’re talking about key decisions, the key decisions that people need to make now are who is involved when
those rules are broken or when those rules are changed, so that’s the basic thing that’s
going on in the city and if the state wants to come in and say oh hey, you know what,
here’s a different rule that cuts across all those other rules, that’s wonderful, we’ll take
all the help we can get. – Okay, Elaine? Do you agree, the state
should be able to impose should be able to set a
minimum that local governments have to meet in order to enjoy other kinds of privileges? – I do think that when we’re talking about public goods, and in this instance, we’re talking about
housing, which should be a public good, I mean should be a right for people to be able to be housed safely, so yes, the state seems
like an upper level government should have
a role in saying that this is what we need for the people of New York State.
– Okay, John? – Oh, great, and it’s
not so original an idea. In California, Massachusets,
New Jersey in particular it’s been going on for decades. Roughly two percent of all
the housing in New Jersey is affordable, created
out of state mandates as to every municipality
doing it’s fair share to solve a statewide housing problem. – Okay, so any disagreement that the state should be able to set
a minimum percentage, a minimum share of
housing in a jurisdiction that should be affordable? Hearing no debate. – Well I just wanna make
one little qualification very briefly, which is
just because the state does it, does not mean you
get a statewide perspective. There is a fantasy that says, if we create a regional government, like say the Council on
Affordable Housing in New Jersey, late lamented, that therefore we’ll have an entity that’ll suppress NIMBYism. And that is completely dependent whether you will actually
get a housing law that will promote housing
rather than retard it from the state, really depends on the interest groups that show up. COAH under Susan Bass Levin was dominated by suburban home owners, and in fact, they were not much help
in their fair shares for promoting prospective
need for affordable housing and there’s many other
examples you can give of states not merely imposing rules that don’t help with affordable housing, but affirmatively hurt. In California there are statewide rules that require linkage fees for housing, and those are avidly used by neighbors essentially to suppress housing by taxing new construction, SEQR in New York State, is a favored tool of NIMBYs and so, and the multiple dwelling unit law from the state level limits heights in New York City for residential buildings and FAR, and so just because you bring in somebody who’s called the state, doesn’t mean that it’s
not basically a NIMBY wolf in state sheep’s clothing. (laughs) – And usually, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so Paula, let me go back to you, if the state should be able to dictate how much what share of affordable housing a local government should have and if your proposal was
essentially an inclusionary housing requirement, but many states preempt their local
governments from doing that so if you’re gonna allow
the state to have power on that, you could get
either one of those results; the state could mandate a
share of affordable housing or a state could prevent local governments from mandating a share of housing. So how are you gonna make
that a one way ratchet which I take it is what you’re asking for? – Well, I have a little bit of faith left in electoral politics, so that’s helpful. – Well, in more than how many states, preempt inclusionary housing, it’s 16? That’s a lot of state control. – That is a lot of state control, luckily, I work in New York
(laughs) so, I’m allowed to have a little bit of hope and faith in what’s coming down the pike in the next couple of years from the state for the city, and I hope
that what happens here in the next couple of years, will then like New Jersey, serve as a model that other states can look to when they build their aspirations to
what kind of relationships they wanna have between their
state and local governments. – Elaine, what about you, I mean, you also favor state
control, so do you favor it if the state is preempting
local governments’ attempts to build affordable, to allow the building
of affordable housing? – So I don’t think we’ll get very far in our discussion, unless
we say for example, that we’re assuming that the body is going to be either
pushed to or will have be more amenable to doing
what we’re talking about. Because we know that, and
I think I said initially, this is much more complex
than we’re talking about so the state can really screw up big time and local folks can do
the same, but I think we’re talking about,
we’re making a theoretical statement here that presumably, if it’s going to work,
it would probably work better at the state level. – We are making a theoretical statement but we’re also designing
institutional controls a charter revision doesn’t go away when you get a government
that you don’t like it’s still there, so
you’re making a decision on the basis of institutional questions as to which is gonna work
best over the long run. – That’s right.
– Through ups and downs of your political agreement.
– That’s right, that’s right and you have to take a bet, so to speak. – One thing I think would
be worth throwing in is again, this is the level of government is one thing, but the identity of the decision maker at that level often is more important, so executives traditionally in the literature,
are kind of considered to be more pro-growth
institutions than legislatures who are more dependent
on local preferences and idiosyncratic local preferences and so when designing institutions, either at the state or the local level, one important concern I think is, I think there’s a very strong case for giving greater executive
power in these things so whether that’s to city planning vis a vis the city
council, or to the governor vis a vis the legislature, that I think when you’ve seen moves like
this in California recently their regional housing
needs, allocation system built in some degree of
greater executive ability executive action to push out those targets very much intentionally, I think, to, I actually don’t know
what the intention was but it seems intentional to focus on the ability of the more
pro-housing growth entity inside the system, the one that is likely to be more that way. – Well let’s turn to
that question of growth. So should the state have control rather than the local governments about how much a city grows? Let’s say a city is being considered for growth that would bring
25 thousand jobs or so, right? (audience laughs) Is that a matter for state
control or local control? – If I may jump in, sorry, David. But if we’re talking about designing institutional systems, the
question isn’t just who but how, right, and the key to democratic decision making about land use, which is the fundamental question of how places are formed,
is to borrow a concept from the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
meaningful local consultation. And that means real negotiation. The kind where everybody
comes to the table with an idea of what they want and nobody leaves with that, everybody leaves feeling
like they lost a little bit and that’s when you know
that you can move forward and that meaningful local consultation has to happen before
decisions are announced certainly, it has to happen before there’s a notification
that something’s going through a decision making process, which is a baseline requirement and it has to happen
before any kind of review in public by decision
makers, which we have gotten through our electoral
process, which we have in the city, we have this uniform land use review process, which lets us watch our City Planning Commission
and our City Council do some negotiation for us by proxy, but that’s not meaningful consultation that’s observation, that’s transparency, that’s great, those are
baseline things we need but in order to design a
system that really works for true land use decisions,
decisions about place we need to bake in
meaningful local consultation between the state and the city, between the city and it’s sub-portions and make sure that that
is a real negotiation. – I literally couldn’t disagree any more. – We know. – That structure of multiple levels and multiple processes is how you end up with a jurisdiction that
grows unbelievably slowly. That as you add all of these steps, you add costs and so one
thing I find interesting about New York exceptionalism
is New York City is one of the slowest,
New York City region is one of the slowest growing
rich regions in the country. People make fun of San Francisco, New York City on a per capita basis grows at half the rate of San Francisco. Half the rate of San Francisco. Do you get that through
your head, it’s crazy and one explanation for that, is exactly these levels of process and adding more to this and lording this up more will result in less housing and so on some fundamental level the added, focusing on
adding ever more steps to the process is something that will result in much much less housing and much higher housing costs at the aggregate level. – But David, your presumptions are wrong. Renters in New York are not transient so you have to deconstruct
the model from there. – Yeah, but may I chime
in on renters in general what I call maximum
feasible participation model ’cause I wanna second David on this. If you create formal procedures that have maximum procedure and a lot
of transactional politics you actually minimize
procedure, ’cause you know who do not show up? Renters, there’s lots
of data from Milwaukee, to DC, to San Francisco,
renters are not showing up. Who dominates your community boards? It’s largely gonna be homeowners, often white homeowners in
majority black neighborhoods. It’s crazy but it’s completely explicable by down payments, and
one of the basic aspects of land use interest is that
the interests who show up are the interest who have skin in the game which means if you that have
highly costly participation what you’re gonna end
up with is participation by a few big developers who can afford the lobbyists necessary to engage in the kinds of huge,
multi-year negotiations over FAR, and that squeezes out smaller developers who
just can’t afford it and especially out of town developers and on the consumer side,
the people who are gonna show up are gonna be
homeowners, brownstoners older people, whiter people, why? Well, older people can afford to show up at that participation,
they don’t have three jobs. And people with down
payments have an incentive to show up, so you create a framework where it looks like you’re
having massive participation and it turns out that about five percent of the people who are
showing up and dominating the process and it shouldn’t surprise you that those five percent
have kept New York City at an unbelievably slow
growth rate in housing. – Thank you all for coming (laughs). – Let me turn to John, who’s had a great deal of experience with building local participation, John? – There’s several presumptions
that you’re making. One is that the top down
decision make is benign. It’s almost like the philosopher prince and in fact, that person,
and those seven interests as you were describing,
are not necessarily benign. We could be talking about imposing, if it was Giuliani, imposing his will to create arenas, just
as much as Robert Moses to build a highway that
won’t accommodate buses that could take black people to the beach we could be talking about
a lot of different things in terms of the top down, what I’ve found consistently is that
developers want predictability. So it is possible for a
cross-acceptance approach where you have state, county, regional, New York City, which
functions as a region, New York City policies
that set out guidelines and expectations and
provide a means for appeal while leaving the decision
to a local entity, I won’t say what scale yet, ’cause I know that’s a later question, but while leaving the preliminary decision to a local entity again, with an appeal,
and the predictability is provided through plans, which New York City has decided
it does not do master plans but every other
municipality I’ve worked in in the North East does
plans and that creates a framework for
predictability that is akin to a totally as of right
zoning ordinances resolution which is what we use in New York City. A cross acceptance where there’s policies that are fully vetted with localities full consultation, localities have control over the immediate
decision, but answerable through an appeal, to a higher level creates the cross acceptance and it can be streamlined and it can be insulated from the cupidity of
transactional approvals. – So John, I always think that discussions are better when they get specifics because it’s just too
easy to think that we’re agreeing or know what the nature of our disagreement is
if we don’t get specific. So to get specific, if you had a plan in the city of New York, I can assure you that that plan would say we should attract high paying jobs, right? So let me get to the real. That’s the nature of
comprehensive planning is that it’s a bunch of quite vague because it has to be,
because it has to predict the future, quite vague
goals, so if you have a quite vague goal like,
we should attract good jobs then how is that gonna help when a city and a state are thinking about should we grow to attract
some, what we consider to be good jobs? – I would argue that.
– Consistent with your public.
– I would argue that the case and point of the
magic 25 thousand jobs was actually a failure of politics, not a failure of process.
– Okay. – The Governor and the Mayor who, by all accounts, are feuding, were so busy figuring out how to share credit that and making an assumption that Amazon, sorry, that large employer (laughs). It would be so inviting that everyone would forget everything
that’s gone before. – Okay, but as I
understood Paula’s argument and as I understood your argument, in making that kind of decision, we should have some process for. – Sure, if you’re saying a master plan is a mom and apple pie statement like there should be affordable housing there should be non-discrimination we should have economic
upwardly mobile jobs yeah, that’s not a
plan, that’s a statement of goals and objectives. A plan would get down
to level of specificity that would allow predictability. – So what would be the
level of specificity that we would have needed to have the kind of pubic participation that
you and I take it Paula, I don’t wanna put words in your mouth are talking about? – With regard to?
– With regard to a major employer (laughs). – Well that’s why there was a process that could have been used
in a roundabout way already in the sense that there
was a line of authority of consultation and authority who could have been consulted in
advance to take a pulse. – Who do you have in mind? – Clearly the community board leadership, the borough president, the council member president of the council. – But that’s David’s point, right? If you’re negotiating
with the major employer you can’t say, and just one second let me go through a sixty day process with the community board. – No, I don’t think the problem with that was ULURP, I think the
problem of that major employer was that Amazon’s main
concern was not having a president of union wages. – I don’t wanna discuss Amazon, ’cause I don’t wanna get
into what amazon did wrong and what the elected official did wrong. – The idea that.
– I think the problem with what you’re describing,
is what’s called a Black Swan? It’s so unique that it’s hard to say that the system actually can predict for someone coming from another region saying we’re gonna bring 25 thousands jobs but having said that, there is a way you could create a
process for streamlining in the event of something of this nature but I would actually turn more to lawyers to figure that one out. – What was the land use
decision at stake there? – Oh, that’s good. – There were a lot of land use decisions. – We never even found out
what they were gonna be. We were still talking about
the business level decisions in terms of tax credits and big
numbers being thrown around. – But the land use decisions was exactly the streamlining process
that John just talked about which is take out of the
city’s land use process and move into the Empire State
Development Corps process that was the streamlined decision? – That’s right.
– So no notification no review in public by our local entities that are entrusted to
do that and certainly no meaningful consultation, that’s where we landed, right?
– State control with consultation with the city’s leaders. – Yeah, I mean keep in mind, you’re gonna get a scoping hearing. You get SEQR, you get a scoping hearing but you’re gonna have to
decide about how much you want. If you want infinite
levels, you’re gonna get infinite levels of NIMBYism. If you want streamlined, you get SEQR scoping hearings from the state. Whenever you bypass ULURP basically you go into, it’s called
fast track, it aint that fast it involves lots of
negotiation with neg decs and you know, basically
trying to get out of the EIS and developers give out
goodies for that sort of stuff. But it’s impossible to
say you want streamlining unless you wanna limit participation. You can’t have it both ways and so when anybody says streamlining they say it all the time, developers just want predictability and everybody goes yeah,
we just want predictability but what developers predictably want is a flat tax on development
that’s fairly low and what neighbors predictably want is a park, a school, a fire truck tons of affordable housing and maybe the developers just walks
in and they don’t care so it just seems to me
that the apolitical idea that streamlining will somehow be able to be managed without
facing the dictatorship of the down payment and the homeowners seems to me like pie in the sky. – Okay, David, and then
given that we’ve reached such consensus on this issue (laughs) we’re gonna move to the local level. – We can just go on, I’ve
got, we can go on forever. – We agreed, maybe, that
a state might possibly should have control over
how much or what share of affordable housing,
although we talked about some of the dangers of that in states that are going in the other direction. We can’t agree on growth more generally. Is there anything else that it’s clear that the state should be able to decide. Let’s say that the state
wants to close down an obsolete prison, and has an idea of where that prison
should go, or a new prison should go in order to allow that prison to be closed down, should a state be able to say over a local
government’s objections it goes here, this is
the best place for it? Yes, no? – Can I just jump in for a sec? I think part of the issue
with the previous discussion and what can happen with
this next discussion (laughs) is that because it hasn’t worked right from either perspective, it’s like we can’t imagine
that it could work right and so once you add on that somebody that the state makes the final decision or has the power over
or something like that it really does limit what I think would be a very useful discussion
about what is the discussion that we should be having
about the public goods including housing with
the specificity about this kind of housing for
these kinds of people jobs, these kinds of jobs,
people with these kinds of skills, and how do we, if we could reach an
understanding about that and people could have
some level of agreement on the numbers and on
the types and all of that then I think some process
which is the state looking more at the overall
and then sub-entities really thinking about
okay, well what our area blah blah blah and having discussion with people about that,
so I think that it’s I understand why you’re doing it, you’re trying to push this to get to a very specific kind of
decision about the state gets to decide and I think it’s very hard to have that because we
haven’t had the other more important decisions, I think, more important discussions in decisions. – So, I totally agree, it’s really hard to have these conversations
separate from each other although at the end of the day, somebody has to make a decision when there isn’t consensus, John? – And the state would
at the end of the day. – So to turn to your example, again, the way it’s being posed as is a wise state dealing
with parochial interests. – That’s not always the case. – Exactly, in fact, it’s
especially not the case with regards to citing of NIMBYs, which tend to raise all sorts of issues about environmental justice,
bloating up the NIMBYs and neighborhoods that do not have as much political clout. The predictability
there would have to come from well reasoned plans and policies that to which, on some level politically, a state leadership is accountable to. Otherwise it’s simply a question of taking the NIMBY out of this district and putting it over there, because those are the people who voted for you, and those are the people
who didn’t vote for you. – So, to move to a local level, at the state level as far as I know we don’t have any proposals
for institutional design that would require cities
to have a comprehensive plan or that kind of thing, but we do have that discussion going
on at the city level, so let’s turn to the city
versus the neighborhoods, the sub-local issues, and let’s really let’s do a few definitional questions. So the first question is what do we mean by a neighborhood or sub-local,
if we’re talking about who gets to make a
decision about, let’s say just for example, where
a new jail might go in order to allow the closing of another obsolete jail, if we’re talking about who gets to make that decision, the city or the neighborhood, what
do we mean by neighborhood? – So I think that for our
understanding of neighborhoods again, generally, but
also in New York City, the most important neighborhood official is the city council person
and the basic reason why is these decisions eventually have to go through the city council and the city council
works because of a whole variety of institutional
facts about local politics ends up deferring to the
decisions of this council person who represents that area, and in that case the alternative is a city wide entity there are a whole variety of other potential sub-local institutions, but the ultimate power resides
in the city council person and for the perspective of producing what people in legislation call LULUs, local unwanted land uses,
there’s a lot of evidence that the move to district
election results in from at large elections,
resulted in less production so homeless shelters,
there’s a great paper by Clingermayer I believe, that shows that when jurisdictions move
from at large elections to district elections, they produce fewer locally unwanted land uses,
so that’s homeless shelters, garbage dumps, whatever it
is the people don’t want in their neighborhood,
and this gives reason there’s a lot of reasons
to have district elections and I’m not opposed to
them, but this gives good reason for understanding, thinking that, particularly
with respect to LULUs that city wide rather than
districted decision makers should be, we should empower them rather. – So Paula, do you agree,
is the city council person for a council district the neighborhood and should be allowed
to make the decision? – I don’t agree with
that, but I actually agree with a lot of what David just said, I just wanna reframe a little bit. – Huh. – What? Sorry, yeah.
– This is great! – I wanna know who the neighborhood is. I don’t wanna know about the districts. – I’ll answer that question also. So first of all, when we’re talking about making changes to existing
predictable zoning rules or granting exemptions to
them, which our mayor has done without any kind of notification, remember mayoral zoning overrides. – Okay, remember the question, Paula. – I do. So first of all, folks
are free to self identify as hey, you know what,
we’re impacted by this we’re gonna propose a change, of course when you’re talking about siting a jail it’s very unlikely that
people are gonna get together in their neighborhood and
say, hey you know what we would be a great site for a jail, but on the other hand,
the Van Alen Institute has put forward some wonderful concepts of what neighborhood based
community service centers that include places where
people can be held in detention would look like, and some neighborhoods might actually want those, if that idea of a jail with other amenities
was actually out there as something that neighborhoods
could ask for, some might. – So if the city council
member wants a jail and those people say we don’t want a jail, who decides? – Okay, so what David just described in terms of our councilmatic prerogative on land use decisions, that’s an extremely abbreviated version of local consultation, you have somebody who’s proposing a change can actually negotiate with, but they can’t do it until the very end of a process, where basically, what’s left to be
negotiated is not the site, it’s not the basic
parameters of the project, but it’s the paint job and maybe some of the small numbers. If that can be expanded, then certainly, the council member needs to have a role but not just at the very end, but at the beginning of the process. The community boards are an existing, perfectly viable vehicle for figuring out who needs to be in the
room at the beginning they’re not necessarily
the ones that represent the most impacted people on every project but they are in a good position to say you know what, we’re gonna figure out who those people are and
we’re gonna make sure that they’re at the table
with the decision make and depending on the kind of project whether it’s a slight
sub-zoning on a mid block or its a siting of a
jail, you’re gonna get a bigger or smaller group. – But just to be clear,
the community district the community board right
now has advisory power but not veto power,
you’re content with that? – I’m not talking about what’s going on inside of the land use review process which is a process that is only designed to make sure the public has access to what the decision makers are thinking I am talking about what
happens long before that. I am talking about before
a draft application for changes or exemptions is submitted to either the Board of
Standards and Appeals or the Department of City Planning. Once the application itself is finalized, the train’s kind of left the station and yes, maybe advisory
power, I almost say who cares what’s happening inside
ULURP as long as what happens before ULURP is truly meaningful. – Okay, and that takes
us back to the discussion of process and who the
actual decision maker is but Elaine wanted to jump in. – Yeah, so since I’m from a suburban area, we have loads of
neighborhood or variations of neighborhood control, they might have the name of a village
even, which is very tiny, but that process has been notorious for really promoting the status quo which, to go back to my opening remark is the status quo of
white supremacy run amok. Really very racially
segregated communities on Long Island, we’re among the 10th most racially segregated metro region and I say metro, I mean
that’s what Census calls us and we are, we’re almost three thousand, I realize, I mean you
know, three million rather, I realize we’re tiny in
comparison to New York City but that’s still a lot of people and so I definitely do not think
that the neighborhood level decision making around
all of these public goods is the preferable mechanism
and we have to look at the reality of what has happened, so after a while, you have to say okay, we keep getting the same result, why do we think that this process is really going to change, given all of the other parameters related here. – So John, can I ask you to come in on this question of who
is the neighborhood? John was involved in negotiating
the community process for Essex Street, right, and other places so who represents the neighborhood can we give that decision making, whatever the process is,
but somebody at the end has to make a decision, should it be the city council member,
should it be the, who else? – Clearly, in very, up until the question of who makes the final
decision, I was with ya. (laughs) – I wanna know who we
can hold accountable. I wanna know who gets to make the decision at the end of the day.
– At the end of the day because of the powers of conurbation, et cetera, at the end of the day, it’s gonna be whoever
has the highest office with an implementation tool. – What do you mean, an
implementation tool? – See, I think the problem that we’re. – The highest elected
office, which would be the city council member? – Well, the city council member at present only has a veto to the extent to which the mutual agreement of council people that they will vote as a block which was the equivalent of what the Board of Estimate
used to od back in the day when each borough president would vote with the other borough presidents and that’s a form of, and
it’s an interesting form of power, because it means that as a block, they can
depart from what the single council member wants, if they feel that there’s a political consequence. So if it was adversely racist to adversely not in the city’s interest, theoretically, the rest of the council
would not vote as a block but I think the problem
here is that we’re mixing big piece of watermelon with a lemon by in the same paragraphs
talking about affordable housing and prisons, and also,
I would agree with Paula that we’re talking about the
moment of community review for a proposal when we really
should be talking about the much earlier moment
when you create the plans and the frameworks and the consultation that goes in advance of those decisions. If you’re in the moment, you always are dealing with expediency. As opposed to rationality. – So let’s go there. Let’s assume that we had a perfect process where early in, we’re
gonna assume arguendo without admitting as to the truth or falsity of the following claim let’s assume arguendo that today’s system is too late, too late and
too many others things so we had an earlier system,
where the neighborhood however it’s defined, we
still haven’t agreed on that but however it’s defined,
is involved early on and the neighborhood says,
we don’t want any jails and the city council and the mayor say we need to have jails
in order to close Rikers which is the humane et cetera thing to do and this is where the best
place for the jail is. Who decides? We’re early on and we
already have a conflict. – Alright, so in this case, the question of transparency is
actually very important. If the city said here’s
our site location criteria does everyone agree with it? And then in a cross acceptance way say well, you know, they have a point but they have a point that
we have to make a choice there’s a trade off, we’re
not gonna go with their point and that third point is just plain stupid. – Who gets to say that? – Well in the end, for
something like siting a prison, it’s going to be the city,
because the alternatives are not in one neighborhood. If you’re talking about
affordable housing, the alternatives can
be in one neighborhood. So that’s why I say, it’s a big watermelon versus a lemon, it’s easy to site a lemon. A big watermelon, it might not fit on that tiny cocktail table, so I would say it’s a question of proportionality. – Okay, but as I heard
it, early in the process if we have a major disagreement, the city decides not the neighborhood. – Yeah, and I would agree with that, and I also think if we
stuck to our principles and everybody could get a jail, I mean if we decided that, you know what we really need jails that
are not hundreds of people or however many are in a jail, but we need jails that are smaller, that look like a house, but obviously have very strong bars and
all of that other stuff that we want for protection, but I mean, and I’m being
only a little facetious, then everybody would, it would push, I’m not saying that people would say please bring the jail to my place, but I’m saying, it would push people to say okay, I could
get the jail next week and so let’s make sure
that we have agreement on what the jails are gonna look like how they’re gonna function
within the community what you get when you get a jail and it wouldn’t make it a seamless process but I think it would allow us to live with whatever happened. – I have a feeling we probably have some disagreement on those process issues is that correct or is
everybody in agreement? – We already said what
we had to say, it’s fine. It’s where we should probably move on. – Can I actually just add a little detail? We do have a City Planning Commission. It is empowered to file applications for the city as a whole,
we’re talking about applications for land use actions and that City Planning Commission can take fair share
principles into account when it does its siting and then it is then responsible for
hosting the meaningful community consultation, not
just a hearing at the end but something truly, truly meaningful where community members are
involved in design decisions. – In a world where the
city council does defer and that ultimate decisions are city wide in that process, then
there’s no way around this problem that you can, again, you can build lots of
methods and other things but ultimately, the
problem is that we have a political system in which we defer substantially to locals
and locals in the form of the city council person
and we can think about ways to challenge that or change, but there’s a lot of
dressing around the problem that is, I think ultimately,
doesn’t help you see at the core of the issue. Jail’s an interesting one
because you can imagine a distribution, but lots
of things you can’t. So for a lot of things
that are gonna be huge economies of scale,
and I don’t know enough about jails to know about that, but for lots of other LULUs
you’re gonna need to have big intuitions and that’s gonna be a siting problem no matter what, and you’re gonna need to make this local versus city wide decision. We have this problem at the national level with nuclear waste,
it’s an endemic problem and you can’t talk your away around it with consultation and other stuff. – Let’s just move to the $64,000 question which is given that
this is an institutional design issue that we’ve got a design for good times and bad times, according to your political calculation then what kinds of things should the Charter Revision Commission
be thinking about changing in terms of the institutional design. So let me just start with, to go back to where we started on the state, should the Charter Revision Commission require, for example, the city council to set minimums about how much affordable housing a neighborhood, let’s say that we’re gonna
define it by council district or community district,
that should they be able to set targets for how much
or minimum requirements for how much affordable
housing a neighborhood should have to have and
how are we gonna get around in a Charter Revision type of way, how are we gonna get
around the possibility of deference to the council
member of councilmatic veto. – So I don’t think it should be limited to affordable housing, I
think that the city should this is a proposal that Rick and I have developed over the years we called Zoning Budgets, that the city as a whole and the City Planning
Commission realistically should propose a needed
amount of overall housing and the city council would
vote on the total amounts and then the city would distribute this across its variety of
political subdivisions councilmatic districts, in this case and you could, until you met this target you could never approve down zonings and you have to have someone
to fast track approval until the housing target
the city itself set and given this, if you
wanted to propose some change you have to propose somewhere else in the city for it to
go, and so that’s the basic structure of the idea, which doesn’t require every
district to have something necessarily, so much as it requires, if you’re going to
deviate from your target you’ve gotta identify
somewhere in somewhere else’s district to put it and the idea is that this would force conflict and would force negotiation that you can’t just say not
here, and I don’t know where but rather, if not here, in your district and then that would create
this type of conflict that we think would be healthy and would leave the city
council and the city in its proper decision making role of figuring out not technical issues, but broader policy
questions about the overall amount of housing the city needs. – Let me get people’s
proposals to deal with that problem out on the table and then we can go back to questions that one panel member has about another panel member’s suggestion so Paula, let’s go to you, in terms of, are there things that should be done in the Charter Revision
Commission to require the city of specify for each neighborhood what their share of housing is? Do you have proposals
about how that would work or whether that should be? – I’m trying to figure
out where in the flow of housing development
that would actually fit since most housing development
happen as of right. So I think that what we can do is regulate the developers, most folks are building as of
right, they’re not asking anybody’s permission, they’re
not changing the zoning, tell em they gotta build
something affordable and let’s talk about what that should be. I really wanna drive home the point that zoning isn’t actually development zoning is dreams about the future. Some of those futures are soon, some of them are far away, we actually I’ve heard we have the zoning to house 12 million people in the city of New York I am not a planner, I have not done that calculation myself, but we have lots of unused zoning
that hasn’t been utilized, that’s interesting. That sounds to me like
zoning isn’t the issue, something else is. – So your proposal is a
mandatory inclusionary housing imposed on everybody, even
as of right development. – Yeah, sure, why not,
that sounds great (laughs). – Rick? – I would say that you don’t wanna focus on neighborhoods but on city wide goals. As soon as you bring in the neighborhoods, you bring in hydraulic
forces that will cause the housing goals to be forced downward. I would point out also that the proposal Paula just made was made in New Jersey it was called Growth Share, the idea was if you build a certain
percentage must be affordable and the New Jersey Supreme Court quite rightly struck
that down as an obviously exclusionary device, and
the reason of course is the developer always has a
choice of just not building building less and the
neighbors were imposing inclusionary requirements
in order to make sure the developers didn’t build in fact, the New Jersey Supreme
Court in trying to defend Mount Laurel, often considered to be the most pro-housing opinion,
heroically faced down Chris Christie and his
Council on Affordable Housing by saying you shall not require a percentage higher than 25%, because any percentage higher than that was obviously exclusionary. So I think you need to
worry about any proposals that make building affordable housing conditional on whether developers build ’cause there’s plenty of neighbors who are perfectly happy to have developers build nothing whatsoever, and I also think you need to be very careful about having neighborhood specific housing goals because that mobilizes neighbors like a kicked hornets nest,
David and I’s proposal for a zoning budget is a city-wide budget where we say over the entire city the zoning envelope must include housing of such a variety in
certain transit rich zones and once you set that goal
and make it an iron-clad goal that when not met automatically entitles a developer to a map amendment,
that’s my happy addition my dream world, that would be something worth putting in a
Charter and it could have a very big effect. – City wide targets but an ability of a local developer, of a developer on a local site to invoke
those city wide targets? – Yeah.
– Okay, Elaine? – Yeah, so I can’t speak
to the City Charter but I can say that in suburban areas like Long Island National Suffolk County we would love to have some
as of right abilities. The only thing that’s as of right is single family homes and I do think that I lean more toward having it all over requiring it all over and then that there is
some process perhaps to under extreme circumstances, there needs to be some accommodation but that’s really
extreme, it can’t just be that we don’t want that
housing kind of a thing and it can’t be some of the things that are brought out around, oh that means we’re gonna have too
many kids in the school I mean I always thought that schools were for educating
children, but that’s one of the ones that they
bring out, we’re gonna have more children coming to
the school, et cetera. – Right, and channeling
Rick here for a minute, he would say we have to
learn from the experience in New Jersey where
neighborhoods did come out with sudden profound
interest in environmental protection etcetera that
trumped affordable housing. John? – Your premise at one
point was that we’d have wild disagreements and what I just heard was a consistence agreement,
if you could add up what everyone said and graft one policy around that, so I’ll just answer that as opposed to debating, you cannot divorce land use decisions from capital budget and operational decisions. We need to attend to
things like if new schools are needed, if new parks are needed, right now with its only power
being land use decisions, the Department of City
Plannings’s effectively the Department of
Zoning, and to the extent that it actually wants to be proactive, it’s the Department of Upzoning, so unless it gets back
the capital budget control or there’s some other
mechanism for inter agency and long term planning,
where you’re coordinating the capital and operating budget with land use decisions, we’re putting we’re creating a sharper
debate than is necessary. I was inspired, I think it was Paula, but it might have been Elaine, description of how we can make. – We look alike.
– Yeah, I’ll take it. – If every community was
in fear of getting a prison we would rethink how we do prisons and we would design them so that if they’re not a inherently beneficial use they’re certainly a less harmful use in the neighborhoods where they go. – We both said that. – So, the same thing goes with housing. – Let me probe on that, and
then I’ll probe a little bit and please get yours cards in, we’re gonna turn to questions from the audience, but when you say the capital budget so one proposal that’s being discussed in the Charter Revision Commission is giving the capital budget more weight as a plan, more like a comprehensive plan. Is that something that you would favor? – For sure. – Anyone else? Rather than, let me put it more starkly. Rather than a separate,
comprehensive plan? Can we rely on the capital budget as our comprehensive plan? – Certainly not (laughs). – That’s good, you disagreed
with yourself, that’s awesome. Excellent panel behavior over there. – So why not, on your latter point? Why can’t a capital budget which allocates where the roads go, where the schools go etcetera etcetera why
isn’t that sufficient for a comprehensiveness plane? – Well, think about who prepares what. The Office of Management and Budget and anyone who’s responsible
for capital budget will have fiscal responsibility
as their primary concern as opposed to impacts, as opposed to longterm economic health, as opposed to any other specific interest. – So if the capital budget
involved all of those other agencies and wasn’t
just coming from OMB? – Could you merge a capital
budget with a master plan, with a master plan for the land use? Yeah, that’s in fact the
way it’s normally done outside of New York City. – Okay, so I’m gonna turn to questions from the audience, when folks talk about NIMBYism, do they think the term applies in the same way to low wealth, people of color communities
fighting for power and exclusive wealthier neighborhoods saying no to things? Can we tease out this distinction more. So let me put a fine point on that. Should we allow communities
that are low income people of color communities
to have more control over land use in their communities than other neighborhoods? Comments? – I think the problem is
the operative word control. Because of the point you made earlier what’s good for the goose
is good for the gander. If you’re talking about
restorative justice, and fairness and a recognition
that wealthier communities have more political clout
but also more resources and a greater ability to
leverage the private marketplace for public benefit, I think you then need to counteract those liabilities in a very affirmative way, so that can be greater dedication of
resources for planning, that can be earlier
consultation, especially given the cultural or other differences between the decision
makers and the locality. It can be dedicating capital budgets to deal with the fact it’s
not just the distribution of the NIMBYs, it’s the
distribution of the benefits. Which communities get the
renovated park, for example. And I would also argue
that it’s taking advantage of civic and local
non-profit organizations because frequently, in
the absence of let’s say political clout through donations or oh, we both went to Pratt
or Columbia or wherever. – NYU maybe.
– NYU! That the community
development corporations and their like provide a
certain type of empowerment and a certain type of comfort level for community people to
express their outlooks to. – Different kinds of engagement, different levels of engagement but not different levels of control. Anyone disagree with that? – Yeah, institutionalized control. – Anyone disagree with that? More public engagement etcetera? – The one thing I’ll add is that I think our current system is basically the opposite of that. That systems of local deference have the effect of giving
stronger veto rights in areas where people are more organized so what does local control mean, it means you can’t build
in Greenwich Village maybe unless you’re NYU (laughs). – We don’t have time
for that today (laughs). Is any city getting it right? Any promising models of fair, relatively fast public inclusive review? Who should we be trying to be? – Minneapolis. – Minneapolis. Because it just passed. – It’s big city-wide
rezoning that involved as a result of a state-wide mandate or region-wide mandate, that they have to do so and this kind of really cool engagement process but they changed the rules to massively upzone around transit and to end single-family zoning for all intents and purposes, and allow three apartment triplexes on every single family
unit in all of Minneapolis. And that’s a pretty exciting model, it’s city-wide, it’s
focused around transit but is also comprehensive. It’s a very exciting idea, but it comes from a
mandate for replanning. – From the state.
– From the state. – Anyone else have a favorite city that we should be looking to? Okay, how to best promote neighborhood racially
ethnic and economic mixing or integration and who gets to decide what fair housing means in a community? – You guys are asking the small questions. (audience laughs) – I don’t understand the question because it seems to
imply that fair housing is a color of the month or something. Fair housing now it’s this, now it’s something else, I don’t get it. – Well, I mean there is a
vibrant debate of course about whether fair housing should focus on opening up opportunities
for affordable housing for example in neighborhoods
that are better resourced or should give the
neighborhood that aren’t well resourced now more resources, so you could have a split in the community among neighborhoods about which of those to prioritize, right? – Well then, you’re not using
fair housing in terms of historically, dealing
with housing segregation and discrimination, you’re
talking about fairness, I don’t know what it is exactly but you’re talking about
having housing available in a variety of communities or something? – Yes. Integration, right? – Well that is integration, I was trying to think of another way to say what the writer might have been talking about. It’s not fair housing in terms of the Fair Housing Act and
fighting discrimination and segregation in housing. – I take it that the
purpose of the question is really to focus us in
on who gets to decide. Let’s imagine that the state said our definition of fair housing is that every well resourced community now has to open the doors for development that would lead to 10% affordable housing within that neighborhood. Should that state be able
to make that decision should the city be able
to make that decision or should neighborhoods have
some say in that decision? – Okay, I thought we had that discussion? – Right, we did have that discussion, so the question is, is
there anything different once you introduce the fair housing aspects of it specifically? – Yeah, it gets enormously
technical very fast. One of the hard things to understand about Mount Laurel is
the actual cross subsidy, is coming from the
increased value of the land, because it started with an upzoning, because we’re working within a system where developers have to make the same profit ratio, the architects
have to get their same fee for every single unit,
the bank gets the same lending et cetera, so to do in some communities to then provide deep discounts in the cost
of housing is very viable and other communities
it’s not very viable. If you wanna build affordable housing, in a place like Ossining you have to go to huge densities to get
the same number of units where in Scarsdale, all you’d have to do is add maybe three units and you can get that same density, so this is
a highly technical question it’s a perfect example
of where you don’t do it as a negotiation based on expediency, you do your homework in advance, you have a set of policies, you can have a series of trade offs, if
you do five deep discounts five deeply affordable
units, or you can do ten workforce housing
units or 20 what’s called lease cost housing units, I
don’t think it’s something where you can decide it on the state. It’s the perfect example
of where you have to do it through cross acceptance. – If homeowners are over represented on community boards,
as was claimed earlier how will community board term limits affect affordable housing development? So will limiting the terms
of the community boards. – So I was just looking up some statistics and New York City is 55%
renters and that stat only drops. – It’s about 70% renters. – Okay, great, but what
I was just looking at was actually a study of
renting and home ownership across age and it starts
to flip after age 50. So you can start to think okay, so there’s term limits, so people maybe are on community boards
now who’ve stayed on them for a long time who are renters when they got on the
board, than they bought in the neighborhood
and they’ve just stayed and maybe their interests have shifted but the truth is, renters in New York City are not transient, almost half live in rent stabilized apartments
and even those that don’t either continue to rent or they buy a home and they stay, so I think term limits will start to shift the demographic so folks who are older
have been on the board have been there for less time have been there for the termed out time and then we’ll get more
renters on the board who are looking at the city differently. Let me pick up on something that was said a little bit earlier
about what should we do to affirmatively further fair housing adding affordable housing to places that don’t have it is a great idea, adding amenities to places
where low income folks live so they can feel
secure in staying there that’s a great idea,
adding higher income people to places where low income people live, that’s not a good idea,
that’s just gonna push out the low income people, though it does, when you look at the stats.
– Paula, I’m gonna rule you out. We have many many forums fair housing but this is at bottom about fair housing I wanna be clear who gets to control is at bottom about how integrated economically and racially
our neighborhoods become and we’ve talked about that. Does anyone think that Charter revision will result in a better system? (audience laughs) – Based on what’s been discussed, it’s almost likely to
make a much worse system. – Paula? – It depends on if you come out to vote, it depends on what gets on the ballot. – Rick? – Low turn out election,
open agenda, equals disaster. (audience laughs) – Elaine. – I’m gonna pass on that one. – Let me take it up to your level what if we had a Constitutional convention at the state level to
discuss how to deal with the state’s affordable housing crisis? Would that make things better or worse? – I think that’s a political question in terms of what might you lose if you opened up to have a
Constitutional convention. Along with what might you gain. – Also the fear on
Charter revisions, right? Exactly the same question. – Same fear? – John? – Net better. – Pardon? – In the net, better.
– In the net better, because? – It’s overdue and I think that there’s a the city’s in a very different place than where it was last time,
so we can respond better to the trends of the last 20 years. – Okay, great, so I really
wanna thank our panel. I can’t say that we’ve
had a kumbaya moment but I hope that we have laid out really the issues that are confronting us with the Charter revision
and with designing a better system in general, so I wanna thank our panelists for being thoughtful.
(audience applauds) provocative.
– Thank you, Vicki. – Thank you so much.

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