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January 04, 2004

Atrios, Matt Y and I Agree

Height restrictions suck and cut down on the supply of housing in urban areas like New York City.

See Atrios (also here) and Matt Y agree that "neighborhood preservation" is often an excuse to shut down tall buildings which are often the only affordable housing for regular income folks.

I also object to zoning in New York for a different kind of aesthetics than that which motivates the "freeze the neighborhood character" preservationists. To me, New York has an organic life, fueled by new immigrants, new buildings, and creative destruction in the best sense of the word. I don't mind efforts to save true architectural gems, but part of the joy and energy of the city is that no street is really the same a generation later.

If you want static lifeless neighborhoods, move to the suburbs. In the city, especially New York City, the drive to keep accepting new arrivals means that the wrecking ball and the pursuit of the sky by new buildings is and should remain an inherent drive of city economics and policy.

Now, I would condition restricting height restrictions on promises to provide some housing for lower-income folks and make sure the taxes are directed to keep mass transit well funded to service the crowds-- but that's just the kind of centralized public policy that has always worked hand-in-hand with vibrant urban growth.

Posted by Nathan at January 4, 2004 05:06 PM