Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crain's bashes CBAs

Crain's New York Business published an article last year calling CBAs "extortion" and "zoning for sale." These criticisms were repeated last week in an article written by the same author, Alair Townsend, this time bashing the Kingsbridge Armory CBA campaign.

Townsend points out that the Bronx has a higher unemployment rate than other parts of New York, and she faults the borough president and CBA supporters for opposing a project that would create hundreds of jobs. But the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance is not opposing development, and it's certainly not opposing new jobs; the coalition, rather, is opposing low road development and dead-end, poverty wage jobs.

Townsend also contends that the city council can't force the developer to pay a living wage or require union neutrality. Such conditions on project approval might be found to be unconstitutional exactions (see here for background), but Townsend oversimplifies the issues. Most importantly, the wages and unionization issues are not the only concerns that have been raised about the project. The borough president cited concerns about the project's impacts on traffic and existing retail establishments, among other things, and similar issues were also discussed in the draft environmental impact statement. It's completely permissible for the city to take these issues into account when deciding whether or not to approve the project. (See sections 2-04 to 2-06 of the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure Rules for more on this.)

Supporting a CBA for the armory redevelopment is not "pay to play," as Townsend suggests. The CBA campaign in this case has a wide base of community support, and local politicians would be remiss if they didn't consider the community's needs during the planning review process.

1 comment:

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