Bonislawski vs. Kiel: A Fight to the Bloody Death
I read Adam Bonislawski’s article with enthusiasm (The Life and Death of Rent Control, May 25) and I’m glad Noah Osnos responded with another accurate description of the rent regulation fiasco in this city. It is shocking that most people who live here, especially the young and largely un-regulated (coincidentally the L’s readership) continue to support a program that actually harms them. The landlord’s irresponsibility in fixing that leak? The grafitti on the front door? The ugly lighting in the hallways? The stairwell filthy? You have rent regulation to thank for that. With no competition and an impossibly tight housing market, landlords have to do about zilch to rent their falling-apart apartments for high prices. And we are all to eager to comply. I’ve lived around the country, and have universally paid lower rent, in better quality buildings, with more responsive management everywhere else. This doesn’t have to be.
But what is more shocking, is that the following week (The Building of City Hell, June 8) you run another op-ed which completely contradicts the wisdom of Mr. Bonislawski’s. The Mayor’s proposed development plans could quite possibly be savior for the high-rent and lousy conditions we have been enduring. Unfortunately the plans have been opposed by neighborhood groups and lots of young people, including Mr. Kiel, and organizations such as the Williamsburg Warriors — largely on the grounds that they don’t include enough “affordable housing” — which is code word for more rent regulation. The irony is that mainstream leftist belief sells the argument that development raises prices — while all Economics 101 texts say just the opposite!
Just last week we learned how reducing regulation leads to benefits for many people; the same is true of development. More housing means lower prices and better quality. So why is Kiel espousing the old-line rhetoric of “the intractability of the profit motive” being the problem.
Growth — in places that can handle it — will bring us more public amenities such as parks; jobs and economic development, and the environmental benefit of density and transit, while thwarting the ceaseless sprawl to the suburbs and south.
I’m totally confused by the L’s editorial board’s contradictory opinions. But I’m glad to see the L debating the issues in the first place.
I’d like to invite all like-minded readers to join the debate, about what kind of growth is “smart growth” at the “smartgrowthny” yahoo group, an organization devoted to defining what good growth is in this city.
Doug Michael Chaplan
[The Editors respond: The issue of rent control/development/affordable housing in New York doesn’t breakdown along the traditional lines of left and right. In fact, there are many intelligent, engaged New Yorkers with strong and divergent viewpoints on both sides of this issue. Rather than focus exclusively on one of these positions, we’d like to give readers the chance to read many.]