Dystopian Urbanism Fall 2020/Winter 2021

Urban ReviewHunter | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021College i URBAN REVIEW FALL 2020/WINTER 2021 DYSTOPIAN URBANISM

Editor in Chief: Associate Editor: Kevin Ritter Rachel Bondra

Writers: Article Editors: Charles Christonikos Salome Gvinianidze Francesca Fernandez-Bruce Helen Skirchak Stephen Hanrahan Kevin Ritter Jenn Hendricks Rachel Bondra Sus Labowitz Tess Guttières Max Marinoff Ben Foster Aleksander Miletic Sean Sonneman Craig Notte KC Alvey Kathleen Ross Gabriel Lefferts Ben West-Weyner Jess Greenspan Lily Zaballos Michael Horwitz

Faculty Advisor: Interviewers: Matt Lasner Rachel Bondra Kevin Ritter Madeline Schoenfeld

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 ii TABLE OF CONTENTS

EDITORIAL STATEMENT: "Things Are Bad" by Kevin Ritter p. 4




THE PANOPTIC GAZE: Can the U.S. Constitution Prevent Unlawful Searches and Seizures in Smart Cities? by Craig Notte p. 18

NYPD: POLICING UNCHECKED AND UNBOUND The Silver Bullet We Must Retire by Ben West-Weyner p. 24


Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 1 SECTION TWO: ECOLOGICAL DYSTOPIAS

LEFT IN THE DUST: Privatizing Cities by Jenn Hendricks p. 39


NUCLEAR DOUBLE-THINK: The Dangerous Decision to Close Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) by Charles Christonikos p. 51


FROM HOT LUNCH TO GRAB AND GO: Lessons in Resiliency During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Lily Zaballos p. 60

ON THE EVE OF EVICTION: Looking for Lessons in a Koch-Era Crisis by Francesca Fernandez-Bruce p.67

AN INTERVIEW WITH MEHDI HERIS by Rachel Bondra and Madeline Schoenfeld p. 73


SOLIDARITY, NOT CHARITY: Mutual Aid Efforts During COVID-19 by Stephen Hanrahan p. 83


Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 2 DYSTOPIAN URBANISM

Photo by Kevin Ritter Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 3 EDITORIAL STATEMENT "Things Are Bad"

The past year has been rough, and things are only getting Yet cities also took steps to reckon with the nation’s long tougher. As policy makers and planners, we have seen history of white supremacy this year. Nationwide protests, dozens of massive shifts that promise to upend cities as following the murders of and Breonna Taylor, we know them. highlighted not just individual extrajudicial murders at the hands of police officers, but also the ways that policing, During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic spread as an institution, is a historically and currently racist through the country like wildfire—not to mention, of course, construction. While protests endured actual wildfires ravaged large swathes of the West Coast. heavy and militarized police retaliation throughout the Certain segments of the population have fled cities in summer months, law enforcement’s response to the search of less dense neighborhoods and fresh air; fleeing overwhelmingly white crowd that stormed the Capitol residents took their incomes with them. Many people also Building on January 6, 2021 was disappointing. Police found themselves without work due to the pandemic; the officers took selfies with insurrectionists; some law Federal Reserve recently reported that twenty percent of enforcement personnel opened the gates to let the mob the nation’s lowest-paid workers are now unemployed. in; many off-duty police officers were in the crowd, even While eviction moratoriums have been extended in many flashing their badges to Capitol Police as they stormed the parts of the country, a new epidemic of housing insecurity building. Law enforcement’s racist double standards were will surely follow as soon as the moratoriums are lifted on full display. and renters are unable to pay back-rent. As many workers find themselves unemployed or working from home, and The rise of tech corporations has opportunistically individuals follow public health advice to avoid crowds, accelerated during a time of crisis. Amazon’s foothold has only expanded this year as people stay at home and order by Kevin Ritter products online; the tech giant provides backbreaking jobs, but at low hourly wages and without benefits. After the recent failed coup attempt, tech corporations tried public transit ridership has plummeted. Record-low to curb future right-wing violence by deactivating the ridership prompts service cuts as city and state officials accounts of conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump, and threaten fare hikes, the burden of which will almost eliminating rightwing social media platform, Parler, from certainly be carried by low-income essential workers. As Google and Apple’s app stores, and by canceling its cities face declining tax revenues, budget crises loom at contract with Amazon Web Services. While such decisions the same moment that their residents are in dire need of will hopefully curb would-be insurrectionists in the short social services. Federal aid to cities and individuals has term, the move signals alarm for the future. As large tech been sporadic and inadequate. This situation has forced corporations further consolidate their power, they subject cities and states into an untenable situation—reopening the digital public sphere to opaque, often algorithmic segments of the economy in order to mitigate the massive policies designed, not by lawmakers accountable to financial hardships the pandemic has wrought also has the people, but by tech executives beholden to their the effect of increasing infection and death rates from the shareholders. virus.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 4 Essentially, things are bad. The world feels dystopian—even apprehension about nuclear power than with any coherent more so now than when the Urban Review released a call green energy policy. for pitches for a themed issue titled “Dystopian Urbanism.” Of course, the dystopia we find ourselves in now (of The final set of articles looks at strategies that mitigate or racist policing, a massive housing crisis exacerbated by build a way out of dystopia. Lily Zaballos looks to New a pandemic in which Black and Latinx communities see York City schools’ quick pivot to providing grab-and- devastatingly worse health outcomes, and right-wing go meals during the pandemic as a lesson in resiliency white supremacists keen on extrajudicial violence) is and responsiveness for urban food systems generally. not necessarily a new one. Our current dystopia has its Francesca Fernandez-Bruce draws on the Koch era’s historical roots in the white supremacy that is impossible homelessness crisis to understand the escalating housing to untangle from the United States’ founding. crisis during the pandemic and provides hope for a future with housing for all. An interview with new UPP professor In this issue of the Urban Review, contributors take up the Mehdi Heris posits the power of data analysis as a tool question of “dystopia,” and specifically its implications for equitable planning and policy. An interview with in urban policy and planning. Kathleen Ross opens the Cleveland-based artist, Jimmie Woody, highlights his issue in an essay advocating for a dystopian imaginary as Woody Arts Incubator Project, which aims to address some a tool to puncture the veil of capitalist realism, the feeling of the cultural inequities in the Cleveland region. Finally, that there is no way out of the capitalist hellscape we did Stephen Hanrahan engages with mutual aid efforts not ask to live in but in which we find ourselves living, during the pandemic, looking at the ways that community nonetheless. solidarity can fight against and mitigate the state’s failures.

The first set of articles takes up the question of power in This issue takes up “dystopia” not from a place of fatalistic the urban sphere. Sus Labowitz and Craig Notte, in their nihilism, but from a stance that only through seeing and essays, take up the ways that smart cities may present articulating the problem can we begin to find our way out. significant privacy issues as tech corporations and the state begin to wield instrumentarian power across public urban space through smart infrastructure that harvests both cell phone and biometric data. Ben West-Weyner explores the “untenable” police occupation of New York City, and the department’s extensive recent history of racist violence. Max Marinoff examines the “compliance sandwich,” the pandemic-initiated executive order that bars must sell food alongside alcoholic beverage orders; the order that does little to actually slow the spread of COVID-19, merely acting as a small part of an ineffective patchwork of legislation.

Next, authors take up ecological dystopias. Jenn Hendricks looks at new developments in Nigeria and Egypt that proclaim themselves as “green cities,” but in reality are developments designed for the mega-rich that deepen local inequality. Alek Miletic examines the Gowanus Canal, a polluted Superfund site; its forthcoming rezoning may seriously threaten the remediation efforts that have been made to clean up the Canal. Charles Christonikos, in his essay, explores the closing of the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant, and the ways that its shuttering is far more tied up with societal

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 5 PLANNING THE DYSTOPIAN CITY

In his novel The City & the City, urban fantasy writer Thus, the worker consents to her exploitation by viewing it China Miéville depicts two distinct cities that exist simulta- as inevitable. neously in the same location.1 Citizens of each city must, at Acknowledging the dystopian streaks in con- all times, carefully ignore the existence of the other, a skill temporary society—and particularly in the contemporary perfected from an early age. To in any way “see” any aspect city—offers a compelling means with which to puncture of the other city is to “breach,” a vile, unthinkable, and pun- this sense of inevitability. Many literary theorists have de- ishable crime. A breach is discussed in the same hushed scribed the way in which dystopian fiction, far from being tones in which one discusses a particularly depraved mur- an expression of nihilistic hopelessness, is an invitation to der, and those who breach are captured and mysteriously human agency. Though often set in the future, dystopias disappeared. There is perhaps no better analogy for the are fundamentally lamentations of the present, in which, experience of the contemporary city than this perpetual as literary theorist James Berger writes, the “events envi- act of unseeing. sioned have already occurred, have as good as occurred.”3 Consider twenty-first century New York City, where At heart, dystopian visions—these glimpses of what has as homeless shelters house almost 60,000 people, over a fifth good as occurred—thus make demands of the present out of New Yorkers live below the poverty line, and the top five of a genuine hope for the future. percent of households earn eighty-eight times more than Given this orientation toward time—this belief in the bottom twenty percent.2 The two New York Cities in making interventions in the present in order to alter the this context aren’t so much the city of the wealthy and the future—one might consider the dystopian mindset an in- city of everyone else, disparate as those worlds are. Rather, herent meditation on planning. As historians Michael D. they are the city of inevitability and the city of untenabili- Gordin, Helen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash argue, dystopias ty—a city where things are, ostensibly, as they should and are not mere imaginative acts but also “concrete practices must be, and the city where things cannot continue to be through which historically situated actors seek to reimag- as they are. What does it mean, and require, to breach and ine their present and transform it into a plausible future.”4 see that second city? This is remarkably similar to geographer Ruth Wilson Gilm- ore’s description of the “power to plan” as “[having] some by Kathleen Ross sense of how to secure the future.”5 The use of the word “power” here is key. To secure a future that differs from the present in any meaningful, positive way is to exert a form Writers and theorists across many disciplines have of power. Is this a power that planners currently possess, long described the force with which what is represents or are they constrained by a sense of the present city as itself as what must be. Perhaps most influentially, the po- inevitable? And how can the present city be inevitable if litical theorist Antonio Gramsci developed the concept it was, in the not too distant past, unimaginably different? of “cultural hegemony.” Writing between 1929 and 1935, Gramsci sought to explain the strange resilience of capital- ism, which had failed to provoke the widespread workers’ Capitalism and the Changing City revolutions that Karl Marx had presented as inescapable. In the mid-twentieth century, a sort of Ford- Capitalism succeeds, Gramsci argued, not through direct ist-Keynesian compromise reigned, in which strong cor- repression so much as by naturalizing its exploitative re- porate power was partially held in check by robust social lationships. The economic and social relationships of the welfare provisions by the state, strong unions, and rising present become a sort of common sense, and that col- wages through the late 1960s. Nationally, Fordist mass lectively held common sense becomes a sort of consent. production required commensurate mass consumption, thus encouraging Keynesian interventions by the state to

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 6 ensure a working class with sufficient buying power. Sim- of “planned shrinkage” shut down basic services such as ilar compromises operated at the scale of the city. Urban firehouses in poor neighborhoods throughout the city. historian Richard Foglesong, for example, argues that ur- Unfortunately, these cuts represented not just tem- ban planning emerged precisely to mediate between in- porary emergency actions but a permanent foreclosure of dustrial capitalists’ contradictory needs. Land within the what was municipally possible, mirroring similar foreclo- industrial city, for instance, had to be both privately owned sures nationally and internationally. Far from destabilizing and maintain certain social characteristics, as when indus- capitalist hegemony, these enormous shifts in the roles trialists required infrastructural interventions from the state, and power of capital, the state, and workers were quickly, such as streets or transit, or the provision of affordable housing for workers. In general, urban industrial- ists benefited from the provision of not only affordable housing but other social goods as well. Public education provided an educated workforce, and public tran- sit ensured that workers could reach their jobs. Supported by the strength of collec- tive bargaining and working-class activ- ism generally, industrial cities provided a now unimaginable array of social goods. Mid-twentieth century New York City op- erated a massive tuition-free public uni- versity system, free museums, and twen- ty-four municipal hospitals alongside a further array of public clinics. Beginning with a rent freeze in 1943, New York City has maintained the longest-running rent control program in the country. In 1950, a subway fare and a bus fare cost ten and Photo: Kevin Ritter seven cents respectively (the equivalent of $1.08 and 76 cents today).6 quietly, and thoroughly absorbed into prevailing ideolo- In the 1970s, however, major shifts began to chip gies. The post-Fordist system that followed was accompa- away at such provisions, challenging prevailing notions of nied by a new dominant form of common sense: neolib- what the state and municipalities owed their citizens. On eralism. Attending declines in wages and social provision the national level, a precipitous decline in both the Keynes- had to not only be ideologically justified but also, as Gram- ian welfare state and union power began to take hold. In sci would argue, justified in a way that made them seem New York City specifically, similar shifts were helped along natural and inevitable. It is from precisely this need that a by a fiscal crisis in 1975. As manufacturing relocated, sub- figure like former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher urbanization cut into tax revenue, and the economy stag- can emerge, famously declaring of austerity in the U.K that nated nationwide, New York City teetered dangerously “there is no alternative.” on the brink of bankruptcy. The resultant crisis was imme- The cultural theorist Mark Fisher termed this diately blamed on the city’s generous provision of social strengthened sense of inevitability “capitalist realism,” apt- goods. President Ford famously vowed to refuse New York ly described as a form of hegemony so total that “capital- City aid, regarding the fiscal crisis as a “day of reckoning” ism seamlessly occupies the horizons of the thinkable.” 8 By that the city had earned with its spending.7 Subsequent re- denying alternatives, capitalist realism determines not only forms and loan requirements demanded brutal cuts. With- what is possible in the present but also in the future, trans- in a year, subway and bus fares had been raised, hospitals forming the future into a sort of ceaseless present. The had been closed, CUNY had instituted tuition, and a policy political scientist Francis Fukuyama infamously embraced

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 7 this ceaseless present, calling liberal democracy and free This obligation is enforced in part by the real and market capitalism “the end of history,” a moment in which serious power of the real estate industry, which, combined further meaningful change was unlikely if not impossible. with finance, is both the greatest contributor to the GDP At the end of history, the future somehow looks even more of the New York metropolitan area and the single greatest like the present than the present itself does. As political donor to politicians.13 However, it is also self-enforced by theorist Fredric Jameson more critically described it, “it is planners and urban policymakers themselves, who have easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the absorbed the hegemonic logic of the post-fiscal crisis, neo- end of capitalism.” 9 liberal city. Scarred by suburbanization and the fiscal crisis, Moreover, this ceaseless, neoliberal present even the most well-meaning urban planners and decision stretches in both directions, erasing past as well as future. makers find themselves obsessed with property values. In New York City following the fiscal crisis, what had exist- Maintaining a sufficient property tax base is seen as the ed in the past—even the very recent past—was retroactively best way to fund what social goods the city still provides. deemed to have been impossible. By the 1980s, for exam- Moreover, borrowing money for city budgets requires a ple, mayor Ed Koch was mocking the city’s once grand so- good grade from “neoliberalism’s enforcers,” municipal cial provisions, calling pre-fiscal crisis New York “the No. 1 credit rating agencies.14 These agencies reward both aus- welfare city in America” and crediting the fiscal crisis with terity and those policies and practices most friendly to real “many beneficial consequences.”10 The view that the fiscal estate and finance. crisis was beneficial is not uncommon, epitomizing a be- The result is a recurring cycle of displacement and lief that the city was rescued from a sort of fever dream or gentrification. Planners support development that spurs collective delusion. James Berger calls this a form of “Rea- gentrification in order to fund well-meaning planning in- ganist amnesia,” in which former social movements and terventions that, in the absence of expansive rent regula- goods are recast as “destructive and infantile.”11 Suddenly, tion and the presence of extensive urban real estate spec- social goods that were once taken for granted had been ulation, themselves spur further gentrification. In New York declared impossible, even laughable. Only what was pos- City, where approximately two million people spend the sible in the present extended in all directions, rendering majority of their income on rent each month, even minor the present city as inevitable. What does planning look like increases in rent can be untenable.15 When higher proper- on this flattened timeline, devoid of past or future? ty values mean a greater tax base, and housing is treated primarily as an investment, however, developers are incen- Capitalist Realism and Planning tivized to produce luxury apartments instead of ones with Deprived of past and future, planning inevitably modest rents, even when those luxury apartments will sit becomes the inherently conservative work of preserving unoccupied. It’s thus no surprise that the luxury housing 16 what is. In the post-Fordist city, this primarily means pre- vacancy rate is double that of non-luxury housing. serving the conditions for capital accumulation by the real In contrast to the industrial city and its compro- estate and finance industries. As geographer Samuel Stein mises, the provision of affordable housing and other so- argues, once manufacturing fled the city and, eventually, cial goods is irrelevant to the financialized city. The former the country, it was financial and real estate capital that as- industrial working class is merely a surplus population, sumed municipal primacy. 12 The resultant urban governing subject to repeated displacements and dispossessions. coalition—what Stein calls “the real estate state”—has funda- In this landscape of urban capitalist realism, the city is no mentally transformed the relationship between urban plan- longer the site of social reproduction or struggle, only the ning and urban space. While urban land was a commod- site of extended capital reproduction, achieved “through 17 ity within the industrial city, its primary function remained dispossession and reconfiguration of urban space.” Such its use value, its ability to be used for manufacturing or to reconfigurations are inevitable, the cost of competing for house or transport workers. Within the postindustrial city, investment in a global urban competition. in contrast, the primary function of urban land becomes its New York City is perhaps the crown jewel of urban exchange value, its ability to be bought, invested in, and capitalist realism, the place in which these neoliberal shifts exchanged for a profit. In this context, the goal of planning were most successfully sold as not only inevitable but ac- becomes incredibly simple: increase property values at all tively desirable. The work of selling austerity and gentrifi- costs. cation as improvement began in the immediate wake of

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 8 the fiscal crisis but was perfected by the Bloomberg ad- that populated the pages of muckraking magazines. His- ministration. As urban anthropologist Julian Brash writes, torian Jacob Remes ties massive expansions in the state’s Bloomberg papered over growing urban inequalities, responsibilities toward its citizens during the same peri- producing instead an urban imaginary of cities “as cen- od to apocalyptic images of urban disasters like the San ters of innovation, ambition, leisure, cultural diversity, cos- Francisco Earthquake of 1906.22 Could acknowledging the mopolitanism, and wealth.”18 This obscuring of crises and dystopian urban images of the present provoke similarly contradictions is an essential element of capitalist realism. meaningful planning interventions today? To look at startling inequalities and see, instead, an urban At times, dystopian images of New York City have renaissance is to not only tacitly endorse the status quo of been used to fight change. Depictions of a violent, gritty the present but also to perform the exact act of “unsee- 1970s New York are weaponized against attempts to re- ing” at the center of Miéville’s tale of two cities. It is to walk institute pre-fiscal crisis policies. Images of a crime-ridden through a dystopian city and carefully see only a utopian city are wielded against police reform. The experiences of one. 2020, however, have provided a unique opportunity to as- sert, on the contrary, that the real dystopia is what current- Seeing the Dystopian City ly exists. The onset of COVID-19 was, of course, viscerally Puncturing the veil of capitalist realism and seeing dystopian, but it also exposed deeper, pre-existing crises. the dystopian city is a vital action for planners. It is a mat- It becomes, for example, remarkably difficult to ignore in- ter of viewing the city truthfully but even more so a matter equality in a city where class directly determines whether 23 of restoring to planning the power to create a future one avoids or contracts a deadly virus. The explosion of that differs from the present. Such perceptions push back a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests—alongside im- on the denial of alternatives and the insistence that the ages of rows of anonymous police in militarized riot gear present, if imperfect, is as good as it gets. Fictional dysto- and the constant hum of helicopters flying overhead—like- pias enable “writers and readers to find their way within— wise demanded the acknowledgment of the dystopian city To look at startling inequalities and see, instead, an urban renaissance is to not only tacitly endorse the status quo of the present but also to perform the exact act of “unseeing” at the center of Miéville’s tale of two cities. It is to walk through a dystopian city and carefully see only a utopian one.

and sometimes against and beyond—the conditions that mask the very causes of the harsh realities in which they on behalf of those who have never had the option of “un- live.”19 Directly perceiving the dystopian elements of the seeing” it. Planners would do well to heed this demand. If city around us is an even more straightforward path to the utopian images suggest that change is possible, dystopian same recognitions and, most importantly, the same impe- realities insist that change is necessary. Fully recognizing tus to action. the dystopian city unravels its presumed inevitability and It’s no coincidence that dystopian depictions of revives the lost possibility of an alternative future. the city provoked many of the earliest planning impulses and interventions. Julie Sze, for example, links the first at- tempts at municipal waste management in New York City to the grisly image, in 1860, of a rat eating a newborn baby at Bellevue.20 Historian Jon A. Peterson similarly traces the roots of planning to the nineteenth century sanitary reform movement, which was mobilized by images of urban dis- ease and filth.21 Progressive Era reforms in the early twenti- eth century were likewise frequently motivated by the hor- rific accounts of urban poverty, corruption, and child labor Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 9 NOTES

1 China Miéville, The City & the City (New York: Random House, 2010). 2 Kim Phillips-Fein, Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics (New York: Picador, 2017), 7, 305. 3 James Berger, After the End: Representations of Post-Apocalypse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 6. 4 Michael D. Gordin, Helen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash, /Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibil- ity (Princeton: Press, 2010), 9. 5 Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 175. 6 Phillips-Fein, Fear City, 16. 7 Ibid, 3. 8 Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alter- native? (Hampshire: Zero Books, 2009), 8. 9 Fredric Jameson, “Future City,” New Labor Review 21 (May June 2003). 10 Phillips-Fein, Fear City, 310-311. 11 Berger, After the End, x. 12 Samuel Stein, Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State (London: Verso, 2019). 13 Ibid, 80. 14 Ibid, 77. 15 Ibid, Capital City, 4. 16 Tom Angotti, New York for sale: community plan- ning confronts global real estate (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008), 47. 17 Andy Merrifield, The New Urban Question (Lon- don: Pluto Press, 2014), 18. 18 Julian Brash, Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City (Athens: University of Geor- gia Press, 2011), 276. 19 Tom Moylan, Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia (Boulder: Routledge, 2000), xii. 20 Julie Sze, Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007), 49. 21 Jon A. Peterson, “The Impact of Sanitary Reform Upon American Urban Planning, 1840-1890,” in Introduc- tion to Planning History in the United States, ed. Donald A. Krueckeberg (New York: Routledge, 2019). 22 Jacob A. C. Remes, Disaster Citizenship: Survi- vors, Solidarity, and Power in the Progressive Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016). 23 Sharon Lerner, “Coronavirus Numbers Reflect New York City’s Deep Economic Divide,” , April 9, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/04/09/ nyc-coronavirus-deaths-race-economic-divide/.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 10 ONE. DYSTOPIA & POWER (instrumentarian power, panoptic power, police power, etc.)

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 11 Photo by Kevin Ritter. Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 12 DATA AS REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT

Many of the private companies that manage public urban of the data collected is about the people who visit, work, spaces collect a massive amount of data on the people or pass through Hudson Yards; it isn’t yet clear how this and things that pass through. Companies can then use or data will be used, traded or sold. Living in the 21st centu- sell this data for so much profit that “we should now expect ry means at least some acquiescence to personal data ex- organizations to be data-driven; that is, the drive to accu- traction, but seldom do we think about the urban form as a mulate data now propels new ways of doing business and primary point of that process. In the paragraphs to follow, governance.”1 But what does all this data extraction mean I discuss some of the many mechanisms of data extraction for publicly accessible sites and their private manage- and the implications of amassing, managing, and poten- ment? This article serves as an introductory examination tially selling this data. of the added value data from private spaces open to the public brings to real estate and the implications therein. In 2019, The Real Deal reported that,“The Related Compa- Hailed as “the world’s most ambitious experiment in “smart nies’ mega-development collects so much data that it bills city” urbanism,”2 Hudson Yards offers a point of reference itself as the country’s first “quantified community.””7 Elec- to consider data’s role. tronic kiosks populate the public mall within Hudson Yards that allow visitors to search for stores, book tickets for the At a cost of $25 billion, Hudson Yards is “the largest mixed- Vessel (the development’s iconic architectural sculpture), use private real estate venture in American history.”3 The and make reservations at restaurants, among other fea- product of a 2005 rezoning plan, Hudson Yards covers 28 tures. Intersection, the company owned by an Alphabet acres of New York City’s Midtown West neighborhood, subsidiary that developed the similar LinkNYC towers, sitting between 10th and 11th Avenues in one direction built and operates these kiosks. (Alphabet also owns Goo- and 30th and 34th Streets in the other. To incentivize the gle.) Unlike their contract with New York City, Intersection massive development, The Related Companies (the proj- ect’s developer) received $6 billion in tax subsidies and in- centives, including the most expensive park ever planned in New York. Since the inception of the rezoning plan, its by Sus Labowitz chief developers have projected the image of a mixed use area that would make a significant contribution to the network of waterfront parks along Manhattan’s West Side. has no limitations on how much or for how long to keep Open green spaces, inviting retail experiences, and a new the personal data it extracts at the Hudson Yards kiosks.8 subway stop: “This was the image sold to the public: the Concealed cameras within the kiosks monitor pedestrian yard as accessible, hospitable and open to everyone.”4 In traffic, what stores people spend more time at, and what addition to public accessibility, Hudson Yards advertises ads captivate shoppers more than others.9 In addition, the itself as “a “fully instrumented” testing ground for applied kiosks can record visitors’ browser histories and app us- urban data science” with many features of “smart” city age while connected to WiFi. Intersection says that it is not technologies.5 Press packets for Hudson Yards refer to the yet using facial recognition software in its systems, but it development as an “Engineered City” whose technolog- built the kiosks with the capability to do so.10 A visitor can ical advancements center around manufacturing data on simply not use the “free” WiFi, but it is unreasonable to ex- its visitors, residents, workers, and environment.6 Some of pect someone to hide their face while walking from store the information collected is used to improve the megade- to store should they wish to opt out of facial recognition. velopment’s sustainability objectives by monitoring the ef- ficiency of its climate control systems. A significant amount

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 13 The Hudson Yards neighborhood has a long relationship The Hudson Yards office spaces subject workers to even with Alphabet-related companies. Daniel Doctoroff, one greater surveillance that begins once they use biometric of Hudson Yards’ earliest and loudest supporters, first put scanners to call the elevators.16 Although office workers forth a plan to develop the site as part of an Olympic bid access private spaces within the complex, data extraction can permeate normal boundaries between public and private space. In addi- tion, workers do not have the ability to opt out of sur- veillance, much like in the public spaces. Companies employ Internet of Things technologies (think Ama- zon Alexa or a smart refrig- erator) to monitor workers’ efficiency and productivity, how they use space in the office, and with whom they meet and when.17 Microsoft made waves this year with the roll-out of its “Produc- tivity Score” based on anal- ysis of employee computer use. In November, the tech giant filed a patent for soft- ware to expand that score to include facial recognition Photo: Sus Labowitz and body language through data captured from the office in the 1990s. Doctoroff, who was later deputy mayor under surveillance systems.18 Studies show that facial recognition Bloomberg, is now the CEO of Sidewalk Labs (also owned does not work equally across race and gender, and exac- by Alphabet) and chairman of Intersection.11 Doctoroff erbates existing discrimination in society.19 Microsoft does later advocated for Hudson Yards and moved Sidewalk not lease space at Hudson Yards, but their enthusiasm for Labs’ offices there in 2016.12 In the years since, other major worker surveillance is a signal of industry trends. The lines tech companies followed suit: Facebook and Amazon now between public and private spaces blur here as the data lease a combined 1.9 million square feet of office space.13 extraction possible by private companies is not fettered by Hudson Yards’ connection with Doctoroff and Sidewalk traditional boundaries. Labs illuminates a possible future for the development’s park spaces. Doctoroff dreams of a data-driven system of Each building within Hudson Yards is equipped with data neighborhood regulations using surveillance tech and au- driven microclimate monitoring and control systems to tomated monitoring where appropriate behavior can be make energy and water usage more efficient and there- quantified, measured, and enforced.14 The outdoor spac- fore more economical and environmentally friendly. The es at Hudson Yards have an expansive WiFi network that US Green Building Council, the LEED Certification govern- could store web browsing information15 and could provide ing body, even heralded smart buildings as the “future of some of the necessary data to surveil and police behavior green building technology,”20 marking an increase in smart in Doctoroff’s vision of the smart public space. tech’s prevalence. As shown by the example of smartified streetlights in San Diego, innocuous, sustainability-intend- ed infrastructure improvements can have far-reaching con-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 14 sequences. San Diego installed streetlights with Internet of expected to grow as data capital continues to play a signif- Things capabilities: sensors and cameras to report traffic, icant role in the economy.25 Data capital allows companies air quality, and energy usage data. The lights were sup- like Uber and Airbnb to be some of the wealthiest orga- posed to pay for themselves over time with the energy sav- nizations in the world without having to own the physical ings. Instead, the sensors did not work well in that capacity assets they offer. Brokers are most interested in diverse and the San Diego Police Department soon figured out data about people in large quantities,26 which a mixed-use that they could monitor streets using the lights’ cameras. development like Hudson Yards can provide. Although the After public uproar, the City Council ended the program, industry tries to assure the public that personal data is ano- but found that the city could not turn the smart features off nymised, studies show that data can easily be re-identified without bringing the whole light offline.21 Even when smart to its source. Once data is sold, third party companies have features are intended for sustainability and governance no legal privacy obligations to the people from whom data purposes, these surveillance technologies cannot be di- has been extracted.27 After data is sold, for example, com- vorced so easily from personal data extraction. panies can use artificial intelligence to model predictions of future behavior, like is done already in predictive polic- After manufacturing all this data, it can be valuable to its ing. owners in many different ways. Though the current stance by the Related Companies is to not sell user data,22 they very easily could at any point in the future. Even without selling to a third par- ty, the data accumulated from Hudson Yards has value to the property’s owners. For exam- ple, geolocation and browser data (to name a few) can be offered back to tenants as an added amenity that increases rent. Retailers and other Hudson Yards tenants can use that data for targeted advertising. In addition, landlords can decide who to rent to and who’s lease to renew based on performance indicators gathered by sensors in the kiosks and other data extraction tools.23 Building management can employ the climate sys- tems data to cut excesses in utility usage. Smart technologies can slow the decay of buildings and other physical assets by allow- ing management to monitor for issues with greater specificity.24 By keeping a closer eye on these building assets, management can prolong the lives of important and expensive systems and infrastructure, saving them mon- ey in the long run.

If they do decide to sell the data, Hudson Yards has a number of options. There is a competitive market consisting of data bro- kers, advertisers, and even police forces eager to buy. Data brokering, the industry of buying and selling data, generates an es- Photo: Sus Labowitz timated $200 billion annually, which is only

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 15 Data as capital is a recent concept, yet its implications in ducers of that information, should be compensated. That the real estate market are enormous. As a commodity, data value is complicated to determine given how difficult the is valuable because it can be sold for a lot of money and future of tech and what our data could one day do are to also because it is frequently information about people. For comprehend .32 the mere cost of sensors, cameras, and other surveillance tools, Hudson Yards generates this additional digital value, We are accustomed to impossible-to-comprehend user unlike most traditional real estate. However, like tradition- agreements and technologies that morph faster than we al real estate, this added value accumulates only with the can track. These user agreements attempt to acknowl- owners and developers. Even though it is a form of eco- edge that somehow the free platforms we use are worth nomic rent, data is, so far, an untaxed asset, which further the troves of information we manufacture by engaging amasses wealth among the people and companies that with them. Less clear is how that exchange works for pub- own property. lic space. Hudson Yards says that it needs data to make its spaces more user friendly and better designed, but the How would New York City even begin to tax an asset as quantity and type of extraction present far exceeds that illegible as data? A recent proposal in the Wall Street Jour- need. Further, Alphabet’s presence in Hudson Yards’ data nal suggested that the City follow initiatives in California collection ecosystem means even more of our personal and tax data at the point of sale. Although no one knows and behavioral information accrue with the tech giant. One how much data is produced in New York, the writers sug- might say, “don’t like Google? Don’t use Gmail!” or some- gest that such a tax could make a significant dent in the thing similar. It gets harder to say, “don’t like Google? Don’t current budget crisis.28 Taxing data at the point of sale only go to the public park!” captures its present value, sort of like a stock, as a reflec- tion of the market at that moment. Doing so overlooks the Following previous patterns of wealth accumulation and value added to companies by holding onto the data and real estate economics, datafication (the process of making the future capabilities of that data as technologies grow data into a commodity) exacerbates existing inequalities and change. No layperson in 2009 could have predicted and creates unjust (and nonconsensual) incentives in the that an algorithm trained by posting on a friend’s Facebook design of public space. These alarming conditions of data Wall could lead to a housing discrimination suit against the extraction require collective oversight and transparency (in company in 2019. The potentiality of data makes putting a the surveillance technologies used and what becomes of price on a person’s personal information difficult.29 Other the data once amassed) to restore some semblance of a proposals, like the one put forth by New York State Senator democratic economy. Without those conditions, we must David Carlucci in 2019, would impose a 5% tax on every consider if “smart” innovations can exist in a just city at all. company that profits off personal data; however, this ap- proach also fails to consider the spatial implications of data extraction.30

Lacking taxation is emblematic of another of data’s mor- al ambiguities: a near absence of democratic oversight on these mountains of personal information, now owned by private companies for immeasurable profit. That this information can be extracted from public spaces without consent further disturbs some basic tenets of a democra- cy. Some European initiatives propose national or regional trusts that would bring in citizen input on what data is col- lected, who gets to use it, and who profits. Others propose decommodifying data altogether and instead employing it as a tool of democracy as it is literally the measure of human interactions.31 Still others consider viewing data as property or as a form of labor for which we, as the pro-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 16 Endnotes 19 Joy Buolamwini, “When the Robot Doesn’t See 1 Jathan Sadowski, “When Data is Capital: Datafi- Dark Skin,” New York Times, June 28, 2018. https://www. cation, Accumulation, and Extraction,” Big Data & Society. nytimes.com/2018/06/21/opinion/facial-analysis-technol- ogy-bias.html January 2019. doi:10.1177/2053951718820549 20 Amir Alavi, William Buttlar, Pengcheng Jiao, & 2 Shannon Mattern, “Instrumental City: The View Nizar Lajnef, “Internet of Things-Enabled Smart Cities: from Hudson Yards, Circa 2019,” Places Journal. April State-of-the-Art and Future Trends,” Measurement, no. 2016. 129, December 2018 https://doi-org.proxy.wexler.hunter. 3 Michael Kimmelman, “Hudson Yards Is Manhat- cuny.edu/10.1016/j.measurement.2018.07.067 tan’s Biggest, Newest, Slickest Gated Community,” New 21 Jesse Marx, “Smart Streetlights Are Now Exclu- York Times, March 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/in- sively a Tool for Police,” Voice of San Diego, July 20, 2020. teractive/2019/03/14/arts/design/hudson-yards-nyc.html https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/public-safety/ 4 Michael Kimmelman, “Hudson Yards Promised a smart-streetlights-are-now-exclusively-a-tool-for-police/ Park. They Didn’t Mention a Giant Wall,” New York Times, 22 Bockmann, 2019. January 10, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/ 23 Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Laura Veldkamp, arts/design/hudson-yards-expansion.html “Information Acquisition and Under-Diversification,” NBER 5 Mattern, 2016. Working Paper Series, March 2008. https://www.nber.org/ 6 https://ny.curbed.com/2019/3/15/18256293/ papers/w13904.pdf hudson-yards-nyc-buildings-vessel-architecture 24 Sadowski, 2019. 7 Rich Bockman, “Real Estate’s Surveillance State,” 25 Sadowski, 2019. The Real Deal, May 1, 2019. https://therealdeal.com/ 26 MIT Technology Review Insights, “The Rise of issues_articles/big-brother/ Data Capital,” MIT Technology Review, March 21, 2016. 8 David Jeans, “Related’s Hudson Yards: Smart City https://www.technologyreview.com/2016/03/21/161487/ or Surveillance City?” March 15, 2019. https://therealdeal. the-rise-of-data-capital/ com/2019/03/15/hudson-yards-smart-city-or-surveillance- 27 Ibid. city/ 28 Eric Adams & Andrew Gournardes, “A Tax on 9 Ibid. Data Could Fix New York’s Budget,” Wall Street Journal, 10 Ibid. June 1, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-tax-on-data- 11 Mattern, 2016. could-fix-new-yorks-budget-11591053159 12 C. J. Hughes, “Daniel Doctoroff Takes His Busi- 29 Salome Viljoen, “Data as Property?” Phenomenal ness to Hudson Yards,” New York Times, January 26, 2016. World, October 16, 2020. https://phenomenalworld.org/ https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/27/realestate/com- analysis/data-as-property mercial/daniel-doctoroff-takes-his-business-to-hudson- 30 David Carlucci, Senate Bill S6102, 2019 - 2020 yards.html Legislative Session https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/ 13 Amy Plitt, Valeria Ricciulli, and Caroline Spivack, bills/2019/s6102 “Mapping the Tech Takeover of New York City,” Curbed 31 Viljoen, 2020. New York, August 5, 2020. https://ny.curbed.com/maps/ 32 Ibid. amazon-google-facebook-nyc-offices 14 Mattern, 2016. 15 Ibid. 16 Jeans, 2019. 17 Ellen Huet, “Every Move You Make, WeWork is Watching Will Be You,” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 15, 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti- cles/2019-03-15/every-move-you-make-wework-will-be- watching-you 18 Todd Bishop, “Microsoft Patents Tech to Score Meetings Using Body Language, Facial Expressions, Other Data,” GeekWire, November 28, 2020. https:// www.geekwire.com/2020/microsoft-patents-technolo- gy-score-meetings-using-body-language-facial-expres- sions-data/

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 17 THE PANOPTIC GAZE Can the U.S. Constitution Prevent Unlawful Searches and Seizures in Smart Cities?

“Any technological advance can be dangerous. cities, however, promise to ameliorate these frictions of ur- Fire was dangerous from the start, and so (even ban life, optimizing services to cater to individual needs more so) was speech - and both are still dangerous and preferences and furnishing real-time solutions to the to this day - but human beings would not be hu- hardships and inconveniences of city life. Moreover, they man without them.” 1 promise to usher city-dwellers into a new era of tech-driv- en efficiency and equality.” 7 Smart cities coordinate traf- ********************** fic patterns, help locate parking, measure energy usage, In a fully “smart” city, every movement an individu- trigger garbage pickup, and assist with managing a vast al makes can be tracked. The data will reveal where amount of urban infrastructure for better living. However, she works, how she commutes, her shopping hab- smart cities are using their citizens’ data to achieve this, its, places she visits and her proximity to other peo- usually without our sense of the scope and ramifications. ple .... [T]his data will be centralized and easy to An invisible panopticon seems to be forming around us 8 access .... Governments could know more about with our implied consent. people than they know about themselves. 2

Smart Cities and The Internet of Things The Fourth Amendment To The United States Constitution, Generally

“Smart” devices radiate data. From smartphones, fitness The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution trackers, enchanted pill bottles, smart cars, and even smart explicitly forbids unlawful searches and seizures in the refrigerators, these objects create extensive data trails re- criminal context, stating that “[t]he right of the people to vealing personal information, patterns, and activities.3 be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, Collectively, these sensors and trackers collaborate as the against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable by Craig M. Notte cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or “Internet of Things” that is networked to generate, collect, things to be seized.” Relatedly, the Constitution also infers and exchange data. While each object is separately and a civil law right to privacy. uniquely identifiable, the power of the IoT is in the mul- tiplicity of objects that operate together through existing The Fourth Amendment’s ultimate goal of protecting internet infrastructure.4 against unreasonable government intrusions in the crimi- nal context is fueled, in part, by the civil law right to priva- Despite the ubiquity of the Internet and cellular tech- cy. The Fourth Amendment does not guarantee protection nology, or perhaps because of it, we are releasing vast from all searches and seizures, only government searches amounts of data about ourselves every day, for better or deemed unreasonable under the law. Evidence obtained worse. Smart cities rely on aggregated data provided by from an unlawful search, described as “fruit of the poison- 9 citizens to operate efficiently. Cities, at their best, are“ hubs ous tree,” may not be introduced in court. Ultimately, the of human connection, fountains of creativity, and exem- Fourth Amendment is for prudent and tailored, not over- plars of green living.” 5 At their worst, “they still suffer the reaching intrusions, permitted by a court-issued warrant symptoms of industrial urbanization: pollution, crowding, upon probable cause that a crime is being committed. crime, social fragmentation, and dehumanization.” 6 “Smart

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 18 Can today’s constitutional law jurisprudence handle the The Intermingling of Unlawful enormity of information being gathered about us and Searches and the Right to Privacy prevent unlawful use? The Supreme Court has adopted in- terpretations of the Fourth Amendment to accommodate Concurrently with Brandeis and Warren’s “Right to Priva- technological and intellectual advancements throughout cy,” courts began examining the tension between priva- history. Over time, the court has devised, revised, hybrid- cy and the State’s need to prosecute crimes. Over time, ized, and reinterpreted the legal doctrines that explain civil and criminal law principles began to blend. In Boyd and contextualize the Fourth Amendment, along with the v. United States (1886), a law requiring a defendant to interrelated civil law right to privacy. turn over any document, in the broadest sense, that might “tend to prove any allegation made by the United States” This article focuses on the meaning of being “secure” in our was deemed unconstitutional for intruding too far into the “persons, houses, papers and effects,” the right to be free right to be secure in one’s “papers.” 11 from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and wheth- er the law can prevent misuse of the massive amount of The government’s laying of hands on corporeal property, personal data gathered in smart cities. After looking at the where the touching can be easily witnessed and measured, flexible of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, is self-evidently an intrusion. But what about intrusions be- this article concludes that the Fourth Amendment has his- yond the physical realm? Can an invasion without touch torically adapted to technological advances and there is or physical entry be an unreasonable search and seizure? no reason it cannot continue to do so. This is not to say At first, the Supreme Court said no in the 1928 case Olm- that the jurisprudence will perfectly adapt to new technol- stead v. United States 12 involving wiretapped private tele- ogies. Rather, the doctrines currently in place will remain phone conversations obtained by federal agents without useful, albeit with inevitable anomalies. a warrant. Unready to consider intrusion beyond the phys- ical sense, the court said the search was permitted and The Origin of the Right to Privacy not unconstitutional because there was no physical tres- 13 As Fourth Amendment jurisprudence developed through- pass. In the 1967 case Katz v. United States. the Supreme out the 19th and 20th centuries in the criminal context, so Court would overrule its own decision in Olmstead and did the separate but related civil right to privacy doctrine. explicitly adopt Justice Brandeis’ expansive view that the “The Right to Privacy,” an 1890 Harvard Law Review article Fourth Amendment forbids searches and seizures beyond by future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis and Samu- physical trespass and intrusion. This is not to say that the el Warren, boosted privacy into the legal limelight, articu- court dispensed with the trespass doctrine entirely. Rath- lating for the first time the idea that citizens have the“right er, courts continued to apply trespass while also devising to be let alone.”10 Believing the law has an “eternal youth” new ways to interpret novel circumstances as they arose. for adapting to change, Brandeis and Warren said the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy right to “person” and “property” has evolved beyond free- dom from physical attack to include intangible property. Like Olmstead, Katz was also a wiretap case, but it was not Mr. Katz’s home telephone that was tapped. Mr. Katz’s Ultimately, Brandeis and Warren’s concern was new tech- call occurred in a public telephone booth on a city street. nology intruding into private lives; in this case, “instanta- The Supreme Court decided that the tap was an unrea- neous photographs and newspaper enterprise [that] have sonable search and seizure because Mr. Katz had reason invade[d] the sacred precincts of private and domestic to believe that his words were private, despite being life.” Brandeis and Warren made special note, however, outside his home. The anomalies start to surface, howev- that the privacy of one’s thoughts and writings is condi- er, under a case like Katz, where a conversation in a public tioned on not “publishing” them and a manifest intent to telephone booth is protected, but the same conversation keep them private, a principle that governs privacy and on the street immediately outside the phone booth is Fourth Amendment jurisprudence to this day. presumably not. Katz represents the difficulties that arise as laws develop, where two decisions on similar facts can arrive at different conclusions on seemingly technical grounds. Notwithstanding, the reasonable expectation Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 19 of privacy standard dominated Fourth Amendment cases an illegal search.20 One must wonder what the analysis going forward. would have been if the greenhouse was attached to the main residence, and whether the greenhouse would have Open Fields and Curtilage been imbued with the same privacy as the house simply by structural connection. Also, would the result have been Before Katz and before wiretapping technology that ob- different if the homeowner was able to build a fence high scured the private/public boundary, the Supreme Court first enough in the air, or some other signal indicating an inten- articulated the open fields doctrine in 1924 to address the tion of privacy? Riddles like these are why courts develop uncertain physical boundaries of “home,” stating that the new doctrines to analyze a problem, or revisit long-estab- "special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment lished doctrines for backup. to people in their 'persons, houses, papers, and effects, is not extended to the open fields."14 The Third Party Doctrine Drawing yet another distinction, the law came to recog- Some malleable legal principles remain useful in perpe- nize that “curtilage,” or the outdoor area immediately sur- tuity. The third party doctrine applied for the first time rounding the home, may be protected as an extension of in 197621 harkens back to Brandeis and Warren’s belief the home, subject to all the privacy protections afforded that a person voluntarily providing information to a third a home (unlike one’s open fields). An area is curtilage if it party no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy “harbors the intimate activity associated with the sanctity therein.22 However, the application of tried and true prin- of a man’s home and the privacies of life.”15 The difficulty ciples like this can be imperfect. On one hand, an unlawful with applying this subjective standard is apparent. search and seizure occurred in Katz because the phone booth conversation was deemed private. But would the ******************** phone number that Mr. Katz dialed have been private? In a separate case, twenty-two years after Katz, the Supreme At this juncture, it is helpful to emphasize that while courts Court said no because by dialing the number, one gives try to avoid inconsistent application of the law, anomalous the number the phone company: 23 another distinction or clumsy rulings are inevitable as new doctrines arise and that strains common sense. As seen below, the third par- analyses get refined. Yet it is the refinement of the law to ty doctrine is highly relevant in the smart city context, al- accommodate new technologies that allows advancement though not a universal solution to legal riddles. of culture and society.

For example, a police search conducted with a marijua- A Return to Trespass, With Modifications na-sniffing dog at the front door of a house was held to be 16 an illegal search. However, a police search from a heli- Like the helicopter/marijuana case, some rulings based on copter for marijuana inside a privately-owned greenhouse trespass can seem arbitrary or hypertechnical. In a 1942 was permitted because the owner had no reasonable case, a microphone attached to a wall to capture conver- expectation of privacy in information gathered from the sations in the adjacent room was a permitted search be- 17 air. Conversely, there are times when existing doctrines cause there was no physical intrusion. However, in 1961, easily apply to new technology without losing credibility, another eavesdropping case arose with the same facts but as in two cases where tracking devices were installed on with one major difference: the microphone was inserted cans of chemicals. In one case, the tracking was permitted into the wall for listening into the adjacent room. Thus, a 18 because the cans were in public; in the other case, per- physical trespass occurred and the recording was an ille- missible public tracking stopped at the threshold of the gal search. While these two decisions are consistent be- 19 defendant’s home. tween one another, they seem to turn on a technicality. Nonetheless, trespass endures as a guiding principle in Even this seemingly straightforward threshold rule can the surveillance context, even with intangible GPS surveil- be difficult to apply uniformly, like the case where view- lance data of today. ing marijuana from above a private greenhouse is not

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 20 In the 2012 case Unit- ed States v. Jones,24 the Supreme Court was confronted with a GPS case where a tracker had been placed on a car, in- voking analysis un- der the trespass, ex- pectation of privacy as well as third party doctrines. Steering away from the intan- gibility dilemma, the court found a way to revive the dormant trespass doctrine and ruled that an illegal search oc- curred because at- taching the tracking device to the car was a physical intrusion. The opinion noted that although the reasonable expec- tation standard had dominated since Photo: Kevin Ritter Katz in 1967, the court never aban- information, should the government have more or less doned trespass. Interestingly, it was the ability of the track- access to them? For the time being, the Supreme Court 27 ing device to record the car’s location 24 hours a day that has imposed a limit. In Riley v. California (2014), a photo- distinguished the search from routine tracking by a police graph found by the police in the defendant’s smartphone car. Thus, the question arises of whether a GPS search for after arrest was inadmissible. The court distinguished the less than 24 hours a day could be deemed legal, and if so, quantity of information available in a smartphone from a what is the cutoff? A concurring opinion noted that Katz’s traditional address book or journal, i.e., the vast amount reasonable expectation test “augmented, but did not dis- of information in smartphones necessitates a heightened place or diminish, the common law trespassory test that level of protection. preceded it.”25 The concurring opinion also suggested the third party doctrine was becoming irrelevant since all data Thus, we come full circle where the “privacies of life” must in the digital world is held by more than one person.26 be distinguished and protected, like the non-incriminat- ing documents in the desk drawers of the political antag- Where Does This Leave Us in Smart Cities? onist in Boyd v. United States (1886). And where does the third-party doctrine fit in, since smartphones are explicitly Now that our smartphones are a practically limitless or at least impliedly recording our location at all times? source of data about our lives, interests, and proclivities, Despite the concurring opinion in Jones, the third party are we secure in them? For the very reason that smart- doctrine is alive and well, although hobbled. phones are the single most valuable source of personal

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 21 In United States v. Carpenter (2018),28 the issue was wheth- er a warrant is needed for historical cell site location in- formation (CSLI) for the physical locations of cellphones. The court decided that the third party doctrine could not be applied to historical CSLI, again on the basis of sheer quantity of information and the prevalence of the technol- ogy. CSLI could pose even greater privacy risks than GPS data, as cellphone ubiquity offers the government "near perfect" surveillance» of an individual’s movements.

Laws do not typically arise in advance of the problems they seek to resolve, meaning it is the nature of the law to be perpetually late. We can only wonder how long the Su- preme Court will hold that people do not intend for their smartphone to give everything away. And what is the fu- ture of the reasonable expectation of privacy as the Inter- net of Things continuously generates new data for smart cities to aggregate and distribute? One answer is that the Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy, in their “eter- nal youth,” have adapted to technological evolution over time, including the ubiquity of data, and there is no rea- son to believe that stasis will set in. We have seen that the court has a number of doctrines to mix, mingle, and aug- ment as needed, and by design, the court will continue to do so. How the law will adapt is unknowable, but it is clear, based on the jurisdictional path to date, that the law will not impede technological advancement and will strive to act in furtherance thereof.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 22 Endnotes e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Inter- 1 From Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov, 1957, New net service providers, and the books, groceries and med- York: Doubleday Books. ications they purchase to online retailers . . . I would not 2 Weston, Mike. ‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some About You, Wall St. J. (July 12, 2015, 6:36 PM), http://www. member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that rea- wsj.com/articles/smart-cities-will-know-everything-about- son alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection.” you-1436740596. Weston is the CEO of a data consulting 27 573 U.S. 373 (2014). company. Id. 28 585 U.S. ____, No. 16-402 (June 22, 2018). 3 Ferguson, Andrew Guthrie. The “Smart” Fourth Amendment. Cornell Law Review, March 2017. 4 The IOT: What Is It, What Can Happen With It….90- Apr N.Y. St. B.J. 30 5 City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There 7 (Ted Books ed. 2013) available at http://hdl.han- dle.net/10161/6772. 6 Id. 7 Finch, Kelsy. Welcome To The Metropticon: Pro- tecting Privacy In A Hyperconnected Town, Fordham Urban Law Journal, October 2014. 8 “The panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philoso- pher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th cen- tury. The concept of the design is to allow all prisoners of an institution to be observed by a single security guard, without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched.” Panopticon, accessed January 8, 2021, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon. 9 Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920) 10 4 Harvard L.R. 193 (Dec. 15, 1890). 11 116 U.S. 616 (1886). 12 277 U.S. 438 (1928). 13 389 U.S. 347 (1967). 14 Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57 (1924). 15 United States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294 (1987). 16 v. Jardines, 569 U.S. 1 (2013). 17 Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989). 18 United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983). 19 United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705 (1984). 20 Florida v. Riley, supra. 21 United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (1976). 22 “The Right to Privacy,” supra. 23 Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979). 24 565 U.S. 400 (2012). 25 Jones, 565 U.S. at 414 (Sotomayor, J., concurring). 26 Jones, 565 U.S. at 417 (Sotomayor, J., concurring) (“People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers, the URLS that they visit and the

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 23 NYPD: POLICING UNCHECKED AND UNBOUND The Silver Bullet We Must Retire

Black Americans are clearly owed restitution for the finan- dress symptoms of poverty in urban Black communities cial, physical, social, and emotional harm caused by near- with heavily armed, historically mostly white, police forc- ly 250 years of chattel slavery, and over 150 years of the es.1 2 3 evolvingly carceral, racialized capitalist caste stystem of the United States. Yet, instead of taking action to repair In the course of occupying New York City’s Black commu- that longstanding harm, or to restructure the political and nities, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has a long economic conditions that create poverty and can lead to history of violent (regularly fatal) confrontations with the violence or “crime”, American policymakers choose to ad- Black New Yorkers they ostensibly serve - and these com- munities, in turn, have a long history of organizing in pro- test of that violence.6 In May and June of 2020, New York- by Ben West-Weyner ers protested by the tens of thousands to express their outrage over the Minneapolis Police Department’s mur- illustrations by Kristian Amour-Williams der of George Floyd.8 In response, the NYPD systematical-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 24 ly attacked multi-racial crowds of protesters with batons, The Cost of Over-Policing pepper-spray, vehicles, and fists - leaving many bloodied, bruised, and in some cases hospitalized.9 Mayor Bill de Since 2013, the NYPD has performed more than 270,000 Blasio implemented a citywide curfew to be enforced by “stop-and-frisks” - 60 percent of those stopped were Black the police, officers indiscriminately arrested hundreds of (despite making up only about 26 percent of the city’s protesters, and war-like tactics such as “kettling” were em- population). Over the same time period, the NYPD has ployed to trap crowds on city blocks and bridges. In re- killed 80 people - more than half of those victims were sponse to Floyd’s murder and the televised brutality of the Black (no officers involved in these 80 deaths have yet to city’s police, a movement to “defund” the police gained see prison time).16 some political traction - resulting in a $420 million cut to the NYPD budget (the cut was announced by the Mayor as $1 billion). Since the announcement, the City’s Indepen- Killed for Using Their Stairway dent Budget Office projects that in real terms, the cut will only represent a reduction of less than $50 million.10 Still, As a strategy for policing public housing complexes, the as the entire city government faced drastic budget cuts NYPD has long engaged in “vertical patrols”, where offi- due to the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 cers walk through the stairwell of residences to look for pandemic, the city’s police union framed the budget deal potential crimes or violations of New York City Housing as anti-police. 11 Authority (NYCHA) rules. In 2014, one of these patrols ended with Akai Gurley, an unarmed 28-year-old Black The call to defund police budgets and reallocate those man, being shot by a police officer in the dark stairwell of monies toward resources and services that would posi- his own apartment building.17 The officer, Peter tively serve Black communities is based on a premise that Liang, was sentenced to probation and community ser- those communities have been, and continue to be un- vice - a slap on the wrist, eerily reminiscent of a story from derserved. This is a departure from more familiar policy twenty years prior. reforms that call for individual constraints and account- ability structures for police departments. The demand to In September 1994, Nicholas Heyward Jr., a thirteen-year- “defund” begins to acknowledge the debt owed to, and old Black boy, ran with his friends, holding toy guns as the absence of justice for Black people.12 13 The city’s 2020 they played “cops and robbers” inside the stairwells of response to “” (violent repression of the Gowanus Housing Project in Brooklyn. When the boys protest, marginal budget reallocation) indicates that most rounded a corner, a police officer on patrol in the building politicians are currently unwilling to lead a reckoning with took aim at Nicholas and shot him in the chest.18 The po- that debt. lice officer, Brian George, was not charged with a crime. In fact, just six months after burying his son, Nicholas’ fa- Over the past seventy years, many efforts have been made ther, Nicholas Heyward Sr., came face-to-face with Officer to reign in the NYPD’s violent behavior against Black and George just blocks from the site of the shooting. Follow- Latinx communities in NYC - but in the face of those re- ing the announcement that there would be no criminal forms, the essential function of these 36,000 armed offi- charges made against Officer George, Mr. Heyward filed cers of the state remains unchanged: preserve social order a complaint to the city’s police Civilian Complaint Review by any means necessary. This article examines the human Board (CCRB) with the hopes that his son’s killer might be impact of a violent police force with seemingly unlimited held accountable internally. Five years later, he received authority, that force’s decades long war against civilian a letter from the board, informing him of their determina- oversight, and the tactics they use to squash resistance to tion: Officer George acted lawfully, and would remain on its dominance. the force.19

Mr. Heyward would go on to spend the next two decades organizing and advocating for justice for Nicholas Jr., and other victims of police violence.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 25 26 Killed for Selling Cigarettes months later, Thompson declined to reopen the case. The decision was devastating for Heyward Sr., who contin- Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man, formerly a horticul- ued to march with Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists; but in turist for the city’s Parks Department, frequently supple- January 2019, just two years after watching his last chance mented his income by selling cigarettes along Bay Street at justice for Nicholas Jr. slip through his fingers, Mr. Hey- 27 on Staten Island. In July of 2014, plainclothes NYPD offi- ward died at age 61. After more than twenty years of cers accosted Garner on Bay Street - he had been arrest- full-throated resistance, Mr. Heyward was gone. ed twice that year for selling cigarettes, so when he was Six months later, Ben Carr (Eric Garner’s stepfather), a vis- approached, he spoke up for himself: “Every time you see ible and vocal activist for Black lives, died unexpected- 28 me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [from] ly from a heart attack. During a span of five years, Eric selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m Garner’s mother, , lost her son, granddaughter, minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told and husband. During that same five year period, Daniel you the last time, please just leave me alone”.20 21 Mo- Pantaleo collected a near six-figure annual salary while on 29 ments later, officer Daniel Pantaleo wrestled Garner to suspension. the ground and strangled him to death with a chokehold. At the time, NYPD officers were prohibited from using In August 2019, Pantaleo was recommended to be re- chokeholds (in 2020 the New York City Council criminal- moved from the force by the CCRB, and was subsequently 30 ized the act).22 Pantaleo then lied to internal investigators, terminated by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. The claiming he didn’t use a chokehold. Footage of the killing city’s police and sergeants unions erupted in anger, pub- 31 sparked outrage and protests throughout New York City, licly calling O’Neill a coward. Under pressure by his own and around the nation. officers , O’Neill resigned from his post as Commissioner two months later. Frustrated that their leader might com- Later that year, a Grand Jury in Staten Island chose not to ply with civilian oversight, the officers of the NYPD had indict Officer Pantaleo in Garner’s death. Over the next 48 cried for mutiny - and won. hours, more than 300 New Yorkers were arrested in con- nection with protests for Eric Garner.23 Just like the Hey- wards before them, the NYPD’s fatal policing of Black life Outside of Accountability thrust the Garner family into tragedy, while the District Attorney forced them to remain there by not securing an Recognizing the poor track record District Attorney offices indictment. have in charging and prosecuting police officers for vio- lence against civilians, many communities attempt to es- tablish their own oversight structures to hold local police The Broken Hearts Left Behind departments accountable.32 In 1992, when David Dinkins (the city’s first and only Black mayor) proposed the idea of In the tradition of Nicholas Heyward Sr., - Er- staffing the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) com- ic’s daughter - relentlessly pursued justice for her father. pletely with civilians, police officers erupted in protest. In In her own words, “I pursued every lead and exhausted September of that year, 10,000 off-duty cops flooded City every option to find justice for my father. Nothing worked Hall Park - some breaking through barricades to storm – and every time I’d hit a dead end, I’d hear about another the steps of City Hall, jumping on vehicles, and assault- terrible story like my father’s. Reality set in: I live within a ing journalists as the officers marched across the Brook- system that regularly kills Black people”.24 In 2017, follow- lyn Bridge.33 Despite the NYPD’s determined resistance, ing three years of organizing, marching, and speaking out Dinkins and the City Council succeeded in establishing in defense of Black lives taken by police violence, Erica the CCRB as an independent agency in 1993. Though the Garner died of a heart attack at age 27.25 CCRB is now fully independent from the NYPD, the laws that govern its relationship with the police department Mr. Heyward was finally given a chance at hope in Febru- make it a purely advisory body - as the Police Commission- ary 2016 when incoming Brooklyn District Attorney Ken er remains the final arbiter of disciplinary action. Thompson promised to reopen Nicholas Jr.’s case. Nine

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 26 Since 1976, police disciplinary records in New York State Daniel Pantaleo was a group of individuals that would go had been kept confidential by State Civil Rights Law Sec- on to form the abolitionist direct-action organization NYC tion 50-A. In June of 2020, Democrats in the NY State Shut It Down (SID). Early actions organized by SID includ- Legislature were able to capitalize on the momentum of ed disruptive protests at Grand Central Station, but their the and repeal 50-A. For the first defining work came to be known as “People’s Mondays,” time, the public was able to cross reference recommenda- which aimed to continue the momentum of BLM protests tions by the independent CCRB against the eventual disci- on a weekly basis.37 Every Monday between early 2015 plinary actions taken by the NYPD. According to the New and Spring of 2019, SID members gathered at different York Times’ analysis of the data: “The Police Department locations in New York City to publicly honor a different vic- followed the review board’s recommendations less than tim of police violence - 52 per year. “This is about getting 20 percent of the time...798 of the [3,188 officers recom- the story right and countering the police narrative”, said mended for discipline] were eventually put back onto the Mike Bento, one of SID’s organizers. The weekly protests street by the department; 890 were not disciplined at all... served as intervals between major flashpoints in the BLM seven officers facing charges were fired, and only after be- movement.38 ing convicted of a crime in state or federal court or after lying to police internal affairs investigators...some officers Almost parallel with the formation of SID, was the forma- had multiple findings against them and continued to rise tion of the NYPD Strategic Response Group (SRG) in 2015. in the department”.34 The SRG was billed as a “heavily armed unit to patrol ar- eas of the city and respond to large-scale events, such as protests or terrorist attacks”, despite the already existing The Blue Line NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit.39 40 According to reports from SID members, armed SRG officers were present at Rebels and Stormtroopers most People’s Monday action for four years, regularly armed with assault rifles, and LRAD For generations, New Yorkers have sound cannons (which can cause per- mobilized in the streets to protest un- manent ear damage); supportedby just killings of their neighbors by the the Technical Assistance Response police: Robert Bandy in the 1940s, Unit (TARU), who brought with them James Powell in the 1960s, Clifford surveillance equipment to collect and Glover in the 1970s, Eleanor Bum- analyze footage of protesters; with purs in the 1980s, Amadou Diallo in regular additional support from offi- 41 42 the 1990s.35 The contemporary Black cers in the local precinct. Lives Matter (BLM) movement formal- ly began in the aftermath of the 2013 Following the flare-up surrounding killing of Florida Teenager Trayvon Freddie Gray’s killing in 2015, large Martin. The next year, when Officer scale protests would die down Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on again until the next high profile Staten Island, the epicenter killing of a Black American, but of the BLM movement shift- People’s Mondays continued ed to New York City, where without interruption. So too on at least one occasion, did the SRG’s attendance 25,000 New Yorkers took to at and surveillance of the streets.36 the weekly actions. It was later report- Among those 25,000 ed that undercov- New Yorkers protest- er NYPD officers ing the failure to indict had worked to

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 27 infiltrate various BLM organizations, gathering extensive thodically close in on protesters in order to trap them on footage and data on organizers.43 44 Recent reporting by dead-end streets or between groups of officers. One June the NYPD-friendly revealed that the de- 4th protest saw dozens of cops in the Bronx surrounding partment has been utilizing a legal loophole that allows protesters ten minutes prior to the 8PM curfew and attack- them to secure subpoenas without approval from a judge ing them with batons, pepper spray, and fists. As docu- or grand jury, and using them “to intimidate phone com- mented by the international organization Human Rights Faced with the organized frustration of the masses, demanding real change - the city, via the NYPD, chooses violence.

panies, banks, internet service providers and social media Watch, the incident resulted in over 250 arrests, the violent giants into handing over the personal information of those detention of 13 legal observers, and at least 61 injuries it’s investigating, including private citizens and journalists “including lacerations, a broken nose, lost tooth, sprained — even when cases are not criminal in nature”.45 shoulder, broken finger, black eyes, and potential nerve damage due to overly tight zip ties”. Human Rights Watch After four years of weekly marches and constant confron- described the NYPD’s operation as premeditated.49 tation with the NYPD, the volunteer-run Shut It Down de- cided to conclude the People’s Mondays actions in Spring Faced with the organized frustration of the masses, de- of 2019, shifting resources to provide mutual aid to com- manding real change - the city, via the NYPD, chooses vi- munities in need, and continuing holding “cop-watch” ac- olence. tions - to observe, document, and deter police brutality. Over the four years that SID marched on Mondays, the Our Dystopian Reality SRG grew in size from 350 officers to over 1,300.46 47 If more incremental police reform is to be shaped in the image of stronger, more sophisticated civilian oversight, Televised Brutality can New Yorkers have confidence that it would serve as any kind of meaningful deterrent on misconduct and bru- In July 2020, the NY State Attorney General’s office pro- tality? The NYPD’s history of evading criminal account- duced a report investigating the NYPD’s response to the ability and the CCRB’s disciplinary reach suggests not. If May and June 2020 protests in New York City. The report a new Mayor or Police Commissioner has the courage to documented widespread excessive force: indiscriminate discipline officers according to civilian recommendation, use of pepper spray, brandishing firearms, and driving will rank-and-file comply with the orders? Or will they stop vehicles into crowds of protesters; bad-faith arrests and performing their duties in protest, as they did at the end detention of journalists, legal observers, and elected offi- of 2014; or demand the removal of the Commissioner, as cials; harassment of essential workers attempting to work they did with James O’Neill in 2019?50 The city’s police or commute through the city’s imposed curfew; transport- union’s endorsement of Donald Trump - who has rede- ing arrested protesters to distant precincts to process the fined the presidency by flatly ignoring norms that govern arrest so that the individual was far from home upon re- “acceptable” behavior - suggests that aspects of the NYPD lease; holding large volumes of detainees in holding cells might be willing to do the same.51 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic with excessively tight zip-tie restraints; and purposely covering identifying As politicians deliberate the “re-envisioning” of police’s information on officers’ badges. The report specifically -de role in society, how many more people will be shot or the SRG utilizing their bicycles as weapons to shove strangled by a police officer? How many families will be 48 protesters, a tactic routinely used on SID marchers. forced to cross paths with their child’s killer, still armed and empowered to shoot again? When will the next victim Amidst the protests in June, the NYPD employed a tactic be taken, hashtag created, and then forgotten. How many known as “kettling” where officers strategically and me- generations of protesters will be beaten in the streets? If

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 28 proponents of defunding the police are able to get their 6. Gwynne Hogan “A Brief History Of Past Protests Against city governments’ to reallocate funds from police budgets Police Brutality In NYC-And How The NYPD Responded” to social services, how long will it take for a murder to be (Gothamist, June 22, 2020), https://gothamist.com/news/ blamed on the absence of a foot patrol? a-brief-history-of-past-protests-against-police-brutality-in- nycand-how-the-nypd-responded. The remedy to marginalization, poverty, and violence in Hansi Lo Wang, “New York’s ‘Night Of Bir- communities that have been oppressed for generations mingham Horror’ Sparked A Summer Of Ri- will not come from a gradual redesignation of the armed ots” (NPR, July 18, 2014), www.npr.org/sections/ overseers. Police occupation needs to be understood as codeswitch/2014/07/18/330108773/new-yorks-night-of- an inappropriate and untenable policy approach to struc- birmingham-horror-sparked-a-summer-of-riots. tural social and economic injustice, rather than a natural 8. Larry Buchanan, Quoctrung Bui, and Jugal K. Patel, facet of a safe society - and replaced accordingly. In that “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. case, the question we’re left with is: will working-class History,” , July 3, 2020, https://www. Americans be able to build the power necessary to con- nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd- struct a government and society that truly meets all peo- protests-crowd-size.html. ples’ needs (including working white folks exploited by 9. Ashley Southall, “Officer Who Violently Shoved capitalism), and addresses the debts owed from centuries Protester in Brooklyn Is Charged With Assault” (The of racist domination? Or, will white Americans - the ma- New York Times, June 9, 2020), https://www.ny- jority of the county’s population, and disproportionately times.com/2020/06/09/nyregion/nypd-officer-vin- the brokers of powe - continue to sacrifice Black lives, and cent-dandraia-arrest.html. their own dignity, to maintain a structure that appears to 10. Robert Pozarycki, “Not Even Close: NYC Shifting Far work for them?52 Less than a Billion from NYPD in Budget, Report Finds,” amNewYork, August 18, 2020, https://www.amny.com/ NOTESnews/when-a-billion-isnt-a-billion-city-only-shifting-frac- 1. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The tion-of-defunding-goal-from-nypd/. Atlantic, June 2014, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar- 11. “Pat Lynch Slams Mayor and Council for Billion-$ chive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/. NYPD Budget Slash,” NYC Police Benevolent Association, Michael B. Teitz, “The Causes of Inner-City Poverty: Eight accessed December 21, 2020, https://www.nycpba.org/ Hypotheses in Search of Reality” (Public Policy Institute of news-items/new-york-1/2020/pat-lynch-slams-mayor-and- California and University of California, Berkeley, 1998). council-for-billion-nypd-budget-slash/. 2. Helena Hansen, Philippe Bourgois, and Ernest Drucker, 12. “DEFUND THE POLICE,” , “Pathologizing Poverty: New Forms of Diagnosis, Disabil- 2020, https://m4bl.org/defund-the-police/. ity, and Structural Stigma under Welfare Reform,” Social 13. Nikole Hannah-jones, “It Is Time for Reparations” (The science & medicine (1982) (U.S. National Library of Medi- New York Times, June 24, 2020), https://www.nytimes. cine, February 2014), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ com/interactive/2020/06/24/magazine/reparations-slav- articles/PMC3920192/. ery.html. Lauren Leatherby and Richard A. Oppel, “Which Police 14. Julissa Arce, “The Long History of Police Violence Departments Are as Diverse as Their Communities?” (The Against Latinos” (Time, July 21, 2020), https://time. New York Times, September 23, 2020), https://www.ny- com/5869568/latinos-police-violence/. times.com/interactive/2020/09/23/us/bureau-justice-sta- 15. , “Police Are Killing Fewer People tistics-race.html. In Big Cities, But More In Suburban And Rural America 3. CalvinJohn Smiley and David Fakunle, “From ‘Brute’ to ,” FiveThirtyEight (FiveThirtyEight, June 1, 2020), https:// ‘Thug:” the Demonization and Criminalization of Unarmed fivethirtyeight.com/features/police-are-killing-fewer-peo- Black Male Victims in America,” Journal Of Human Be- ple-in-big-cities-but-more-in-suburban-and-rural-ameri- havior In The Social Environment (U.S. National Library of ca/. Medicine, 2016), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti- 16. “Police Accountability Tool,” Mapping Police Violence cles/PMC5004736/. - NYPD Killings, accessed December 20, 2020, https:// mappingpoliceviolence.org/cities.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 29 17. Ginia Bellafante, “In New York Public Housing, Polic- 27. Daniel E Slotnik, “Nicholas Heyward Sr., 61, Dies; ing Broken Lights” (The New York Times, November 27, Spoke Out Against Police Brutality” (The New York Times, 2014), https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/nyregion/in- January 14, 2019), https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/ new-york-public-housing-policing-broken-lights.html. obituaries/nicholas-heyward-dead.html. 18. Erika Eichelberger, “After a Police Shooting, One Fa- 28. Paul Lotta, “Ben Carr, Stepfather of Eric Garner, ther’s Quest for Justice Sets a Precedent,” VICE, accessed Reportedly Dead in Jamaica” (Staten Island Advance, December 21, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en/article/ July 26, 2019), https://www.silive.com/news/2019/07/ yve3wm/after-a-police-shooting-one-fathers-quest-for-jus- ben-carr-stepfather-of-eric-garner-reportedly-dead-in-ja- tice-sets-a-precedent-v23n6. maica.html. 19. Daryl Khan, “Many New Yorkers, Police Mourn Their 29. Aaron Katersky, Christina Carrega, and Meghan Losses, Fear the Future,” Juvenile Justice Information Ex- Keneally, “NYPD Officer Involved in Eric Garner’s Death change, July 29, 2015, https://jjie.org/2014/12/22/many- Fired,” ABC News, accessed December 21, 2020, https:// new-yorkers-police-mourn-their-losses-fear-the-future/. abcnews.go.com/US/nypd-officer-involved-eric-gar- 20. Joseph Goldstein and Nate Schweber, “Man’s Death ners-death-untruthful-investigation/story?id=65054867. After Chokehold Raises Old Issue for the Police” (The 30. “CCRB Statement on Termination of Officer Daniel New York Times, July 18, 2014), https://www.nytimes. Pantaleo” (NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, August com/2014/07/19/nyregion/staten-island-man-dies-after- 19, 2019). he-is-put-in-chokehold-during-arrest.html. 31. Jonathan Dienst and David K. Li, “NYPD Commission- 21. Susanna Capelouto, “Eric Garner: The Haunting Last er James O’Neill Announces His Resignation” (NBC News, Words of a Dying Man,” CNN (Cable News Network, De- November 4, 2019), https://www.nbcnews.com/news/ cember 9, 2014), https://www.cnn.com/2014/12/04/us/ us-news/nypd-commissioner-james-o-neill-expected-an- garner-last-words/index.html. nounce-his-resignation-sources-n1076141. 22. “Speaker Corey Johnson Announces Vote on Bills to 32. Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, Nathaniel Rakich, and Criminalize the Use of a Chokehold by Police Officers and Likhitha Butchireddygari, “Why It’s So Rare For Police Offi- Create Standardized Police Discipline Guidelines” (New cers To Face Legal Consequences,” FiveThirtyEight, June York City Council, June 2, 2020), https://council.nyc.gov/ 4, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-its-still- press/2020/06/02/1976/. so-rare-for-police-officers-to-face-legal-consequences-for- 23. Jonathan Dienst, Andrew Siff, and Jennifer Millman, misconduct/. “Grand Jury Declines to Indict NYPD Officer in Eric Garner 33. James C. Mckinley, “Officers Rally And Dinkins Is Chokehold Death” (NBC New York, December 4, 2014), Their Target” (The New York Times, September 17, 1992), https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/grand-ju- https://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/17/nyregion/officers- ry-decision-eric-garner-staten-island-chokehold-de- rally-and-dinkins-is-their-target.html. ath-nypd/1427980/. 34. Ashley Southall, Ali Watkins, and Blacki Migliozzi, 24. Erica Garner and Kemi Alabi, “Conflict Can Destroy “A Watchdog Accused Officers of Serious Misconduct. Movements. We Need to Fight the System, Not Each Few Were Punished.,” The New York Times (The New Other | ,” The Guardian, December 9, 2015, https://www. York Times, November 15, 2020), https://www.nytimes. theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/09/erica-gar- com/2020/11/15/nyregion/ccrb-nyc-police-misconduct. ner-conflict-can-destroy-movements-fight-the-system. html?referringSource=articleShare. 25. Laurel Wamsley, “Erica Garner, Who Became An 35. Gwynne Hogan, “A Brief History Of Past Protests Activist After Her Father’s Death, Dies” (NPR, Decem- Against Police Brutality In NYC-And How The NYPD Re- ber 30, 2017), https://www.npr.org/sections/thet- sponded” (Gothamist, June 22, 2020), https://gothamist. wo-way/2017/12/30/574514217/erica-garner-who-be- com/news/a-brief-history-of-past-protests-against-police- came-an-activist-after-her-fathers-death-dies. brutality-in-nycand-how-the-nypd-responded. 26. Murray Weiss, “Officer Who Fatally Shot Teen in 1994 36. Benjamin Mueller and Ashley Southall, “25,000 Won’t Be Charged After Case Reopened” (DNAinfo New March in New York to Protest Police Violence” (The New York, November 7, 2016), https://www.dnainfo.com/new- York Times, December 14, 2014), https://www.nytimes. york/20161104/downtown-brooklyn/nicholas-heyward-jr- com/2014/12/14/nyregion/in-new-york-thousands-march- black-lives-matter-fatal-police-shootings-brooklyn-da/. in-continuing-protests-over-garner-case.html.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 30 37. Vivian Yee, “‘I Can’t Breathe’ Is Echoed in Voices of Queens Gazette, accessed December 21, 2020, https:// Fury and Despair” (The New York Times, December 4, www.qgazette.com/articles/crime-is-down-hero-cops- 2014), https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/nyregion/i- honored-at-114th-meeting/. cant-breathe-is-re-echoed-in-voices-of-fury-and-despair. 48. “NYPD Protest Response,” New York State Attorney html General, accessed December 21, 2020, https://ag.ny.gov/ 38. Mike Bento, “Some Folks Want to Reform the NYPD. nypd-protest-response. I Want to Shut It Down.,” ed. Daniel Krieger, Narratively, 49. “‘Kettling’ Protesters in the Bronx,” Human Rights May 26, 2019, https://narratively.com/protest-people- Watch, November 12, 2020, https://www.hrw.org/re- some-folks-want-to-reform-the-nypd-i-want-to-shut-it- port/2020/09/30/kettling-protesters-bronx/systemic-po- down/. lice-brutality-and-its-costs-united-states. 39. J. David Goodman, “N.Y.P.D. Plans Initiatives to 50. Thomas Tracy, “NYPD Work Slowdown Didn’t Result Fight Terrorism and Improve Community Relations” in Crime Increase after 2014 Fatal Shootings of Two Police (The New York Times, January 30, 2015), https://www. Officers, Report Shows” (New York Daily News, April 6, nytimes.com/2015/01/30/nyregion/nypd-plans-initia- 2018), https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/nypd- tives-to-fight-terrorism-and-improve-community-relations. work-slowdown-didn-increase-crime-article-1.3523684. html?_r=0. 51. Zak Cheney-Rice, “The Inevitable Trump-Police Union 40. “NYPD Counterterrorism” New York Police Depart- Alliance” (New York Magazine, August 18, 2020), https:// ment, accessed December 21, 2020, https://www1.nyc. nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-endorsed-by- gov/site/nypd/bureaus/investigative/counterterrorism. nyc-police-union.html. page. 52. Denise Lu et al., “Faces of Power: 80% Are White, 41. “NYC Cops Are Blithely Firing A Potentially Deafening Even as U.S. Becomes More Diverse” (The New York Sound Cannon At Peaceful Protesters” (Gothamist, De- Times, September 10, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/ cember 13, 2014), https://gothamist.com/news/nyc-cops- interactive/2020/09/09/us/powerful-people-race-us.html. are-blithely-firing-a-potentially-deafening-sound-cannon- at-peaceful-protesters. 42. George Joseph, “NYPD Sent Video Teams to Record Occupy and BLM Protests over 400 Times, Documents Re- veal” (The Verge, March 22, 2017), https://www.theverge. com/2017/3/22/15016984/nypd-video-surveillance-pro- tests-occupy-black-lives-matter. 43. “NYPD Sent Undercover Officers to Black Lives Matter Protest, Records Reveal,” The Guardian, September 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/ sep/29/nypd-black-lives-matter-undercover-protests. 44. George Joseph et al., “Years After Protests, NYPD Re- tains Photos of Black Lives Matter Activists,” The Appeal, accessed December 21, 2020, https://theappeal.org/ years-after-protests-nypd-retains-photos-of-black-lives- matter-activists/. 45. Craig McCarthy, “How the NYPD Obtains People’s Personal Data with No Oversight” (New York Post, No- vember 16, 2020), https://nypost.com/2020/11/16/ how-the-nypd-gets-peoples-personal-data-with-no-over- sight/?utm_source=twitter_sitebuttons. 46. “OPEN: NYC Shut It Down,” BronxNet, July 17, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tQZhRcSc1g. 47. 2015 ohtadmin | on December 02, “Crime Is Down, Hero Cops Honored At 114th Meeting: Queens Gazette,”

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 31 THE "COMPLIANCE SANDWICH"

Bars are inherently social settings: patrons talk to their While well-intentioned, Executive Order 202.52 seems to bartender about their personal problems, regulars yell at be less a pragmatic enforcement of social distancing than the outcome of a Knicks game on TV, friendships and re- a symbolic gesture to the public and small businesses that lationships are forged as customers banter with one an- legislators are taking the pandemic seriously. The law is other. It is not an easy undertaking for bars to continue an example of how slap-dash regulatory legislation, often operating during COVID19, a circumstance that requires made the preferred alternative to less politically feasible them to curb social interaction, the very thing that makes but more effective solutions to crises, can have a net neg- visiting them appealing for so many people. In addition ative impact for the communities and businesses encum- to reducing their capacity to limit the spread of COVID, bered by the legislation’s passage. bars have had to comply with NY State Executive Order 202.52, which mandates that “all licensed establishments On March 22, three weeks after NYC’s first Coronavirus with on premises privileges shall not serve alcoholic bev- case, Governor Cuomo announced that NY State would erages unless such alcoholic beverage is accompanied by go on “pause” and all non-essential businesses would be a food item…”1 The purpose of the law is to restrict “the closed until further notice. Many restaurants remained congregating and mingling that arise in a bar service/ open for take-out and delivery, but the “pause” mandated drinking only establishment.” To continue operating, bar that the city’s bars would stay closed for about two months owners have found creative ways to comply with the exec- until Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. On June 22, utive order, charging $1.00-$2.00 for food items ranging after the three month NY state “pause”, New York City bars from kraft cheese-on-wonder bread sandwiches to bouil- that had been closed began to formally welcome patrons lon cubes in hot water2. Absent a comprehensive plan to back for limited outdoor service. Since indoor dining was help bars and restaurants survive drastic drops in revenue, prohibited in New York City until late September, bars that the government has allowed them to stay open under reg- reopened during “Phase 2” either had sufficient existing outdoor capacity to open and offset operating costs, or by Max Marinoff they were one of the 3,192 eating and drinking establish- photos by the author ments that applied to the city for additional outdoor din- ing space.4 Those that reopened at the onset of Phase 2 ulations that encourage social distancing. These measures were inventive about navigating state COVID regulations. have been prudent, necessary and effective at limiting the Bars set up socially distanced lawn chairs on the sidewalk; spread of COVID19 in NYC. By allowing bars to stay open laid out astro turf beneath tables to improve their aesthet- and passing Executive Order 202.52, Governor Cuomo is ic; and have complied with Executive Order 202.52 by walking a tightrope between public safety and economic serving some interesting, albeit austere and sometimes concerns: the order affords bars the opportunity to keep unappetizing, menu items. Executive Order 202.52, in the- earning but signals to them and the public that the state ory intended to tether customers to their tables, does not prioritizes public health. However, as more and more busi- prevent social interaction between patrons in practice. As nesses shutter, it seems evident that this strategy has fallen Alexander Rigie, Executive Director of the New York Hos- short of providing the city’s bars with enough revenue to pitality Alliance put it: weather the pandemic. And compounding the problem, the executive order has also resulted in fines and suspen- How does having an order of wings with a beer sions for some bars in violation of the law, causing them make you safer from COVID-19 than just having a further economic hardship3. beer alone?...But then you can have multiple beers with that order of wings and that’s OK? We’re just asking for thoughtful, clear requirements that pro-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 32 tect public health and safety and that businesses can rely on and understand.5

Rigie’s argument is shared by bar owners who don’t see the clear public health benefits of the executive order, and feel it is an additional encumbrance for them in an already severely fraught economic climate. Additionally the aim of the executive order is to limit “mingling” and fraternizing, which, however, are the reasons many people visit bars.

The public health outcomes of Executive Order 202.52 are almost impossible to quantify, and the policies that are more effective at limiting the virus’ spread, such as requir- ing bars to operate at reduced capacity, have fallen short of providing them with sufficient revenue to stay open: according to the NYTimes, almost 1,000 NYC bars and hold tenants who have not been paying rent since Septem- restaurants have closed due to accumulated debt as a re- ber legally liable for financial debt. The inadvertent public 6 sult of diminished business. No doubt more would have health implications of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act are that closed if they were prohibited from operating at all without people show up in person to court to defend themselves financial assistance. The question is, might it be more uni- and evicted residential tenants are forced into shelters, versally beneficial, for both the public’s health and bar rev- both settings that can increase the risk of COVID spread. enues, to require bars to close while providing them with public financial assistance to at least mitigate their financial All of this is to say that even the more “comprehensive” losses? measures taken by the state government to balance local business and public health concerns have fallen short of Governor Cuomo did take some measures to help busi- their intended goals. The most obvious comprehensive nesses continue to earn beyond simply allowing them to measure -- to impose temporary mandatory shutdowns for stay open at reduced capacity. Concurrent with the “pause” businesses that are most likely to trigger outbreaks, and at mandate, Governor Cuomo announced a New York State the same time, offer them significant financial assistance eviction “moratorium” for residential and commercial ten- -- could be achieved, if not for a variety of political obsta- ants. While the measure was helpful to tenants throughout cles. For one thing, the Federal government under Donald the city, it is consistently mislabeled an “eviction moratori- Trump has been wanting in its appropriation of funding to um”. The most recent iteration of the “Tenant Safe Harbor the blue states it deems unsupportive.9 With minimal fed- Act”, as of September, does not prevent eviction proceed- eral assistance, NY state may be unable to provide a finan- ings from taking place, it just leaves the decision to the cial relief package of a scale large enough to subsidize all discretion of local housing courts. Tenants have to show businesses to close given the state’s expected $14 billion up to court and convince a judge that the pandemic dimin- budget deficit10. For his part, Governor Cuomo could have ished their income significantly enough to prevent them been looking at a lower state budget deficit and more mon- from being able to pay rent. According to Judith Goldin- ey for public assistance if he had imposed a millionaire’s er, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society’s Civil Law and billionaire’s tax years ago, which he remains hesitant Reform Unit, the moratorium is “problematic” because it to to do (in 2017 Cuomo opted to pass congestion pricing leaves eviction decisions “statewide up to thousands of to generate revenue for the MTA instead of ’s judges to interpret, what [it] means, to be ‘financially im- proposed millionaire’s tax).11 Cuomo’s stated reason for his pacted’” by the pandemic, “and unfortunately we’ve seen perpetual resistance to a billionaire’s tax has been that he a lot of bad decisions across the state, and people starting doesn’t want to drive the wealthy away from the city and 7 to get evicted.” The so-called state rent moratorium also lose them as a tax base. His unstated reason is that he is does not prevent courts from assessing a “money judge- beholden to them for their campaign contributions: “more 8 ment” for tenants in arrears. This means that landlords can than a third of New York’s billionaires have funneled cash Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 33 to Cuomo’s political machine.”12 In forgoing comprehen- opposed to Tammany Hall’s corruption -- and was eager to sive revenue generating policies like the billionaire’s tax, crack down on crime in the city. He believed that saloons, Cuomo has put himself in a position where his options to where many Tammany Hall leaders engaged in graft, were offer public assistance during an emergency are limited. breeding grounds for vice and incubators for more wide- Instead, during COVID, businesses and the public have spread political corruption. The Raines Liquor Tax, (Raines ended up with legislation like the Tenant Safe Harbor Act Law) raised annual taxes on saloons by over 150% and re- and Executive Order 202.52, which insufficiently address quired saloon-keepers to take out an expensive insurance our current problems. policy.15 It also prevented saloons from serving alcohol on Executive Order 202.52 has drawn some comparisons Sundays and mandated that they keep their curtains open to “Raines’ Law”, passed in New York in 1896. Often, the so police could see the vacant bars and enforce the law. comparisons drawn have focused on the quirky food offer- ings of NYC bars The legislation’s expressed intent was to limit public drunk- trying to comply enness and overindulgence in alcohol in New York City, but with both laws. But it was mostly enforced in the saloons patronized by lower the laws are also income German and Irish immigrants. While Raine’s Law both examples of prevented saloons from serving alcohol on the sabbath, it misdirected and did allow higher occupancy lodging houses to serve drinks inadequate gov- with meals on Sundays. The clientele of these lodging ernment respons- houses were predominantly wealthier New Yorkers.16 This, es to social crises. coupled with the fact that the law forbade platters of “free In the 19th centu- lunch” at saloons and that Sunday was the only day off for ry, New York City’s many working-class New Yorkers, hinted at the legislation’s 11th precinct, classist and xenophobic undertones. The bars that could which covered afford the liquor tax and insurance policy began to rent out much of today’s neighboring spaces to cheaply build 10 “rooms” and serve Lower East Side, sandwiches to meet the “lodging house” criteria and com- was filled with vice ply with the law. Often the “rooms” were not high enough and petty crime: to stand up in17, and the Raines Law sandwiches were bare- one investigator at ly edible: sometimes the same sandwich would be served the time estimated for days to each new group of customers18. that there were about 242 saloons and 50 brothels in the 9 block span.13 The area was also home to many of New Teddy Roosevelt was deeply sympathetic to immigrant York’s poorest immigrants, many of whom lived in densely New Yorkers, especially after Jacob Riis’ “How the Other packed rooms in some of the city’s most squalid buildings. Half Lives” underscored the degree of the poverty and Tammany Hall was the dominant political force in the city despair many in the Lower East Side were living in.19 As at the time. Tammany Hall politicians were largely corrupt, a reformer, he viewed Tammany Hall as a corrupt political and spent much of their time in the city’s many bars ei- machine that preyed on immigrants through conditional ther bribing other city officials or shoring up votes among benevolence. To him, the “lodging houses” were symp- working class immigrants, often in exchange for jobs and toms of Tammany’s venality. However, by focusing on favors. Aside from the sometimes venal and condition- stemming vice and fighting Tammany Hall instead of - di al “generosity” of Tammany Hall, there were no federal, rectly assisting immigrants, Roosevelt may have missed the state, or municipal resources for struggling immigrants in forest for the trees. As an example of this misguided zeal, late 19th Century New York City.14 In 1896, in response to in an effort to shut down the “lodging houses”, he argued what upstate lawmakers perceived as overindulgence in to courts that the “food” served in these establishments vice downstate, New York State Senator John Raines au- did not constitute a meal. History has a tendency of repeat- thored a bill that restricted the sale of alcohol in the city, ing itself -- after Governor Cuomo passed Executive Order which appealed greatly to the then NYC Police Commis- 202.52 and bars started to comply by serving chips, the sioner Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a Reformer -- New York State Liquor Authority redefined what food was

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 34 deemed substantial enough to satisfy the rule.20 The politi- grants in New York City’s tenements. As commissioner, the cal energy spent on something as trivial as the correct defi- best way to improve life for immigrant New Yorkers living nition of “substantial food” in both circumstances points to in precinct 11 was to root out police corruption and eradi- grossly misdirected government attention and resources cate crime, even if it meant enforcing legislation like Raines -- is this something that we really want our elected officials Law. For Governor Cuomo such an excuse is not so readily to preoccupy themselves with, especially during a crisis of made. Raines’ Law may have contributed to the diminished COVID’s gravity? influence of Tammany Hall, but it certainly didn’t eradicate crime and vice in the neighborhood, nor did it have any Raines Law and Executive Order 202.52 have very different long-lasting positive effect for NYC immigrants. In 2020, contexts. One was passed in the wake of Tammany Hall- Executive order 202.52 seems on track to have a similarly run New York City and was backed by reformers intent on insufficient effect on the problem of the day, keeping small cleaning up sin and vice, and the other was passed during businesses and working New Yorkers financially stable and an unprecedented pandemic with the intention of slowing safe from COVID19. Both of these laws illustrate the habit down a deadly contagion. Both laws, however, point to of government to try to solve fundamental problems indi- the tendency of the government to focus on patch-work rectly, usually because taking a more substantive, compre- legislation instead of more comprehensive policies that hensive approach would be politically infeasible, impracti- address the root causes of societal problems. Teddy Roo- cal, or simply “not worth the heavy lift”. However, if one of sevelt can be excused to some extent for not tackling the the roles of government is to make positive longstanding root of the problem; at the time Raines’ Law was passed, changes, politicians should be bold and creative enough he had to work within the boundaries of his role as Police to take more direct, structural, and holistic action. Commissioner. Before he was governor, he did not have the jurisdiction to offer resource relief to struggling immi-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 35 NOTES https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/31/cuo- mo-new-york-governor-billionaires-super-rich13 1 “Guidance On Requirement That Licensees With Richard Zacks. Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest On-Premises Service Privileges Serve Food With Alcohol- to Clean up Sin-Loving New York. (New York: Anchor ic Beverages.” Liquor Authority, New York State , 17 July Books, 2012) Ebook, pg. 65 2020, sla.ny.gov/guidance-requirement-licensees-premis- 14 George J. Lankevich. New York City: A Short His- es-service-privileges-serve-food-alcoholic-beverages. tory. (New York: New York University Press, 1998) pg. 124 2 Hannah Frishberg. “The Most Ridiculous Foods 15 Zacks, Richard, pg. 339 That Bars Are Serving to Comply with Cuomo’s Mandate.” 16 Darrell Hartman. “To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drink- New York Post, New York Post, 10 Aug. 2020, Acceseny- ing Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sand- post.com/2020/08/10/the-most-ridiculous-foods-bars- wich.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 17 July 2020, www. are-serving-to-comply-with-cuomos-mandate/. atlasobscura.com/articles/raines-sandwich. 3 Ben Yakas. “Indoor Dining Has Accounted For 17 Zacks. Island of Vice, pg. 390 Almost 50% Of NYC Restaurant Pandemic Suspensions” 18 Hartman. “To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Gothamist, New York Public Radio, 14 August 2020. Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich”. https://gothamist.com/food/indoor-dining-has-account- 19 Lankevich. New York City: A Short History, pg. ed-almost-50-nyc-restaurant-pandemic-suspensions 125 4 Jen Carlson. “A Guide To Phase 2 Outdoor Din- 20 NBC New York. “Bars Get Creative to Avoid ing: Rules, Etiquette & Advice From An Epidemiologist”. NY’s Food With Alcohol Rule But ‘Cuomo Chips’ Aren’t Gothamist, New York Public Radio, 22 June 2020. Enough, Gov. Says.” NBC New York, 24 July 2020, www. https://gothamist.com/food/guide-phase-2-outdoor-din- nbcnewyork.com/news/local/bars-get-creative-to-avoid- ing-rules-etiquette-advice-epidemiologist nys-food-with-alcohol-rule-but-cuomo-chips-arent- 5 Dana Rubinstein and Sean Piccoli. “N.Y.C. Enters enough-gov-says/2529749/. Phase 4, but Restaurants and Bars Are Left Behind.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 July 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/nyregion/nyc-phase-4-re- opening-bars.html 6 Matthew Haag. “One-Third of New York’s Small Businesses May Be Gone Forever.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Aug. 2020, www.nytimes. com/2020/08/03/nyregion/nyc-small-businesses-clos- ing-coronavirus.html. 7 Judith Goldiner, “Will You Pay Rent This Month?”. Interview by Brian Lehrer, The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, 1 December 2020. https://www.wnyc.org/story/will-you-pay-rent-month/ 8 Caroline Spivack. “These Are The Protections New Yorkers Have From Eviction.” Curbed NY, Curbed NY, 14 Aug. 2020, ny.curbed.com/2020/3/26/21192343/coro- navirus-new-york-eviction-moratorium-covid-19. 9 Ronald Brownstein. “Trump Brings in the Infantry for His War on Blue America”. The Atlantic, The Atlantic, 14 May 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/05/ trump-escalating-his-war-blue-america/611653/ 10 DeWitt. “New York Has Lost A Great- er Share Of Revenue Than Most States Due To COVID-19.” NPR, NPR, 3 Aug. 2020, www.npr. org/2020/08/03/895384547/new-york-has-lost-a-greater- share-of-revenue-than-most-states-due-to-covid-19. 11 Ameena Walker and Tanay Warerkar. “De Blasio’s Proposed Millionaires Tax Would Fund Half-Priced Metro- Cards, Subway Upgrades (Update).” Curbed NY, Curbed NY, 7 Aug. 2017, ny.curbed.com/2017/8/6/16103940/bill- de-blasio-mta-subway-repairs-millionaires-tax-proposal- nyc. 12 Walker Bragman and David Sirota. “Revealed: super-rich donate to Cuomo as he rejects tax hikes for billionaires”. The Guardian, The Guardian, 31 July 2020.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 36




Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 37 Construction on Manhattan's Pier 55.Urban Photo Review | byHunter Kevin College Ritter | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 38 LEFT IN THE DUST Privatizing Cities

Seemingly out of nowhere, massive construction sites Eko Atlantic sprout from barren and hostile landscapes, promising a green new future. Sculpted high-rises line veneered Developers built Eko Atlantic on land reclaimed from the streets, expansive urban green spaces rival New York’s bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, purporting modernity and Central Park, and restaurants serve world-class cuisine: a presenting their new city as the solution to Lagos’s cli- utopian wonderment bills itself as a progressive urban ex- mate and urbanization problems. The billionaire Chagoury perience on the platform of eco-sustainability. Sprawling brothers who headed the project conjured new ground to wealth and exclusivity stand in stark contrast to ancient create grandiose opportunities for investment.2 The city, cities that have been forced to contend with rapid urban- which will operate independently of Lagos, is said to offer ization, gross global inequality, and the impending threat protection from the dangers of Nigeria’s eroding coastline. of . Eco-cities are becoming a caricature of However, the protection Eko Atlantic offers is exclusive: it the future of urban living — they embody a lifeless stream borders the wealthy Victoria Island section of Lagos, the of capital without the organic messiness of traditional only section of the city to truly benefit from Eko Atlantic. city life. Bored billionaires and corporations imagine and Other parts of Lagos, on the other hand, may experience re-envision the urban experience, conjuring eco-cities and increased suffering as a result of the development. sites of investment. Seeing the profit potential, investors have hidden under the guise of the climate change crisis Lagos is vulnerable to flood surges and, being situated im- to promote eco-cities, which has prompted an apolitical mediately on the coast, lacks environmental safeguards. As sphere of discussion about the controversy surrounding part of Eko Atlantic’s construction, developers produced such cities’ development. what is called “The Great Wall” of Lagos. The structure is Developers’ New Visions of Africa a rock and concrete barrier, designed as a sea defense along the original coastline. Developers present Eko At- lantic as a formidable solution to the eroding coastline, New “eco-cities” are a break from the past in their physical, but studies have shown that the wall has actually exacer- cultural, and financial forms. Developers are particularly interested in African urbanism because the continent is quickly becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing econ- omies.1 Eko Atlantic in Nigeria and New Cairo in Egypt by Jennifer Hendricks exemplify the utopian satellite city as sites of investment. Despite developers and the state portraying them as eco- bated the problem for nearby communities, such as the logically friendly, these new cities pose their own threats middle-class area of Alpha Beach. The wall reroutes and to the climate, and are often juxtaposed with already vul- displaces currents, which have washed away land from nerable urban centers. The states encourage developers the Alpha Beach’s shoreline, emptying homes of their res- to construct new neoliberal cities, prioritizing business and idents. Since the construction of the wall, newly-vulnera- commerce over public infrastructure and social funding. ble apartment buildings along the shore have been aban- Embracing architectural modernity creates a rupture from doned, and taken over by squatters.3 previous cultural forms -- catering to a global palette in which local cultures and identities are erased in favor of a Developers advertised the construction of the “Great Wall” homogenous business elite. as a protectorate for the people who live in the coastal re- gions on Lagos’ outskirts. However, reports suggest that the construction has worsened flooding, resulting in resi- dents’ forced relocation.4 In an effort to mitigate the coastal Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 39 erosion the rising sea levels create, the wall has actually urban migration, as people are encouraged to move to the created serious consequences for Lagos’ nearby, poorer city for work.8 islands. According to scientists and law experts who have examined the Environmental Impact Assessment of Eko New Cairo Atlantic, “The dredging of the sand can increase the en- ergy of the waves before they hit the shore. When they To curb the bursting population of Cairo, developers con- are diverted and push along the new ‘Great Wall,’ they structed New Cairo, a modern mega metropolis on the out- are likely to gather more speed, hitting the shore in vul- skirts of the already existing city. While Cairo is a city associ- ated with the ancient, having captured the world’s historical imagination through its massive museums and ruins from earlier eras, New Cairo represents empty mod- ernization. New Cairo’s modern aesthetic nullifies its human and cultural elements and renders its geographical and histor- ical context insignificant. When taking in the sheer scale of New Cairo, it is easy to forget that Cairo was the seat of Egypt’s political power for over 1,000 years and was an important site of mass political mobilization. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched New Cairo as a re- sponse to the polluted and overpopulat- ed city center.9 However, it has turned into a cocooned city for the elite with the base of government infrastructure at its core.

During the Arab Spring, Cairo’s Tahrir Eko Atlantic construction site, Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Heinrich- Square became a symbol for the mass Böll-Stiftung, Wikimedia Commons political movement. The Square’s design nerable areas such as Alfa Beach.”5 According to climate allowed for the large protests against government corrup- change researcher Dr. Alan Blumberg, surrounding islands tion.10 New Cairo’s public spaces, however, are explicitly near Eko Atlantic are lower than sea level. Therefore, storm designed to avoid such uprisings. In the new capital, “the surges that approach the new island might affect a neigh- army will be in the command and control center and will boring island instead of Eko Atlantic. Eko Atlantic is a clear manage and control the whole city via the center,” said case of “green grabbing,” where the wealthy exploit the Former Brig. Gen. Khaled el-Husseiny Soliman, the interna- climate crisis for their own benefit. As the “Great Wall” ex- tional coordination manager with the Administrative Cap- emplifies, the monetization of green projects may be mak- ital for Urban Development.11 Soliman’s statement reveals ing the world less sustainable by devaluing sustainable yet the political intentions behind New Cairo’s development. non-iconic urban development.6 Old Cairo proved conducive to mass mobilization, yet New Cairo gates the government away from the people Eko Atlantic’s developers purport to alleviate Lagos of the it serves, creating a protective barrier from mass political ill effects of its growing population, but given apparent dis- mobilization. regard for residents of Alpha Beach, it is hard to take these claims seriously. Considering that the project will only pro- Al-Sisi chose to frame his legacy around tying Egypt’s gov- vide housing and services for 300,000 people, the major- ernment to modern privatization, rather than the demo- ity of Lagos’s 14 million7 residents will not benefit. Lagos’ cratic forms of governance the Egyptian people tried to rapid growth and mass urbanization is a result of rural to claim during the Arab Spring. Cairo has a population close

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 40 to 21 million inhabitants, and New Cairo promises to alle- al on multiple levels despite being packaged as utopian viate this congestion.12 Considering the small scale of New solutions. Cairo, offering homes for just six-and-a-half million people, it hardly serves most of the population.13 New Cairo is not “The future of the dirt is enclosed in the first city which has been built to alleviate Cairo’s burst- technocratic capitalism”16 ing seams; eight other satellite towns were built around Cairo, but turned into ghost towns when they failed to at- African economies seek distance from their agricultural tract new inhabitants or business.14 Is such thinning of the and manufacturing-based economies and strive to be tak- population an attempt to destabilize the power of mass en seriously as service economies. Although these coun- mobilization? tries’ urban centers are tied to national pride, they are be- ginning to embrace more globalized world-class thinking17 Like Eko Atlantic, New Cairo is a prime example of envi- and neoliberal ideologies by harnessing a new, more busi- ronmental exploitation under the guise of sustainabili- ness-friendly national aesthetic.18 Eko Atlantic promises to ty. Building a city in a dry desert climate is an exercise in cater to the global business elite through architectural in- waste, and an example of severe resource exploitation. centives. The center of the business district boasts a gran- The original Cairo has been facing severe drought due to diose boulevard, comparable to Fifth Avenue in New York, climate change, so it seems obvious that rerouting water or the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Glass high rises will line the from the Nile is not a viable solution for an area that has boulevard, and sleek cafes and restaurants promise to be a severe water shortage. The new capital will operate two the perfect location for clients whom the district boasts it water stations that will siphon water from nearby satellite will attract.19 New Cairo will feature Africa’s highest tower cities, thereby exacerbating water shortage issues in Cairo and a central business district around a “green river.”20 and further up the Nile.15 These eco-cities are dysfunction-

View of satellite cities of Cairo. Photo: Faris Knight, Wikimedia Commons

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 41 New Cairo and Eko Atlantic are not the only examples ject to the democratic debates that dictate how city spaces of new cities built to replace the old as part of an eco- are used. The privatization of the eco-city has multitudes nomic transformation. From Kenya to South Africa, urban of implications worth analyzing: Are these cities outside megaprojects are sprouting up all over Africa, transform- the realm of regulation and governance? Do they run the ing the city from a site of public exchange into a facilitator risk of becoming a haven for ill-begotten finance? In a way, of finance.21 The new cities have reinforced segregation by they are exempt from political context because they have creating literal, physical walls around the modern utopian become nation-states unto themselves.24 The private city is enclave. The mindset is to start over, to build bigger and the culmination of capital’s love affair with real estate, af- better, rather than to deal with the existing urban condi- firming inequity and private rule.25 The fact that it is built on tions of the nearby metro city. The new towns promise a so-called vacant land gives the impression that the eco-city great future for investors, but deepen inequality and mar- is a place where rules need to be made, and typically these ginalization for local citizens. rules will negotiate agreeably with the uber rich.

Elites masterfully appropriate terms such as ‘sustainable’ Conclusion and ‘eco-friendly’ to make constructing eco-cities a prof- itable enterprise. This sort of marketing has twisted the At first glance it appears that the visions for the eco-city importance of effective climate change management into would benefit society as a whole, but a closer look reveals something insidious, as environmental projects are under- that this summation is obscured by such projects’ prof- taken to promote corporate interests rather than to ben- it-driven motives and reliance on exclusivity. By linking efit the public. Despite their dangerous environmental eco-cities with the climate crisis, investors have provided implications, the new urban zones are marketed as tech- an opportunity to use these new urban spaces as a sup- nologically smart eco-cities. While green solutions are im- posed solution.26 The investment into these modes of Climate change is creating an increasingly dystopian planet, but new utopian cities for the rich will not provide the sustainable solutions our cities need. plemented into the projects, the elaborate nature of the green capital benefits the climate resiliency of the- over developments create environmental problems on their privileged, while neglecting our existing structures and own and fail to address the origins of climate catastrophe those who already inhabit them, primarily the poor. and urban inequality. By creating land under a multi-lay- ered guise of fighting climate change, developers have Climate change is creating an increasingly dystopian plan- effectively made it impossible to argue against ‘green’ et, but new utopian cities for the rich will not provide the projects in the name of fighting the climate crisis. Govern- sustainable solutions our cities need. Fast-growing cities ments and corporations alike have willfully used advertis- such as Nairobi have implemented community-involved ing to twist the climate crisis into an economic imperative climate resiliency projects as alternatives to capital de- for eco-urbanism.22 The branding narrative of the eco-city velopment solutions. For example, efforts to rehabilitate suggests that the construction is a fresh, productive start Michuki Memorial Park are part of a response to push green to society; one that replaces the old, contaminated cities infrastructure in the city. As a result of the pandemic, many of the past. But in this specific context, the word eco is “as- residents became homeless and found refuge in the park. sessed on its own terms and functions as a marketable icon Now, these same people are helping to revitalize and clean of sustainability.”23 the once-polluted area. Including the voices and concerns that community members have about the best ways to use With successful branding and marketing, eco-cities are the space has made the project a more personal experi- deemed exceptional, subject to their own forms of privat- ence.27 There are many examples of community-led resil- ized governance. Because the new city manifests itself as a ience projects, which are more effective and equitably sus- space of exception owned by private interests, it is not sub- tainable, that include a broad range of society members,

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 42 not just the wealthy. Mega-projects designed to protect 11 “Egypt builds a new capital city to replace Cairo.” urban residents from the impact of climate change will un- 2018, NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ doubtedly expand as the climate crisis worsens. Building egypt-builds-new-capital-city-replace-cairo-n893606 new cities as the old ones are left to falter neglects the 12 “Cairo Population 2020.” 2020, World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/ portion of the population that will already suffer the most cairo-population. from the negative impacts of climate change. The fate of 13 Lewis, Aidan and Abdellah, Mohamed. 2019. our cities should not be predetermined by the rich. “Egypt’s new desert capital faces delays as it battles for funds.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-new- capital/egypts-new-desert-capital-faces-delays-as-it-bat- tles-for-funds-idUSKCN1SJ10I. Endnotes 14 Bravo, Eduardo. “Egypt Builds Its New Capital.” 1 Abubakar, Ismaila Rimi, and Petra Leisenring Tomorrow.Mag, 12 May 2020, www.smartcitylab.com/ Doan. 2017. “Building New Capital Cities In Africa: Les- blog/urban-environment/egypt-builds-its-new-capital/. sons For New Satellite Towns In Developing Countries”. 15 Michaelson, Ruth. 2018. “‘Cairo Has Started to African Studies 76 (4): 546-565. doi:10.1080/00020184.2 Become Ugly’: Why Egypt Is Building a New Capital City.” 017.1376850. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/ 2 Caprotti, Federico. 2014. “Eco-Urbanism And The may/08/cairo-why-egypt-build-new-capital-city-desert. Eco-City, Or, Denying The Right To The City?”. Antipode 16 Fernelius, Katie Jane. 2020. “A Private City: The 46 (5): 1285-1303. doi:10.1111/anti.12087. Rise Of Eko Atlantic”. Current Affairs. https://www.curren- 3 “Waves of change: Nigeria’s Lagos battles taffairs.org/2020/05/a-private-city-the-rise-of-eko-atlantic. Atlantic erosion,” 2019, France 24. www.france24.com/ 17 Ibid. en/20190710-waves-change-nigerias-lagos-battles-atlan- 18 Abubakar, Ismaila Rimi, and Petra Leisenring tic-erosion. Doan. 2017. “Building New Capital Cities In Africa: Les- 4 “Eko Atlantic.” 2020. Arcgis Storymaps. https:// sons For New Satellite Towns In Developing Countries”. storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/38a6c47a65da40589223f- African Studies 76 (4): 546-565. 53dcab6b05d. 19 Eko Atlantic. “The History of the Great Wall of 5 “Eko Atlantic The Dream Of A New Model City Lagos.” 2020. https://www.ekoatlantic.com/education/ Struggling With Transparency, Good Governance And sea-wall/. Negative Environmental Impacts.” 2020. Africa Portal. 20 Michaelson, Ruth. 2018. “‘Cairo Has Started to https://www.africaportal.org/publications/eko-atlantic- Become Ugly’: Why Egypt Is Building a New Capital City.” the-dream-of-a-new-model-city-struggling-with-transpar- The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/ ency-good-governance-and-negative-environmental-im- may/08/cairo-why-egypt-build-new-capital-city-desert. pacts/. 21 Grydehøj, Adam, and Ilan Kelman. 2016. «Island Grydehøj, Adam, and Ilan Kelman. 2016. «Island 6 Smart Eco-Cities: Innovation, Secessionary Enclaves, And Smart Eco-Cities: Innovation, Secessionary Enclaves, And The Selling Of Sustainability». Urban Island Studies 2: The Selling Of Sustainability». Urban Island Studies 2: 1-24. doi:10.20958/uis.2016.1. 1-24. doi:10.20958/uis.2016.1. 22 Caprotti, Federico, Cecilia Springer, and Nichola Lagos, Nigeria Metro Area Population 1950- 7 Harmer. 2015. “‘Eco’ For Whom? Envisioning Eco-Urban- 2020.” 2020, Macro Trends. www.macrotrends.net/cit- ism In The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, China”. Inter- ies/22007/lagos/population#:~:text=The%20current%20 national Journal Of Urban And Regional Research 39 (3): metro%20area%20population,a%203.23%25%20in- 495-517. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.12233. crease%20from%202017. 23 Grydehøj, Adam, and Ilan Kelman. 2016. «Island LCLUC “Urbanization in Lagos, Nigeria.” NASA, 8 Smart Eco-Cities: Innovation, Secessionary Enclaves, And 2020, https://lcluc.umd.edu/hotspot/urbanization-lagos- The Selling Of Sustainability». Urban Island Studies 2: nigeria. 1-24. doi:10.20958/uis.2016.1. Lewis, Aidan. “Egypt’s New Desert Capital Fac- 9 24 Fernelius, Katie Jane. 2020. “A Private City: The es Delays as It Battles for Funds.” Reuters, 13 May 2019, Rise Of Eko Atlantic”. Current Affairs. https://www.curren- www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-new-capital/egypts- taffairs.org/2020/05/a-private-city-the-rise-of-eko-atlantic. new-desert-capital-faces-delays-as-it-battles-for-funds- idUSKCN1SJ10I. 25 Ibid. 10 “Cairo’s historic Tahrir Square is being trans- 26 Caprotti, Federico. 2014. “Eco-Urbanism And The formed.” 2020, The National News. www.thenationalnews. Eco-City, Or, Denying The Right To The City?”. Antipode com/world/mena/cairo-s-historic-tahrir-square-is-being- 46 (5): 1285-1303. doi:10.1111/anti.12087. transformed-1.1019375. 27 Langat, Wesley. “Facing COVID-19 and climate threats, Nairobi ramps up green efforts.” 2020. https:// www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-urban-rehabilitation-cli-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 43 THE CASE FOR THE GOWANUS CANAL

Gowanus is a legacy industrial neighborhood bordered accessible from recreational activities and developers pur- by Park Slope to the east, Red Hook to the southwest, posefully neglecting the waterway. The Gowanus Canal is Carroll Gardens to the west, and Boerum Hill to the not a hindrance, it is an asset and one that should be prior- north. Close to major business districts of Downtown itized instead of cast aside when residential development Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, it is well-positioned for goes up. Some residents fear that a Gowanus Canal that is a neighborhood rezoning. According to data from New inaccessible for recreation would allow developers of new York University’s Furman Center, the average rent in residential buildings to dump sewage into the waters. The Brooklyn Community District 6 (of which Gowanus is a problems of combined sewer overflow (CSO) is the real part) was $2,150 in 2018, roughly $700 a month more cause of concern in Gowanus, the community says, and than the city-wide average.1 Furthermore, development the fear is such that buildings “as tall as 17 stories along has been stagnant; one percent of the total city-wide the waterway will bring enough new people, and sewage, residential development has occurred in Brooklyn Com- that the [United States Environmental Protection Agency munity District 6 in 2019 (a total of 278 units).2 As such, cleanup] will not be enough to control waste from recon- stakeholders from developers, to residents, to the federal taminating the canal.”9 government have had their eyes on Gowanus for several years. As early as 2007, New York City’s Department of Prior to the mid-19th century, Gowanus was a series of City Planning (DCP) has studied the feasibility of rezoning marshlands, meadows and creeks.10 During the burgeon- Gowanus3—only to pause its study in 2010 when the canal ing Industrial Revolution, uncontrolled density, commerce, was designated a Superfund site. It was revisited several and industry led to the increased pollution of the canal. years later when a comprehensive proposal was present- In November 1859, the first modern industrial business ed to the local community boards in 2015. set up along the shores of the Gowanus Creek – as it was called at the time11 -- and by 1866 the first iron pipe-truss However, one thing that sets Gowanus apart from other bridge replaced old, rickety, wooden bridges over the neighborhood rezonings is its canal. The Gowanus Canal creek, culminating in the first residential homes up for sale – often called one of America’s dirtiest waterways4 – is cur- in the neighborhood.12 The New York State Legislature rently in the process of being cleaned up, thanks to its sta- created the Gowanus Canal Improvement Commission tus as a Superfund site. It is cleaner now than it has been in in 1866 with a purpose to “complete the long list of un- over 150 years5 and residents have taken an interest in it. finished improvements necessary to create a viable com- mercial waterway.”13 By 1870, the banks of the Gowanus Canal were “littered with coal, lumber, and brick compa- by Alek Miletic nies,” chemical works, factories, textile mills, and the boats that carried these products to their final destinations.14 The stench of industrial byproducts raised questions about The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, founded in 1999, has how healthy it was to live near industry.15 In 1872, out- hosted canoe voyages on the waters of the canal for over breaks of diseases like malaria, cholera, and smallpox oc- 20 years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, while parks and curred several blocks away from the canal, leading to the playgrounds were closed, they hosted voyages, canoe proposal of miasma theory16 (an obsolete medical theory exercises, and even “paddle-in” movies.6 The canal has a that believes disease is inherently spread through the air). following and a fan base; a regatta with over two dozen However, the cause for these diseases was not miasma, participants was well attended;7 and a popular ice cream but rather pollution from growing industry and commerce flavor takes its name from the canal (and, much like the ca- along the canal.17 In 1893, a commission appointed by the nal, the flavor is “[f]ull of deep, dark mystery and endless State of New York called the canal a “disgrace to the City surprises”).8 What some neighbors fear is a canal that is in- of Brooklyn” and a “disease-breeding and foul-smelling

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 44 open sewer.”18 The stench could be smelled from as far as Despite the obvious pollution within the water, soil, and the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, one-and-a-half sediment in the canal, this area is poised for residential miles away. and commercial development; an incredible feat con- sidering the potential harm to human health. “How does However, by the end of the Second World War, the canal one promote development in a polluted landscape vul- was no longer useful as a commercial site.19 Dredging nerable to climate-induced sea-level rise that is inhabited efforts took place sporadically for the next 50 years, but by low-income populations and coveted by wealthy new they were often half-hearted and unsuccessful.20 In the late arrivals for its waterfront property?” asks one academic.29 1990s, interest in cleaning up the canal reignited,21 and It is commonly understood that Gowanus is gentrifying.30 by 2008, the State of New York asked the United States Some have opined that Gowanus is an “optimal” neigh- Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to add the borhood for gentrification with which urban planners, pol- Gowanus Canal to the National Priorities List (a US EPA icy makers, and developers alike view it as a “blank slate list of sites with “known releases or threatened releases with the potential of being a pilot neighborhood with a of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants”),22 sustainable outlook.”31 In large part because of the chang- in part due to interest from speculative developers.23 By ing demographics and economics of bordering neighbor- 2010, the canal was designated a Superfund site with a hoods, the decline of industrial land uses, and the citywide cleanup completion date of 2025,24 but at this time was need for housing, Gowanus is primed for residential de- also already significantly cleaner than its post-World War velopment. The creative class and niche businesses have Two years.25 also taken advantage of the space available for them, thus further attracting developers. Toxic materials – byproducts of the industrial past – per- meate the New York- metropolitan region, ex- And where does the community stand when it posing humans to harmful toxins in the urban water sup- comes to the Gowanus neighborhood’s namesake canal? ply.26 The consequences to human health from exposure They see it as a neighbor that needs protection. They see to these toxins are substantial. The Gowanus Canal, specif- ically, has higher concentra- tions of the metals cadmium, copper, lead, silver, and zinc in sediments than other wa- terbodies in the Port of New York-New Jersey.27 Further- more, the Gowanus Canal suffers heavily from an abun- dance of carcinogenic Polycy- clic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – byprod- ucts from industrial-era man- ufacturing.28 PAHs can seep into water from surrounding soil and sediment while PCB exposure in humans occurs when eating contaminated foods or living near hazardous waste sites.

Photo by Alek Miletic

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 45 the Gowanus Canal, albeit with much less fanfare and attention than Slud- gie’s swim. He prepared for the swim with “hepatitis and tetanus shots, wrapped his body in waterproof suits, and plugged his orifices with wax” and upon completion of the swim, doused himself in bleach.35 The canal has earned the nickname “Lavender Lake” due to the hue the water surface would sometimes emit; a documenta- ry with the same name was released in 1998,36 and a cocktail bar with the same name is growing in popularity.37 There was even a marriage propos- al on the canal this past summer.38 It continues to remain a popular attrac- tion and “because of its idiosyncrasies and the harm and imbalance that it’s been subjected to over time, certainly generated a unique community feel here in Gowanus.”39 The residents of Gowanus are not NIMBYs; that term is usually assigned to residents com- pletely opposed to any sort of change in their neighborhood. Sure, there are those with reservations, but others, including the local Council Member,40 are optimistic and embrace this re- zoning as an opportunity. As Owen Foote, Treasurer and co-founder of the Gowanus Dredgers, explained to me in an interview last April, his orga- nization is in support of the rezoning and development, so long as that de- velopment is responsible.41 What that Photo by Alek Miletic entails is development that ensures the longevity and continued protec- it as a place of urban legends and myths. And as a result, tion of the canal. Once the EPA’s dredging is complete and it has developed a cult following due to its supposed the federal government defers responsibility to city, state, toxicity. On the morning of April 17, 2007, a small, baby and other agencies, it is important that these stakeholders minke whale was spotted swimming at the mouth of the uphold their duty to the community. But who, or what, will Gowanus Canal.32 “Sludgie” quickly became a New York hold new development in check to ensure that the canal City star, but shortly before 5:00 pm the day after its dis- does not become so polluted again? covery, the whale beached itself after hitting rocks and died.33 Sludgie’s fans globally were saddened; even May- When the residential development along the banks of the or Michael Bloomberg shared his condolences.34 Eight Gowanus Canal was complete, 365 Bond Street’s board- years later, environmental activist Christopher Swain swam walk was removed from waterfront access. A boardwalk

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 46 that stretched from the Carroll Street Bridge to 2nd Street are incapable of carrying all the water, and the treatment offers wonderful vistas of the water and surrounding area, plants cannot handle the volume of incoming flow, so but does not offer more access than a boat launch. The some of the waste is deposited into the nearest body of Whole Foods supermarket also included a boardwalk from water through CSOs. About 60 percent of New York City the 3rd Street Bridge to 3rd Avenue, but it does not have has a CSS,43 and for most neighborhoods, they can han- any waterfront accessible points. A future proposed devel- dle the volume during rainy days. Good flowing bodies opment, just south of the proposed rezoning area, will of- of water, such as rivers and oceans, can easily carry the fer a publicly accessible boardwalk which would “connect CSOs when required away from New York City and into to a potential future waterfront esplanade to the north as the Atlantic Ocean, the Long Island Sound, Jamaica Bay, part of the neighborhood-wide land use changes.”42 As or other large moving bodies of water. It is still a problem the dredging effort continues and the water is eventually for neighborhoods near these places, but not to a signifi- cleaned up, why are current and future developments so cantly detrimental effect. If you have ever been to one of adverse to waterfront access? One large, stinky reason is New York City’s beaches the day of, or after, a heavy rain combined sewer overflows (CSOs). CSOs contain human storm, you would recognize the water quality and swim- and toxic waste and storm water runoff. Combined sewer ming advisory, only for it to return to normal the day after. systems (CSS) collect this waste in a single pipe that car- However, the Gowanus Canal does not flow as well as the ries it to wastewater treatment plants. This normally occurs Hudson or East Rivers. Therefore the CSOs take longer to without a hitch. But during heavy rainstorms, the sewers dissipate. Despite the dredging effort, the cleanup, and

Photo by Alek Miletic Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 47 the rezoning, CSOs will always remain a problem without ating contaminated water, reducing stormwater runoff additional substantial action. volumes, creating habitat, and providing open space and environmental education opportunities to underserved However, the CSO issue in Gowanus could be made neighborhood”.51 The design is a master plan aimed at de- even worse with a neighborhood rezoning. Adding over creasing the volume of CSOs deposited in the canal and eight thousand residential units and perhaps as many as reduce pollutant loads through modifications of bioswales 20,000 people (according to preliminary rezoning impact and bioretention basins. It should be noted that “agency figures)44 would test the CSS more than usual on even and community buy-in was critical to the early success of normal days. (In October 2020, the US EPA responded the idea” noting a flexible framework that could be mold- to New York City Department of City Planning’s scoping ed on community input was imperative.52 This plan is im- documents signifying its concerns with wastewater fol- portant for future development of the built environment in lowing the completion of proposed developments as a adding urban open space and reducing pressure on sewer result of the rezoning. The estimated gallons per day of systems. Perhaps most importantly, is the plan’s applicabil- flow would increase from 178,795 gpd to 1,977,302 gpd ity for areas where “industrial development has left behind once the proposed development has been completed)45. inhospitable toxic landscapes.”53 This type of urban infra- Some of the options for additional sewer capacity being structure is a good start to mitigate some of the pollutants tested are quite plausible and affordable. There are plans entering the Gowanus Canal. currently in place that would build two wastewater treat- ment plants for Gowanus.46 However, they are not slated Gowanus is in a unique position with its pending rezoning, to be completed until early 2032,47 seven years after the but the canal also serves as a sticking point in discussions US EPA dredging is complete. New York City Department about how the rezoning will impact the neighborhood. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has asked for an exten- While the canal has historically been polluted and still sion for a deadline regarding the completion of the treat- has contaminants, it is in the process of being cleaned up. ment plants which the US EPA has indicated could “impact However, the rezoning could not only reverse the clean the effectiveness of the remedy and have implications on up progress, it could make the canal more polluted by the rezoning.”48 With rezoning likely to be approved next exacerbating the CSO problem. Furthermore, current and year, and development currently underway, this effort projected developments are prioritizing waterfront espla- might be too little too late. Another option would be to nades with minimal waterfront access instead of proven limit the amount of rain water that enters CSSs. This can solutions that would mitigate CSOs such as green and be done through the use of green infrastructure such as gray infrastructure along the waterfront. The Sponge Park bioswales, increased permeable surfaces, and other water project is an affordable option that should adapted to fu- conscious landscaping. Gowanus Canal Conservancy, an ture developments. Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandem- advocacy organization intent on advancing ecological and ic, in which the future of the built environment is on the sustainable parks and public spaces in Gowanus along the forefront of planners’ minds, the need for local and acces- canal, advocates for a net zero CSO rezoning, but the or- sible outdoors space is ever apparent. The Gowanus Canal ganization (which has been involved in the proposed re- is an asset, not a hindrance, and it deserves to be treated zoning), recognizes that this is a difficult, if not impossible as such. task.49 In 2016, the Sponge Park Master Plan designed by dlandstudio was implemented through a pilot park called Sponge Park.50 The park captures two million gallons of storm-water runoff per year with a cost of $1.5 million for the one-block park on Second Street. While stormwater itself is not all that harmful, the things that it picks up en route to the canal can be. And by capturing storm water before it enters the CSSs, pressure on the infrastructure systems in place would be reduced. Sponge Park is a “mul- tifunctional public open space system that slows, absorbs, and filters surface water runoff with the goals of remedi-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 48 NOTESHennessy Is Opposed to Filling up a Disease- Breeding and Foul-Smelling Open Sewer -- a Mysterious $20,000 1 “Park Slope/Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Pro- Fund.,” The New York Times, March 1, 1893, sec. Archives, file,” accessed November 25, 2020, https://furmancenter. https://www.nytimes.com/1893/03/01/archives/a-dis- org/neighborhoods/view/park-slope-carroll-gardens. grace-to-brooklyn-how-a-commission-characterized-the- 2 “Park Slope/Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Pro- gowanus.html. file.” 19 Brad Vogel, Interview with Brad Vogel, Gowanus 3 New York City Department of City Planning, Dredgers Canoe Club, interview by Aleksander Miletic, “Gowanus/Public Place” (Brooklyn, New York, January Telephone, April 21, 2020. 2007). 20 “Gowanus Canal History.” 4 Mihir Zaveri, “Getting ‘Black Mayonnaise’ Out 21 “Gowanus Canal History.” of One of America’s Dirtiest Waterways,” The New York 22 OLEM US EPA, “Superfund: National Priorities Times, November 19, 2020, sec. New York, https:// List (NPL),” Overviews and Factsheets, US EPA, August 17, www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/nyregion/gowanus-ca- 2015, https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-nation- nal-dredging-redevelopment.html. al-priorities-list-npl. 5 Ameena Walker, “Gowanus Canal Is Par- 23 “Gowanus Canal History.” tially Clean for the First Time in 150 Years,” Curbed 24 “GOWANUS CANAL Site Profile,” Overviews and NY, November 29, 2018, https://ny.curbed. Factsheets, accessed May 1, 2020, https://cumulis.epa. com/2018/11/29/18117708/gowanus-canal-cleanup-pi- gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=sec- lot-program-update. ond.contams&id=0206222. 6 Hannah Frishberg, “Gowanus Canal — Yes, That 25 Vogel, Interview with Brad Vogel, Gowanus One — Now a Fun Venue for the Summer of COVID-19,” Dredgers Canoe Club. New York Post (blog), July 24, 2020, https://nypost. 26 C.R. Krishna, Ph.D. et al., “Human Exposure to com/2020/07/24/nycs-gowanus-canal-now-a-pandemic- Toxic Materials,” The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 62, safe-venue-for-summer-fun/. no. 4 (October 1995): 375–79. 7 Charlie Kaye, The Gowanus Challenge, 2013, 27 Krishna, Ph.D. et al. https://vimeo.com/68463969. 28 Thamaraiselvan Renegarajan et al., “Exposure to 8 “Ample Hills Creamery,” accessed November 25, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons with Special Focus on 2020, https://www.amplehills.com/flavors/it-came-from- Cancer,” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 5, gowanus. no. 3 (March 1, 2015): 182–89, https://doi.org/10.1016/ 9 Anna Quinn, “We Won’t Let Gowanus Rezoning S2221-1691(15)30003-4. Compromise Canal Clean-Up, EPA Says,” Gowanus-Red 29 Rebecca Salima Krisel, “Gentrifying a Superfund Hook, NY Patch, June 3, 2019, https://patch.com/new- Site Why Gowanus, Brooklyn Is Becoming a Real Estate york/gowanus/we-wont-let-gowanus-rezoning-compro- Hotspot,” Consilience 14, no. 2 (2015): 214–24. mise-canal-clean-epa-says. 30 Krisel; Zeynep Turan, “Finding the ‘Local Green 10 “Gowanus Canal History,” Gowanus Dredg- Voice’? Waterfront Development, Environmental Justice, ers, November 14, 2017, https://gowanuscanal.org/ and Participatory Planning in Gowanus,” Urbani Izziv 29 gowanus-canal-history. (September 2019): 79–94. 11 Joseph Alexiou, Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious 31 Krisel, “Gentrifying a Superfund Site Why Canal (New York City: NYU Press, 2015). Gowanus, Brooklyn Is Becoming a Real Estate Hotspot.” 12 Alexiou, 167. 32 Alexiou, Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal, 3. 13 Alexiou, 168. 33 Anthony Ramirez and Ann Farmer, “Frolicking 14 Alexiou, 199-200. Visitor Delights Hearts, Then Dies,” The New York Times, 15 Alexiou, 200. April 19, 2007, sec. New York, https://www.nytimes. 16 Alexiou, 201. com/2007/04/19/nyregion/19whale.html. 17 Alexiou, 201. 34 Alexiou, Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal, 5. 18 “‘A Disgrace to Brooklyn’; How a Commission Characterized the Gowanus Canal. and yet Assemblyman

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 49 35 Jeremiah Moss, Vanishing New York: How a Great 41 Interview with Owen Foote, Co-Founder and City Lost Its Soul (New York City: First Dey Street Books, Treasurer, Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, interview by 2018). Aleksander Miletic, Telephone, April 14, 2020. 36 Maureen C. Muenster, “PLAYING IN THE NEIGH- 42 Kevin Duggan, “Developer Plans Six-Story Mixed- BORHOOD; A Woman, a Plan, a Canal: Gowanus Docu- Use Project at Gowanus Canal,” Brooklyn Paper, Novem- mentary,” The New York Times, March 14, 1999, sec. New ber 17, 2020, https://www.brooklynpaper.com/develop- York, https://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/14/nyregion/ ment-gowanus-canal-rezoning-planned/. playing-in-the-neighborhood-a-woman-a-plan-a-canal- 43 Department of Environmental Protection, “Com- gowanus-documentary.html. bined Sewer Overflows,” New York City Environmental 37 Elizabeth Barber, “The Summertime Illusion of Protection, n.d., https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/water/ Lavender Lake,” The New Yorker, May 25, 2018, https:// combined-sewer-overflows.page. www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/04/the-summer- 44 Kevin Duggan, “City Vows to Start Gowanus time-illusion-of-lavender-lake. Rezoning Process No Later Than January,” Brownstoner, 38 Zaveri, “Getting ‘Black Mayonnaise’ Out of One of October 2, 2020, https://www.brownstoner.com/develop- America’s Dirtiest Waterways.” ment/gowanus-rezoning-brooklyn-community-engage- 39 Zaveri. ment-january-2021-ulurp-public-review/. 40 Michelle de la Uz, Brad Lander, and Barika 45 Craig Hubert, “EPA Concerned About How Williams, “Opinion: How the Gowanus Rezoning Could Gowanus Rezoning Could Negatively Affect Canal Clean- Push NYC Forward on Racial Equity,” City Limits, Sep- up,” Brownstoner, October 29, 2020, https://www.brown- tember 21, 2020, https://citylimits.org/2020/09/21/ stoner.com/development/gowanus-rezoning-canal-clean- opinion-how-the-gowanus-rezoning-could-push-nyc- up-sewage-overflow-epa-letter-city-planning/. forward-on-racial-equity/.\\uc0\\u8221{} City Limits, 46 Peter D. Lopez, “Gowanus Canal Superfund Site, September 21, 2020, https://citylimits.org/2020/09/21/ Brooklyn, New York,” October 27, 2020, https://www. opinion-how-the-gowanus-rezoning-could-push-nyc-for- scribd.com/document/482084145/Gowanus-Canal-Let- ward-on-racial-equity/.”,”plainCitation”:”Michelle de la ter-EPA-2020. Uz, Brad Lander, and Barika Williams, “Opinion: How the 47 Lopez. Gowanus Rezoning Could Push NYC Forward on Racial 48 Lopez. Equity,” City Limits, September 21, 2020, https://citylim- 49 Gowanus Canal Conservancy, “Infrastructure,” its.org/2020/09/21/opinion-how-the-gowanus-rezon- Gowanus Canal Conservancy (blog), January 26, 2018, ing-could-push-nyc-forward-on-racial-equity/.”,”noteIndex- https://gowanuscanalconservancy.org/infrastructure/. ”:40},”citationItems”:[{“id”:115,”uris”:[“http://zotero.org/ 50 “Gowanus Canal Sponge ParkTM Pilot,” dlandstu- users/local/2FbudkQo/items/IDEZSECK”],”uri”:[“http://zo- dio, accessed May 15, 2020, https://dlandstudio.com/ tero.org/users/local/2FbudkQo/items/IDEZSECK”],”item- Gowanus-Canal-Sponge-Park-Pilot. Data”:{“id”:115,”type”:”webpage”,”container-title”:”City 51 Susannah C. Drake and Yong Kim, “Gowanus Limits”,”language”:”en-US”,”note”:”section: CITY VIEWS: Canal Sponge Park,” Ecological Restoration 29, no. 4 (De- OPINIONS and ANALYSIS”,”title”:”Opinion: How the cember 2011): 392–400. Gowanus Rezoning Could Push NYC Forward on Racial 52 Drake and Kim. Equity”,”URL”:”https://citylimits.org/2020/09/21/opin- 53 Drake and Kim. ion-how-the-gowanus-rezoning-could-push-nyc-for- ward-on-racial-equity/”,”author”:[{“family”:”Uz”,”- given”:”Michelle”,”non-dropping-particle”:”de la”},{“family”:”Lander”,”given”:”Brad”},{“family”:”Williams”,”- given”:”Barika”}],”accessed”:{“date-parts”:[[“2020”,11,22]]},”is- sued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2020”,9,21]]}}}],”schema”:”https:// github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”}

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 50 NUCLEAR DOUBLE-THINK The Dangerous Decision to Close Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC)

When Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Lead- The CLCPA, however, is only a partial realization of the re- ership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) into law in distributive, regenerative sustainable future that the Green July 2019, New York adopted the most aggressive state- New Deal calls for. Taken as a whole, New York’s climate wide climate agenda in the country to date. Recognizing and energy policies follow the neoliberal planning para- the urgency of the climate crisis, the CLCPA commits New digm in that they keep control of the electric grid in the York to achieving a 100% zero-emission electricity sector hands of profit-driven utility companies, who pledge their by 2040 and reducing state greenhouse gas emissions to commitment to the state’s clean energy goals while con- at least 85% below 1990 levels. To meet these ambitious tinuing to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure. These utilities, goals, Governor Cuomo has targeted massive investments whose profits are threatened by alternative energy sources, in wind, solar, and energy storage capacity, as well as ini- are cultivating a form of “double-think” surrounding fossil tiatives to improve electrical grid efficiency and to promote fuels’ role within clean energy transitions in response to the the electrification of homes and transportation.1 The CLC- CLCPA, a thought process that is becoming increasingly PA also draws significant inspiration from the Green New normalized among policymakers and the public at large. Deal, framing this challenge as an opportunity to transition This “double-think” can be seen in other state energy pol- to a more redistributive energy future by ensuring that icies that clearly benefit utility companies and are directly historically disadvantaged communities benefit the most contrary to the logic of the CLCPA, as evidenced by the from the new jobs, environmental benefits, and resources state’s increasingly hostile stance toward nuclear energy. to prepare for climate change that this Act is intended to provide. by Charles Christonikos

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Figure 1: Indian Point Energy Center, Wikimedia Commons 51 Despite the unique social and environmental risks associ- Fukushima Daiichi, and the fact that one of the terrorists ated with nuclear energy, nuclear power plants are already who orchestrated the September 11th attacks cited IPEC well-ingrained into New York’s energy system. Keeping as a potential target have all served to strengthen public these plants operational would not only curb the abili- opposition to IPEC’s continued existence.4 The plant has ty of utility companies to further expand fossil fuel infra- also leaked radioactive water into the and structure, but also serve as a carbon-free “bridge” power the groundwater below the facility itself, and an onsite source in the transition to the carbon-free future that Gov- transformer fire that briefly forced the plant to shut down ernor Cuomo envisions. Recent developments involving in 2015 has called the structural integrity of the aging plant the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan, New into question.56 Though no major accidents have occured York (see Figure 1), however, have severely diminished the to date, IPEC remains the United States’ deadliest nuclear role of nuclear energy in New York’s energy transition. Lo- power plant; if a Chernobyl-style meltdown event were to cated about 30 miles north of New York City directly along- occur, up to 15 million people living within a 50-mile radius side the Hudson River, IPEC, a three-reactor nuclear pow- of IPEC would be impacted. 7 er plant, has generated a quarter of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County since it began Given IPEC’s less-than-stellar record and Governor Cuo- operation in 1962.2 Operating 24/7, IPEC has consistently mo’s vision for a modern and renewable energy system in generated carbon-free power in a downstate electric grid New York, it was announced in January 2017 that an agree- otherwise dominated by fossil fuels (see Figure 2).3 ment had been reached between IPEC’s current owner En- tergy, the local environmental advocacy group Riverkeep- Being in such close proximity to the largest city in the Unit- er, and New York State to close IPEC. Under the terms of ed States, IPEC has been seen by many as a “ticking time this agreement, one of IPEC’s reactors was retired in April bomb”. The 1986Figure Chernobyl 2: Distribution disaster, the of 2011 energy accident sources at 2020 used and to thepower other downstate is set to shut New down York by April 2021.8

Other, 3%

Nuclear, 25%

Wind & Solar, 2%

Hydropower, 5% Fossil Fuels, 65%

Data: NYC Mayor's Office Figure 2: Distribution of energy sources used to power downtate New York

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 52 Once shuttered, the facility will undergo the complex pro- in New York. As it stands, New York expects to create a to- cess of decommissioning by a separate firm, after which tal of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035, point the IPEC site will be remediated and made available 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030, and 6,000 for other uses. megawatts of solar capacity by 2025.10 For comparison, IP- EC’s generation capacity is 2,000 megawatts. Both the Governor and Riverkeeper lauded the decision as a major milestone toward implementing the CLCPA, firmly At the time that the first IPEC reactor went offline in April believing that the slew of renewable energy investments 2020, New York had just 2,000 megawatts of utility-scale underway in other parts of the state would more than re- wind capacity and 2,150 megawatts of utility-scale and place IPEC’s lost capacity. Though IPEC’s closure undoubt- small-scale solar capacity in operation.11 Even when these edly satiates decades-long anxieties over a potential acci- projects are fully completed and feeding power into the dent, the consequences of this decision will, from a social grid, they will mostly be located upstate and on Long Is- and scientific standpoint, present numerous obstacles to land rather than within the downstate region itself. This the implementation of the CLCPA and actively harm New presents the additional challenge of ensuring that down- Yorkers’ health and well-being. This decision was, in short, state’s electric supply is met, especially during periods of a “greenwashed” and reckless action that clearly illustrates peak demand. Upstate New York’s electric grid is funda- the “double-think” that profit-driven actors have worked to mentally different from downstate’s; 90% of electricity con- cultivate. While framing this decision as a necessary first sumed upstate is sourced from carbon-free generators, step toward a sustainable energy future, the parties behind and demand for electricity is not expected to grow there. it failed to consider the effects that IPEC’s closure would In the downstate grid, electricity is predominantly generat- have on the integrity of the downstate electric grid, on the ed by fossil-fuel burning generators and future electricity pollutive fossil fuel plants that would inevitably step in to demand will grow substantially.12 replace IPEC, and on the increased exposure to harmful air pollutants that New York’s already most vulnerable com- Therefore, for the state’s planned renewable energy proj- munities will be forced to bear as a result. ects to meaningfully meet downstate demand – where 60% of the state’s overall electricity is consumed – thousands IPEC’s closure will threaten the reliability of of miles of additional transmission lines will need to be downstate New York’s already strained electric constructed. New York’s electric system already depends grid. on over 11,000 miles of these lines, which are aging and prone to gridlock, overheating, and shutdown during peri- The massive investments in renewable energy capacity ods of peak demand. that the state is pursuing will, simply put, not be enough to replace the generation capacity that IPEC provided. IPEC’s IPEC’s closure provides an opportunity for continued operation would have been necessary to ensure utility companies to prolong New York’s reliability during this transition, a fact that state regulato- dependence on fracked natural gas. ry agencies have themselves noted. For instance, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the institution With IPEC’s closure, the state has essentially chosen to re- tasked with managing the state’s electric grid and energy place the downstate region’s largest source of carbon-free markets, clearly stated in a 2015 report that “retaining all baseload electricity with plants powered by natural gas existing nuclear generators is critical to the State’s carbon (hereafter referred to as “fossil gas”). Baseload, in this con- emission reduction requirements as well as maintaining text, refers to a power generator that feeds into the grid electric system reliability”. 9 24/7. Before IPEC’s closure, oil and fossil gas-fueled “peak- er” plants only operated at times of peak demand to main- When questioned on his logic behind the decision to close tain balance in the electric grid. After IPEC’s second reactor IPEC, Governor Cuomo has reiterated his firm belief that shuts down in April 2021, the operators of these “peaker” the suite of renewable energy investments planned for the plants will need to activate these sources on more days of upcoming decade will, upon their completion, supplant the year to get around periods of congestion. the need for any nuclear or natural gas-powered facilities

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 53 The fact that fossil gas would inevitably replace IPEC upon gas prices are at record lows compared to alternatives like its closure was known long before this decision was made. nuclear and renewables; between 2009 and 2019, natural In a 2017 assessment, NYISO concluded that the reliabil- gas production increased by more than 60% nationwide ity of the grid could only be maintained if three then-un- as a result of fracking.15 In New York, utility companies der-construction facilities in Middletown, Dover, and Bay- have become increasingly enticed by fossil gas reserves onne, NJ all came into service by the time that IPEC fully in Pennsylvania. Even as attention at the state level contin- retires in 2021.13These facilities, which have since been ues to shift toward moving away from fossil fuels entirely, completed and brought online, are major fossil gas-fu- utilities are taking advantage of cheap Pennsylvania gas by eled generation plants that each faced intense opposition building new fossil gas pipelines and gas-powered plants from their respective communities. Regardless of these to generate profit through guaranteed rates of return, developments, neither the Governor nor Riverkeeper have aware that these investments will likely become stranded The guaranteed rate of return is explicitly designed to generate profits for utility companies regardless of the actual impact that infrastructural projects have on grid performance or customers' electricity bills. As a result, utilities are overwhelmingly focused on building new fossil gas-powered plants and expanding the existing gas distribution network.

changed their position on the benefits of closing down assets in the near future. IPEC. In addition, with IPEC’s closure, utility companies oper- Simultaneously, these utility companies have sought to ating in downstate New York have been granted a much market fossil gas as a “cleaner” alternative to oil and coal, greater degree of influence over the planning of the elec- providing exaggerated projections of future gas demand tric grid, and therefore the ability to dictate the direction and claiming that more gas is needed to ensure a smooth of downstate’s energy mix to their benefit. New York has transition to the renewables-based energy future. For ex- a deregulated electricity market, in which investor-owned ample, National Grid, an IOU that provides gas to 10 mil- utilities (IOUs) like Con Edison and National Grid do not lion customers in the Northeast, commissioned a study actually buy electricity on behalf of customers as in other which concluded that demand for fossil gas in the New markets; instead, these companies manage the distribu- York City region will grow by 11% over the next decade. In tion sector of the electric grid by overseeing the delivery of contrast, a separate study from the Energy Information Ad- electricity from generators to customers and building the ministration estimated that demand will only grow by 1.6% infrastructure to do so. Since utility companies do not ac- and flatten in the long term as efficiency improvements tually sell electricity, they primarily generate profit through and the falling costs of renewables supplant the need for infrastructural projects, for which they are entitled to a fossil gas.16 guaranteed rate of return from the state ranging from 7 to 10 percent of the total cost of qualified projects.14 To Governor Cuomo’s credit, however, utilities like Nation- al Grid no longer have free reign to build as much fossil The guaranteed rate of return is explicitly designed to gen- gas infrastructure as they please. In 2014, he imposed a erate profits for utility companies regardless of the actual statewide ban on fracking, and state regulators recently impact or that infrastructural projects have on grid perfor- denied water permits for the construction of the Williams mance or customers' utility bills. As a result, utilities are and Constitution pipelines, both of which would have car- overwhelmingly focused on building new fossil gas-pow- ried gas from Pennsylvania.17 In response, National Grid ered plants and expanding the existing gas distribution has adopted a “segmentation” strategy focused on ex- network. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing technology, fossil panding the capacity of their existing gas pipelines; for

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 54 instance, National Grid is currently seeking a permit to the city’s peakers are located in low-lying industrial flood construct smaller-scale pipelines around Albany, which, zones adjacent to low-income communities of color such unlike the Williams and Constitution pipelines, would re- as the South Bronx, Queens, and Sunset Park in quire fewer regulatory approvals and less public scrutiny. Brooklyn.21 These pipelines would connect Albany to two larger inter- state gas pipelines, which would enable National Grid to Most of New York City’s locally-produced electricity is annex an additional 260,000 customers into its network.18 generated by two plants in northwest Queens: the Asto- Accordingly, National Grid claims these installments are ria Generating Station and the Ravenswood Generating necessary to meet growing gas demand in the region and Station. These plants burn a combined 6.3 million gallons avoid service disruptions, strategically avoiding mention of fuel oil annually, which is a much dirtier and inefficient of the fact that they could just as well cover the region’s energy source than fossil gas. The Ravenwood plant (see forecasted needs by sealing leaks in existing pipelines and Figure 4), the city’s largest peaker plant by capacity located improving demand response.19 a block away from NYCHA’s Queensbridge campus, was ranked New York State’s largest carbon polluter in 2014.22 Rather than embrace more affordable and efficient local- As a result, residents living in neighborhoods surrounding ly-generated power alternatives such as providing small- these plants, unofficially known as “Asthma Alley”, already scale solar installments for homes and businesses in align- suffer from higher air pollution levels than the rest of the ment with the CLCPA, utility companies like National Grid city. and Con Edison will continue to force New Yorkers, who already pay the highest utility bills in the country, to bear Luckily, a set of regulations passed by the state in 2019 additional cost burdens in exchange for continued reli- requires some of these plants to be reclassified as “black- ance on fracked fossil gas. start only”, meaning that they will only be used to restart the city’s grid after a power failure, whereas others will be IPEC’s closure will exacerbate environmental modified with pollution control technologies and CLC- injustices among New York’s most vulnerable PA-friendly alternatives such as battery storage.23 residents

Where the decision to close IPEC most clearly conflicts with the principles of the CLCPA is that, as a result of the larger role fossil fuel-burning power generators will play in meeting downstate electricity demand, already vulnerable commu- nities will become increasingly exposed to wors- ened air quality and negative health impacts. In a report published just months after IPEC’s closure was announced, the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) con- cluded that IPEC’s closure was likely to “increase the utilization of emissions from fossil fuel plants – particularly those located in NYC”. 20

As previously mentioned, New York City is home to 16 “peaker” plants which produce electricity during periods of high demand or when trans- mission lines and generators upstate malfunc- tion (see Figure 3). Most of these plants began operation between 1950 and 1970, and do not Figure 3: Peaker Power Points Operating in NYC utilize modern pollution controls. Nearly all of

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 55 These new regulations alone, however, do not encourage to the fossil-fuel status quo rather than empower commu- plant owners to abandon fossil fuels entirely; in fact, sev- nities with options to adopt more sustainable sources of eral generating companies have simply renovated some local power generation. On the contrary, New York City’s of their plants while simultaneously bringing new fossil most burnened residents will simply end up paying higher gas-powered plants online elsewhere in the city. For in- electricity rates to pay for new fossil gas-powered gener- stance, the Astoria Generating Company, the owner of sev- ators that will spew even more pollutants into the air they eral peakers in the city, has proposed a plan to shut down breathe. its Narrows Generating Station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and replace another plant, the Gowanus Generating Sta- Moving forward tion, with more efficient technologies to comply with the new regulations. The “cleaner” technologies that will be Whether or not he realized how counterintuitive the deci- installed at Gowanus, however, will run entirely on fracked sion to close IPEC would be, the evidence suggests that fossil gas and further compound environmental damage in Governor Cuomo made this decision out of fear and not as an already severely degraded neighborhood.24 part of a comprehensive clean energy transition plan. IPEC is only one of the four plants that comprise New York’s nu- clear fleet; the state’s three other nuclear plants, all of which are located upstate, con- tinue to receive state subsidies to remain open.25 The only factors that make IPEC stand out from these oth- er plants are its close proximity to New York City, and its location in the downstate market where electricity prices are highest. With fos- sil gas prices at record lows, the profitability of keeping nuclear plants open has steadily de- Figure 4: Ravenswood Generating Plant, NYC's largest and most pollutive creased nationwide. plant, Wikimedia Commons. Rather than lead by ex- ample to other states As with the utility companies who portray themselves as and municipalities questioning the usefulness of nuclear committed to the state’s clean energy goals while continu- in a carbon-free future, Governor Cuomo has fallen prey ing to invest in fossil gas infrastructure, the operators of to the “double-think” of profit-driven utilities by sacrificing New York City’s peaker plants are also upholding fossil gas downstate New York’s largest, cleanest, and most reliable as a “cleaner” alternative to the more pollutive fuels that energy source in response to sensationalist claims that an these plants use. The state regulations that peaker plants accident is bound to happen at IPEC. The overarching con- must follow are easily circumvented, and the city itself has sequence of this action will be that the downstate power done little in the way of placing additional mandates on grid, already saturated with fossil fuel-powered plants, will their owners to adopt renewable alternatives or halt new become further entrenched in its dependence on fossil construction. It is clear that IPEC’s shutdown has strength- gas at the exact moment when the state should be moving ened the bargaining power of peaker plant owners to cling away from all fossil fuels entirely. The average New Yorker,

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 56 as a result, will be exposed to more harmful air pollutants and inherit additional cost burdens as utility companies fur- NOTES ther dictate the future of the energy infrastructure landscape. 1 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Bill No. A08429, New York State Assembly (2019). https://nyassembly.gov/leg/?de-

Governor Cuomo retains the ability to reverse the decision fault_fld=&leg_video=&bn=A08429&term=2019&Summary=Y&Ac- and keep IPEC open, at least until sufficient renewable en- tions=Y&Text=Y. ergy sources are in place. Alternatively, the Governor could 2 Amelia Tiemann, “New York City to Lose a Quarter of Its Electric elect to keep IPEC open with the contingency that its oper- Power After ators embrace technological innovations, such as accelera- Indian Point Closure,” 4thGeneration.com, https://4thgeneration. -driven systems, which reduce the volume of radioactive energy/new-york-city-to-lose-a-quarter-of-its-electric-power-after-indi- waste that a nuclear plant generates and make meltdown an-point-closure/#:~:text=Indian%20Point%20alone%20provides%20 events impossible.26 At this point, a reversal of the decision New,the%20plant’s%20operating%20life%20expectancy (accessed to close IPEC in any capacity would reintroduce competition December 1, 2020) to fossil gas. More significantly, a reversal would send the 3 Christopher Halfnight & Danielle Manley, State of the New York City resounding message to other states and municipalities that, Grid, New York: Urban Green Council, 2020, p. 2, accessed Decem- despite its inherent risks, nuclear is in fact a “greener” ener- ber 1, 2020, https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/sites/default/files/ gy source than fossil gas and that existing nuclear plants, if state_of_the_nyc_grid_urban_green_council.pdf. responsibly managed and retrofitted, have great potential 4 Kyle Rabin, “9/11 Report Reveals Al Qaeda Ringleader Contemplat- to assist in clean energy transitions. ed a NY-Area Nuclear Power Plant as Potential Target,” Resilience.org, https://www.resilience.org/stories/2004-07-25/911-report-reveals-

IPEC’s first reactor has already closed, however, and the Gov- al-qaeda-ringleader-contemplated-ny-area-nuclear-power-plant-p/ ernor has given no indication that he plans to reverse this (accessed December 1, 2020) decision. Rather than contend with the energy landscape 5 “Entergy Report: Insulation Failure Sparked Transformer Fire At that IPEC’s closure has ushered in, this moment presents an Indian Point,” CBS New York, June 30, 2015, https://newyork.cbslocal. opportunity for New York to reimagine the purpose of en- com/2015/06/30/entergy-insulation-failure-fire-indian-point/ ergy infrastructure and to move away from its deregulated 6 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Indian Point Groundwater electricity market toward a more community-centered and Contamination,” NRC.gov, https://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactors/ locally-generated renewable energy future. As the largest ip/ip-groundwater-leakage.html (accessed December 1, 2020). electricity market in the state, New York City has the resourc- 7 Dean Kyne, “Public Exposure to U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power es and purchasing power to greatly influence the trajectory Plants Induced Disasters,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Sci- that the state’s future energy landscape follows. Now is the ence 6 (2015): 248. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13753-015-0064-3 time for the city’s administration to use the tools at its dis- 8 U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Indian Point, closest nuclear posal to seize control of the grid away from extractive fossil plant to New York City, set to retire by 2021,” EIA.gov, https://www. fuel-burning utilities, introduce innovative new models of eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=29772 (accessed December 1, energy generation and ownership in alignment with the CL- 2020). CPA, and inspire other municipalities throughout the coun- 9 New York Independent Systems Operator, “Re: Case 15-E-0302 – try to follow in its footsteps. Proceeding on Motion of the Commission to Implement a Large-Scale Renewable Program and a Clean Energy Standard,” July 2016, 12, https://web.archive.org/web/20161130040931/http:/files.clickdi- mensions.com/nyisocom-amtbp/files/20160708nyisospplmntlcesc- mmntscmplt002.pdf. 10 New York State, “Climate Act,” Climate.ny.gov, https://climate. ny.gov/ (accessed December 1, 2020). 11 U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Profile and Energy Estimates: New York,” EIA.gov, https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=NY (accessed December 1, 2020). 12 New York Independent Systems Operator, Power Trends 2019: Reliability and a Greener Grid, Rensselaer: NYISO, 2019,

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 57 p. 10, accessed December 1, 2020, https://www.nyiso.com/docu- 25 Patrick McGeehan, “New York State Aiding Nuclear Plants with ments/20142/2223020/2019-Power-Trends-Report.pdf. Millions in Subsidies,” New York Times, August 1, 2016, https://www.ny- 13 New York Independent System Operator, Generator Deactivation times.com/2016/08/02/nyregion/new-york-state-aiding-nuclear-plants- Assessment with-millions-in-subsidies.html. Indian Point Energy Center, Rensselaer: NYISO, 2017, p. 2, accessed 26 Marcello Losasso, “Nuclear power has a big role to play in the energy December 1, 2020, https://www.nyiso.com/documents/20142/1396324/ transition. Here’s why,” World Economic Forum, July 10, 2020, https:// Indian_Point_Generator_Deactivation_Assessment_2017-12-13.pdf/ www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/nuclear-power-energy-transition/. f673a0f8-5620-1d7b-4be2-99aaf781ac5c. 14 Jumaane D. Williams, Municipalizing New York City’s Electric Grid, New York: New York City Public Advocate, 2020, p. 4, accessed Decem- ber 1, 2020, https://www.pubadvocate.nyc.gov/static/assets/Munici- pal%20Grid%20Report_OPA.pdf. 15 Hiroko Tabuchi & Brad Plumer, “Is This the End of New Pipelines?” New York Times, July 8, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/ climate/dakota-access-keystone-atlantic-pipelines.html. 16 Jarrett Murphy, “Report Questions Claim of a Gas Shortage in Debate Over New NY Pipeline,” City Limits, March 9, 2020, https://citylimits. org/2020/03/09/report-questions-claims-of-a-gas-shortage-in-debate- over-new-ny-pipeline/. 17 Kristoffer Tigue, “A Seven-Mile Gas Pipeline Outside Albany Has Activists up in Arms,“ Inside Climate News, February 3, 2020, https:// insideclimatenews.org/news/30012020/New-York-pipelines-natural-gas- national-grid. 18 Ibid. 19 Murphy, “Report Questions Claim of a Gas Shortage in Debate Over New NY Pipeline.” 20 NY-BEST, New York City’s Aging Power Plants: Risks, Replacement Options, and the Role of Energy Storage, Berkeley: Strategen Consult- ing LLC, 2017, p. 25, https://www.strategen.com/reports-1/09-20-2017/ new-york-best. 21 Clarisa Diaz, “The Push To Turn NYC’s Polluting Peaker Plants Into Publicly-Owned Solar Power,” Gothamist, July 7, 2020, https://gothamist. com/news/the-push-to-turn-nycs-polluting-peaker-plants-into-publicly- owned-solar-power. 22 Alexander C. Kaufman, “Ambitious New York City Bill Aims To Replace Gas-Fired Power Plants With Renewables,” Huffington Post, January 8, 2019, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-york-city-power-plants_n_5c- 33bee2e4b05d4e96bb1d5f?guccounter=1. 23 Jared Anderson, “Nearly 650 MW of New York City peaking capacity will retire to comply with tighter regulations,” S&P Global Platts, April 7, 2020, https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/ natural-gas/040720-nearly-650-mw-of-new-york-city-peaking-capacity- will-retire-to-comply-with-tighter-regulations. 24 Petra Kelly-Voicu, “Stringer Slams Proposal to Repower Gowanus Fos- sil Fuel Plant,” Kings County Politics, September 25, 2020, https://www. kingscountypolitics.com/stringer-slams-proposal-to-repower-gowanus- fossil-fuel-plant/.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 58 THREE.




Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 59 FROM HOT LUNCH TO GRAB & GO Lessons in Resiliency During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the This article explores those complications and food United States, it impacted food supply chains across the insecurity in NYC through the lens of school nutrition world, from producers, processors, and manufacturers to programs. Through examining the roll-out and effects of distributors, retailers, and consumers. As the virus spread federal funding, local food assistance, and emergency across the U.S., managers at meat processing plants food initiatives on NYC families, the COVID-19 pandemic disregarded worker safety, turning such plants into may offer insights on how to build urban food systems COVID-19 hotspots. Panicked shoppers emptied grocery which are resilient and flexible during future crises. stores as product distributors struggled to keep shelves stocked. The pandemic’s impact on urban food systems Situating Urban Food Policy is still unfolding, and its full scope will likely be unclear Food policy is built on a complex network of systems that until widespread vaccination allows society to return to includes every aspect of the food chain from production “life as we knew it.” With 2020 drawing to a close, howev- to distribution and consumption. Food policymakers er, we can already extrapolate some significant implica- act at the federal, state, city, and community levels, with tions about the resiliency of urban food systems through stakeholders including food producers, manufacturers, analyzing several critical pieces of those systems. One distributors, and consumers. Until the early 2000s, urban such piece is school nutrition programs. planning literature largely ignored food issues, despite the existence of extensive national and local food assis- During the coronavirus pandemic, schools became an tance and distribution programs. 3 Although food policy essential point of food distribution for school children and food justice are finally entering the lexicon of urban and urban communities, quickly adapting to serve policy and planning, urban planners and policymakers students in new capacities. For decades, school nutri- still largely treat food supply failure as a consequence tion programs have provided critical daily calories for of farm failures, rather than failure in food distribution.4 many children, In reality, the U.S. agriculture system currently produces by Lily Zaballos offering stu- more than enough food to feed the entire population.5 dents breakfast, lunch, snacks, Despite the U.S. producing adequate supplies to feed and sometimes after-school dinner. For some low-in- everyone, mass food insecurity persists. In 2018, 37 come students, school nutrition programs, like the million people were food insecure.6 In NYC, prior to U.S. Department of Agriculture National School Lunch the pandemic, 1.2 million people were food insecure, Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), with access to healthy, fresh, and affordable food vary- may provide the bulk of their daily caloric intake. Federal ing by race, ethnicity, and income level. 7 This unequal school nutrition programs provide daily food for nearly access often manifests in the form of “food deserts” and 30 million young people across the country. Of those “food apartheids,” where low-income and marginalized young people, 71% of NSLP and 85% of SBP partici- communities have fewer food choices, limited access pants receive free or reduced priced meals based on to healthy food, and higher food prices than higher-in- household income.1 In New York City (NYC), school meal come, predominantly white neighborhoods.8 To mitigate programs normally offer free, healthy food to all 1.1 food insecurity, federal programs such as the Supple- million students in city schools.2 Yet, with schools closed, mental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special complications arose surrounding distribution of food to Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, NYC children and families.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 60 and Children (WIC) subsidize family food budgets with being physically present in schools to collect and eat their monthly electronic benefit payments. State and commu- meals. nity-level public and private efforts, including emergency food programs, healthy food initiatives, and nutrition On March 15, 2020,two days after President Trump de- education programs, also aim to combat disparities in clared a national state of emergency, Mayor Bill de Blasio the food system. Still, food insecurity and access continue called for NYC’s 1,800 schools to shutter their doors to to be pressing issues on the national playing field and in students, upending the routines of 1.1 million students, 12 urban spaces. more than 1 million parents, and 75,000 teachers. Pol- iticians, families, school administrators, and academics School Nutrition Programs have all stressed the negative effects of school closures: School nutrition programs are some of the largest food learning loss, socio-emotional disconnects, student assistance initiatives, second only in size to SNAP.9 Es- isolation. Perhaps even more worrisome, school closures tablished in 1946, with the passage of National School also disrupted school nutrition programs, forcing policy- Lunch Act, the NSLP provides a critical avenue for feeding makers to rethink how best to continue feeding students millions of school-aged children daily. In 1966, with the though these programs when students and faculty cannot Child Nutrition Act, the U.S. be physically present on campus. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the SBP and initiated subsidized free and reduced-priced meals for low-income students.10 Historically, free and re- duced-price school meal programs are particularly im- portant for youth of color, as Black and Hispanic children participate in such programs at higher rates than their white peers.11

School nutrition programs illustrate a critical interplay between federal and local agencies. The USDA pro- vides guidelines for school meal nutrition and funding through per meal reimburse- ments to school districts. Photo: USDA While federal policies shape school nutrition guidelines and provide funding for meal Urban Food Systems and COVID-19 programs, cities and local school districts are responsible To confront this problem, federal and local governments for administering such programs. District food service di- established new initiatives and adapted existing pro- rectors oversee day-to-day operations of school nutrition . On March 18, the federal government passed the programs, coordinating food ordering, meal preparation Families First Coronavirus Act to mitigate the pandemic’s and delivery, school cafeteria staff, and the other ins and economic damage and disruptions to daily life. Two key outs of providing daily service. In ordinary times these provisions expanded SNAP benefits for families through complex school nutrition programs feed students fairly increased supplementary benefit allotments up to the effectively; however, they largely depend on students maximum benefit threshold, $646 per/month for a family

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 61 of four, and the creation of the Pandemic Electronic Bene- food pantries closed temporarily or permanently, mainly fits Transfer Program (P-EBT). P-EBT provided families with due to lack of volunteers able to assist pantry opera- school children who qualify for free and reduced-priced tions. 17 This disproportionately affected low-income and meals with additional benefits to cover meals that stu- underserved communities, with long lines and wait times dents missed due to school closures. 13 In September at food pantries and grocery stores creating additional 2020, Congress expanded the P-EBT program, original- barriers to access.18 Moreover, city initiatives faced fund- ly proposed as a short-term measure, and extended it ing and capacity issues due to lack of federal support. through September of 2021. Since the pandemic’s onset, Mayor de Blasio repeatedly called on the federal government to “replace paychecks” Congress provided additional assistance for school nu- and “ensure” the city food supply. Despite his assertions trition programs through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and that federal support is essential to distribute economic Economic Security (CARES) Act, allocating $8.8 billion for relief to families and support the city in supplying food 14 school meal and child nutrition programs. The CARES during the pandemic, federal support for cities during the Act also enabled the USDA to issue waivers which al- pandemic has been minimal. With limited federal support lowed school districts to switch to providing grab-and-go for cities and emergency food programs operating at ca- meals, depart from nutrition standards in the instance pacity, school nutrition pick-up sites became increasingly of food supply chain disruptions, change or expand the important for families, particularly in low-income commu- hours when food is served, and allow guardians to pick nities most heavily impacted by the pandemic.19 up meals for their children without them being present.15 Examining the Effectiveness As with school food distribution programs in normal cir- According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse cumstances, administration of these expanded programs Survey, food insecurity has doubled since the start of the was largely left to cities and school districts. At the local pandemic. In households with children, it has tripled.20 In level, NYC implemented an expansive plan for offering New York, 22.9% of families now report being food inse- emergency food and food assistance to individuals and cure.21 But is this simply the effect of school closures and families in need. On March 21, Mayor de Blasio appointed lockdowns requiring families to stay home, or a reflection Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Gar- of the inability of urban food systems to adapt during cia as NYC’s “food czar,” placing her in charge of Get- the pandemic? According to data from the Independent FoodNYC, NYC’s emergency food initiative. Under Garcia, Budget Office of New York City (IBO), before the pan- 470 Department of Education sites, primarily schools, be- demic during the 2018–2019 school year, 1,951 schools came food distribution sites.16 At these locations, families across the city provided 1 million meals to students each with children under 18 could pick up meals three times a day.22 However, during the early months of the pandemic day. In early April the city expanded school-based food this number dropped drastically. According to one study, distribution to include families and adults without chil- during the week of April 13, 2020, the NYCDOE served dren, allowing any New Yorker to pick up food at partici- between 158,000 and 270,000 meals to students per day pating Grab & Go sites. Dubbed “Community Meals,” this through its “food hubs,” –just 19-32% of the students it open food distribution program remains available from typically feeds.23 3 pm to 5 pm on school days for any individual, without requiring identification or registration. The quick transition Although the NYCDOE rapidly shifted to offering food from in-school meal distribution to Grab & Go pick-up through Grab & Go sites, student access to meals was sites demonstrated the NYCDOE’s ability to adapt existing greatly reduced due to a slashed number of distribution school nutrition programs to feed school children and the sites, from the typical 1,975 pre-pandemic sites to 470 greater community. during the early months of the pandemic.24 According to data from IBO, as of March 30, 39.6% of Grab & Go sites During the pandemic, other food assistance programs were located in Brooklyn, 23.2% in the Bronx, 14.9% in also faced pressure to adapt to increased demand for Queens, 16.2% in Manhattan, and 6.2% in Staten Island, food and resources. Across NYC, food pantries reported with more than 53.7% of the sites located in communities a 74% increase in total visitors, but roughly one-third of near or below the poverty threshold.25 Still, despite the

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 62 drastic reduction in sites, Grab & Go sites were within half grams and federal support through P-EBT and increased a mile of where 88% of students lived during the 2018- SNAP benefits appear to have been insufficient in fighting 2019 school year, with only 2.4% of students living further food insecurity during the pandemic. than a mile from the nearest site.26 The close proximity of students to Grab & Go sties indicates that most students in low-income communities— the population that relies on school meal programs to meet daily sustenance the most—were indeed within 10 city blocks of food distribution sites. Though the geographic proximity of these sites to stu- dents’ homes demonstrates the NYCDOE’s success in es- tablishing Grab & Go sites in critical areas, the agency faced challenges in disseminating information about Grab & Go sites and P-EBT.27 In March and April, many parents were unaware of where and when food could be collected for their children, even when they Photo: USDA lived geographically close to a school open for food distribution, impacting the number of meals actually distributed. Future Implications Moreover, despite the quick transition to Grab & Go pick- The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of urban up and position of Grab & Go sites in communities with food systems not designed to be flexible in times of the highest needs, the pandemic pushed many low-in- crisis. For many individuals in areas with limited access to come individuals deeper into food insecurity. A study by quality food, particularly those in “food deserts” or “food the Education Trust New York found 39% of NYC parents apartheids,” lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders made reported skipping meals personally or reducing meals for accessing food highly difficult. For low-income families their families, and 62% reported being concerned with in low-access food areas, schools may be the closest and having enough food to feed their children as a result of most reliable source for food for their children; however, the coronavirus pandemic.28 A Siena College poll in April the structural reliance of programs on physical student found that 41% of New Yorkers were worried about being presence in schools compounded with disconnects in able to afford food during the pandemic.29 Furthermore, communication between city agencies, school districts, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted certain and families created a barrier for Grab & Go meal pro- communities. According to data from the Household grams to effectively provide adequate food for school Pulse Survey collected in April and May, Black and His- children and their families. panic households reported higher rates of food insecurity School nutrition programs have the potential to feed a than white households, while a national online survey large segment of NYC’s population, but do they offer found that individuals with low or very low food security enough flexibility to continue to feed children and com- tended to have less than a college education and have bat food insecurity in times of crisis? Can these programs children in the home. 30 For many New York families in alone create resilient food systems? Though the NSLP low-income, minority communities, Grab & Go food pro-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 63 and SBP are not technically emergency food programs, food autonomy programs, including community gar- they operate with many of the same goals: providing free dens, food co-ops, food box programs, and food hubs. or reduced-priced food to low-income individuals on a By strengthening school nutrition programs, emergency near daily basis. School nutrition programs may offer a food initiatives and community-based food efforts, urban reliable way for young children to receive meals they may food systems can begin to work towards combatting food not have access to otherwise; yet in some ways school insecurity and improving food access. meal programs act as a surrogate for actual systematic change. It is not inherently problematic for families to rely Though the dialogue surrounding urban policy may often on public assistance programs—social assistance pro- overlook school meal programs, these programs play grams provide critical supplementary food, health care, a critical role in supporting communities and must be housing, and more for families with limited incomes—but further integrated into future policy narratives. With the In the wake of devastating events like the global pandemic, an analysis of NYC’s implementation of food distribution provides valuable insight into the resiliency of current food assistance programs and urban food systems.

social programs alone do not challenge unequal systems looming threat of other economic, environmental, and that perpetuate poverty, food insecurity, and community public health crises on the horizon, the COVID-19 pan- subjugation, and they alone cannot provide solutions for demic can provide key insights into how food distribution reorienting unequal urban food systems. and assistance programs may operate in hard times, illus- trating the need for increased flexibility of food assistance Ultimately, at this point it is impossible to truly know the programs and emergency food initiatives and a reorienta- magnitude of disruptions in school meal programs and tion of urban food systems. In order to develop a resilient their role in increased food insecurity among low-income food system, it is essential for short-term emergency food families as the data is lacking. The data does, however, initiatives and policies aimed at long-term systematic suggest a trend linking the two. In the wake of devastat- change to work in tandem to create urban food systems ing events like the global pandemic, an analysis of NYC’s that are not only more equitable, but that can adapt in implementation of food distribution provides valuable times of crisis. insight into the resiliency of current food assistance pro- grams and urban food systems. In his October testimony to the NYC City Council, Charles Platkin, director of the NYC Food Policy Center, recommended strengthening communication and outreach strategies to communities in need, designating clear authority on food policy, and pro- viding sufficient funding and staff to better position NYC to meet residents’ food needs going forward.31 These recommendations point to a need to create more flexible urban food systems.

The DOE’s efforts to rapidly transform school nutrition programs to continue feeding students during the pan- demic illustrates such flexibility. Looking at how school nutrition programs have adapted and continue to adapt can provide a model for increased flexibility in other food programs, such as emergency food initiatives and local

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 64 COVID-19 Information: SNAP.” New York State Office 1McLoughlin, Gabrielle, Julia McCarthy, Jared McGuirt, of Temporary and Disability Assistance, October 20, Chelsea Singleton, Caroline Dunn, and Preety Gadhoke. 2020. https://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/Frequent- “Addressing Food Insecurity through a Health Equity ly-Asked-Questions-Pandemic-EBT.asp. Lens: a Case Study of Large Urban School Districts during 14 Dunn et al., “Feeding Low-Income Children.” the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Urban Health, Sep- 15 McLoughlin, et al., “Addressing Food Insecurity.” tember 21, 2020. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/ 16 Porcelli, Victor. “What’s Next for the City’s Massive 100 s11524-020-00476-0. Million-Meal Emergency Food Program?” Gotham Ga- 2 Rep. New York Food 20/20: Vision, Research, and zette, August 5, 2020. https://www.gothamgazette.com/ Recommendations During COVID-19 and Beyond. Hunter city/9649-new-york-city-massive-emergency-food-pro- College NYC Food Policy Center, Laurie M. Tisch Center gram-fall-school-free-food. for Food, Education & Policy, and The CUNY Urban Food 17 Platkin, Charles. “Oversight: The Impact of the Policy Institute, September 2020. https://www.nycfood- COVID-19 Pandemic on SNAP Administration, Food policy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/ny2020-finalv2. Pantries, and Soup Kitchens.” NYC Food Policy Center, pdf, 14. October 16, 2020. https://www.nycfoodpolicy.org/over- 3 Cabannes, Yves, and Cecilia Marocchino. “Food and sight-the-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-on-snap-ad- Urban Planning: The Missing Link.” Chapter. In Integrat- ministration-food-pantries-and-soup-kitchens/. ing Food into Urban Planning, 18–59. London: UCL Press, Stewart, Nikita, and Todd Heisler. “1.5 Million New York- 2018, 19. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv513dv1 ers Can’t Afford Food. Pantries Are Their Lifeline.” The 4 Ibid 19. New York Times. The New York Times, October 20, 2020. 5 Conrad, Zach, Luann K Johnson, Christian J Peters, and https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/20/nyre- Lisa Jahns. “Capacity of the US Food System to Accommo- gion/nyc-food-banks.html. date Improved Diet Quality: A Biophysical Model Project- 18 Freudenberg, Nicholas, Pamela Koch, and Charles ing to 2030.” Current Developments in Nutrition 2, no. 4 Platkin. “Can NYC Use COVID to Fix Its Food Problems?” (2018). https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzy007. nydailynews.com. New York Daily News, September 29, 6 Kulish, Nicholas. “‘Never Seen Anything Like It’: Cars 2020. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-ca Line Up for Miles at Food Banks.” The New York n-nyc-use-covid-to-fix-its-food-problems-20200930-mxch- Times. The New fhgxhvgm5jfdtcymnqga3y-story.html. York Times, April 8, 2020. https://www.nytimes. Platkin, “Oversight: The Impact of the COVID-19.” com/2020/04/08/business/economy/coronavi- 19 Sanders, Anna. “NYC Mayor De Blasio: Feds Must rus-food-banks.html. ‘Ensure’ Food Supply, ‘Replace Paychecks’ during Coro- 7 Blau, Reuven. “NYC’s Grab-and-Go Meal Program navirus Pandemic.” nydailynews.com. New York Daily Headed for an After-School Schedule.” The City. News, March 16, 2020. https://www.nydailynews.com/ The City, September 9, 2020. https://www.thecity. coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-nyc-de-blasio-food-supply-re- nyc/2020/9/8/21428441/new-york-grab-and-go-meal- place-paycheck-20200316-bgb3lc25ajbpnfkd4ev4izru- public-school-pandemic-food-insecurity. fi-story.html. 8 Rep. New York Food 20/20, 18. 20 Schanzenbach, Diane, and Abigail Pitts. Rep. How 9 Kinsey, Eliza W., Amelie A. Hecht, Caroline Glagola Much Has Food Insecurity Risen? Evidence from the Dunn, Ronli Levi, Margaret A. Read, Courtney Smith, Census Household Pulse Survey. Northwestern Institute Pamela Niesen, Hilary K. Seligman, and Erin R. Hag- for Policy Research, June 10, 2020. https://www.ipr.north- er. “School Closures During COVID-19: Opportunities western.edu/documents/reports/ipr-rapid-research-re- for Innovation in Meal Service.” American Journal of ports-pulse-hh-data-10-june-2020.pdf. Public Health 110, no. 11 (2020): 1635–43. https://doi. 21 Schanzenbach and Pitts, How Much Has Food Insecuri- org/10.2105/ajph.2020.305875. ty Risen?” 10 Rude, Emelyn. “School Lunch in America: An Abbre- 22 Kim, Jeannie, Stephanie Kranes, Joydeep Roy, and viated History.” Time. Time, September 19, 2016. https:// Sarita Subramanian. Rep. Did NYC Open Grab & Go Sites time.com/4496771/school-lunch-history/. in Areas with the Greatest Need?. Independent Budget 11 Kinsey et al., “School Closures During COVID-19.” Office of the City of New York, July 2020. https://ibo.nyc. 12 Shapiro, Eliza. “New York City Public Schools to Close ny.us/iboreports/food-to-go-did-nyc-open-grab-and-go- to Slow Spread of Coronavirus.” The New York Times. The sites-in-areas-with-the-greatest-need-schools-brief-ju- New ly-2020.html. York Times, March 15, 2020. https://www.nytimes. 23 McLoughlin, et al., “Addressing Food Insecurity.” com/2020/03/15/nyregion/nyc-schools-closed.html 24 Kim et al. Did NYC Open Grab & Go Sites in Areas with 13 Dunn, Caroline G., Erica Kenney, Sheila E. Fleischhack- the Greatest Need? er, and Sara N. Bleich. “Feeding Low-Income Children 25 Ibid during the Covid-19 Pandemic.” New England Journal 26 Ibid of Medicine 382, no. 18 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1056/ 27 Meyerson, Collier. “For Families Living on the Margins, nejmp2005638. NYC’s School Closures Are a Crisis.” Intelligencer. Intel- “New York State Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer ligencer, March 21, 2020. https://nymag.com/intelligen- (P-EBT) Food Benefits Frequently Asked Questions: SNAP

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 65 Photo by Tony Lee Bruce, @tonyleebruceUrban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 66 ON THE EVE OF EVICTION Looking for Lessons in a Koch-Era Crisis

Dear reader, lying at the intersection of all our personal and societal vulnerabilities. Any one of several hardships could easily I know what it is to doomscroll, to read page after page of force someone out on the street: unemployment; a crum- suffering - so I promise you, there IS hope in this article. If bling family or foster situation; domestic violence; arrest; the bad news is too much, you have my permission to skip mental illness; addiction; simply being LGBTQIA+; and the to the good bit at the end. inequalities of structural racism. But the disturbing comor- *** bidity of these troubles only increases someone’s housing insecurity. When combined with a shock, like the cutting of As if 2020 hadn’t reached peak levels of dumpster-fire-in- social programs, or a lack of affordable housing and safety duced anxiety, it’s also scheduled to go out with a bang: nets, this one-two punch can become a knockout. the year wrapped up with record pandemic numbers, record unemployment and strife, as well as rapidly shift- A Brief Historical Primer ing and uncertain protections for those unable to afford In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, The Great Migration wrap- housing. Though the effects of COVID-19, unemployment, ping up, immigrants began pouring in from Latin America and police conflict have joined homelessness in the list of and Asia to make a home in the fallout of urban renewal, in afflictions in U.S. cities, New York’s troubles may take the areas of entrenched segregation, poverty, and dislocation. proverbial cake. Even before the pandemic and crash, Then the stock market crashed in 1973, leading to stagfla- around half of New York’s residents could not afford to live tion (stagnant demand, high inflation and high unemploy- in the city. A dizzying rise in numbers of houseless men, ment). The City found itself billions of dollars in debt. The women, and children predates the current catastrophe by economy cratered, the “last hired, first fired” minority men several decades, and every night around 60,000 people found themselves out of work in vital (and already shrink- sleep in the City’s shelters, mostly families and children.1 ing) union and manufacturing jobs, even as the City laid This does not even count an estimated nearly 4,000 home- off thousands and as mass incarceration began. The City less in our streets and subways;2 lacking accessibility or begged its creditors and the government for a bailout, and fearing violence, disease, crime, or (in the case of recent President Ford infamously told the City (in so many words) anti-trans legislation) persecution, many avoid the shelters at all costs. The closure of subways at night has forced even more into overcrowded shelters than before, where they risk exposure to COVID. This latest dystopian threat merely by Francesca Fernandez-Bruce shines a spotlight on systemic, structural flaws responsible for the highest level of homelessness since the Great De- to “drop dead.”3 Crime began rising, property values fall- pression. ing, and the Bronx began to burn for the insurance money. But this is not NYC’s first goat rodeo; we have been here Meanwhile, deinstitutionalization released thousands of before, so perhaps we can learn a lesson from our check- mental illness sufferers into a system utterly unprepared ered past and find hope in our challenges. to catch them. Though many researchers maintain that this was not a main contributor to the homelessness of the late Once upon a time, in the urban fiscal meltdowns of the ‘70s, historically popular Mayor Ed Koch (1978-1989) cer- 1970s, someone noticed the sweeping houselessness of tainly seemed to think so.4 As the crack epidemic hit the children, families, young Black and Latinx folks, and the US in the early ‘80s, the narrative of homelessness began mentally ill and called the trend “New Homelessness.” It to change. To this day, ADM (alcohol, drugs, and mental marked a fundamental change in the way we understand health issues) masks a multitude of other structural issues the problem: not merely “hard luck,” but as a symptom around homelessness from public discourse.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 67 While Federal withdrawal may have created the conditions This is how the approach of “housing first” came to be. The for urban homelessness to flourish, Koch’s city-scale policy paternalistic approach to “housing readiness” of the 1970s brought it to term. Reagan’s 1981 budget act cut funding and 80s, which held that residents had to prove them- programs supporting housing-insecure groups, and the selves along a housing ladder, get clean, and pass various Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) milestones before permanent housing would be afforded made cuts of nearly 50% overnight. Thus, subsidized hous- them, began to crumble under the scrutiny of casework- ing collapsed from 183,000 units to 20,000 over the course ers in the first wave of “new homelessness.” There is a of the 1980s. Meanwhile, social security changed the face large and growing body of evidence that suggests those of homelessness by providing the historically homeless housed, no questions asked, are housed faster and much single, white, older males with a steady income. Taking more stably (and cost efficiently) than those in “housing cues from Reagan, Koch denounced “poverty pimps,”5 cut readiness” programs. Remaining housed then allows them social programs and balanced the City’s books in his first to access better outcomes for other issues - thus: “housing two years, to devastating effect. The sudden shock of fund- first.” The trouble here, of course, is two-fold: finding the ing withdrawal at every level, at the time of greatest need affordable housing that makes this possible; and convinc- (recap: urban renewal, segregation, immigration, unem- ing decision-makers that housing-first is preferable to pa- ployment, mental illness, addiction) left our most vulnera- ternalism. So long as investment in affordable, supportive, ble without much recourse. and public housing lags, we increase pressure on shelters even as we invest in expanding them. And we must expand But opposing changes were already in motion, as the right them, by law, to accommodate need. So it’s something of to shelter was recognized in 1979. A vital new measure, it a catch-22. soon extended to cover all kinds of houseless folks. Still, it was hard-won; in fact, the eponymous Robert Callahan of Recognizing the housing affordability crisis, Koch created the Callahan vs. Carey decision died that December, in the a plan for which he is much adored, but the Devil’s in the streets, shortly before the decree was signed (it’s a grip- details; it was never built to house the poor. His collection ping, heartwarming, and tragic story that merits a google of policies and ten-year plan, which helped successfully when you’re done reading this). On the other hand, the City lure back the middle class and their taxes, consecrated the began to funnel billions every year into shelters. By the late practice of leveraging the private market to grow the hous- ‘80s, it was widely seen to be trying to “manage” home- ing stock (and enrich developers). Firstly, it offered low-in- lessness, rather than investing in substantive solutions like terest loans to make repairs and upgrades to low-income permanent supportive housing, in a never-ending cycle of housing like Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units, which stop-gap measures. were perceived as dilapidated dens of vice and crime. Ul- timately, this policy cannibalized a vital stock of affordable The legacy of these shelters is a frustrating one. Today, housing for the at-risk and marketed it to the middle class. the City spends around $3.24 billion on shelters every In 1985, they realized their mistake and issued a morato- year, which are notoriously dangerous, difficult, crowded, rium on SRO destruction, but it was too late to save many and cumbersome.6 Long before the pandemic, shelters units from the shredder of gentrification.Today, there are threatened the health and well-being of those who used fewer than 40,000 SROs; 11,000 are now owned and op- them, with tuberculosis, bedbugs, violence, and theft. This erated by nonprofit supportive housing sponsors.7 Mean- last is critical; theft of vital belongings like documents can while, the SRO unit is back in vogue and finding a market in be an insurmountable loss for homeless people, who of- young professionals, who are struggling to get a foothold ten cannot replace them and are thus barred from some in the City’s cost-prohibitive environs. programs and housing. Shelters pose strategic burdens of curfews, early wakings and offer no privacy. Accessibility is A further private sector legacy from ‘80s housing policy is another major concern; they may not accommodate pets, developer tax credits (please, numbers-averse folks, bear disabilities, complex needs like dietary requirements, and with me for a paragraph). Subsidies for new construction may create transit burdens. Perhaps the most crucial, there projects and the LIHTC (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit) is simply not enough shelter space, and they are far too largely failed to help the most underserved, as the system crowded for a pandemic. And unfortunately, shelter is still was full of loopholes, and developers were subsidized to too often seen as a step towards housing. provide “affordable” units to proportions of income brack-

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 68 ets that skewed high; the “80/20 rule” mandates that at This might explain why De Blasio’s Turning the Tide on least (read: only) 20% of units built with these credits must Homelessness plan is widely considered an unforgivable be affordable to the very low-income. “Affordability” is still washout. It makes many familiar mistakes: misleading defi- based on AMI (Area Median Income), which defines the nitions of “affordability”; underrepresenting the lowest-in- “Area” as the City and its wealthy suburbs, such that in 2020 come in its ratios (only 25% of units); leveraging the pri- the “median” is over $100,000. Thus, the City paid devel- vate sector with limited impact; subsidizing developers to opers money (which it could have invested in much-need- gentrify. It also relies on rezoning (another historically big ed services) to build units that were unaffordable for the driver of gentrification) and has no clear role for nonprof- truly low-income. Oops. Additionally, these low-income its. It doesn’t invest sufficiently in supportive housing, im- units may graduate to market rate after about 15 years, meaning funds from taxes incentivize a temporary solution that ultimately drives devel- opment in ever-more desirable areas, raising property values and rents. Double-oops.

In effect, the City was simultaneous- ly trying to house homeless individ- uals and families on a constrained budget, feeding the engine of re- development and gentrification that was destroying accessible transi- tional housing, and investing in cre- ating temporary solutions to catch up with the law. This is roughly the same game it’s playing today. With astronomical income inequality (41% of New Yorkers lived on or near the poverty line before the pandemic), real wages for the poorest that hav- en’t budged since our story began Photo: Tony Lee Bruce, @tonyleebruce (nearly 50 years ago, in 1973), and a crisis to rival any that’s come before, partial and respectful standards and processes. Nor does we can’t afford to make the same mistakes.8 it address the shortcomings of shelters or major systemic barriers to entry.9 If this s*** sandwich has a toothpick, it’s the concept of hysteresis. Hysteresis holds that the reversal of effects lags behind the reversal of causes. Put colloquially, toothpaste The Good Bit at the End once squeezed out, cannot be easily put back in. We can see this in so many of today’s pressing crises, from the Of course, New York is not alone in its homelessness woes, economy to the pandemic. Even given perfectly effective which strike cities across the country, pointing to system- solutions, any recovery would be hampered by the de- ic failures in our system of government (shocker). On the cades in which the problem has been allowed to fester other hand, perhaps the silver-lining of our system-wide and grow. Like any entrenched and inhumane problem, it catastrophic failure to allow equitable distribution of re- leaves scar tissue on society’s surface, which takes gener- sources is that it is, in fact, system-wide. It is precisely be- ations to heal. cause there is so much struggle across regional, racial, and class lines that we are rediscovering our solidarity, a quality

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 69 that is seemingly forgotten since the second World War. need for housing amidst a pandemic. In some cases, locals In the face of American exceptionalism and individualism, have marshaled against these placements. In others, they we recognize each other’s suffering as structural in nature. have risen to defend their houseless neighbors against We call for changes like health care, mental health crisis eviction. As one resident of the Lucerne told me, “it means responders, a livable minimum wage, affordable housing, the world” to them to be welcomed, valued, and protect- and reform on a national scale. And at the scale of indi- ed by their community. The case regarding their eviction viduals, we often feel urgently called to action as we have and relocation is still making its way up through the courts. not before. Facing Great-Depression-era collapse, we have The conflict feels sharp, poignant, and heartbreaking. It Great-Depression-era opportunities; as they responded also shows there is hope in solidarity. City and state re- with a grand New Deal, so might we do, and we can work cently agreed to prioritize vaccinations for those exposed to ensure that this time around, it will be more equitable. in shelters and congregate housing, and a new program is paying residents minimum wage to clean the neighbor- Here in New York, there are similar echoes. We can’t for- hood and build goodwill. In fact, a recent poll finds that a get that public housing began in this town, under Fiorello comfortable majority of New Yorkers support housing the La Guardia - a mayor who lost his wife and daughter to houseless in their neighborhood.10 tuberculosis likely contracted in tenements. He took the city through the Depression and influenced the New Deal There’s even more good news if you can believe it. There’s through his respect and close partnership with Roosevelt. support for a slew of anti-eviction policies and moratori- He seized a window of opportunity in a time of struggle. ums, and strengthening tenant laws, which makes eco- We can only hope our first ranked-choice mayoral election, nomic sense since allowing families to end up in shelters in 2021, will yield such a leader. costs roughly three times as much as helping them keep their homes. Meanwhile, in a silver lining development, First, of course, the City must weather the storm. Immedi- rents are down across the city (let’s hope that’s good news, ately addressing evictions and shelter needs might pre- anyway). The City Council recently passed a bill making vent an especially dangerous housing cataclysm and hys- developers of rental buildings with more than 40 units In the face of American exceptionalism and individualism, we recognize each other’s suffering as structural in nature. We call for changes like health care, mental health crisis responders, a livable minimum wage, affordable housing, and reform on a national scale. And at the scale of individuals, we often feel urgently called to action as we have not before.

teresis amidst a lethal wintertime wave of the pandemic. At set aside 15 percent of their units for homeless individu- a bare minimum, this means standing up to the pressures als, which should create 1,000 new apartments per year of those who say “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY). The City in perpetuity.11 Just a few weeks ago, the NYPD started must coordinate with the state and federal government sending trained social service providers to mental health on housing protections, funding, and private sector incen- calls instead of police; however you feel about the fuzz, tives, and reinforce deteriorating rent stabilization laws in that’s a major step towards decriminalizing and prevent- the mid-term. And there is reason to hope that a shift may ing homelessness.12 What’s more, nonprofits like Breaking be imminent at both local and national scale. Ground explore creative solutions like retrofitting hotels If you read local papers, you might have heard of the and office blocks for the homeless by rezoning in already dust-up about sheltering homeless men in the Hotels Lu- high-income areas. cerne, Belnord, and Belleclaire - a fight over how, where, And at the national level, our recent elections might actu- and when the City can and should respond to an urgent ally herald real change. The incoming administration has

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 70 listed explicit measures to address the affordability crisis, 1 Giselle Routhier, “State of the Homeless 2020,” though these will not be flawless. It’s pledged $640 bil- Coalition for the Homeless. Accessed 12/1/20, https:// lion over 10 years.13 More importantly, it seems to suggest www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/state-of-the-home- less-2020/. that money might actually be directed towards need, not 2 ibid wealth. Parallel reforms in health care and criminal justice 3 Sam Roberts, “Infamous ‘Drop Dead’ Was Never reform will reduce the risk of those comorbidities we talk- Said by Ford,” The New York Times, Dec. 28, 2006. https:// ed about earlier. Now that Congress’ agenda lines up with www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/nyregion/28veto.html that of the executive, sweeping changes to federal assis- 4 Diane Jeantet, “A Brief History of Homelessness tance, programs, housing policy, and protections stand in New York,” City Limits, March 11, 2013. Accessed De- cember 1, 2019. https://citylimits.org/2013/03/11/a-brief- a chance of being enacted. They could do much to mit- history-of-homelessness-in-new-york/ igate at least the short-term crisis. Perhaps most exciting, 5 Lee Dembart, “Koch, Criticized by Many Blacks, there is more political engagement and voter turnout than Seeks to Re’pair Ties With Them,” The New York Times, ever, and volunteerism is very much on the rise; people Feb 27, 1979. https://nyti.ms/1Rb5GAg are stepping up to care for each other. (Incidentally, if this 6 Christina Wusinich , Lynden Bond, Anna Nathan- inspires you, head over to newyorkcares.org or coalition- son, Deborah K. Padgett, “‘If you’re gonna help me, help me’: Barriers to housing among unsheltered homeless forthehomeless.org, and volunteer to treat yourself to adults,” Evaluation and Program Planning 76 (2019) some of those feel-good brain chemicals.) 101673. 7 Supportive Housing Network of New York, Some have compared 2020 to the opening of Pandora’s “History of SROs and homelessness in New York,” 2019. box, a vessel from Greek mythology containing all the Accessed December 1, 2019. https://shnny.org/support- troubles of the world. But after all the troubles escaped, ive-housing/what-is-supportive-housing/history-of-sup- Hope remained. In the face of extraordinary challenges, portive-housing we can’t let our cynicism get the best of us or repeat our 8 Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, “New York City Government Poverty Measure 2018,” report, past mistakes. Now more than ever, we have to use all our New York City, 2020, pg7. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ hope, creativity, wisdom, solidarity and power as individu- opportunity/pdf/20_poverty_measure_report als to make sure our neighbors aren’t risking life and limb 9 Bakry Elmedni, “The Mirage of Housing Afford- on the streets. Homelessness is a policy choice; it’s up to ability: An Analysis of Affordable Housing Plans in New us to make a different one. York City,” Sage Open,Volume 8 Issue 4, October-Decem- ber 2018. 10 Emily Ngo, “Poll: Most New Yorkers Say Home- If you see homeless people and want learn how to help, less People Should Be Housed in Hotels or Shelters please visit the website for Coalition For The Homeless, in Their Neighborhood,” Spectrum News 1, OCT. 26, which hosts FAQ, downloadable crisis cards, resource lists, 2020, https://www.ny1.com/share/nyc/all-boroughs/ politics/2020/10/26/exclusive-spectrum-news-ipsos- and contact information for various programs. poll--most-new-yorkers-say-homeless-people-should- be-housed-in-hotels-or-shelters-in-their-neighbor- hood?cid=share_clip 11 Valeria Ricciulli, “Housing, rental vouchers, out- reach: Can NYC fix its homeless crisis?”Curbed, Feb 25, 2020. https://ny.curbed.com/2020/2/25/21146143/home- lessness-new-york-city-how-to-fix 12 Jacquelyn Simone, “Removing NYPD from Homeless Outreach is a Long-Overdue Positive Step; Here’s What Must Come Next,” Gotham Gazette, Aug 3, 2020. https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/9640-re- moving-nypd-homeless-outreach-overdue-posi- tive-what-next-housing 13 Biden For President, “The Biden Plan for Investing in Our Communities Through Housing,” JoeBiden.com, accessed 12/29/2020. https://joebiden.com/housing/

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 71 cer/2020/03/nycs-school-closures-are-a-crisis-for-low-in- come-families.html. 28 “Poll: Half of NYC Parents Have Skipped/Reduced Meals for Their Family, and 62% Are Concerned about Their Child’s Access to Food This Fall.” The Education Trust, August 29, 2020. The Education Trust New York. https://newyork.edtrust.org/press-release/poll-half-of- nyc-parents-have-skipped-reduced-meals-for-their-family- and-62-are-concerned-about-their-childs-access-to-food- this-fall/. 29 “Coronavirus Crisis Changing Life in NY.” Siena Col- lege Research Institute. Siena College Research Insti- tute, April 6, 2020. Siena College. https://scri.siena. edu/2020/04/06/coronavirus-crisis-changing-life-in-ny/. 30 Schanzenbach and Pitts, How Much Has Food Insecuri- ty Risen?” Wolfson, Julia A., and Cindy W. Leung. “Food Insecu- rity and COVID-19: Disparities in Early Effects for US Adults.” Nutrients 12, no. 6 (June 2, 2020). https://doi. org/10.3390/nu12061648. 31 Platkin, “Oversight: The Impact of the COVID-19.”

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 72 AN INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR MEHDI HERIS

We interviewed Mehdi Heris, the Hunter Department of possible, but we did our best in 2011 when the political Urban Policy and Planning’s newest professor. Both of us, situation in Iran was not really great. Madeline and Rachel, were in Mehdi’s Urban Data Analysis course during the Fall 2020 semester and got to know him My job, and the consulting firm that I was working in, was a bit there. We want to introduce him to readers, especially affected by all the political tensions. So, I started applying students who have not had a chance to take a class with for Doctoral degrees in the US. I came to the US and Mehdi, since we are unfortunately not able to welcome started, hopefully, my last degree in planning. I got my him in person on the 16th floor of Hunter West right now. PhD in planning at Denver and Boulder, Universities [of] Colorado. Urban Review (UR): Could you start by telling us a bit about your academic and professional background, and And then I was interviewed for this position at Hunter how you got interested in urban planning and policy. College and I got the job. I was happy! We moved to New York, I finished one semester of teaching and survived it. Mehdi Heris (MH): I am one of those rare creatures who started planning from undergrad [in 1999], at the UR: You mentioned that you started studying GIS back in University of Tehran, [in] Iran. I was among the [program’s] the late ‘90s and now you are teaching GIS for Hunter’s first cohort. In my sophomore year I became interested in Urban Policy and Planning Department. Could you talk geographic information systems or geospatial methods, about your experience with GIS over the years and how GIS and started using computers and software for it has changed, what that change brings to your thinking analyzing and visualizing urban planning data. about how Hunter’s GIS program will develop?

My [first] master's degree was from the same university. MH: Right, we are dealing with computers and that After getting my masters in Iran, I got a scholarship to changes a lot. When I started GIS it was command-line, [it go to the UK for a master's degree at the University of was] really not easy, [there were] so many problems with Sheffield. Sheffield, because it is a very theoretical school, those floppy disks… but it was also exciting. really helped me to understand the landscape of urban planning theory.

And then… I ran back to Iran. I wanted to start planning by Rachel Bondra and Madeline Schoenfeld practice and work as a professional. For three years I worked for consulting firms on different projects. I've worked on the Comprehensive Plan of Tehran, a city of ten My philosophy of planning really changed over the years. million. When you do planning in a system like in Iran, you First I was… very technocratic, in terms of using the data are engaged with the political system, and [the] political and building very rational models, and believing that the system in Iran is very closed and conservative. So you see computer can do everything for you. It's just the hype of how that system of power is really controlling planning in technology, you think you can do so much with it, that you many ways, and dismissing [it]. As a planner, you have to can model everything. Planning so has so much trust in find your way to offer solutions, procedures, and see how modeling and quantitative methods. you can still do some meaningful work. [It is] not always

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 73 When I went to the UK, I started to work with Peter Bibby. connection of justice to some data? In planning we can He had a lot of great knowledge and insight in planning. speak with evidence and say ‘we have a problem,’ and we My first meeting with Peter, I vividly remember, that I sat in can show that problem in maps, in numbers. front of him and said, I have an idea for my thesis to model pedestrian behavior, how density and land use change UR: [During the interview at Hunter College] you can change pedestrian behavior and density on streets, mentioned that you have a passion for street photography, using agent-based modeling. And after everything, Peter and you describe yourself as an urban photographer. How said to me, ‘Well, I don't think I can be your advisor.’ has your creativity played a role in your work, which is mostly analytical? And he was actually one of the only people who worked on topics like using GIS and the application of GIS in planning. MH: I identify myself as an urbanist, as a person who I thought, ‘you are the GIS person in this department and advocates for cities and for city lifestyle. For me, life really you are telling me that you cannot advise me. How is happens in the streets. If we want to deal with climate that?’ He said, ‘planning doesn't work like that, you know, change we need to live in dense communities. So, if you modeling doesn't work like that. We cannot really solve believe in cities, that cities are the solution, then… every problem with modeling and that's not how I use computers and software.’ I have a romantic relationship with the city. There's beauty in it and when you walk on the street, you see people My approach is; how do you want to use data analysis for planning issues; what is the connection of justice to some data? In planning we can speak with evidence and say ‘we have a problem,’ and we can show that problem in maps, in numbers.

It was a wake-up call for me at that time. We started doing different activities, you see that beauty. Some working together, eventually…. he taught me how I could people live on the street, unfortunately. If you have an use GIS for evidence based policy analysis. In one year, my acute eye you can see the conflict and problems [on the philosophy was entirely changed. [Now] I identify myself street], the income gap, or an access-to-resources gap. with policy analysis, not GIS analysis, or data, really. For [But] also beauty. analyzing policy you need data, [it] is an ingredient, but not your goal. Your goal is to understand the policy, and I love walking! It’s a [way] for me to clear my head, and I inform planning efforts about policy for changing things, also grab my camera. The photos [I take] are very simple, [for] interventions. I followed that approach in my PhD, very raw. When you capture a moment, it becomes, for me, where I worked with Brian Mueller. a piece of art… My relationship with street photography is just seeing that reality. I teach quantitative methods and GIS, but my approach is different than, for example, the GIS that you learn in I often find that I reflect my own life journey in photography. the geography department. My approach is; how do you For example, I had a difficult time around 2016, and [did] want to use data analysis for planning issues; what is the a lot of self-reflection, walked a lot. I was paying attention

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 74 to homeless people on the street and the way they struggle. I started talking to and photographing homeless people. It was a really great, profound experience. I noticed that when I have those self- reflections I see those details more. I think that's the definition of art; that we have a personal, emotional connection with our environment, and with people. Photography is a medium for me to see that and capture it.

UR: From your experiences talking to people who are unhoused, the pressures of climate change, social movements which are largely centered on racial and economic justice, or the conditions of the pandemic which have exposed the precarities of so many different people, how do you see the role of urban planning or planners and policymakers, or policy analysts, changing in the future?

MH: The pandemic is a crisis, right, like any other crisis. [It] really brings those problems to the surface, it intensifies them, intensifies the income gap. Vulnerable people are affected heavily, and the people who have resources are less affected. This is a function of crisis, whether it is a climate related crisis or pandemic.

As a planner the pandemic has brought up many questions. Something I've been dealing with as an advocate of cities, an advocate of density is that, all of [a] sudden, people are questioning density. So many anti-urbanists are saying that cities are the source of the problem in a pandemic. I think “The People,” taken by Mehdi Heris in a march against the Travel Ban at the Civic that's [a] really shallow analysis. Cities are places Center of Denver, February 4, 2017. that we are struggling to manage in the pandemic, and that's true in New York. [But] for planners, we need to UR: Would you mind if we ask you a few questions about find solutions in order to have a dense community without [yourself]? We met your wife on Zoom in our class at the exposing ourselves to those risks. How can we reorganize end of the semester. Do you have any children, or anyone land use to minimize transportation and commutes? How else in your family who lives with you? can we offer safe transport alternatives? Food [access] is another very serious problem, how is the economy MH: It is just me and Elena, my wife. Elena is from North being managed, unemployment, and how are resources Carolina…all of my family are in Iran. like housing being distributed. These are really serious planning questions related to systemic problems, in terms She's a sweetheart, and she is also a transportation planner. of the political economy that we deal with, the pandemic We share so many values, like, we are anti-car people. And and crises just bring them to the surface with more urgency. she's anti-air travel. Elena is a train lover, she can talk about The planning paradigm is an open question, and we need trains and bikes all day. [We said hello to Elena on Zoom] to explore more and do more research on it. She works for National Renewable Energy, they research Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 75 transportation and energy, trying to disentangle all those class feel more normal because this [online class] is a very relationships with alternative transportation modes, and impersonal way to go to school. the amount of energy mitigating carbon emissions. We talk about those things and often find ourselves imagining MH: Online education is a very unique experience for all a city without cars, or [discussing] why parking is free. of us. It is very alienating in many ways. So, when you have to do it - I really thought about it - how can we make it more UR: How did you two meet? fun and personalized, where the students can talk about those things that they usually talk about before starting MH: That's another interesting personal story that is the class, [creating] a more friendly environment. For me, connected to planning. We lived in cooperative housing that was talking about something unrelated, something as [together]. Elena lived in cooperative housing from 2012, I fun as spices, your favorite thing to do. And I chose music started living in her co-op in 2016. Cooperative housing is to have at the beginning of my class, it really breaks the different from the “co-op” that we use in New York; people formality. Things that happen in reality are what we lose in live together in one house, sharing resources. It’s another the virtual environment. way of sustainable living and believing that we can have more affordable housing. We also were in a [legal] fight UR: Those questions, like you said, they were a really fun in Boulder, to legalize co-ops - there was a limit on the way to get to know each other. It's not as easy to do that number of people living in one house [who are unrelated]. [online]. Is there anything else that you want students I joined their campaign. to know about you that they might have not gotten the chance to learn about you yet? We started dating sometime in late October. Halloween was the first time that we went out, Elena's costume was MH: The only thing that I can tell students is, don't be an EcoPass card, a pass for busses. Her head was in the shy. I'm not a formal person. I don't like when students place of the photo [on the card], and my costume was call me “Professor,” call me Mehdi. You can reach out to about NIMBYism. I had a house, a single family house, as me, ask your question, we can connect. We can talk about a model on my head and I had created a word cloud. I put things that I know and you want to learn. That's great, you the op-eds that NIMBYs in Boulder wrote about against know, but other than that, we are human. I enjoy informal co-ops and I used those articles as the cloud words. They conversations like this. I would tell people, don't be shy, were “density,” or “single family housing,” or “zoning” and reach out. that was my costume. UR: This has been really great. We wanted to ask one UR: You mentioned that as part of the co-op everyone closing question; for people who are going to read the cooks for each other. [In] our first class of the data analysis journal, specifically students at Hunter who haven't had a course, you asked us what our favorite spices are. Do you chance to take a class with you: Is there anything that you do a lot of cooking at home? want to communicate to the readers about your thoughts on urban policy or planning, or what you see for the future MH: Yeah, I do a lot of cooking, my relationship with of the department, now that we're developing a GIS cooking really started in the co-op. I started cooking more program? and more and started enjoying [it], actually. I use lots of spices, I'm definitely a spicy person. Saffron is a key one MH: I would say, for a young planning scholar who wants that is used for Persian food. But not only that, I love curry. to start planning as a major, as a discipline, I want to tell you I recently have been experimenting with Asian food and that you are in a great spot, you have a great opportunity styles and flavors – ginger, soy sauce, sesame. to change things. That doesn't really happen for so many other majors and professions. Planning really has that UR: The questions you asked on the first day, and that you opportunity, but planning also has a lot of challenges in kept asking a different question every day at the beginning terms of finding ways to do something real when there are of class, that really made your class special and it helped complex politics, when there are limitations. We should be everyone get to know you, to know each other. It made

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 76 engaged in the process of planning, in the deliberation of solutions, not that we want to implement those tomorrow. solutions. But if we can imagine those radical solutions then that just sinks down in our approach and philosophy and then, all Climate change is moving very fast, faster than we think, of a sudden, you are breaking the status quo. If I wanted to faster than we can imagine. And planners who deal with teach someone something, as a planner, as a teacher, that cities are at the center of this. This is a great opportunity would be: don't be constrained by the status quo, at least for us to start thinking, how we can change the planning let your imagination fly. paradigm. We need to break the status quo and go beyond it. For example, this was one of the questions I asked my Answers have been edited for clarity and length. students - if you are a planner and you could do anything you want, what would you do? That's a really profound question, if we can imagine what we want to do, then that really penetrates your thoughts and your practice of planning.

Imagine a city without private cars or private vehicles. For many people, that's not even imaginable, and that's really sad. I think we should start thinking about those radical

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Headshot: From Prof. Heris's hunterurban.org teaching profile. 77 AN INTERVIEW WITH JIMMIE WOODY

The role of artists and cultural institutions is a central diverse range of artists and cultural institutions that question in many gentrification debates. Neighborhoods make our neighborhoods vibrant, exciting places to across the country, from Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and live. However, while arts emerge everywhere, some Bushwick, to Miami’s Wynwood, or to ’s Boyle neighborhoods are more well-served by cultural Heights, have seen rents rise and long-term residents institutions than others. In New York City, Manhattan is displaced as artists, performance spaces, and galleries home to the bulwark of museums, theaters, and other come into the neighborhood. cultural institutions, while neighborhoods in outer boroughs have few such institutions. These disparities exist But, of course, to cast all art and artists as part of the in other regions as well. In Cleveland, many institutions are machine of gentrification is an over-simplification. Artists clustered around a handful of neighborhoods—University live everywhere: in gentrifying neighborhoods in global Circle and Playhouse Square, for example—while other cities, yes, but also in small towns, in the urban cores neighborhoods have very few cultural institutions. of shrinking industrial cities, and in suburban enclaves. I spoke with Jimmie Woody, a teacher and artist by Kevin Ritter in Cleveland, Ohio, about his project—the Woody Restoration Arts Incubator. In Lee-Harvard, a majority Black neighborhood on Cleveland’s East Side, Jimmie Art spaces, too, exist all over. Art exists in the hushed Woody is working to convert his father’s corner store hallways of museums along New York City’s Fifth Avenue, into a center of arts and culture for the neighborhood’s and in community centers serving local populations; not residents and the wider Cleveland community. just in well-heeled concert halls set in City Beautiful-era parks, but also in dive bars, and on make-shift stages in Below are excerpts from our conversation about building parking lots. cultural resources in the age of Black Lives Matter.

As planners and policy makers, we must consider the

Kevin Ritter: To start off, could you tell me a little bit about the building that you are working on for this project?

Jimmie Woody: It was my father's building. He purchased it back in 1961. It was part of my family. I worked in the building, my sisters worked in the building, In my idealistic head, I said, “I’m going to do it from Cleveland is going to happen here.” The future home of the Woody Arts Incubator Project. Photosc ourtesy Jimmie Woody Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 78 Part of the Woody Restoration Arts Incubator the 1950s], Black people were moving in there and Project is restoring the building, which was a central there wasn't much serious pushback. When [my part of that neighborhood community for over 45 dad started working] there, I would say at least on years, especially when my dad was running it, back 138th and Harvard, the neighborhood still had was to its condition and even making it more suitable to predominantly Polish. But then eventually over the do arts. So it's kind of like me trying to re-establish years, you know what they call white flight, people that legacy in a weird way: now I'm of age and it's, started moving out. My sisters were eight, nine it's funny that my dad, everybody referred to my years older than me, they know way more what it dad as Mr. Woody or Woody. In some way I've was like before it became predominantly Black. taken on that moniker, people call me Mr. Woody. Lee-Harvard was the moving on up neighborhood. [The project is] restoring the building back to its African-Americans that were middle-class, they grandeur and in a neighborhood that, you know, moved to Lee-Harvard, and then it kind of trickled has its challenges. into Warrensville [an East Side suburb of Cleveland.] It was a mixed community. Now I won't say that it Kevin: Could you share a little more about Lee- was 80% white when my dad moved in. You could Harvard, both its longer history and some of the tell it was slowly starting to change a bit, but there challenges it’s faced? was still was this nice mix.

Jimmie: Lee-Harvard back in the time when my Lee-Harvard, throughout the second half of the 20th dad moved into it was predominantly Polish. [In century, would face many challenges stemming from Images from Jimmie's father's store. Photos courtesy Jimmie Woody

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 79 deindustrialization, the crack epidemic, and the resulting Jimmie: My dad passed away in on September 8th, over-policing associated with the War on Drugs. More 1998. That's what prompted me to come back to affluent neighboring communities attempted to erect Cleveland. And then almost two years to the date barriers—both social and physical—to keep Lee-Harvard of his passing on September 11, 2000, I came home residents out. and my mom had passed away in her bed. So, you know, I was just like, okay, I gotta take on that. But Jimmie: Lee-Harvard is right next to Shaker Heights when I talk about my parents’ legacies, my dad [one of the region’s most affluent suburbs]. They was the entrepreneur. He was the guy that like, I'm walled off the street to keep people from going going to create a business for myself and my family from Lee-Harvard into Shaker. They literally put a and for the neighborhood. My mom was the artist. barrier to keep Black people from traveling. Some My mom made metal, she painted, she did crafts, of those barriers still exist. You're like, Wait, you can she crocheted. The art side of me comes from her. tell this is a side street that should go through, but This entrepreneurial side comes from my dad. Part it doesn’t. of what I want to do is I want to merge my artistic and this entrepreneurial side in that building. So I Or get this: literally, Kinsman Road delineates that can have my own. And, and that was kind of what that's Cleveland. It changes into Chagrin Boulevard my dad was like, Hey, stop working for everybody at Lee Road [the border of Cleveland and Shaker else. Heights], which is letting you know, systemically, Kinsman is for these people, Chagrin Boulevard is After his parents’ death, Jimmie began to host arts events— for these people. called The Labyrinth, which took place once a month over many years in the upstairs spaces of the building. Kevin: In your GoFundMe, you wrote that a good part of this project was devoted to your parents’ Jimmie: I've always wanted to do arts in that space. legacy. Can you tell me about what their legacy Even with The Labyrinth, And I always wanted means to you? to do something that would pull on so many different disciplines and it was intergenerational. I have people that are like, Mr. Woody, man, I never hung out with my mom or my dad until your party. Also just different ethnicities, black, white, gay, straight, transgender. And that was the thing too. Each month, I wouldn't even put it out there, but it just would seem like The Labyrinth would take on different things. One month, I would come there and it was a big part of the LGBTQ community was in there. Another night, you know, another time it had to be a nice pocket of Black, Hispanic, Latino people. And I'd be like, wow, I wouldn't even be putting it out there like that. Each month was always so very different. A Labyrinth event. Photos courtesy Jimmie Woody.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 80 and people want to be around the artists. And so One thing that people always should say when they that they want to redevelop the area that's around came to my building: This just does not feel like the arts. So therefore it transforms the community. I'm in Cleveland. It feels like I'm in New York city. It And that's what I'm trying to do. I mean, I had feels like I'm in Amsterdam. It feels like I'm in LA. people coming to me say like, Oh man, I'm going to It just, it transports me. You got the murals soon as put in a 24 hour liquor store. And my thing is, well, we come up the hallway, you got this. There’s just a how the hell is that going to help the community? vibe that it’s chill. It's not, everybody's trying to put What does that do for this community? It just winds on airs and try to pretend like they're something up being the same thing that already exists. that they’re not. Kevin: One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is So that’s the backstory of what I was doing with the this sort of relationship between neighborhoods building. But what I always wanted to do is, I wanted like Tremont and the work you are doing. In the to go into the downstairs area and do stuff with the past 10-15 years, parts of Cleveland have seen storefront. I wanted the one storefront. That was my large efforts for regeneration and gentrification. dad's store. I want it to be a multi-use black box You can see this in Tremont and Ohio City on the space. Then the other side, which he converted into West Side, and also Public Square and Playhouse an ice cream parlor. I want it to be a cafe. Square downtown, even Arts Collinwood on the East Side. At the same time, there are also many It’s also influenced by other places, such as the neighborhoods and communities—including Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, and that started neighborhoods like Lee-Harvard—in Cleveland that by a visual artist named Theaster Gates. When I have not seen that sort of large-scale investment in went to the Cuyahoga Arts Council and I talked to their communities. Cleveland remains the poorest thepresident, she came over to my building saw and city in the nation and highly segregated. Can you she's like, Everything that you're doing sounds like talk a little bit about those kinds of disparities? in alignment with Theaster. It sounds like what you want to do is to create an arts bank or a center that will help to rejuvenate the community.

Jimmie spoke about the neighborhood today, and the unique challenges facing Lee-Harvard, including the lack of community investment in neighborhood resources.

Jimmie: There’s a park right across the street from the space. And there was a school called Jamison Elementary that was built. But they tore that down. And so now there's a big green grass connected to a park. There's some activities that they do there, but I've said this for 15 years, for 20 years: This is no different than Tremont [a gentrifying neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side]. Tremont, when I first came back to Cleveland, wasn't the dandiest place to be in, but artists hung out there. And then what always happens just like in New York, just like in Soho, you put arts activities and then slowly businesses

A new real estate development in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. While some neighborhoods have seen large-scale development in Cleveland, such as this one, other neighborhoods have not seen such development. Photo by Kevin Ritter.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 81 Jimmie: The biggest challenge is some of the unserved area that has no arts other than the Lee- systemic issues that pre-existed in Cleveland. What Harvard Community Service Center. They more or I always came up against was I would be like: I less deal with elderly and some programs with kids, was talking to a couple big wigs in foundations, but not with an artistic sensibility and it's no shade grants, and stuff like that. I called them and they against them. listened. They said, It sounds great. But have you ever thought about just doing your thing through To step away from that. Does anybody say to Karamu House [a long-standing Black theater in Ensemble Theater, “Why are you running Ensemble Cleveland]? Theater when you’ve got Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights? Why are you running Dobama And I was like, I worked there at one point in time, Theater and Ensemble Theater when you’ve got the but you're asking me to do what I do through Cleveland Playhouse? I hate to say it, but why do Karamu. That doesn't make any sense. white institutions get to have a plethora of options? But when you say African- American or Black people or people of color, you get one spot.

Jimmie is currently fundraising for his Woody Arts Incubator Project via GoFundMe (www. gofundme.com/f/woody- restoration-art-incubator- project-phase-1/); the project’s first phase focuses primarily on mitigating some of the building’s structural issues; the long-term goal is to create an art center that serves the community in Ward One, especially uplifting Black voices, Black stories, and Black lives.

Photos courtesy Jimmie Woody. In Cleveland’s cultural landscape, many neighborhoods lack arts organizations, in part due to historic segregation and One of them said, what do you mean by that? disinvestment that have extensive ramifications today. The Incubator Project represents one community’s step to create I was like, I'm talking about doing something more cultural institutions that support and uplift the people in Ward One. And you're talking about Fairfax of Lee-Harvard and greater Cleveland. neighborhood. So you're telling people from Ward One to travel to Fairfax?

I had one guy go, Why don’t you just do your thing out of Tremont?

And I'm like, You're asking me to take it away from [Ward One]. There's no arts in Ward One, a totally

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 82 SOLIDARITY, NOT CHARITY Mutual Aid Efforts During COVID-19

Since March, we have witnessed an explosion of grass- The pandemic merely magnified the existing inequalities roots initiatives across the country aimed at meeting basic in society as folks who were already struggling with food human needs during the pandemic. Largely organized by insecurity and housing costs were waiting on food bank local neighborhood activists, these initiatives have been lines eight blocks long while others were able to flee to termed ‘mutual aid,’ describing their attempt to provide second homes in the Hamptons and Catskills. This showed collective care to communities and groups desperately in not only failed pandemic planning, but also a state and need. In a year that has felt apocalyptic to say the least, the capitalist system designed to work against the interests of stories of these efforts have been heartwarming, inspiring marginalized groups of people. hope that things may end up ok. An answer to this has been Mutual Aid: collaborative care People across the country transformed their garages into that works outside of the realm of government and cap- mask-making factories, sewing masks for health-care italism to provide folks the essential means by which to workers and neighbors who were unable to obtain them survive. The donations to GoFundMe pages to help folks because of supply and distribution failures. Volunteers pay rent have come directly from neighbors, not grants or made meals, and worked at food banks to make sure that tax-write offs. Community fridges are often managed by folks who were unable to work had enough food to eat. neighborhood residents, not government agencies or gro- Young people home from school volunteered to bike and take rideshares delivering groceries and prescriptions to elderly neighbors who would otherwise be risking their by Stephen Hanrahan lives leaving their home. Community refrigerators were in- stalled on city streets encouraging folks to take what they need and give if they can. Even a baby and pet sitting cery stores. The role of the state is certainly important, the group was set up for front-line workers in Minneapolis who development of a vaccine and the scale of federal stim- couldn’t be at home.1 These were stories of people step- ulus can’t be conjured by neighborhood groups alone. ping up to help each other out in a time of crisis showing Businesses play an active role as well, as factories have the that as bad as it was there would always be good to help capability for PPE production and stores have electricity fight back. for the installation of fridges. But we also need to hold the system accountable for its failures and its oppressions, These efforts also highlighted the ways in which the state and the efforts of Mutual Aid do exactly that. As we turn has long been failing its people, and how the abhorrent the corner on 2021, we must remember that ‘normal’ was planning and mismanagement of the pandemic only ex- an inequitable and unsustainable world, not something to acerbated its systemic problems. Although partially the jump right back into. Most importantly, mutual aid efforts story of individual innovation and resilience in the face of during this time show that folks can come together and crisis, pictures of nurses wearing garbage bags because help each other in ways they didn’t before, forging solidar- they didn’t have proper PPE were also the story of fail- ity and the foundations for a better future. ures of government and capitalism to adequately provide even the most basic necessities for people to live. The fact that Black, Latinx, and American Indian populations were hospitalized and dying at double to triple the rates of other ethnic groups highlighted the health inequities and structural racism that oppresses these groups today.2

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 83 A History Steeped in Anarchist es.3 Mutual aid was central to this vision; Kropotkin argued in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902) that instead of Ideology Darwinian competition, cooperation and solidarity played a leading role in the evolutionary progress of humankind: The term ‘mutual aid’ comes from the idea that common people, not the state or the free market take care of each “In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the other the best. The concept was coined by Peter Kropot- earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive kin, a Russian anarcho-communist who like many radicals and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we at the turn of the last century proposed a vision for how to can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual sup- build a better world. In response to growing Czar power, port not mutual struggle — has had the leading part.”4 he advocated for a decentralized society free from central government that was based on the voluntary associations Kropotkin believed that groups and institutions like hunt- of self-governing communities and worker-run enterpris- er-gatherer tribes, guilds, and the ‘commons,’ were altruis- tic by nature and responsible for the survival and well-be- ing of society. In his history of everyday life, it was the increasing power of a centralized state in the 16th century that replaced cooperative life with a competitive one, en- closing land and forcing individuals to compete amongst each other for scarce resources. This critique of govern- ment has always been embedded in mutual aid: that self-organized small-scale groups can take care of each other and provide a cooperative environment in ways that central authority cannot.

Kropotkin’s vision did not come to fruition in Russia; the country unfortunately became known as one of the world’s most centralized authorities. However, we can see examples of mutual aid from other time periods and countries. One great example comes from the Black Pan- ther Free Breakfast Program in the US. In 1969, the Black Panthers organized a ‘Free Breakfast Program for School- children’ at an Episcopal Church in Oakland, which later spread to cities across the country feeding tens of thou- sands of children before school.5 The program started as a response to the oppression of the state--racist housing policies, white flight and urban renewal were eviscerating cities and Black people were left to fend for themselves. The FBI and police even tried to suppress the program, going door to door telling parents that the Panthers had ‘urinated’ in the food, or the breakfasts would give their children venereal disease.6 The fear was that the success of this service -- teachers reported students who received breakfast were more alert -- would undermine the state’s authority and control. Although the Black Panthers were A member of the Black Panther Party holding a banner for the ultimately persecuted, their mutual aid efforts were able Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention in front of to push the state to provide better and more equitable the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Thomas O'Halloran, Wikimedia Commons services: in 1975, the USDA authorized the School Break- fast Program, providing free breakfast to students before

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 84 school across the country. To this day, the school break- fast program plays a major role in serving underprivileged communities, largely thanks to the efforts of the Black Pan- thers. The Successes and Challenges of Mutual Aid Today

The mutual aid efforts since COVID-19 have also had amazing successes in being able to provide services and help folks in need, and face new challenges in being able to sustain these efforts long-term throughout an unprec- edented lockdown. In line with anarchist origins, many mutual aid efforts happening today are loose associations and informal networks rather than definitive bodies. They take a multitude of forms, having physical storefront lo- cations like the group Woodbine in Ridgewood, or active online pages and servers like DC Mutual Aid Network, organized by neighborhood ward on Facebook. Many groups originated before the pandemic, and have adapt- ed or expanded to meet the current needs. ‘In Our Hearts NYC,’ a self-described ‘anarchist network of autonomous collectives,’ has been organizing community dinners and food shares in Brooklyn since the early 2000s, and since the pandemic has enlarged its efforts by supporting com- munity fridges.7

A community refrigerator in Ridgewood, Queens. Other groups like Forgotten Harvest in Detroit initially Photo: Stephen Hanrahan struggled with a labor shortage as their food pantry vol- However, the challenge remains of how to keep that mo- unteers were mostly seniors who would be risking their 8 mentum going long-term. There have been some reports saftey if they left their homes. However, there quickly be- of burn-out, as Simone Policano from Invisible Hands said came a massive increase in volunteers everywhere as peo- in October 2020, “People thought this might have lasted ple of all ages found themselves at home with nothing to two weeks, and it’s been nearly 8 months.”11 Folks who do and a sense of urgency to act in this crisis. Groups were stepped up to volunteer and donate feel exhausted from able to scale up immediately, even having an overabun- spending time packing up food boxes, cooking meals, dance of goods and labor at some points. Invisible Hands, and biking around doing deliveries. In the DC mutual aid a volunteer delivery network in NYC, initially coordinat- network, groups have been forced to scale down because ed on group texts and in just a matter of weeks became of decreasing funds. At the height of the lockdown, Ward a non-profit organizing hundreds of deliveries through 9 5 Mutual Aid Group was handing out direct cash pay- apps like Slack. Community fridges, which increasingly ments to those who requested it. They then had to limit popped up on the streets of cities following the events of it to $100 per caller, and then one call per month, and by the summer, were tallied at 12 in NYC in July by the New October they had to temporarily pause the program. Sim- York Times and by December there were reported to be 10 ilarly, Ward 2 was handing out 150-200 bags of groceries over 80. This was an unprecedented mobilization of peo- a week at the height of lockdown, but was forced to scale ple across the nation who felt the need and had the ability down to every other week.12 Mutual aid groups rely on do- to help other folks who were struggling during this time. nations, labor and funding from members within the com- munity, and as the lockdown continues groups are being

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 85 challenged to continue to provide while also being able to sustain themselves in the long term. Though participants everywhere tend to be ideologi- cally and politically motivated to fight for social change, The dependence on active funding and participation gets like any form of community organizing it is a challenge at a fundamental challenge that mutual aid groups are ex- to actively include members from the poorest and most periencing during COVID-19: a large portion of people oppressed groups in the process. Classic forms of charity, who are putting in the labor and energy to these efforts while able to nobly help folks out in the short term, don’t don’t rely on them as much as the folks they are trying to strive for the empowerment of poor people and trans- help. A goal of mutual aid is that it is ‘mutual’: aid does formative change like mutual aid does; hence the phrase not flow in one direction but rather is based on reciproc- ‘solidarity, not charity.’14 There have always been some as- pects of charity in mutual aid: even the Black Panther Party received support and would rub shoulders with the well to do of the Upper East Side.15 But creating the recipro- cal relationships that can make groups self-sustaining in the long term is a fundamental challenge for mutual aid efforts as the COVID-19 crisis continues. To quote Louise Delmege, a mutual aid organizer in the UK:

“Overall, we’ve seen a rise of mutual aid efforts during lockdown, it’s been amazing…. We’ve provided unimag- inable amounts of food and support for people. But, the groups which leave me with the most hope and the firmest evidence that mutual aid and solidarity are alive and well aren’t the big groups like ours, or the collaborations with allies like Food Union, nor the fantastic efforts of anarchists. It’s the same people as always, it’s working class women, working themselves to the bone, just like always.”16 Building Solidarity

In light of these challenges, there are many ways in which mutual aid is fostering solidarity as well as creating a cul- tural shift in the way of providing care that is a model for a better future. Many of these groups were part of resis- tance-building efforts from before the pandemic, and have now expanded and enlarged to create intragroup al- liances. The food pantry at Woodbine in Ridgewood was created with a partnership with Hungry Monk, a nearby An understocked community pantry in suburban Cleveland. homeless response group.17 The ‘Cooperative Gardens Photo: Kevin Ritter Commision,’ connects community gardens and other ‘seed hubs,’ to individuals to grow their own gardens, im- proving food sovereignty collaboratively.18 These relation- ity through the active participation of various groups of ships will strengthen movements that seek to change the people. However, some of the most active participants in status quo and create a better future. mutual aid efforts are those with the privilege to be able to do so. “Volunteerism is a privilege,” said Simone Poli- But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of mutual aid cano, noting how Slack groups on the Upper West Side during this time is the way in which it has connected peo- and Upper East Side had double to triple the number of ple and renewed their faith in each other. Folks seeing members as did groups in the Bronx.13

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 86 their neighbors helping one another with groceries, or set- help improve government as a tool for equity, not op- ting up community fridges, and being able to work side by pression. Despite losing its political charge, the USDA side during a crisis is inspiring, and reveals our capacity to free breakfast program provides thousands breakfasts in achieve things we didn’t think was possible. During a time schools across the country, especially public schools in of often toxic social media feeds and contagious viruses, cities that proportionately have higher amounts of poor having positive face-to-face interactions with folks renews children of color. Just like the Black Panthers, mutual aid people’s faith that they can trust each other and the peo- efforts can push back on the state to be more responsive Folks seeing their neighbors helping one another with groceries, or setting up community fridges, and being able to work side by side during a crisis is inspiring, and reveals our capacity to achieve things we didn’t think was possible.

ple in their communities. Especially in rapidly gentrifying and equitable. In Detroit, a USDA grant gave the school neighborhoods like Ridgewood or Bed-Stuy, mutual aid district and mutual aid groups flexible funding which en- efforts create a space in which to have conversations and abled them to target the three worst hit districts in the city broach topics like gentrification and displacement that for food and resource distribution.19 Mechanisms like this might not have happened pre-COVID. It’s in spaces like can allow mutual aid groups to keep on doing the work these that folks can foster solidarity, make the steps to- that they are doing, without making them concede on ward healing and make something like gentrification less their mission. Though many groups strive for autonomy, painful for everyone. the state can be a powerful tool for support and mutual aid has the power to change institutions from within as Mutual aid efforts also create a transformative shift in the well as without. way in which care is provided. The ethos of mutual aid that has come across perhaps most strongly as a result of Conclusion COVID is that society needs to mobilize to save itself. The ideas of free clothing and free food are that of adaptive As much as 2020 has been a year of challenge and dysto- reuse, that society produces enough clothing and food to pia, it has also been an amazing opportunity to do things provide for everyone we need to reorient ourselves and differently. Unimaginable amounts of food, support and conceive of them as necessities not commodities in or- federal stimulus have been provided to folks in the USA der to realize that. Mutual aid also speaks to moving to a and across the world that broke the bounds of what was world beyond growth, where folks are mobilized to care known in 2019. From free buses to the thousands of indi- for one another not only because it is the right thing to vidual acts of solidarity and charity, this year has redefined do but because it is the only thing to do. The impending what is possible. And this new possible is needed, if only climate crisis will require a mass mobilization of people to make sure a year like 2020 doesn’t happen again. to voluntarily change behavior as well as help those who are most vulnerable. These future challenges will require a new ethos of care that is based not on whether folks can or should, but out of a necessity to survive. Just like the organizations that inspired Kropotkin, a future of coopera- tives and collectives might be the only one that is just and sustainable.


Finally, solidarity can also involve a renewed relationship with the state that can support mutual aid work and also

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 87 NOTES13 Simone Policano, “Invisible Hands Interview via Phone” October 27th, 2020. 1 Rebecca Solnit, “‘The way we get through this is 14 (Original Quote by Eduardo Galeano) Dean Spa- together’: the Rise of Mutual Aid Under Coronavirus,” The de, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis and Guardian, May 14, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/ the Next, Verso Books (New York: 2020) page 14. world/2020/may/14/mutual-aid-coronavirus-pandem- 15 Stephen Salimeri, “When Leonard Bernstien par- ic-rebecca-solnit tied with the Black Panthers,” BBC March 29th, 2018. 2 “Covid-19 Hospitalizations and Death by Race/ https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3dWyNL- Ethnicity,” Centers for Disease, Control and Protection, Up- c1rMqSnXytbgwhjnh/when-leonard-bernstein-partied- dated November 30th, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coro- with-the-black-panthers navirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-discovery/ 16 Louise Delmege, “Mutual Aid: Past, Present and hospitalization-death-by-race-ethnicity.html Future,” The World Transformed Youtube: September 3 Marius de Geus, “Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist vi- 30th, 2020. 30:17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a- sion of organization,” Ephemera Journal Vol 20, no 3: (Au- F84aA5Dtqg&t=1910s gust 2020). 17 Angelica Acevdeo, “Woodbine offers Ridge- http://www.ephemerajournal.org/contribution/peter-kro- wood community free pantry and mutual aid resources,” potkin%E2%80%99s-anarchist-vision-organization QNS.com March 31, 2020. https://qns.com/2020/03/ 4 Peter Kropotkin, “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution woodbine-offers-ridgewood-community-free-food-pan- (1902)” The Anarchist Library “https://theanarchistlibrary. try-and-mutual-aid-resources/ org/library/petr-kropotkin-mutual-aid-a-factor-of-evolu- 18 Samantha Melamed, “Philly Garden activists are tion#toc10 shipping millions of seeds to a nation fretting over food 5 Erin Blakemore, “How the Black Panther Breakfast access during coronavirus,” The Philadelphia Inquirer Program both Inspired and Threatened the government,” April 27th, 2020. https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/ History.com, August 30th, 2018. https://www.history.com/ gardening/coronavirus-victory-gardens-cooperative-gar- news/free-school-breakfast-black-panther-party den-commission-philadelphia-20200427.html 6 Ibid 19 Anna Clark, “Food Insecurity is Rising in Detroit. 7 “History,” In Our Hearts.Org. https://inourheartsnyc. So is the Number of people fighting it.” Civil Eats Novem- org/history/ ber 13th, 2020. https://civileats.com/2020/11/13/food- 8 Anna Clark, “Food Insecurity is Rising in Detroit. insecurity-is-rising-in-detroit-so-is-the-number-of-people- So is the Number of people fighting it.” Civil Eats Novem- fighting-it/ ber 13th, 2020. 9 Simone Policano, “Invisible Hands Interview via Phone” October 27th, 2020. 10 Amanda Rosa, “See that fridge on the sidewalk? It’s full of Free Food.” The New York Times July 8th, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/nyregion/free- food-fridge-nyc.html?auth=login-email&login=email “NYC Community Fridges Map” https://marsbtyne.github. io/nycfridge/ 11 Simone Policano, “Invisible Hands Interview via Phone” October 27th, 2020. 12 Jenny Gaithright, “Local Mutual Aid Groups Face Dwindling Funds and Burnout Months into the Pandem- ic,” NPR September 18th, 2020. https://www.npr.org/ local/305/2020/09/18/914028936/local-mutual-aid- groups-face-dwindling-funds-and-burnout-months-into- the-pandemic

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 88 CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

K.C. Alvey is pursuing her Master of Urban Planning Jess Greenspan is an MUP student at Hunter and analyst with an interest in urban politics, climate resiliency, food at NYCEDC. She interned at several NYC planning systems, and equitable economic development. She organizations and currently belongs to the Planners currently works as a Senior Outreach Coordinator with Network and NYCDSA. A first-time editor, Jess’s editorial NYC Parks GreenThumb. Previously, she worked as an perspective critically engages the politics of planning and organizer for 350.org and studied Natural Resources at its relationship to social, racial and climate injustice. Cornell University. Tess Guttières is a French-American MUP and seasoned Rachel Bondra is pursuing a master’s degree in urban branding specialist. She is passionate about applying the planning. She has a background in Art and Architectural tools of brand communications to create more equitable History. Her work explores urban industrial landscapes and and sustainable cities. With special interest in economic history, land use, and expressions of power and politics in development, she hopes to create planning proposals that the built environment and planning processes, as well as can be both profitable and purposeful. public memory. Salome Gvinianidze is pursuing MUP with a focus on Charles Christonikos is a Bronx native with a B.A. in urban design and built environment. She has a background Geography from the George Washington University. in international studies and sociology. She is currently He is currently pursuing his degree with an interest in interning at ARCHIVE Global, an organization that uses climate change mitigation, energy policy, and geographic housing design as a preventative strategy in improving information systems (GIS). His professional experiences health outcomes in communities around the world. to date include conducting applied GIS research with the NASA DEVELOP Program and working as a research Stephen Hanrahan has just completed his Master's in consultant at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, Urban Planning from Hunter and has taken a job with the D.C. DC District Department of Transportation as a program analyst working with the loading zone and curbside Francesca Fernandez Bruce is an urban planning management division. He partly got into planning from graduate student, a specialist with the Manhattan summer part-time construction and landscaping jobs and Chamber of Commerce, and former educator. During a although will miss the hands-on aspect, is excited to have summer of activism, she participated in discussion and a position that does not require him to lift extremely heavy protest regarding affordable housing, sheltering, and things anymore. displacement in NYC, and sees the city's struggle with housing as one of our most urgent humanitarian crises. Jennifer Hendricks is pursuing a master’s degree in Urban Policy and Leadership. She has a background in teaching Ben Foster is a second-year Masters of Urban Planning and in the nonprofit sector. Her work explores sustainable student originally from Massachusetts. Now an Upper East urban practices and comparative urban policy. She lives in Side resident, he currently works as an editor in the tech Brooklyn. industry and plans to migrate to transportation planning. Find Ben on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ Michael Horwitz is a student in Hunter's MSUPL program. benjamincfoster. He is an organizer and political researcher, and has worked with grassroots advocacy organizations and public officials.

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 89 Sus Labowitz is in their first year at the Hunter MUP. They Madeline Schoenfeld is a student in Hunter's MUP are interested in surveillance and queer and trans urban program. She is currently working as a contractor doing spaces. street surveying in Manhattan.

Gabriel Lefferts is the managing editor of Tricycle: The Sean Sonneman is an Urban Planning student at Hunter Buddhist Review magazine and a part-time student in graduating in May. He currently works as a civil engineer Hunter College's Master of Urban Planning program. for the design firm Arup. Sean looks forward to using Heavily influenced by a background in the Humanities, he his dual background in engineering and planning to begins his formal study of urban planning this year with help positively shape projects and policies that enable wide-ranging interests that include political and economic metropolitan regions to prepare for the future. theory, housing policy, and social history. Ben “Bobby" West-Weyner is pursuing an M.S. in Urban Max Marinoff is a lifelong New Yorker who currently Policy & Leadership, interested in examining domestic and works at the FDNY. He has a passion for NYC life and international reparations programs. A former elementary culture, particularly the local communities that give the school teacher, he currently works with 9/11 survivors city its texture and vitality. A former NYC tour guide, he seeking compensation for their 9/11 related illnesses. For is well versed in the city’s history, lore, and idiosyncrasies. more works visit www.bobbywater.com.

Alek Miletic graduated with an MUP from Hunter College Lily Zaballos is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator in in December, 2020. He is currently Chair (2020-2021) for the MSUPL program. She has a background in nonprofit APA-NYM Student Representative Committee and has education and has taught youth of all ages in a variety previously served as Treasurer (2019-2020) for GUAPA. of mediums including dance, creative writing, cooking He works as a planner for an urban planning and civil education, and environmental science. Her work currently engineering consulting firm in New York. focuses on food system policy and community education. lilyzaballos.com Craig M. Notte is a litigation partner at a New York City real estate / landlord-tenant law firm representing large and small owners in the residential and commercial contexts. He is also on the Advisory Council of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. He has a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Rochester.

Kevin Ritter is a MUP candidate at Hunter College. In his professional life, he has worked primarily in the museum and performing arts world. His academic work focuses on the relationship between the cultural sector and civic identities. Kevin is, with Annie Latsko, the co-founder of the Museum of Post Industry, an online institution devoted to the ups and downs of the American Rust Belt in the 21st Century. www.museumofpostindustry.com

Kathleen Ross is an undergraduate in the Urban Studies program at Hunter. Her article was inspired by Professor Pollans' central question in Planning for a Sustainable Environment: what is worth sustaining?

Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 90 Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Interior, Hudson Yards, Photo by Kevin Ritter 91 Urban Review | Hunter College | Fall 2020/Winter 2021 92