Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alina Gertsenshteyn Activity #4 (questions 8 and 9)

The New York State Department of City Planning makes zoning laws for New York. These laws decide how large different buildings will be and how they will be used. These laws also determine where the buildings will be located. This largely depends on the city’s ability to budget, tax, and condemn property.
In 2005 there have been rezoning laws in Williamsburg which created new luxury condos. This created larger apartments for families; therefore, this change was considered positive plus it was relatively more affordable (they are between N.Fifth and N.Seventh streets. Nearby is a underground parking garage which can have up to 496 automobiles at its capacity. In the book, The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler states that, “in almost all communities designed since 1950, it is a practical impossibility to go about the ordinary business of living without a car,” (p.114) with that being said, it is understandable why zoning policies should consider where people will leave their cars and leave space for garages. Unfortunately, garages are usually expensive and people are already putting in a lot of money towards cars (i.e. gas, insurance, etc) but this is a way that the community/private owners can make money. Also, I think that this zoning policy of the garage affects the community by making it easier for tourists to come because they would be able to commute and leave their vehicle behind while exploring.
In Brooklyn, there is a privately gated community called “Oceana” which is located in the Brighton Beach Community which is a predominately Russian area within Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, the contractor is Russian as well- his name is Issac Muss. His first attempt for the project failed in the late 1980s. It opened fairly recently in the year 1999 and most of its residents are second generation Russians who can afford to live there and still want to be close to the community. Oceana is a 850 unit building with an oceanfront. It includes a gym, pool, and a park within the gates for its residents. There is also parking within the community. There is security upon entering. Kunstler points out that “zoning codes devised by engineering firms have been “packaged” (p.114) which is demonstrated by “packaged” like gated communities such as Oceana.

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