This is a reponse to Mitch Waxman’s critique of our recent op-ed at City Limits: We Have to Talk About Gentrification in Long Island City. Mitch’s response is located below the original article.
Queens Anti-Gentrification Project is well aware of the infrastructure issues plaguing our neighborhoods. We are concerned with infrastructure. However, the op-ed we wrote for City Limits does not mention infrastructure. What the op-ed deals with, very specifically, is the financial influence of the real estate industry on city politics, income inequality, and most importantly – the displacement of human beings from their homes and livelihoods.
Why, then, is Mitch Waxman’s response attempting to reframe the discussion in terms of infrastructure? Why does the response ignore our main points and accuse us of “painting” Jimmy Van Bramer as a villain? We quoted Van Bramer verbatim from a real estate conference appearance, and we invite all readers to watch the video themselves. We aren’t “painting” anything. We’re merely stating facts:
Van Bramer took over $100k in campaign donations from real estate, he frequently speaks at real estate conferences, he has consistently spoken publicly in favor of luxury development in his district, and he refuses to take concrete action to prevent mass displacement. None of these facts are being contested, so if these are the attributes of a villain, then perhaps Mitch Waxman is asking the wrong question.
As for the mentality that more luxury development is inevitable – the result of a “population explosion” – this is precisely the type of myth we were trying to debunk in the first place. It is not inevitable, it’s a result of public policy and city planning, and we will do everything we can to stop it.