NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC

Richard Clifford
Wed Nov 1 15:30:21 EST 2006

    May I suggest that the notion of a government subsidized program is 
not a creation driven merely by the financial need of the subsidized.

    In this instance I believe that there are several "values" for the 
subsidy provided by state or federal government to any public access 
boating facility and its programs, such as DTBH.

    First, a compelling reason for a subsidy is driven by a public 
desire to promote and to insure waterfront access and open space for use 
by the 'many' regardless of the finances of the 'few.' It would be 
absurd to ask folks how money they had in the bank before allowing them 
to walk in Central Park, or to charge them depending upon their wealth. 
The theater and arts are subsidized w/o regard to the wealth of those 
who attend. (BAM, The Public Theater, Joe's Pub, etc.) Eventually the 
parks and recreation and entertainment are their for the people who live 
in, around or near the City. Open access was the compelling reason 
behind building the trail in the first place.  Just Google: "open access 
waterfront Pataki"

    You might then ask yourselves, were all those $ millions in parks 
and waterfront subsidies merely a prelude and dressing of the properties 
for private developers? Each site from the new Yankee Stadium, to 
Randall's Island, to Battery Park City may offer compelling clues.

    A second possible reason for any government subsidy may be a shared 
desire that the urban environment should not devolve and degrade into a 
monoculture of big box stores, fast food and chain-gyms for "exercise." 
There are many interests that prefer the monoculture; it drives out 
competition and leads to greater profits and centralization of control. 
The 'subsidized program' affords diversity of services for the entire 
economic spectrum, not merely the bottom of the economic ladder. In you 
consider the City to be a living entity then you may appreciate, in a 
Darwinian sense, that diversity is a very good thing.

    The argument concerning the cost of the subsidy is not compelling. 
Is the statement that NYC real estate is very expensive the cause or the 
effect of how decisions are to be made going forward? In that very 
expensive environment we have wrestled for 45+ years with our initial 
subsidy of Rent Control.  That program is dwindling and currently is 
less than 2% of the total urban housing stock. It was superseded by the 
Rent Stabilization program. Many smart economists would have us all 
believe that the removal of housing subsidies will cause the pricing to 
drop, and not to continue to rise. The argument has never gained 
significant traction in NYC. Any effort to destroy, wind-down or to 
replace Rent Stabilization has been met with fierce arguments that the 
solutions lead to greater costs, less diversity and a City census that 
is financially and economically more brittle, being dependent upon, e.g. 
only Wall Street.

    But, eventually any government must make a cost-value driven 
decision of who to subsidize and how long to continue the subsidy. Just 
my view of the subsidies aspect of the discussion. Best wishes, Richard 

Joy Hecht wrote:

> Good points, Bonnie.  The appropriate analogy to bike racks might be 
> places to launch, or to pull kayaks onto the shore while getting 
> lunch.  Not permanent storage.
> The bottom line is that NYC real estate is very expensive.  That's why 
> most New Yorkers don't live in places where you can keep kayaks at 
> home.  And why housing for kayaks, just like permanent car parking, is 
> going to cost a fair bit. 
> There's a further argument for not subsidizing it - generally 
> subsidies should, IMO, go to people at the bottom of the income 
> ladder, not those who can already afford to purchase a not-so-cheap 
> boat.  How would you feel if the city gave free or subsidized stable 
> space to people in the city who own their own horses?  That's a more 
> extreme example, since horses cost vastly more than kayaks, but I 
> imagine most people would consider that a grossly inappropriate use of 
> public funds.  If dock space at the 79^th St. Boat Basin is subsidized 
> (and I have no idea, though I'm guessing it might be), I'd guess you 
> consider that inappropriate too.  The same goes for kayak storage, 
> though to a lesser degree since kayaking isn't as expensive as horses 
> or power boats.
> Working together to increase the total amount of private rack space, 
> even if it is available at market rates (paid either in money or in 
> volunteer labor) seems like a really good strategy - and more likely 
> to succeed than showing a conflicted front to the city officials or 
> whomever you have to convince that kayak storage is a real need.
> Joy

Richard C. Clifford, Esq.
Attorney at Law
1890 Palmer Avenue, Suite 302
Larchmont, NY 10538

Tel: (914) 834-0757
Cell: (917) 854-5824
Fax: (914) 834-0888

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