Between November 2018 and February 2019, the largest corporation in the world (Amazon) and the largest city in the US (New York) staged a bizarre, absurd and often annoying public spectacle.
In just three months, the following happened: Amazon announced that they had selected New York as the location for one of their two new headquarters. the deal with the city and the state of New York was announced; Groups representing workers, tenants and immigrants furiously organized against Amazon, while the mayor, governor and supporters of the deal sought to defend it; Several key politicians ̵
In recent days, New Yorkers have been celebrating or cooking, depending on their position, discussing what just happened and what it all meant. It was clearly not just a one-off battle between a disgusting billionaire and a polluted population. New York's dizzying dance with the Amazon tells us a lot about the state of urban policy in the United States and the kind of struggles we have to take if we want to change the balance between corporate and people power.
Much was The fact that the federal system of the United States allowed Amazon to host a competition for cities across the country to go down to prove that they offer the company generous subsidies, extensive tax breaks, and loose rules would. This is indeed a travesty that should be addressed by legislation, but it is also a demonstration of the enormous power that corporate capital exercises in determining the urban planning priorities of cities.
It also shows the changing economic mix of US planners and policymakers seeking to gain. While cities have historically been accused of "chiming chimneys" or designing competition packages to lure factories from one city to another, cities are now engaging in "skyscraper hunts" or seeking massive investment in real estate (in this case under the auspices of the growth of the tech industry).
. Around the country, we have witnessed the rise of the real estate government group, whose interests are always aligned to escalating land and property values. At the community level, we see planners who present gentrification as a public good to be encouraged; At the national level, we experience the election of a luxury developer to our highest office. Amazon sought to capitalize on this rage, and rightly predicted that politicians across the country would find ways to welcome them and the real estate capital they conjured up.
The special location of the planned New York Amazon headquarters reported. Long Island City, Queens, has been the target of planned deindustrialization for more than 35 years, with a number of governors and mayors seeking to displace production and providing incentives for the expansion of run-down corporate offices and luxury housing estates.
In the 1980s, Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo – the father of the contemporary New York governor and Amazon apologist Andrew Cuomo – caused a stir as he raised a billion dollar grant for a mixed-use facility called Hunters Point South did. The next mayor, David Dinkins, introduced a waterfront plan that would help transform the area, and his successor, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, offered generous subsidies to companies like MetLife to settle there.
The pace of luxury development accelerated rapidly under Mayor Michael Bloomberg after his 2001 renaming. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had lured Amazon to this special place and built on a long-standing legacy of marginalizing manufacturing and corporate gentrification.
However, Bezos, Cuomo, and De Blasio eventually failed in the approval of the people who led a massive and multi-layered struggle over housing costs, labor and immigration rights, corporate grants, infrastructure requirements, small business survival, and more. The anti-Amazon movement provided an anti-corporate anti-gentrification shell for other cities. Since the New Yorkers have fought successfully against Amazon, the protests in northern Virginia – Amazon has a different choice – tightened.
By rejecting the logic that cities should lean backwards to greet gentrifying, anti-union, homogenizing companies, New Yorkers claimed a principle that had long been lacking in planning: the public is the rightful steward of the future of a city.
That may seem obvious, but it is an important twist on the ordinary planning practice that privileges the rights of real estate owners and asks the rest of us for something more than advice and approval. Public stewardship, however, is the claim that the city is a collective product of the work of the inhabitants – in terms of the material production of roads and buildings, the cultural production of neighborhoods and common spaces, as well as the social reproduction of residents and civil workforce. The fate of the city is one of those who made it, not just those who own it.
If cities are products of collective labor, then gypsy geography is "the theft of space through labor and its transformation into spaces of profit." Anti-gentrification movements like the one that frightened Amazon can be considered part of the country's long heritage In the classic cases, workers have risen against bosses because they have stolen the surplus value they created, raising the population against developers and politicians and people of alienating the spaces they erected.
The city is an expression of popular will, and this will can be summoned to lift the plans of those who want to take their work in. This kind of mobilization is the key to power to repel the companies and withstand the rise of the real estate state With Amaz On the run, the time is ripe to renew our commitment to public responsibility and rethink the purpose of urban planning.