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Bill de Blasio talks affordable housing, turnstile jumpers, and more in Q&A

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And why he’s a “good progressive”

World AIDS Day 2017 Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Housing Works, Inc.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has a notoriously fractious relationship with the press, so that he recently granted a rare sit-down interview to a group of journalists is noteworthy—and even more so because that group was made up of reporters from the recently shuttered (and much-missed) Gothamist and DNAInfo.

Those reporters (full disclosure: some have also written for Curbed NY) published the conversation—which, they note, was the first time the mayor had ever granted a formal interview to either publication—on Medium, and there are plenty of interesting tidbits therein.

While it’s not quite as expansive as De Blasio’s chat with New York’s Chris Smith from earlier this year, it does touch on a wide range of topics, from city support for local journalism to legalizing marijuana in NYC. For built environment nerds like us, we’ve plucked the piece’s most insightful quotes from the mayor:

On turnstile jumpers, and the push to decriminalize that activity:

I’m being very blunt, I’m a good progressive — I don’t accept the poverty argument, that people have to jump turnstiles because of poverty. No, you don’t have to jump turnstiles because of poverty. You have to make choices in a world where some things cost money, and I know that can be a really really tough choice. This is an incredibly compassionate city for people who are documented or not, we try to help people across the board with so many different services and supports. In this context, I don’t accept the notion that somehow it is morally OK to jump a turnstile.

On affordable housing and AMI bands, and whether it’s truly “affordable”:

But the essence of what was going on at the time at Atlantic Yards is you’d have an area that gentrification had essentially saturated, and if you didn’t put in some type of housing affordable to low-income people, working class people, middle-class people or any kind of combination thereof, you would have essentially nothing in the surrounding area — it would all go to upper income.

On the Housing NYC plan:

The essence of our plan is really there’s a chunk of it that’s very low income — but that core, so people making between $30,000 and $60,000 is the essence of our plan. A huge, huge number of people will fall into that area.

On the controversial Broadway Triangle rezoning:

We’re looking for the most balanced outcome. One, leaving it in its static, unused reality would have been idiotic. Two, we attempted to create an open and transparent process that would allow for maximum involvement. Three, we have a lawsuit to settle and we have to come to terms that would actually settle the lawsuit, and we think we found that balance point.

On whether he’d continue small-group meetings with local reporters:

“Calm” is the thing. I think the imperative is there — everyone’s looking for news and everyone’s looking for a scoop and all that, and there’s going to be tough questions. But there’s a more thoughtful imperative, in a sense, when you get out of the tabloid realm, and it would be a good addition to our lineup, so I’d be happy to do that. I dunno how often, but I’d be happy to do it.

Very interesting. You can read the full chat over at Medium.