Doctoroff on Robert Moses Comparisons: ‘Always a Little Odd’

Another excerpt from The Observer‘s interview last winter with Daniel Doctoroff.

Here’s how he feels about all those comparisons of him to the late Robert Moses, the original New Yorker who Got Things Done:

Location: What do you think when people compare you to Robert Moses?

Mr. Doctoroff: That is always a little odd. I don’t think that any comparison between the period that Moses was active and today is really that relevant. The biggest difference is the need for community input.

With very few exceptions, we have really made an effort to reach out to local communities and understand their needs. Moses was a believer that it was experts who were able to divine what was best for the community or the city on the whole.

Location: You said there were a few exceptions?

Mr. Doctoroff: Those that go through the state process.

And, during the February interview, Mr. Doctoroff also responded to a critique of the pace of change in New York by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker in January.

Location: The downside of a strong real-estate market is that people have been priced out of neighborhoods, old mom-and-pop shops closed. There was even a “Talk of the Town” piece in The New Yorker recently about how New Yorkers believe their city is changing too fast.

Mr. Doctoroff: I honestly don’t hear that often. There are certainly concerns about gentrification and rapidly changing communities. As the Mayor says, “If you want to solve the problem of gentrification, you should have crime go up, the schools get worse, the parks get dirtier.”

Gentrification is a natural product of market forces. It does have negative consequences, and the reason that we are spending $7.5 billion on 165,000 units of affordable housing, the reason we are spending $100 million in Queens to put 5,000 units of middle-income housing there, is because we are sensitive to that problem.

Doctoroff on Robert Moses Comparisons: ‘Always a Little Odd’