Storm-Ravaged Breezy Point Has a Fascinating Economic Model

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 30 2012 1:43 PM

Storm-Ravaged Breezy Point Has a Fascinating Economic Model

Like many others, I've seen photographs of devastating storm and fire damage in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens and was naturally curious where exactly that is. It turns out to be the far western end of the Rockaway Peninsula sandwiched between two elements of the Gateway National Recreation Area (a kind of dispersed national park around New York Harbor) pretty distant from the city's mass transit network.

It also has a very interesting underlying economic model. According to a 2008 real estate piece, the whole neighborhood is a 1.9 square mile co-op with about 5,000 members:

Security gates block almost all side streets, which are posted with intimidating no-trespassing signs. There’s even a distinct lingo: “Dinks,” the many powder-blue-shirted security officers, make sure that D.F.D.’s, or people who are “down for the day,” don’t use areas reserved for “Pointers.”
And that seems within their right: All Breezy Point’s private land belongs to a large co-op, which, like most Park Avenue apartments houses, curtails access. Here, though, annual charges are typically less than $2,000, for tap water, beach cleaning and basketball court maintenance, residents said.

It's a reminder that as you go down into smaller units, the distinctions between private associations and governments can get a bit fuzzy. Most neighborhoods, obviously, aren't private collectively owned coops in terms of their formal organization. But the spirit of hyper-local government—whether that's a Community Board in NYC an ANC in Washington or whatever else you call it—often ends up being similar to what you'd expect from a private association. The idea is to support the interests of a narrow group of insiders—the public to which the local elected officials are directly accountable—rather than any broader concept of public good. So in a sense, Breezy Point is less unusual than it seems at first glance. Or maybe its mode of organization was unusual in 1960 when it was founded in its current cooperative form, but since that time more and more of local government in the United States has come to resemble Breezy Point's privatized governance.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.