So the City Planning Commission voted in favor of the Willets Point plan today. Not surprising, since this is who they are:
The City Planning Commission, established by the 1936 City Charter, began operating in 1938 with seven members appointed by the Mayor. The 1989 Charter expanded the Commission to thirteen members. The Mayor appoints the Chair who is also the Director of City Planning. The Mayor also appoints six other members, each Borough President appoints one member, and the Public Advocate appoints one member. The Chair serves at the Mayor's pleasure while the other 12 commissioners each serve for staggered terms of 5 years.
The mayor's pleasure? Sounds almost pornographic.
Here's Councilman Hiram Monserrate's statement:
"Today's decision by the City Planning Commission is not a vote, but a rubber stamp. With a majority of the Commissioners serving at the request of the Mayor, their decision to pass this plan without addressing the many noted flaws is not surprising. However, there was one notable exception to this rule. I would like to acknowledge Commissioner Karen A. Phillips for her willingness to cast her vote against a project and a process that sets a dangerous precedent for the city as a whole.
The current Willets Point plan sets a precedent for community planning by decree, rather than discussion. The City Planning Commission's vote is further proof that the Administration is more interested in steamrolling this process rather than accepting the community's many pleas for collaboration.
Today's decision begins the countdown towards the final vote in the City Council. With a majority of Council Members already expressing their dire concerns about this project, including the Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, I look forward to finally having an open discussion and solution on the issues that the Administration has so far not resolved – guaranteed affordable housing, fair-market compensation and relocation plans, traffic mitigation plans and a commitment to take eminent domain off the table."
And here's WPIRA's response:
"At a time when the mayor is ordering painful budget cuts and raising property taxes on struggling homeowners, the City Planning Commission rubber stamps the administration's misguided plan for Willets Point without even so much as questioning this $1 billion plus waste of taxpayers’ money.
Unfortunately, that is hardly a surprise. Throughout this rush to judgment, the administration has refused to answer the tough questions and ignored the concerns of the property owners whose land the City seems bent on seizing through eminent domain.
We applaud Public Advocate Gotbaum for once again raising the questions that the City has refused to answer. She knows a bad deal when she sees one, and has the independence to say it to a mayor used to getting his way.
We have confidence the City Council will continue to stand up to the Mayor as he pressures them to approve his flailing plan.
Willets Point needs help but we don't need a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that will never get done. It’s long past time for the Mayor to work with the property owners to develop a meaning and affordable plan to revitalize Willets Point.
We stand ready to work with the Council on a plan that makes sense for the local community, protects and creates jobs, and doesn't require massive taxpayer subsidies for wealthy private developers."
And Mayor Bloomberg said the plan must move forward.