From the Gotham Gazette:
PlaNYC2030 left out any role for the city's hundreds of neighborhoods, 59 community boards, and the countless civic, community and environmental groups that care about the future of the city. It was a top-down plan, conceived at City Hall with minimal input, and it was never approved as an official plan. In the long term this will only undermine the ability to sustain the plan itself, and both implement and improve it.
The plan now stands at a critical juncture, Rohit Aggarwala, director of the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, recently announced his resignation, and the city's budget situation and the overall economic situation have delayed and even derailed some of its initiatives. With Aggarwala's departure and the convening of a commission to review the City Charter, now is the time to fill the gap that excluded neighborhoods. An updated PlaNYC2030 could then be reviewed and voted on by community boards, borough presidents, the City Planning Commission, and City Council, as required in the City Charter.
While the rezonings have opened up opportunities for new development -- also a major goal of PlaNYC2030 -- and protected many other areas, they hardly pass muster as "plans." Rezoning for new development is often done without planning for new schools, transit and other services, nor does it entail measures to deal with existing service deficits or the myriad problems that face communities. In some neighborhoods that have undergone massive rezoning, such as Williamsburg, residents are now up in arms because new high-rise luxury development has overtaxed the capacity of local schools and transit.
While City Planning often echoes PlaNYC's call for "transit-oriented development" by promoting higher density development around subway stops, it does not insure that transit capacity will grow to meet increased needs. Trains and buses are even more overcrowded than they were before the rezoning, and with more service cutbacks planned, the situation promises to get worse. If that's planning it's surely not good planning.
New Yorkers are most familiar with the neighborhoods where they live and work. In this sense they are specialists, and neighborhood leaders and activists are usually a great source of knowledge. Surely they can be parochial and narrow-minded, but so too can people in government agencies. PlaNYC did not look at the city from the perspective of its hundreds of neighborhoods or incorporate the vast experiences and histories of its neighborhoods. Only after the giant spreadsheet was made were the citywide programs and projects broken down, but mostly for reporting purposes.