From the Wall Street Journal:
A task force commissioned by City Comptroller John Liu is poised to call for a major change in the way that the city determines what amenities—such as affordable housing and parks—to extract from real-estate developers in exchange for approving their plans.
Those decisions are among the most controversial parts of the city's rough-and-tumble land-use approval process and are often criticized for the inconsistent way in which they are made. A draft report by the task force, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, recommends that new groups made up of community representatives—and monitored by the comptroller—negotiate benefit deals with developers involving major rezoning decisions.
Currently there's no formalized way in which these deals are made. Rather a collection of interest groups typically participate, including elected officials, community organizations and others, with the ultimate decision on the zoning being made by the City Council.
Under the comptroller's proposal, the City Council would still get to vote on the zoning decision. But the negotiations with the developer for parks, affordable housing, job training or other benefits would be removed from the council because they would be completed months before the zoning vote.
The draft, issued by the task force this week, has immediately stoked concerns among city officials, some real-estate executives and others that the new negotiations would add cost and time onto an already-lengthy development process and give new power to the comptroller. Mr. Liu's office cautioned that the report on so-called Community Benefits Agreements is not final and is subject to change.
The report calls for a new structure in which a set of members representing the community would hire a consultant and negotiate with the developer a set of payments for benefits such as schools, open space, job training and affordable housing. A consultant would oversee the negotiations, which would take place before the start of the city's seven-month rezoning process, in which the City Council would have final say over proposed developments.
The report calls for a new law to codify the program. But such a measure would likely face strong headwinds since it would have to be approved by the City Council. A city official said the Bloomberg administration would oppose the recommendations as drafted, saying it would hinder investment and marginalize the roles of elected officials and community boards. Council Speaker Christine Quinn has expressed concerns about the legality of the proposals, according to a person familiar with her position.
Who determines the "set of members representing the community"? And why no talk about the enforcement of these agreements, which ALWAYS seem to be only optional advisory recommendations for developers to follow? Why do we have these stupid agreements anyway? If you bribe "community representatives" and the council, you get to build whatever the hell you want! So what is the purpose of zoning anyway? To assure bribes?
Christine Quinn is concerned about the "legality of the proposals" but not of all the other shady shit she and the mayor do on a daily basis?