Thursday, February 17, 2011
Council explains why Willets Point condemnation is wrong, part 2
Where are they all now? Monserrate, Gioia and Sears are no longer in office, but Leroy Comrie, James Sanders and Diana Reyna can do something about this.
The concerns expressed by Council members at the time about this were not incidental, but quite grave. The late Tom White referred to this as an "institutional issue" with implications for the Council's future retention of its power. We excerpt a few of these other prescient comments:
(1) Council Member Thomas White, Chairperson, Economic Development Committee – City Council Economic Development Committee and Land Use Committee Joint Hearing, November 29, 2007:
"After the ULURP procedure is completed, the plan is to issue a Request for Proposal to developers. … This process differs from the usual process in that the City will issue the Request for Proposal only after the ULURP procedure has been completed, as opposed to prior to the ULURP process. This can be seen by some as an encroachment of the Council Land Use authority granted as a result of the 1989 Charter Revision …"
"I think that it would be important for our colleagues, as well as the City, to understand that this is an institutional issue and not a specific issue related to who is for and who is against. The history and the Charter revision section on Land Use states in 1989 that the Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Estimate violated the one person one vote mandate. In response, the new Charter abolished the Board of Estimate and provided for the redrawing of the City Council district lines to increase minority participation on the Council. It also increased the number of members from 35 to 51. The Council was then granted full power over the municipal budget, as well as authority over zoning and Land Use and franchises. Under the 1990 Charter revision, the Council acquired the power to review Land Use issues and approve zoning changes, housing and urban renewal plans, and community development plans, and the disposition of City-owned property. This power gives the Council the most significant voice in the growth and development of the City."
(2) Council Member Melinda Katz, Chairperson, Land Use Committee – City Council Economic Development Committee and Land Use Committee Joint Hearing, November 29, 2007:
"Well, just so it's clear, my issue in the last hearing and this one is clearly that if we do the ULURP process first, it takes the New York City Council out of the process as we move forward. It historically is not done that way. Historically we do the RFP first, the developer is chosen, then you do the ULURP process, and the reason that the community and the Council and the community boards are normally involved in the process, is because we have to vote on it. And, so, what's happening now, and the fear that I have, is that as we move forward and we do the ULURP first, I'm not sure what mechanism will be in place to assure community involvement. And to assure that the project goes forward in a way that makes everyone satisfied."
(3) Council Member Helen Sears – News conference statement, April 9, 2008:
"What we are being asked to do, is to bypass a very key part of the process; allow the certification of what they wish to do, and not do what we have to do to make that certification viable; to have it comply with the law; and move on to another step in the process. Now I ask you: Can any one of you give us a reason why the City Council should give up that major prerogative, which has a major effect on anything future in the development of the City? To give that up, which is a key part of the checks and balances of the government of the City of New York? Any one of you – Can you give me a reason, why? And none of you can, so as a result, you know why we are standing here today. Because when you begin to chip away at what those pieces are that weigh the scales of justice, you begin to chip away at what the rights are of everyone in the City of New York."
...the EDC end around Phase I gives the council the opportunity to undo the damage that was done in 2008. It should treat this de novo- from the beginning, as it were. But first an oversight hearing that brings in EDC to explain itself-its thinking and its plans. From there, a demand for a new SEQR review that sees this new phase of EDC's-along with the entire plan-with new eyes. It's not the same world in 2011 as it was when the council wrote the mayor that ill fated check, and there's no reason why it can't cancel it now-legitimately so-for insufficient funds. - Neighborhood Retail Alliance