July 15, 2020
City launches new website for New Yorkers to learn about and participate in remote meetings
NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the City Planning Commission will start holding remote meetings in August. This will allow developments that create affordable housing, jobs, health facilities, resiliency projects and more to move forward after a safe and inclusive public review. Information about how to participate in public hearings is available at NYC Engage, the newly launched portal to facilitate public engagement in remote hearings.
"This pandemic brought so much to a halt as we worked to save lives," said Mayor de Blasio. "Now, we are taking a safe approach to re-starting this important land use review process."
"With our city beginning to reopen and work underway to help the economy recover, resuming New York City's public land use review process is vital to creating the affordable homes and job opportunities New Yorkers need in their neighborhoods," said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been.
"As the CPC returns to its regularly scheduled meetings, the health and safety of the public, the commissioners and the staff of the Department of City Planning remain a top priority. Restarting public review remotely will help us stay safe and advance our goals of making New York a more affordable, equitable, resilient and healthy city for all," City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago said.
The CPC's resumption of meetings comes alongside the launch of a web portal to connect New Yorkers with remote public meetings held by City agencies. NYC Engage will provide information about upcoming meetings and how anyone can participate online or by phone, as well as general guidance to acclimate New Yorkers to remote public engagement. Events will be added to NYC Engage in the coming months from the CPC and other agencies. CPC meetings will take place remotely for the foreseeable future.
The CPC August meetings will include actions on development projects that are not subject to the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and on ULURP projects that were already in public review prior to March 16. The August meetings will also include discussion and DCP presentations related to development projects that are expected to begin the ULURP public process in the fall. The Mayor's Executive Order suspending the ULURP clock will not be lifted until September.
This staggered restart is aimed at helping ensure that the City's 59 community boards, which must adhere to ULURP's timeline but often do not meet during summer months, are ready to host remote public meetings as soon as the clock restarts. To help community boards be ready in September, the Administration has secured video conferencing licenses for community boards. The Department of City Planning will be working with the boards to assist with training needs.
"Manhattan's community boards have done a great job at holding remote meetings--some have seen much more public comment compared to in-person meetings," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I believe that these boards will be ready to take part in the ULURP process and I am eager to see that happen. Getting these projects into the public review process not only ensures that our City can be on track to a steady recovery from COVID-19 and all its effects, but also helps to get public benefits--including housing, community and open space--to our neighborhoods."
"Unfortunately, the suspension of City Planning Commission meetings was necessary due to public safety concerns," said Council Member Adrienne Adams, Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions. "I am thrilled that the land use review process will resume ensuring public input and expeditious evaluation for the benefit of all New York City communities."
"I'm heartened to see the land use process resume and an appropriate focus on ensuring that all community members can provide public review and feedback. Public oversight is the backbone of our land use review procedure and it's key to guaranteeing communities have a say in shaping their future. I believe community boards have done well to prepare for remote participation and I look forward to seeing this democratic process pick up where we left off," said Council Member Francisco Moya, Chair of the Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.
The first remote CPC meetings will be a Review Session on August 3th, followed by a Public Meeting on August 5th. During Review Sessions, the CPC discusses new applications that are about to commence public review, holds post-CPC-hearing discussions on applications and votes on City Council modifications. For Public Meetings, the CPC typically holds public hearings and votes on applications.
Following normal protocol, the public draft agendas for upcoming CPC meetings will be posted on the Department of City Planning website in the days before the meetings take place. While held remotely, CPC meetings will follow the same rules as they did pre-pandemic with regards to format, the need for a quorum, scheduling, sign-up for members of the public wishing to testify at a public hearing, testimony length and more.