APRIL 2021 RESOLUTIONS
Land Use Committee, Jeannette Rausch and Richard Asche, Co-Chairpersons
1. Response to comprehensive long-term plan for the City
Re: (a) Intro 2186, (the “Legislation) proposed by NY City Council to amend the NYC Charter and require the city to create a ten-year comprehensive planning cycle, subject to provisions of the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process, and led by the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning (currently Mayor’s Office of Sustainability) and a newly created Long-Term Planning Steering Committee (the “Committee”); and the corresponding document: Planning Together: A New Comprehensive Planning Framework for New York City, the Council’s corresponding report (the “Report”).
The following facts and concerns were taken into consideration in arriving at our recommendation:
· In December 2020, City Council introduced legislation intended to provide a framework for the creation of a comprehensive long-term plan for the City. Most major cities have comprehensive plans that are regularly updated, but due to NYC’s planning history, NYC has relied on its complex and extensive zoning resolution to suffice and hence falls far short of meeting the basic principles of comprehensive planning.
· The proposed legislation identifies a number of policies that should be included in any long-term plan. Among them are: (i) the reduction and elimination of disparities across race, geography and socioeconomic status in access to both opportunity and the distribution of resources, and (ii) the creation of citywide targets for housing, jobs, commercial, retail and industrial space, open space, resiliency, infrastructure, school seats, public transportation, and utilities.
· The proposed legislation envisages a cumbersome bureaucratic process, including the establishment of a new Steering Committee composed of 13 members, eight of whom are to be appointed by the Mayor and the City Council Speaker. Each Borough President would appoint one member as well.
· The proposed legislation would require the new Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning (MOTP) to create a detailed inventory of city owned infrastructure and its condition, together with a detailed budget and list of priorities for any replacement or repair. Thereafter, the legislation calls for the Steering Committee to establish quantitative growth targets for each community district and then, in coordination with the new MOLTP, submit three scenarios to each local community board to achieve such targets.
· The proposed legislation provides for minimal community input at best. Other than Community Boards submitting a slightly reconfigured version of their District Needs Statement, there is no local participation in establishing the citywide growth targets, and furthermore, CBs would only have the option of choosing one of the three scenarios created by the Committee for meeting such targets. Finally, all other review of major milestones in the new comprehensive planning process only requires one public hearing per borough.
The process of creating the plan is expected to take five years and would run on a ten-year cycle.
Having reviewed and debated the proposals contained in the proposed legislation (Intro. 2186) and having considered written material prepared in connection with the proposed legislation, including its text, and following a presentation of the plan to the CB7 Land Use committee by a representative of the City Council,
Community Board 7, Manhattan endorses the principle that the City should conduct comprehensive planning and better coordinate its many different land-use policy goals and capital needs. Community Board 7, Manhattan therefore resolves as follows:
1. We endorse the creation of a long-term plan for the City of New York.
2. We endorse the proposal to require that any long-term planning process emphasize sustainability, equitable access to opportunity, equitable distribution of resources, as well as aim to correct historical policies that too often resulted in either neglect or displacement of neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty.
3. We endorse the proposal to develop a detailed inventory of the condition of City infrastructure and the preparation of a detailed budget setting forth priorities and the estimated costs of proposed capital items.
HOWEVER, Community Board 7, Manhattan opposes passage of the draft legislation in its current form. In particular, we believe that the proposed process for developing a long-term plan is greatly flawed in both its proposed structure and purpose.
1. The proposed legislation does not provide for adequate community input at each stage of the preparation of the plan, or for adequate Community Board review. The proposed top down approach is inadequate for ensuring local participation in setting neighborhood goals, identifying neighborhood needs, and assessing the real-world impact of broader goals on local communities.
2. The proposed legislation does not provide a mechanism for differentiating distinct neighborhoods and districts, and we believe planning on a borough-wide (as opposed to city-wide) scale would be more feasible.
3. The proposed legislation provides for an unnecessarily cumbersome bureaucratic approach, which will cause unnecessary duplication, delay and costs.
4. The proposed structure of the Long-term Planning Steering Committee is flawed, in that it assigns 8 of 13 seats to the Mayor and Council Speaker. This structure offers no new channels of input for local communities already beset by racial and economic inequalities.
5. While the proposed Steering Committee’s membership is poorly designed, having a single entity charged with coordinating development of the plan may be desirable, if planning is done in collaboration with communities and not imposed on them by this entity. We believe such Committee should include the Chair of the City Planning Commission and the Borough Presidents and be guided by eminent members of the relevant professions including: architects, planners, traffic control experts, engineers, economists, educational leaders, and real estate professionals. These “experts” must be familiar with urban issues, including affordable housing and must seek out rigorous local involvement by each community boards. Likewise, community boards should be equipped with the tools to creatively engage directly with the communities they serve.
6. The whole comprehensive planning process should be continuous, however ten-year cycles may be too long and we recommend considering whether it is possible to shorten the timetable.
7. The proposed legislation makes no provision for funding or other resources to enable optimum local community participation of local communities, as has been recommended in the 1989 Charter Revision and elsewhere.
8. The process by which the proposed legislation is being considered by the City Council is flawed. The legislation was drafted without any community input; outreach to affected communities has not been uniform and has been inadequate. In all probability, the most inclusive way to create a long-term planning process is through typical amendments to the City Charter, which require significant community input.
9. The timing of the proposed legislation is ill-considered. We have the impression that there is a rush to passage of the proposed legislation because of the expiration of the terms of the Mayor, the Council Speaker and 70% of the Council Members. We recommend consideration of the legislation—or any substitute legislation—should be tabled until newly elected officials —who will be charged with implementing the long-term planning process - are installed.
Committee Members vote: 9-0-0 Non-Committee Members: 3-0-0
Youth, Education and Libraries Committee, Blanche Lawton and Courtney Clark Metakis, Co-Chairpersons
2. Ensuring full funding for New York City Schools
The following facts and concerns were taken into consideration:
· The Independent Budget Office reports 879 schools citywide with budget deficits for the 2020-2021 school year due to an unprecedented decrease in enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of nearly 300% vs. 2019 (299 schools with enrollment drops), and up nearly 900% vs. 2018 (98 schools with enrollment drops). In previous years, schools with lower-than-predicted final enrollment rosters have been expected to repay the difference as part of a mid-year adjustment to their budgets.
· In Community Board 7’s district, 19 out of 24 schools saw their enrollment drop in the 2020-21 school year, and 6 schools lost over 10% of their student population vs. the previous year. Every elementary school within CB7’s borders experienced an enrollment decline.
· On March 22, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter announced that federal emergency funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will enable the city to offer 100% amnesty this year for money owed by schools as a mid-year adjustment.”
· However, the amount of funding the city will ultimately have at its disposal remains in question. New York State’s budget proposal released in January reduced the amount designated for NYC school’s by $600 million, and the Independent Budget Office noted that “due to state cuts, the city would receive 69% of its initial federal relief funding allocation, largely due to a proposal to shrink and consolidate several expense-based aids into a new category called Services Aid. Other cuts, including reducing the value of School Tax Relief (STAR) payments and eliminating charter school rental assistance, would further reduce the year-over-year increase in federal relief.”
Community Board 7/Manhattan applauds the decision to offer full amnesty to schools with enrollment declines this year, and encourages officials to continue to offer the same consideration in the years ahead as our schools work to rebound from the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19.
This board believes that providing New York City schools with the resources they need to recover is an equity issue, and vital to the long-term health and well-being of our youth, and by extension, to our city.
Since gathering accurate enrollment projections will remain critical to ensuring an optimized budget process, Community Board 7 also encourages city officials to gather and give weight to community and school input in setting enrollment estimates, a position which aligns with our call for greater community engagement and increased consultation with principals as part of the COVID-related decision-making process, as outlined in this board’s November 2020 resolution.
Lastly, this board notes that the pandemic has greatly increased the fiscal needs of our schools, from technology and COVID-related safety measures put in place over the past year, to the funding needed going forward to offset learning loss and provide the social/emotional supports necessary to address the trauma experienced by students citywide. Setting our schools on the path to success in the months ahead will require providing both the full funding they need, and a budget approval timeline that allows for sufficient time for planning.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan calls on state officials to ensure that the American Rescue Plan funds designated for NYC schools are used to supplement – and not supplant – state funding previously allocated for city schools.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan urges city leaders to ensure that all education funding from the American Rescue Plan or any rollover surpluses is delivered in its entirety to the intended beneficiaries – our schools – and not diverted to other uses.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan urges city officials to prioritize completing the budget process on a timeline which assures our schools have sufficient time and certainty with which to plan for this summer and a comprehensive on-time school reopening next fall.
Committee Members vote: 8-0-0 Non-Committee Members: 3-0-0
Transportation Committee, Andrew Albert and Howard Yaruss, Co-Chairpersons
3. Database of secondary street namings
The following facts and concerns were taken into account in arriving at our conclusions:
· New York City has more than 2,500 secondary (honorary) street names – streets that have been given an additional name to memorialize a notable citizen or institution with a connection to that street.
· For years, there was no master list of these co-named streets or any readily accessible way to learn why a particular person or institution was honored with a street naming.
· In 2014 a private citizen, Gilbert Tauber, created a website -- www.nycstreets.info – to catalog all secondary streets and provide information on their honorees, listed alphabetically by borough. This website is free and publicly available to all.
· Mr. Tauber maintains the website at his own expense and regularly updates it as the New York City Council adds new secondary street names.
· Mr. Tauber, a resident of Community Board 7 Manhattan, is now 85 years old and does not know how long he will be available to maintain his website.
· A website hosted and maintained by the City Council or a City agency would be more permanent and in a better position to track new secondary street names.
· The City has technical personnel who could improve the website, making it more easily searchable, perhaps including photographs and a map interface to pinpoint co-named streets.
· Mr. Tauber has stated his willingness to donate his existing website and copyrights to any City agency designated to run such a website.
· Mr. Tauber has also created and maintains a searchable website of more than 1,600 former street names in Manhattan, http://www.oldstreets.com/
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7 Manhattan urges the City Council to enact legislation directing that the Council or a City agency, such as the Department of Records and Information Services or the Department of Transportation, establish and maintain a searchable website that lists and gives information on all persons or institutions memorialized with a secondary street name in the City of New York, and that the Council or agency work with Mr. Tauber to transfer his rights and information from his existing website to the City.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7 Manhattan expresses its profound gratitude to Gilbert Tauber for his invaluable contributions to the preservation of New York City’s history.
Committee Members vote: 9-0-0. Non-Committee Members: 7-0-0
Business & Consumer Issues Committee, Linda Alexander and Christian Cordova, Co-Chairpersons
4. 359 Columbus Avenue (West 77th Street.) New application to the SLA for two-year liquor licenses by LPB6, LLC d/b/a La Pecora Bianca.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan approves new application to the SLA for two- year liquor license
Committee Members vote: 6-0-0-0. Non-Committee members: 5-0-0-0
5. 108 West 74th Street (Columbus Avenue.) Alteration application to the SLA by B&H Restaurant LLC, d/b/a Leyla.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan approves to extend the original SLA application
Committee Member vote: 5-0-0-1. Non-Committee Member: 5-0-0-0
Preservation Committee, K Karpen and Michele Parker, Co-Chairpersons
6. 131 West 69th Street (Broadway – Columbus Avenue.) Application #LPC 21-03585 to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for:
a. Partial infill of the existing rear yard extension
b. New fenestration on the new and existing rear yard extensions, including converting an existing window to a terrace-access door
c. Creation of a rooftop stair bulkhead and mechanical room; and
d. New railings and rear yard fencing.
The committee will present the resolution.
7. 20 Lincoln Center, David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center (West 63rd Street.) Application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to restore portions of the travertine cladding on the exterior of the theater.
The committee will present the resolution.
8. 327 West 76th Street (Cross Street.) Application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a vertical and horizontal enlargement.
The committee will present the resolution.