For Immediate Release
May 22, 2014
Rachaele Raynoff - (212) 720-3471
Promises ground-up community planning that coordinates new development with needed infrastructure and city services
New capacity will create a more efficient, transparent and predictable application process
May 22, 2014 – City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod today testified at the City Council, outlining investments in this year’s executive budget that will enable the Department of City Planning (DCP) to support the administration’s goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. He committed to fostering ground-up, comprehensive planning efforts that support strong mixed-use communities. And he pledged to reduce the bureaucracy associated with land use applications as well as ensure a better, faster and more transparent planning process.
Chairman Weisbrod said, “The Mayor has made clear that planning is a priority of this administration and the Department of City Planning must be a major driver in transforming administration goals into reality. I believe that our work can provide the essential underpinning and strategic thinking necessary to accomplishing a broad and aggressive agenda to ensure a more equitable city. I am therefore pleased to report to you that the proposed budget before you today reverses the downward spiral of the past six years and contains a significant increase in funding and staff positions for the Department. This will enable us to better address key initiatives and priorities to achieve the goals articulated by the Mayor.”
The increase in funding of nearly $8 million contained in the FY15 Executive Budget announced earlier this month would add 31 new positions and expand capacity to fund environmental review for neighborhood rezonings and text amendments associated primarily with the Mayor’s affordable housing plan. About half of the staff positions will be assigned to the agency’s borough offices which will engage communities in comprehensive ground-up planning efforts. Fifteen neighborhood planning studies are expected to be launched within a year that will help lay the groundwork for expanding capacity for affordable housing, providing necessary services and stimulating economic development in these communities. The balance of the new staff would be assigned to divisions that support the agency’s planning mission and review of land use applications.
The budget plan will better position the Department to undertake an array of administration priorities while continuing to carry out and make more efficient, its many Charter-mandated responsibilities. Chairman Weisbrod testified that DCP will also play an enhanced role in the city's Capital Budget planning process in order to better mesh the level and timing of the city's capital investments in neighborhoods with new residential development.
The increased staff and enhanced resources will help DCP continue its progress begun under its BluePRint initiative to make the process leading up to public review more predictable, transparent and efficient. Chairman Weisbrod indicated that DCP would work to speed the permitting and approval process for land use and other actions.
Specifically, the Department’s overall budget would be increased to approximately $28 Million in FY15. This increase includes $2.3 million to fund the 31 new positions, up from 231 in the Preliminary Plan. It also includes $2 million for environmental consultant services to facilitate the implementation of neighborhood rezonings.
Chairman Weisbrod said that City Planning would continue to engage communities, especially those that have been left behind in the last decade, in reimagining and strengthening their neighborhoods.
He also noted that the agency would continue the work of long term planning for coastal resilience, particularly in areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Moving forward, DCP is launching studies in 10 areas across the city to engage communities in a resiliency focused planning process – to understand the threats sea level rise poses to the fabric of neighborhoods and to begin planning for vibrant and resilient neighborhoods for the long term.