Today, Brownstoner covers our efforts toward planning reform in NYC. The article is a good summary of the current problem with 197-a planning – as Municipal Art Society Planning Center Director Eve Baron points out, “While it’s potentially a great tool, it’s ultimately only an advisory document.”

This lack of “teeth” for 197-a planning allows situations to arise such as that of Manhattanville, described in the article by Council Member Tony Avella, where the Council approved a plan that was in conflict with the Community Board’s 197-a. The same circumstances arise again today, as the Council is set to approve developer Sheldon Solow’s East River waterfront plans.

As the Brownstoner article explains, The Community-Based Planning Task Force is working on legislation to change the way planning is done in New York City from a top-down to a bottom-up system. It should be noted that, as Baron said, the legislation will, “affect the whole constellation of city planning initiatives,” – not only 197-a planning. For example, the draft legislation addresses the lack of diverse representation on community boards, the need for a comprehensive citywide planning framework, the lack of capacity in the Department of City Planning to provide substantial assistance to communities that plan, and more.

For more information on the principles guiding this effort, please read our Platform for All New Yorkers. We will of course keep you posted on this effort throughout the process.