There has been much speculation floating around this week about ULURP, the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Last year in his State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he would convene a Charter Revision Commission, an independent panel that will examine the City Charter and recommend changes. Their focus can be guided by the Mayor. Since then, rumors have been flying about when this Commission will convene and what their task will be, and fears that the Mayor will recommend doing away with community boards or borough presidents have run rampant.

This week, another rumor began flying: that the Commission will be tasked with making major changes to the ULURP process. The Carroll Gardens Courier quoted an unnamed source who speculated that the Mayor wants to change the process to allow less input from community boards and borough presidents in order to expedite development in the city.

However, the New York Observer spoke to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Monday, and she said: “In the next couple of years, we have a charter revision commission. I think that is a good opportunity for us to look and see how we can make ULURP even more democratic—small ‘d’—and even more community participatory.”

This seems to be a clear indication that an upcoming Charter Revision Commission may, in fact, consider changes to the ULURP process. This will provide an advocacy opportunity the likes of which have not been available for 20 years. (The ULURP process was established by a Charter Revision Commission in 1989). Charter Revision Commissions are required to go through a thorough public process when making their recommendations.

In the meantime, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer pointed out to the Observer today that the Mayor may already be taking away community boards’ review power simply through the drastic budget cuts that he has proposed. Stringer said: “Are we at the tipping point where ramifications of this could be basically the collapse of the land use process? Because if you keep all these offices but kill the budgets, you’re killing the process.”

Stay tuned to this blog for more information about the Charter Revision Commission, as we attempt to separate truth from rumor and help to ensure public participation in the process.

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