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Thursday, May 14, the Community-Based Planning Task Force will join the One City/One Future initiative for a day-long forum about Economic Development and Recovery in New York City.

A follow-up to 1C1F’s recently-released Blueprint for Growth that Works for All New Yorkers, this conference will bring together elected officials, advocates, and grassroots leaders from a range of sectors – from jobs and workforce development to housing, greening our economy, and strengthening our neighborhoods – to explore the current economic context and its impacts on communities, and to work toward solutions for the City’s long-term recovery and sustained economic health.

The forum will be held from 9:30am to 5:30pm at New York University’s Kimmell Center, 60 Washington Square South.  The Task Force will present and discuss our legislative agenda at 2:45pm.  Register online – It’s free!

NYC.gov has revealed a new feature: the NYCStat Stimulus Tracker. This handy tool allows users to find more information about how federal stimulus dollars will be spent in NYC in five categories: Infrastructure/Energy Efficiency, Economic/Workforce Development, Social Safety Net, Fiscal Assistance, and Public Safety/Criminal Justice.

Projects of interest include the rehab of a number of bridges (including the Brooklyn), creation of a greenway in the South Bronx, reconstruction of the Coney Island boardwalk, and the reconstruction of 125th Street.  See the full list of transportation-related projects here.

On February 4,  members of the Right to the City-NY Alliance, a group that advocates for low-income New Yorkers, protested Mayor Bloomberg’s Future of New York City conference, which gathered wealthy business leaders to discuss the future of economic development in the city.  In addition to disrupting the Bloomberg”s speech at the conference, the Alliance sent hi a letter asking the mayor to, “extend the same courtesy to us that you have shown the city’s elite by organizing a convention of low-income New Yorkers to produce policy recommendations that actually reflect community priorities for the city’s economic future.”

After the protest ended peacefully, eight RTC members were arrested outside the conferece, and according to various reports, some spent over 24 hours at Central Booking.  On Friday, those arrested face their court date, and the RTC Alliance is organizing a press conference, where supporters will speak in favor of all charges being dropped and in support of the Alliance’s developing policy agenda.

What: RTTC-NYC Action at the 100 Centre Street Court House

When: Friday, March 13th, 9 am

Where: 100 Centre Street (meet on the sidewalk in front of the court house)

For more information, contact David Dodge at (646) 459-3014

On December 2, a coalition of civic leaders, neighborhood advocates, community development organizations, labor unions, affordable housing groups, environmentalists, immigrant advocates, and other stakeholders launched One City/One Future: A Blueprint for Growth that Works for All New Yorkers. The Community-Based Planning Task Force is part of this broad and diverse coalition, which is led by New York Jobs With Justice, the National Employment Law Project, and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

The document provides 54 recommendations for policies following three fundamental strategies:

  • Raise the Standards: Government should set clear standards for economic activity in New York City, especially activity that benefits from public spending or actions. Meeting these standards — whether they concern the quality of jobs created or the environmental sustainability of new buildings — must be a prerequisite for anyone doing business with the city.
  • Invest for Shared Growth: The city and state currently spend billions keeping New York’s economy humming. These investments in housing, transportation, and employment need to be designed and managed with the explicit objective of improving opportunity and strengthening neighborhoods.
  • Reform the Process: Planning and development must take place in an open and democratic environment, in which communities and the city work as partners, not adversaries, with the objective of building a prosperous city on the strength of livable neighborhoods.

The Task Force contributed policy recommendations dealing with planning reform. These include a call to implement a citywide planning framework that represents a conversation between the City and communities, as well as recommendations for how to make community boards effective partners.

The full report is available for download at onecityonefuture.org.

Last night’s Obama win is truly a victory for community organizing. As he mentioned in his victory speech, his win can be traced, at least in part, to grassroots organizing tactics. Our congratulations go out to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly on his campaign.

Under an Obama administration, community-based planners and other city advocates have much to gain. His urban policy shows that our President-elect truly cares about creating and maintaining livable, sustainable cities. Here are a few highlights:

  • Obama has pledged to fully fund the community development block grant program. Recipients of CDBGs “must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation.” In New York City, CDBG funds are used to create affordable housing; provide public services such as day care and senior centers; fund improvements to local businesses; and support many other initiatives, from local arts projects to community gardens.
  • Obama is dedicated to improving infrastructure, but with sustainability in mind. His policy states: “Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars, to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.”
  • Obama understands that planning and health are inextricably linked. The policy says: “How a community is designed – including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks – has a huge impact on the health of its residents.” In 2007, he introduced the Healthy Places Act, which would, among other mandates, create “an interagency working group to discuss environmental health concerns, particularly concerns disproportionately affecting disadvantaged populations,” and require the Director of the Centers for Disease control to create, “guidance for the assessment of potential health effects of land use, housing, and transportation policy and plans.”

What do you think Obama’s urban policy priorities should be in his first 100 days?

In 2004, the City approved an extensive rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn. The Pratt Center for Community Development has now released a study titled, “Downtown Brooklyn’s Detour: The Unanticipated Impacts of Rezoning and Development on Residents and Businesses,” (PDF) which it prepared for the advocacy group Families United for Racial and Economy Equality (FUREE).

Pratt Center Director Brad Lander told the Village Voice, “What we mostly found is what members of FUREE already know: The unanticipated impacts of development have not been good for low- and moderate-income people.” As the Voice reports, the study finds that, “100 businesses have already been displaced, as many as projected by the city for the entire rezoning area. And because the new development has been residential and not commercial, there hasn’t even been a corresponding growth in jobs for local residents.”

FUREE staged a protest in Downtown Brooklyn today to correspond with the study’s release. The goal of the protest was to call out developer (and Mayoral candidate) John Castimatidis for failing to deliver on a promised, much-needed supermarket on his Downtown Brooklyn condo development site.

Three grassroots organizations have released a new report, “Boom for Whom? How the Resurgence of the Bronx is Leaving Residents Behind” (PDF) documenting the current conditions in the “booming” Northwest Bronx, and the desperate need for jobs for local residents there. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NBCCC), its Sistas and Brothas United Youth Leadership Program, and the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project collaborated on the report, which states, “While the borough has recently emerged from a long period of racism-fuelled disinvestment to become a site of major investment, this has done little to improve the lives of those who reside, work, worship, and attend school in the area.”

The report explores how to address such concerns by, “raising industry standards, enforcing workers’ rights, and connecting living-wage job opportunities to the local Bronx workforce so that residents benefit from development projects.”

The NBCCC is helping make this vision a reality with the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. As part of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), they are seeking, “living wages and union protections for local residents in the construction and permanent jobs, community space, an affordable recreation center, and environmental protections through the negotiation of a Community Benefits Agreement, a Labor Peace Agreement and a Project Labor Agreement with the developer of the Armory.”

Photo of KARA protest at City Hall via the Daily News.

Since 2000, The Community-Based Planning Task Force has been leading the effort to create a more meaningful role for communities in New York City’s planning and decision-making processes.

This blog intends to connect our Task Force and the public with opportunities to participate in shaping the city's future, and to inform about issues related to planning, decision-making, equity, social justice, and public participation.

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