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Hope everyone had a restful holiday! Here are some stories we’ve been following recently:

  • Mayor Bloomberg said that the City will not provide any more public subsidies for Atlantic Yards (above the $230 million already pledged). (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Mayor Mike also allegedly removed Brooklyn Community Board 1 District Manager Gerry Esposito from an event for planning a protest of community board budget cuts. (Greenpoint Gazette)
  • “This is a good time for the city to rethink its approach to both community planning and citywide planning, starting with the real needs and priorities of its residents and workers instead of the amount of floor area that can be built.” (Tom Angotti explores “Zoning Without Planning” in Gotham Gazette)

This week, the City Council approved the rezoning of 111 blocks of the East Village and Lower East Side. Will a follow-up rezoning of Chinatown and the Bowery be far behind?

The Brooklyn Paper reports that residents of Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Waterfront District want development over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to connect their neighborhoods. But rather than Bloomberg’s proposed housing, the neighbors want a park.

Jonathan Bowles of Task Force Member Organization Center for an Urban Future answers your questions about immigrant entrepreneurs on City Room.

And, for your Friday fun, may we present Atlantic Yards Deathwatch. (No, we don’t know who made it).

As expected, both the Willets Point and Hunters Point South (rendering shown here via EDC) plans got approval from the City Council yesterday. Atlantic Yards Report has an interesting comparison of the Willets Point and Atlantic Yards plans in regards to affordable housing.

In other AY news, this week we learned that Barclay’s is sticking around, despite the fact that developer Bruce Ratner will not break ground on the project this month, as previously planned.

Streetsblog reports on a companion piece to the City Planning Commission’s proposed bicycle zoning amendment: the Bikes in Buildings Bill, introduced by Council Member David Yassky this week. Also bike-related: the City is getting some spiffy, new, Danish-designed bike racks.

Term limits, they just bring people together. To file a lawsuit, that is.

This week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved St. Vincent’s Hospital’s hardship application, which will allow them to demolish the historic O’Toole Building (pictured here) in order to build a new hospital building.

Recent news from City Planning: the City Council has approved the
St. George Special District, and DCP recently certified the Forest Hills Special District, beginning the ULURP process.

City Room reports today that bike commuting is on the rise – the number of commuter cyclists in NYC rose 35% from 2007-2008! Note: the Brooklyn Bridge will be closed to cyclists this weekend while the DOT implements bike traffic-calming measures.

Brownstoner reports on a downzoning that is in the works for Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

As you have no doubt heard by now, the City Council passed Mayor Bloomberg’s bill to extend term limits for local elected officials yesterday. The New York Times has a map of how the Council Members voted. The New York Times reports that two lawsuits have already been filed and more are in the works. Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor issued a statement today stating that although the public was left out of the process, there is a bright side: “While we came up short on the floor of the city council, this entire process has reinvigorated New York City’s democracy. What emerged was a broad-based coalition of tens of thousands of New Yorkers united in the belief that regular people can make a difference in the life of our city.”

Did anything else happen this week? Well, yes:

The Community Board 6 Brooklyn Land Use Committee gave its approval to a spot rezoning for Toll Brothers’ condo development on the Gowanus Canal. Toll Brothers reportedly spent $365,000 on lobbying for approval. (Curbed)

Brownstoner dubbed Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner the #1 Most Influential Person in Brooklyn. If only this wasn’t true.

On the national level, with two short weeks left until the Presidential election, Gotham Gazette brings us two articles on the candidates’ urban policy.

Finally, we’ve been meaning to cover this one for a while: Transportation Alternatives released a study on October 15 called Guaranteed Parking – Guaranteed Driving (PDF). It shows that current City requirements for off-street parking encourage driving. “City Planning’s parking requirements do more than encourage car ownership. They ensure that new New Yorkers will be much more likely to drive to work than today’s New Yorkers. Bad planning is gradually transforming us from a transit and walking city into a driving city,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

Photo of City Councilmember Letitia James of Brooklyn, who opposed the term limits extension, at yesterday’s vote via New York Times.

Yesterday’s public hearing on term limits was marathon – clocking in at around 10 hours. Council Member James of Brooklyn said yesterday that, “it would be a disgrace to overturn the public will.” She and Council Member Bill de Blasio, also of Brooklyn, are sponsoring legislation calling for a Charter Revision Commission and ultimately a referendum on the issue. They will hear their constituents again on Sunday at a public forum: 2:30-4:30pm at Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church, 85 South Oxford Street in Ft. Greene. Side note: City Room is currently live-blogging today’s hearing.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, also a sponsor of the above forum, has started a blog. Check it out at

Those interested in checking out the soon-to-be-demolished Domino Sugar Factory up close will have a chance this weekend, as the waterfront promenade there will be open to the public on Sunday from 2-6pm.

Back in the world of planning, Planetizen takes a look at how the global economic situation is impacting urban planning and land use policy.

Image of Council Members James and de Blasio at their press conference on term limits via the Wonkster.

Entries for the Design Trust for Public Space’s Redesigning Grand Army Plaza competition are in, and you can choose your favorite for the People’s Choice Award. (The rendering at left is an example from Brooklyn-based architects titled, “Urban Island or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Flatbush Avenue.”)

The drama continues at Atlantic Yards, where developer Bruce Ratner says they will break ground in December. Even the NY Times doesn’t seem so sure.

Have an opinion about term limits for local electeds? Tell Council Member Oliver Koppell, who is considering proposing legislation to extend them. According to City Room, he hasn’t received much feedback on the idea.

An interesting urban planning conundrum: religious concerns vs. bike lanes in South Williamsburg (via NY Post)

Will gentrification finally kill the Radiac radioactive waste transfer site in Williamsburg? The NY Press explores.

Fun with Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests with Atlantic Yards Report.

Bronx City Council Member Oliver G. Koppell says he will introduce a bill extending term limits for local elected officials if Speaker Christine Quinn does not, according to City Room.

Local community organizers are fighting back, demanding an apology from Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for comments she made during her speech at the Republican National Convention.

Introducing NYC’s newest historic district – West Chelsea (PDF presentation via the Landmarks Preservation Commission).

The NY Times is all over the ongoing debate about term limits for local elected officials, sparked by speculation that Mayor Bloomberg is looking to extend them for four more years. Newcomers running for office and top administration deputies oppose an extension, while a survey of the City Council shows support for the idea. The Daily News has an interesting angle — the large amount of contributions that candidates for other offices would have to return should they choose to stay in Council if term limits are extended.

The Architect’s Newspaper has follow up on the City Planning Commission hearing on the proposed Hudson Square sanitation garage.

The Daily News gets the exclusive on the Pratt Center for Community Development’s new study about the rapidly decreasing amount of land in NYC that is zoned for manufacturing.

Are you ready for next week’s City Planning Commission public hearing on the East Village/Lower East Side rezoning and the Willets Point development? Here are some links to help get you caught up on the latest:

East Village/Lower East Side rezoning:

The Daily News walked the rezoning area with CPC Chair Amanda Burden.

City Room interviewed some local groups that support the plan this week, and covered the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side’s protest of the plan back in July.

Willets Point redevelopment:

In July, the Queens Gazette covered Community Board 7’s approval of the project, and we covered the board’s recommended modifications to the plan.

The Queens Ledger covered the Queens Borough President’s hearing, with summaries of both the opposing and supporting sides.

Most recently, the Queens Courier reported, BP Marshall and EDC announced a plan to support minority-owned, female-owned, and Queens-based businesses in the redevelopment process.

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