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The Community-Based Planning Task Force blog is on hiatus while we work on some internal restructuring.  Please check out our archives and our “Resources” section, as well as the Atlas of Community-Based Plans, to learn more about community-based planning in New York City.


Citing a $1.2 billion budget deficit, the MTA has proposed a fare increase up to 23%, coupled with major cutbacks, including decreased service on a number of subway lines; complete elimination of some bus lines and major reductions in others; and permanent closure, reduction of hours, and or reduction in staffing at 42 subway stations citywide.  (The changes are outlined in detail here).

While two hearings have been held already (in Queens and Manhattan), three opportunities remain to participate in hearings in New York City:

Mon Jan 26
College of Staten Island, CSI Center for the Arts, Springer Concert Hall

2800 Victory Blvd, Staten Island

Wed Jan 28, 2009
NY Marriott at the Bklyn Bridge

333 Adams St, Brooklyn

Wed Feb 4, 2009
Lehman College, CUNY, Lovinger Theatre

250 Bedford Park Blvd West, Bronx

All hearings begin at 6pm, registration to speak will be open until 9pm, and testimony is limited to three minutes.  Comments can also be submitted in writing to:

Douglas Sussman
Dir, MTA Community Affairs
347 Madison Av
NY, NY 10017

and/or online.

As 2008 draws to a close, we present a look back on some of the major issues we covered in the first full year of the Community-Based Planning Task Force’s blog:

Read the rest of this entry »

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).

Did you know that 750,000 New Yorkers live in “food deserts,” without adequate access to healthy food options? Or that one quarter of the residents of Harlem and the South Bronx are obese? How about the fact that one if four children in New York City are hungry? Or that, on average, boedgas charge between 13% and 76% more for food than supermarkets?

These were just some of the issues addressed at this morning’s conference, The Politics of Food: New York’s Next Policy Challenge, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at Columbia University. Speakers included United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Center for Social Inclusion Director Maya Wiley. Participants then broke up into seven issue groups to discuss the future of food policy in the City.

Among the ideas floated in the group dedicated to “Finding Healthy Food” were:

  • using zoning incentives to encourage developers to locate supermarkets in their buildings
  • including impact on food access in environmental review of new developments
  • expanding the use of programs such as WIC and food stamps at greenmarkets
  • encouraging community involvement in the creation of requests for proposals for new development.

Stringer’s staff will review the results of today’s conference as they move forward with policy recommendations to address the City’s food needs. What are some of your ideas about how to promote and encourage access to fresh, healthy food options?

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.

The Times takes a look at the impact of the economic crisis on Harlem. Yes, it may slow gentrification, but it may also cause much-needed grant funding to dry up.

The City Planning Commission approved a new sanitation garage for the west end of Spring Street, and a lawsuit from the community is already in the works, reports Downtown Express.

Streetsblog checks in on the Bronx Hub, where a “major livable streets makeover” is in the works.

This week, the New York Times officially declared the end of the New York City real estate boom. Charles Bagli wrote, “It is hard to say exactly what the long-term impact will be, but real estate experts, economists and city and state officials say it is likely there will be far fewer new construction projects in the future, as well as tens of thousands of layoffs on Wall Street, fewer construction jobs and a huge loss of tax revenue for both the state and the city.”

In another article, the Times reported on how the drying up of credit is affecting municipal bond markets nationally: “Analysts said the dysfunction in the municipal bond markets appeared to signal the end of an era of relatively cheap money for governments and, probably, the start of an era of tough choices for communities.”

The other issue on everyone’s mind: term limits. The bill to extend them for local elected officials is expected to be introduced to City Council on Tuesday.

Finally, check out the Iron Triangle Tracker, a blog about the ongoing controversy over the redevelopment of Willets Point.

End of the real estate boom? What of all those condos in Williamsburg? Photo via Curbed.

Eminent domain was the main issue on our minds this week. Atlantic Yards was back in court, appealing the decision in the case challenging the project’s environmental review. According to Atlantic Yards Report, “While the lawsuit covers an enormous area of ground, including the definition of a ‘civic project,’ whether a ten-year project buildout was realistic, and whether the ESDC properly studied terrorism, among other issues, the final round of appeal papers focused mainly on blight.” AYR gave background on Tuesday, and covered Wednesday’s court proceedings.

AYR was also there at State Senator Perkins’ eminent domain hearing, which we attended on Wednesday, and provided more in-depth coverage.

AYR also covered Thursday’s Congressional hearing in Washington, titled “Gaming the Tax Code: Public Subsidies, Private Profits, and Big League Sports in New York,” which focused primarily on Yankee Stadium. This hearing made headlines when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said that there is “substantial evidence of improprieties and possible fraud” in the new Yankee Stadium development.

One non-Atlantic Yards Report link of note: it’s Park(ing) Day in NYC, so if you haven’t get, get out there and help reclaim a parking space with some grass! Check out this map to find a spot near you.

Photo of the Spalding building, in the AY footprint, by Threecee on Flickr.

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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