NEWS: City Council Proposes Strategic Land Use Legislation

The New York City Council has, as of February, begun writing legislation that would create a comprehensive plan for land use and development. Spearheaded by council speaker Corey Johnson and Council members Brady Lander and Antonio Reynoso, the plan calls for an update every ten years in order to consistently identify development patterns and enunciate a clear vision for the future growth of the city.

Johnson and the City Council requested that a ten year comprehensive plan be added to the NYC Charter in a 2019 report, which notes that many other cities around the world have such plans in place that help guide development and evaluate projects’ impacts within and among communities. An absence of any formal plan like this leaves New York City “without a strategic vision for how growth and development should be rationally and equitably distributed across the city”, according to the report. (New York City Council, 2019)

The council report also points out that the city fails to update zoning and other development regulations, “leaving many parts of the city hamstrung by decades old-regulations”.

They therefore recommended that an “Existing Conditions” analysis be conducted, which would include an exhaustive citywide study of everything from demographics to infrastructure in need of repair to implications of climate change when it comes to zoning and development. They also recommended a “Growth and Equity” analysis, which would set policy goals related to things like education, health, civic infrastructure and a “displacement risk index” that accounts for economically vulnerable communities.

Unfortunately, the Charter Revision Commission decided not to incorporate most of the plan into the 2020 charter. However, speaker Johnson remains hopeful that the city council can still pass a series of effective bills that will address these planning issues. (Gotham Gazette, 2020)

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