Tag Archives: land use

Matthew Goldstein: NYC Needs Real Estate Development

Matthew Goldstein

Chairman Matthew Goldstein used a discussion about community benefits agreements (CBAs) at the charter revision commission’s June 24 Land Use forum in Queens to voice his conviction that real estate development and growth are essential to New York City’s economic future. He did not use the session to reveal which issues his commission will place on November’s ballot.

CBAs are “side deals” by which a real estate developer may agree to provide a public benefit to a community group, e.g., jobs, loans, unrelated contracts, in return for its support of a project. They are unregulated private agreements, negotiated by private parties outside of the ULURP framework, and can substantially increase a project’s cost. Continue reading

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Community Boards: A Vicious Circle

Ira B. Harkavy

Ira Harkavy, Florence Nathanson, Esther Lopato and Helen Henkin were community board members back in the day when board membership meant more than echoing the mayor’s priorities or being ignored.

The three women are gone; Harkavy, who quit as chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 14 to run for the bench, is retired from a long and respected judicial career during which he inspired a Hollywood film by sentencing a landlord to live in his own tenement.

All of them were “plugged in” (Harkavy, for example, concurrently led CB14, the Madison Jewish Center, the Brooklyn College campus foundation and alumni association, the Brooklyn College Hillel House, and the Midwood Development Corporation); all adhered to the highest ethical standards; all commanded respect and all used their formidable intellectual and moral powers to ensure that City Hall paid attention to the needs of Flatbush and Midwood, the neighborhoods their board comprised. Continue reading

Charter Revision: What to Expect in May

Kingsbridge Armory

The populist image conveyed by the charter revision commission’s April public hearings will fade in May when invited “consultants, ” commission members, and staff publicly dissect the legalistic, technical, and detailed language of the City Charter at a series of “issue forums.” What are some of the technical issues the experts will examine?

According to commission chair Matthew Goldstein, one prominent goal of this year’s commission will be to find ways to improve “efficiency” in city government. Almost certainly, this will involve identifying procedural and structural changes that can create a more development-friendly environment and help future mayors control key land use decisions. Such changes would seek to prevent recurrence of events such as Mayor Bloomberg’s recent loss to the City Council on the Kingsbridge Armory Mall project in The Bronx, where a dispute over wage rates caused the Council to reject the initiative. Continue reading

Why Charter Revision Matters: Our Core Principles

Some of our readers may wonder why we repeatedly worry about giving the mayor any additional powers. It’s because we believe that our current system of government tends to select city-wide leaders who support the interests of Manhattan’s finance and real estate industries — to the detriment of other boroughs and other industries. As important as finance and real estate are for the city’s financial solvency (right now, they’re still crucial), they don’t tend to create middle-income jobs, which can leave us in a vulnerable place in an economic downturn, as in 2008-2009. Simply put, we’ve placed too many of our eggs in one or two baskets. Continue reading

Community Boards in the News

Queens Community Board 1 is reviewing a proposed “spot” rezoning of 240 blocks in Astoria. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 16.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 moves closer to disapproving a charter school’s special permit application. New York Magazine calls this “a classic case of intrusive ‘nanny state’ overreach.”

Former Manhattan CB2 District Manager Rita Lee is recovering from hip surgery in Vermont.

Manhattan Community Board 3 fights proposed East Side bus route service cuts. Meeting scheduled for February 10.

Queens Community Board 7 to consider proposed Flushing Commons mixed-use development project for Flushing Municipal Parking Lot site.

BSA Haters Unite!

Brownstoner reports that Board of  Standards and Appeals (BSA) haters now have a Facebook Group of their own. Could get very popular!