City Development Commitments to be Published Online


Public Advocate Letitia James speaking at New York Law School.

City development commitments would be published online for public dialog and accountability. On December 14, 2016, the City Council passed legislation to require the Mayor’s Office to publish the City’s financial commitments resulting from the ULURP process. The legislation was sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James and received a unanimous vote of approval from the City Council. (Read past CityLand coverage here).

New York City law requires major land use changes to pass through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. ULURP was designed to air applications and receive input from the affected Community Board, the local Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council. Only specific zoning changes brought by the applicant are subject to ULURP review, however, the public review process often involves discussions of the infrastructure surrounding the proposed development. As a result, informal agreements are made around the ULURP approval to deal with extraneous infrastructure concerns.

An example of a City commitment resulting from the ULURP process is the recently approved Lambert Houses. The redevelopment of the Lambert Houses in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx received a heavy amount of criticism from the City Council due to no planned infrastructure improvements to offset the increased population. Council Member Ritchie Torres, representative for the area, eventually levied the City to provide $12.3 million for infrastructure improvements, including the construction of two new schools for the over-crowded school district. That commitment, a result of the ULURP consideration, was not a formal part of the approval.

These type of City commitments are usually documented only by a letter between the local Council Member and a representative of the Mayor’s office. After the ULURP approval, however, there is no means for the public to keep track of the commitments.

Intro. 1132-A, if signed by Mayor de Blasio, would require the City to establish a publicly accessible online list of commitments made in connection with ULURP applications. The commitments would need to be recorded within thirty days of final council approval. Additionally, the Mayor’s office would be required to provide an annual report of the status of the commitments.

CC: Intro. 1132-2016 (Dec. 14, 2016).

By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).

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