One of the five ballot questions proposes changes to the City’s land use review process. On Election Day, November 5, 2019, voters will have a say in whether to amend the City Charter by voting on five proposed ballot measures, including one that alters ULURP requirements to allow for more community input.
The 2019 Charter Revision Commission was established by the City Council in June 2018 to review the City Charter and create proposals to amend it. The Commission engaged in an extensive review process involving input from the public and experts to create five ballot proposals for the 2019 general election.
The first four ballot proposals relate to ranked voting and special elections; Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) appointments and funding, Conflict of Interest Board membership and lobbying/appearance bans before agencies after leaving office, and the City Budget. For more information on these proposals, click here.
Ballot Question Five contains two proposed amendments to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). Currently, the land use public review process starts with the certification of a project at the Department of City Planning. Prior to certification, project applicants are not required to notify communities, community boards or borough presidents of a pending application. Community boards, borough boards, and borough presidents are not given an opportunity to review the application until after the project has already been certified by the Department of City Planning. Once certified, community boards only have 60 days to review and vote. The application is subsequently handed to the borough president’s office, who has 30 days to review and vote on the application before returning the application to the City Planning Commission for consideration.
The first amendment will require the Department of City Planning to provide a detailed project summary to affected community boards, borough boards, and borough presidents at least 30 days before the application will be certified for public review. The project summary would also need to be posted on the Department of City Planning’s website. The application as certified would also have to be substantially consistent with the project summary. This change would take effect on August 31, 2020.
The second amendment will provide community boards with more time to review applications in the summer. Community boards do not always hold hearings in the summer, so if an application is certified in late spring/early summer, the community board may not have time to hold public hearings and meetings to review the application. If the amendment is approved, community boards will have 90 days to review applications certified from June 1 to July 15, and 75 days to review applications certified between July 1 and July 15. This change would take effect immediately.
Supporters of the proposal say the amendment would allow communities to have greater input in the land use review process. However, opponents of the proposal say that any new requirements to ULURP just delay the timeline, which can add to the overall expense of a project. Other critics of the proposal support the overall idea of giving community boards more input but believing this proposal does not do enough. For a snippet of each of these perspectives, view statements in support and opposition to the proposal here.
Voters will not have to wait until Election Day to cast their votes. This election will be the first for early voting in the state of New York. From October 26 to November 3, voters can go to assigned early voting sites to cast their votes. To find your early voting location, click here.
UPDATE: On November 5, 2019, all five of the Chater Revision Commission’s ballot proposals passed.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018).