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Tell the Charter Commission: Don't Put Off a Fair Share Fix
Fix fair share
Let the City Charter Revision Commission know that communities' health can't wait.
The New York City Charter Revision Commission must decide which questions it will put on the ballot on election day.
If the commission follows a recommendation from its staff, the processes for approving development and siting decisions won't be among them. The charter commission's staff recommends that land use "should be reserved for future consideration."
The Pratt Center agrees that reforming the charter's land use provisions will require significant time and attention. They deserve a full and wide-ranging discussion – not only by the commission, but by all New Yorkers. But one thing that can't wait are urgently needed fixes to the City Charter's "fair share" provisions designed to ensure that no community is overburdened with environmental or social service facilities.
The City Charter's "fair share" provisions were widely hailed when first introduced and approved by voters in 1989. But two decades of experience has shown serious shortcomings that require charter revisions to fix. Most seriously, fair share only applies to city-owned facilities or those that receive most of their funding from the city. That has ended up excluding numerous facilities -- including privately run waste transfer stations and power plants -- leaving them highly concentrated in just a few, predominantly low-income areas. The fair share rules are failing to fulfill the City Charter's intentions of making sure that no community district is burdened with a disproportionate number of polluting facilities - and the result is that communities continue to see their health and quality of life compromised.
The Charter Revision Commission staff report devotes most of its recommendations to changes in New York's election processes; it proposes reinstating term limits, simplifying ballot access, and a new innovation called instant runoff voting, which would make all primary races for citywide elective office decisive even when no candidate gets a majority of votes. All of these proposals are worthy of discussion.
But meanwhile a previous charter innovation is dangerously broken, and needs to be addressed before the commission can responsibly take on new proposals.
Fair share needs to be fixed this year, so environmentally overburdened neighborhoods don't continue to serve dumping grounds for polluting facilities.
Watch the Fix Fair Share video to learn more about the impact of polluting facilities on neighborhoods that the fair share rules have failed.