Testimony on the Draft Scope of Work for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Willets Point Development CEQR Number 07DME014Q
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Joan Byron, and I’m Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development.
We join with community representatives in calling for a full new Environmental Impact Study that will allow a comprehensive approach to this and other transformative projects now proposed within Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
These projects represent both a threat and an opportunity for the communities of northern Queens, and for the City as a whole. Neither the threat nor the opportunity can be understood without a new, comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement that takes into account the City’s current understanding of economic and environmental reality – including the costs and challenges of remediating sites within the established Willets Point Special District, and the degree to which these conditions make it unrealistic to develop the project as proposed in the original EIS, and defers the construction of the promised housing units until at least 2028.
Industrial Retention in New York City’s Waterfront Revitalization Program
The City’s adopted Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) creates the standard for reviewing discretionary development and siting decisions on the waterfront, and in so doing it is a de facto land use framework that sends signals to the market and sets the tone for public agency action. The Pratt Center for Community Development is concerned that language within the proposed WRP update will convey to property owners and to industrial businesses that industrial areas along the waterfront can be rezoned. This conflicts with the strategy embodied in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) policy which aims to reduce real estate speculation by signaling to property owners and businesses that the areas will not be rezoned for residential use.
Good morning. My name is Lee Wellington, and I am a Planning Fellow at the Pratt Center for Community Development. The Pratt Center works to strengthen communities by bringing together professionals, educators and graduate students from the fields of architecture, urban planning, community organizing and economic development to collaborate with community-based partners and build sustainable and successful city neighborhoods. The Pratt Center has provided technical assistance and conducted policy research on issues that are closely linked to Int. 434 and 435—from the regulations associated with starting a vendor marketplace, to foodpra access and its relationship to downtown redevelopment, to participatory planning in diverse communities across all five boroughs.
Crotona Park East/West Farms Rezoning and Text Amendment
Testimony to the City Planning Commission
Elena Conte, Organizer for Public Policy Campaigns
July 27, 2011
Commissioners, Chair Burden, thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Elena Conte and I offer these comments on behalf of the Pratt Center for Community Development and in support of those made by our community-based partner, the Bronx River Alliance.
The Crotona Park East and West Farms neighborhoods have undergone tremendous change in recent decades, in large part due to the activism of local people working in productive partnership with government agencies to create a diverse and healthy community that supports long-time residents and welcomes new ones. The developments that will be made possible by the proposed rezoning are the direct beneficiaries of the increase in land value and desirability of the neighborhood born from these efforts. They are also the direct beneficiaries of the $120 million investment of City, State, and federal money in the restoration of the Bronx River and the creation of the Bronx River Greenway, a significant public investment that seeks a stronger mechanism for its protection.
Yet the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed rezoning reveals that still the existing amount and quality of open space in the area is grossly insufficient for the current population which is majority people of color and majority working class; the ratio of open space access is a paltry .74 acres per 1,000 people, far short of the standard of 2.5 acres that the Department of City Planning calls for. The proposed action would make an already deficient condition significantly worse – decreasing that ratio by 6.6 percent, a result identified by the DEIS as a significant adverse impact that requires mitigation.
Testimony to City Council Sub-Committee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
Good afternoon. My name is Elena Conte and I’m the Organizer for Public Policy Campaigns at the Pratt Center for Community Development. Thank you for the opportunity to revisit the issues that many of us had hoped would be taken up more fully by the Charter Revision Commission last fall. Voter approval to expand the map and text for facility siting to include some waste and transportation facilities run by private, state, and federal entities was an important step in the right direction. It was a clear signal that the New Yorkers recognize both the basis in principle of Fair Share, and the need for updated methods that will enable the City to make more equitable and informed decisions.
There is tremendous need for improvement. Our testimony focuses on:
current consequences of inadequate Fair Share methodology and the lack of a holistic planning approach
ways to update both the Criteria and the Fair Share Guide for City Agencies to reflect current standards;
ways to ensure that the City’s decision-making process can benefit from both new technology and existing data;
the need to connect Fair Share decisions to a more comprehensive approach to planning for the City in general.
The Pratt Center is here to testify today in opposition to HPD’s proposed extension of 421-a eligibility from 36 months to 72 months for projects initiated prior to the 2007-08 extension of the 421-a exclusion zone.
By expanding the exclusion zone, in which affordable housing is required as a condition of the tax abatement, the City Council and State Legislature clearly intended to spur the creation of affordable housing alongside market-rate development in neighborhoods that had become -- and remain -- highly attractive for real estate development. The legislature passed its measure in mid -2007 and proceeded to give developers until mid-2008 to get foundations in the ground without having to include affordable housing as a condition of receiving the tax abatement within the expanded exclusion zone. Since then, projects begun prior to June 2008 have had three years to come to completion and claim the tax benefit under the old rules. Now HPD is talking about changing the rules at the very end of the game, and calling it halftime.
Testimony to the Small Business and Community and Economic Development Committees
February 3, 2011
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I’m Adam Friedman, Director of the Pratt Center for Community Development.
The possible entry of Wal-Mart into New York City shows dramatically the inadequacy of our land use and economic development tools to ensure that new development truly serves our communities. As a rule, economic incentives should include job standards, and large scale retail development in low density areas should trigger an opportunity for public comment and site review to ensure that there is minimal negative impact on the surrounding area. Those safeguards do not exist today, and the Council’s options are limited. We should learn from this experience and put such protections in place for the future.
There are some pretty basic property development goals on which we all probably agree: new large scale retail development should 1) Create not simply jobs, but decent jobs; 2) Maintain a city of diverse neighborhoods including diverse shopping options; 3) Expand access to high quality healthy foods, particularly for low-income residents; and 4) Strengthen the City’s tax base and overall economic and environmental wellbeing. To cut to the chase, I think Wal-Mart fails every one of these objectives.
Building Hopeis a one-hour documentary chronicling the history and accomplishments of community development corporations across the nation, based on oral histories conducted with founders, leaders and supporters of 19 influential CDCs. Produced by the Pratt Center and Vanguard Films, Building Hope aired on PBS in 1994. See it here.