Preservation Issues

Vote No! on the 2018 Charter Revision Ballot Questions

UPDATE: October 2018

Vote No! on Charter Revision Ballot Questions 2 and 3

Community Boards at Risk!

We are urging a NO vote on two ballot questions on November 6. They could weaken Community Boards and hamper the ability of residents to have a say in how their neighborhoods change and develop.

VOTE NO on November 6

Proposal 2 would create a “Civic Engagement Commission.” The Commission would be charged with providing “resources, assistance and training related to land use and other matters to Community Boards,” but the Mayor would appoint the majority of members and select the executive director. Community Boards should have sufficient budgets to hire independent experts of their choosing. They should not be dependent on a mayoral dominated Commission, especially when they are reviewing land use proposals, such as neighborhood upzonings, that the City is initiating.

Proposal 3 would establish term limits for Community Board members. Land use, planning, and zoning are extremely complicated. Boards can’t afford to lose seasoned members who have earned valuable expertise. As Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer puts it: “If we wipe out all of New York City’s Community Boards’ knowledge every eight years, those boards are going to get steamrolled by the developers and their lawyers.”

Proposal 2 would also allow the Mayor to “assign relevant powers and duties of certain other City agencies to the Commission.” That’s a lot of power added to extensive powers the Mayor already holds. If the Council or public objected, they couldn’t stop any transfer of power because it is in the Charter.

However well-intentioned the Mayor’s Charter Commission may have been, this is not good government. Vote NO on ballots 2 and 3.

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UPDATE: September 2018

The New York City Charter Revision Commission voted to approve three ballot questions for the voters to consider in November.

We oppose these two proposals.

PROPOSAL: Establish a Civic Engagement Commission whose mission includes expanding language access at polling sites, developing a citywide participatory budgeting program and supporting and partnering with community organizations in their civic engagement efforts. VOTE NO!

We want: A forum for civic engagement that is not under mayoral control.

PROPOSAL: Establish term limits on Community Board members and standardize the appointment process to make the Boards more representative of their communities. Boards would also receive additional resources, particularly in urban planning. VOTE NO!

We want: Community Boards to retain their institutional memory of promises made and whether they were kept, instead of forcing out experienced members. Community Boards should have resources to retain independent consultants, not rely on the Mayor’s Commission.

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Conservancy Promotes Preservation Before Mayor’s Charter Commission
July, 2018

The Conservancy is standing up for your voice in the debate over planning and zoning. We testified at a hearing of the Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission on July 23, and told the panel that the Landmarks Commission needs to remain independent, that Community Boards need more resources to analyze complicated development proposals, and that New Yorkers want to have a say in how their neighborhoods evolve.

Read our testimony here.

Some two dozen speakers attended the hearing, commenting on issues from election reform, to Community Board appointments, to land use. The Commissioners are holding these hearings as part of a process that could lead to ballot measures in 2019.

Their preliminary report called out a suggestion from the Real Estate Board of New York that the Landmarks Commission be folded into the Department of City Planning. We reminded the panel of the important role that designated landmarks and historic districts have played in revitalizing New York after financial crises and the many positive economic impacts they continue to create. (Historic Preservation Economic Impact Study)

The City Council has convened a separate Charter Revision Commission. It will release a schedule later this year. This group is likely to have a stronger focus on land use, getting into details of how ULURP (the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) works and how communities can participate in planning. The Conservancy will be testifying in front of that Commission and will update you all along the way.