Gotham Gazette

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City Planning

City Planning

  • The Way We Plan is Broken; The Next City Government Has the Power to Fix It

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    Development rendering (image: NYC mayor's office)


    Over the past several years, our cityscape has continued to transform before our eyes. Gentrification and displacement have pushed deeper into working class communities, while shiny new towers throughout the five boroughs remain out of reach. At the forefront of this reality is the way our government makes planning and land use decisions. They shape what our city looks like. And equally as important — they shape what communities are served.

    The fact is, the way we plan is broken,

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  • Everything is Connected: New York City’s Climate Crisis Demands a New Way of Thinking

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    Mayor de Blasio surveys damage from Ida (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    When the long tail of Hurricane Ida brought record rainfall to our region earlier this month, public officials claimed they were blindsided by the damage that resulted. While it’s notoriously difficult to accurately predict rainfall, the devastating societal impacts of the storm were not a surprise to those who follow these issues closely.

    An inundated transit system, flooded homes in lower-income neighborhoods, residents trapped in basement apartments.

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  • Initiative Offers Blueprint for Inclusive New York City Recovery and Growth

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    City resources on offer (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    The New York City Inclusive Growth Initiative -- an effort organized by three major nonprofit groups -- this week released a “blueprint” of 50-plus recommendations for the next Mayor and City Council to guide an equitable recovery from the devastating covid pandemic. Noting the propensity for change during times of crisis and the history of disasters like Hurricane Sandy and the

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  • City Launches Site Detailing $134-Billion Ten-Year Infrastructure Strategy

    City Launches Website Detailing $134 Billion Ten-Year Capital Strategy

    The mayor and others cut ribbon at new park (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The New York City Department of City Planning on Tuesday unveiled a new website that details its ten-year strategy for building and enhancing city infrastructure, including everything from housing and schools to transit systems, roads and bridges, parks, and water and sewage piping. 

    The ten-year capital strategy

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  • New York Needs a City Plan! ‘Planning Together’ Misses the Mark

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    New Yorkers participating (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    On February 23, public hearings began for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s “Planning Together” legislation, which would institute a process for creating a comprehensive plan for New York City. I fully support city planning, but believe Planning Together’s top-down approach needs fundamental change. 

    New York City is virtually the only major city in this country that does not have a comprehensive city plan. Instead, we rely on a piecemeal approach to zoning

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  • Comprehensive Planning is Not Just About Housing and Zoning

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    Rendering (photo: mayor's office)


    The City Council held a hearing this week on a bill to implement comprehensive long-term planning in New York City. With the right amendments, we think this legislation has the potential to foster a more equitable and rational planning process to guide land-use changes in New York City — one that will balance local and citywide needs.

    But comprehensive planning is about much more than land use. Done right, comprehensive planning touches on decisions in nearly all aspects of city life: education,

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  • City Council, De Blasio Administration Clash Over Comprehensive Planning Legislation

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    New York City (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    City Council members and officials from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration clashed at a Tuesday hearing over proposed legislation to overhaul, consolidate, and in some ways expand the city’s planning processes into a singular ten-year procedure that would align budget, policy, and land use decisions.  

    The proposal was released by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in December and seeks to replace what he calls redundant, antiquated, inequitable, and ineffective existing

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  • City Council Speaker Unveils Comprehensive Planning Legislation

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    New York City development (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would overhaul New York City’s long-term planning processes, eliminating duplicative procedures, streamlining agency coordination, and establishing a more proactive, holistic approach to land use and budgeting that prioritizes racial and economic justice. 

    For decades, the city’s zoning, land use, and development have been subject to disparate sets of mandates and guidelines, some overlapping and redundant, in

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  • What's The [Data] Point? 8,200 - The Gowanus Rezoning, with City Council Member Brad Lander

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    Council Member Brad Lander (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    What's The [Data] Point? Episode 97: 8,200 - the Gowanus Rezoning with City Council Member Brad Lander [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

    City Council Member Brad Lander joined the show to discuss the Gowanus rezoning proposal that is entering final stages of negotiation and the

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  • A Portal Does Not Replace A Knock On The Door

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    The mayor at a ground-breaking ceremony (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    The Department of City Planning (DCP) has announced that it is resuming the city’s rezoning process after a five-month suspension due to the pandemic. But DCP has neither adapted the process that leads to significant land use changes to overcome the obstacles created by the pandemic nor the underlying structural racism embedded in land use decision-making. As DCP said in a recent statement reaffirming its commitment to dismantling institutionalized

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  • Healing the New York Region with Coordinated Planning

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    An argument for a regional approach to recovery (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    Even for a metropolitan area that experienced the trauma of September 11, 2001 and the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, nothing could prepare residents of New York and their neighbors in New Jersey and Connecticut for the COVID-19 crisis. The death toll has already far surpassed that of the World Trade Center attack and will continue to climb. The economic damage is certain to exceed the job and income losses of those events and the 2008 financial crisis combined. The impacts on

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  • City Council Members and De Blasio Planning Chief Spar Over Neighborhood Rezonings at Budget Hearing

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    Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)


    What was ostensibly meant to be a City Council hearing on the proposed preliminary budget for the Department of City Planning on Tuesday turned into a debate about the de Blasio administration’s approach to neighborhood rezonings. Several Council members expressed their displeasure with rapid gentrification and resident displacement, and what they believe are the city’s insufficient efforts to stop those trends while at times exacerbating them through rezonings, while Mayor

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  • Corey Johnson: Master Planner?

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    City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    New York City doesn’t have a comprehensive plan for the future. There is no single guiding document that determines how housing will be built over the next decade, for example, overlaid with a strategy for meeting infrastructure needs like transit options and school seats, with unifying visions for social services and economic development. But such planning should exist, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is making several moves toward the type of planning that has mostly

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  • Why We Need a Comprehensive City Plan Now

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New York City’s housing crisis is getting worse. While a significant number of luxury units sit vacant, the population of homeless children is growing, we have only a ...

  • City Council Pursues Comprehensive Planning Legislation

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    (rendering via the Mayor's Office)


    The New York City Council is crafting legislation to mandate the creation of a comprehensive plan for the city that would guide long-term decisions on land use, zoning, and investments in infrastructure. The effort is being led by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso.

    Last year, the City Council urged the 2019 Charter Revision Commission to propose to voters an

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  • Ruling Endangers Better Planning for City's Future

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    Council Member Rodriguez with a constituent (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Shortly before Christmas a judge of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan issued a ruling annulling the rezoning plan for Inwood that had been in the works since 2017 and was approved by the City Council in August 2018. The City has appealed the decision to the Appellate Division; the case may well go all the way to the Court of Appeals before it is finally resolved. But even if ...

  • New York City Needs a Development Reset – Starting with Public Land

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    City-owned building at Vernon Blvd & 44th Dr (photo: Memo Salazar)


    2019 may go down in history as the year public disenchantment with New York City’s land use policies reached a boiling point.

    In June, protestors disrupted a meeting about a neighborhood study for a potential rezoning on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, claiming that city agencies did not really want their opinions. In August, a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the 2018 Inwood rezoning, with groups in that Upper Manhattan neighborhood charging that the environmental impact study

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  • Missing from the 2019 Ballot, We Can't Wait to Take on Better City Planning

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    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New Yorkers heading to the polls this fall have the opportunity to vote on amendments to New York City’s Charter – our city’s foundational governing document – that include changes to how we vote, police accountability, and budgeting. But one big topic will be missing: truly addressing our city’s broken land use system.

    This didn’t have to be the case. When the City Council, then-Public Advocate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer came together to create this Charter Revision Commission

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  • City Planning Chief on De Blasio Administration's Zoning for Growth, and the Need for More Housing in the Suburbs

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    City Planning Director Marisa Lago (photo: May Vutrapongvatana)


    In a Friday morning speech about how New York City’s limited space is used, Marisa Lago, director of the Department of City Planning, discussed some of the department’s approaches to the housing, employment, and equity challenges facing the city.

    The city has a population of 8.4 million and is “the only older U.S. city that has surpassed its 1970s-era population peak,” said Lago, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to direct the Department of City Planning and chair the City

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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: Planning for the City's Future & Desegregating Its Schools, with Council Member Brad Lander

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    (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    July 31, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Planning for the City's Future

    cm brad landerCity Council Member Brad Lander joined the show to discuss his efforts to institute better long-term city planning, to desegregate city schools, and to punish reckless drivers. He also weighed in on the presidential race and the candidacy of Mayor

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  • Leaving the REBNY vs NIMBY Doom Loop

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    (photo: NYC Planning)


    This past week, amidst flooded streets, blackouts, overheated jails, and subway failures, New Yorkers saw the consequences that result from a failure to engage in strategic long-term planning for the future of our city. In the final decisions of the 2019 Charter Revision Commission, we also missed a big chance to do something about it.

    The dangers of failing to invest strategically in the infrastructure that sustains our city will grow in coming decades, as temperatures

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  • Criticizing De Blasio Rezonings, Williams Introduces 'Racial Impact Study' Requirement

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Fulfilling a promise he made in his successful campaign for public advocate, Jumaane Williams introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require the city to conduct an assessment of expected racial and ethnic impact brought on by proposed neighborhood rezonings, in order to ensure that the city is complying with the federal Fair Housing Act, and combat segregation and displacement.

    The Fair housing Act, passed in 1968, is meant to protect against discrimination in the sale, purchase,

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  • At Manhattan Charter Commission Hearing, Pleas to Reconsider Major Planning Changes

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    (photo: @ANHDNYC)


    The City Hall chambers of the New York City Council were packed with over 100 people on Thursday evening for a hearing of the 2019 Charter Revision Commission. New Yorkers who attended, including some elected officials, were largely focused on always-contentious land use issues and processes that the commission is considering as part of its larger effort to rethink aspects of city governance.

    The Manhattan hearing was the fourth of the five boroughs, to be followed by Staten Island on Tuesday night, where

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  • Council Hearing Highlights Big Gaps in City Planning Processes

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    Council Member Salamanca, center (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    A Tuesday City Council hearing about how city planning is done revealed major flaws in the process and showed significant divides between the mayoral administration and the Council over a set of bills aimed at changing relevant processes. Specifically, the legislation addresses how the outcomes of neighborhood rezonings -- where land use rules are adjusted in certain geographic areas to meet new development goals -- are projected and

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  • Zoning for a More Resilient Future

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    (photo: City Planning Department)


    As the threat of climate change grows more prevalent by the day, cities must take the lead in reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more resilient. This year, New York City has taken a big, green step forward, with actions by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council that will decrease our emissions.

    When it comes to withstanding the storms and flooding that climate change will bring more frequently, though, it’s vital that existing zoning rules don’t stand in the way of protective measures for the buildings that make

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