Rezonings Transform NYC Neighborhoods
Status: Available Now!
Type: Comments
Date: Wednesday 8 May 2019, 12:00 AM
Media: Curbed

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The city uses an environmental review process, known as the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), to predict how rezonings and other major land use actions will impact neighborhoods. It’s used to study changes to neighborhood character, the potential for residential displacement, and strains to existing infrastructure, as well as developing ways to mitigate those impacts. But that review process is not held accountable for ensuring those predictions are actually accurate, city officials said at a Tuesday City Council hearing. “We don’t then go back and try and figure out whether precisely what we had projected actually comes to be in 10 years, or 15 years, or five years,” said Susan Amron, the general counsel at the Department of City Planning (DCP). “In fact, there are always unforeseen circumstances, unforeseen influences that can effect the projections of the future.” Four City Council bills would change that by mandating city agencies study impacts—transportation, school capacity, and secondary displacement—and compare those findings with the predictions that were identified in the final environmental review. If major disparities are found, recommendations would then be made to amend CEQR to increase its accuracy for future actions. Another bill would track city commitments made to mitigate those impacts by adding that information to a publicly accessible online database. At the moment, there is no mechanism in the CEQR process that mandates officials to re-examine those projections for accuracy once a major land use change has come to fruition. Currently, city agencies review how effective measures to mitigate projected impacts are and make adjustments as needed. The Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination (OEC), which oversees CEQR, makes periodic updates to the technical manual that guides that process—it’s been updated four times since it was initially published in 1993, most recently in 2014—and the agency aims to launch another update in the near future, according to Hilary Semel, the director and general counsel of OEC.
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