Thursday, September 08, 2005

We Left out the Community By Accident

The Related Companies' point man and land use maven extraordinaire, Jesse Masyr, has not been known for his accomplished stand-up comedy routines. That is, until last night's Community Board 4's meeting on the BTM development.

Last night Jesse responded to the accusation that the certification of the development in July had absolutely nothing to do with any nefarious desire to end-run adequate local review during a time when local boards are normally not in session. His reason for the timing: Pure serendipity. You see, once an application is ready, and whenever that is, it must be certified. This sentiment was echoed by a representative from the Department of City Planning who remarked that the DCP must, according to the City Charter, certify an application once it's "done."

Oh guys, c'mon! Land use applications are certified at the pleasure of the City Planning Commission. There have been applications ready to move that have languished because the applicant didn't have the right political support, while others prepared long after are moved to the front of the line because of who the applicant is or how politically important a certain project may be.

Which leaves us with the certification timing on the BTM deal. The summer sojourn period is useful for a project that is controversial. There is less time to mobilize when a great many folks are away. In the case of the BTM a great deal of grassroots unhappiness was festering and much media attention was focusing on certain aspects of the deal itself. All of which makes time of the essence.

Related also seems eager to try to reach the City Council in December in a speeded up ULURP. This raises a whole different set of motivations that we're not ready to speculate on just yet. Let's see what the upcoming media attention does to the undue haste. We will also post a fuller summary of last night's hearing shortly.