Friday, November 18, 2005

Speaker Race and Wal-Mart

As Jill Gardiner is reporting in today's NY Sun, ever single candidate for City Council Speaker said firmly that the business practices of a company like Wal-Mart should be a factor in the Council's land-use decision-making process. While we agree hardily with this position, it is useful to point out that it doesn’t jibe with the city's current CEQR guidelines.

Which is exactly why the newly constituted council should immediately begin changing the scope of the ULURP process to include a greater examination of a project's economic and social impacts. This would mean that the concept of accountable development , put forth nicely in legislation by Assemblyman Richard, Brodsky) needs to be incorporated into ULURP.

In addition, there needs to be a strong insistence that the Department of City Planning (DCP) actually plan. In other words, the practice of viewing projects discretely, without any reference to what is being constructed or planned for in contiguous areas, needs to end and be replaced by a more global planning approach to an entire sub-region.

As we have harped on, a reformed planning process should also prevent the review of project impacts from being conducted by developer-hired consultants. Doesn't the spectacle of dueling mental health experts at a criminal trial expose the ludicrousness of relying on paid testimony? This is especially true in ULURP since the DCP doesn't really do any meaningful substantive review and projects tend to move forward because of political considerations alone.