Friday, June 16, 2006

More CBA Controversy

A few days ago the NY Times weighed in on the controversy roiling the CBA discussion that we've been commenting on extensively. One of the most significant questions that the Times story raises is "whether the groups signing the document really speak for the community."

The other important issue is the role of the municipality. In some jurisdictions the city is a party to the agreement since many of the provisions impinge on quasi-public functions. In NYC, however, there is no clearly defined process and the developers are forced, if they want to utilize this mechanism to garner support for a project, to wing it.

This makes some in the development community nervous. As one attorney remarked, "There are no guidelines, no control. The transparency is not there. You just don't know what you're walking into."

What clearly doesn't make any sense is the suggestion of one Manhattan community board chairperson that these entities ought to be brought into the process, "They can look at the bigger picture," said Patricia Jones of Community Board #9. The community boards are representative of nothing but the elected officials who appoint them and, as the furor over Board 4 in the Bronx demonstrates, if they go off the political reservation they are quickly shown the door.

We do agree that the process needs to be made more rational so that the slick Potamkin Village style CBAs (like the one for Gateway) aren't deemed acceptable. The mayor and the council are apparently reviewing the entire issue and, as land use chair Melinda Katz says, "We can probably learn a lot from other jurisdictions..."