Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bloomberg's Triangulation

As the Willets Point rezoning heads towards the City Planning Commission today, it's looking less and less likely that the plan will be able to successfully navigate the city council. As the NY Sun reports: "With more than half of the City Council in "absolute opposition" to the Bloomberg administration's $3 billion plan to redevelop Willets Point in Queens, the two sides will square off today at a city Planning Commission public hearing at New York University."

The leader of the pack at the council is Hiram Monseratte, and the council member now has 31 opponents with him against the development scheme: "Opposition will center on a letter written by a local council member, Hiram Monserrate, and signed by 31 other council members, which was sent to the planning commissioner, Amanda Burden.
"We are deeply disappointed that the process thus far has, in effect, negated previous efforts to create a standard for community engagement in city development projects," the letter reads. "Simply put, we will not allow the Willets Point model to become a precedent for future development projects in the city. Before this project proceeds to a doomed fate in the City Council, we strongly urge the Administration to come to the table and work with us to address and resolve the issues of the Willets Point community."

And the NY Daily News also weighs in this morning: "Mayor Bloomberg's plan to redevelop gritty Willets Point in Queens is "doomed" unless the city guarantees it will not use eminent domain to take people's land, a majority of the City Council said in a letter Tuesday. The letter - signed by 31 of 52 Council members - was sent to City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden a day before the City Planning Commission holds a hearing on the controversial plan."

As we have said before, the council would be silly to grant the development the green light prior to the designation of a developer with a specific plan-and the opponents agree: "The Council members want the city to name a developer before they make an all-important vote on the project in the fall. They also want the proposal to include more affordable housing, a community benefits package and a "comprehensive" plan to relocate the roughly 260 businesses in Willets Point."

In all likelihood-unless something dramatic is done-the Iron Triangle will be another major defeat for the mayor. And it would be a good example of how effective local leadership can make a big difference in land use battles.