DISTRICT 7 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION 2021

The WEST END PRESERVATION SOCIETY and LANDMARK WEST! share our District 7 Candidates with you!  There are eleven candidates running or this district seat.  We reached out to each campaign with the same survey.  Not all candidates chose to respond by the deadline.  Late responses will be added as they are received.  Read the responses from those who participated via the tabs below, or visit each campaign (arranged alphabetically) to learn more about the candidates directly.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Tab through by name to read each candidate’s responses.

– Do you believe historic preservation is important to New York City? 

   Please explain your answer.

– Do you have a favorite landmark or historic district? 

   Please explain your answer. 

– Name a preservation effort in which you have been involved and briefly describe your role. 

– Are there particular buildings and/or neighborhoods that Landmarks Preservation Commission should prioritize for designation? 

   Please explain your answer. 

– I believe the following about New York City’s landmarks and historic districts: 

   __ There are currently too many landmarks and historic districts

   __ There are currently enough landmarks and historic districts

   __ There are currently too few landmarks and historic districts

– What percentage of New York City’s buildings are landmarks or within historic districts? 

  __ ~5% 

  __ ~10%

  __ ~25%

  __ Other…

– Do you believe in the public purpose of landmark designation even if the owner objects? 

  __ Yes 

  __ No 

 Please explain your answer.

Awaiting response.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Marti Allen-Cummings‘s Responses:

– Do you believe historic preservation is important to New York City? YES

   Please explain your answer.  New York is a world class city because of the incredible people who call it home AND its unique history which gives it life. This history must be preserved and taught which includes our built environment. This issue is particularly salient Uptown where we have managed to keep many of our small businesses and the original feel of some neighborhoods. But that is changing rapidly and gentrification, box chains and overdevelopment pose a threat to the quality of life in District 7.

– Do you have a favorite landmark or historic district? YES

   Please explain your answer.  One of my favorite landmarks in the district is Riverside Church. The steeple can be spotted around town and, while I am not a member of the congregation, I appreciate the role they played in the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s. Another landmark that stands out as a favorite of mine is the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. I am a member of this congregation. This cathedral is the largest in the nation and is a center point of the district. It has become a place of gathering for social justice issues and a place to help those in need. I love how across from the steps at the entry there is a community garden and on the weekends the block closes to traffic to expand open streets.

– Name a preservation effort in which you have been involved and briefly describe your role.  Several years ago, I was involved in the effort to fight the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital While the considerations were primarily health-related, the damage to the community was real. It was eye-opening to see how little the city considered the impact of their decision. While we lost that fight, I learned a lot and continued further into activism that led me to run for City Council.

– Are there particular buildings and/or neighborhoods that Landmarks Preservation Commission should prioritize for designation? YES

   Please explain your answer.  The Landmarks Preservations Commission denied 857 Riverside Drive the community request to preserve this landmark which was a part of the Underground Railroad due to “extensive alterations”. Elected leaders and members of the community have continued to gather to support preserving this space which has great significance in our city history to freeing people who were enslaved.

– I believe the following about New York City’s landmarks and historic districts: 

   __ There are currently too many landmarks and historic districts

  __  There are currently enough landmarks and historic districts

  X_ There are currently too few landmarks and historic districts

– What percentage of New York City’s buildings are landmarks or within historic districts? 

  __ ~5% 

  X_ ~10%

  __ ~25%

  __ Other…

– Do you believe in the public purpose of landmark designation even if the owner objects? 

X_ Yes 

  __ No 

 Please explain your answer.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Dan Cohen‘s Responses:

– Do you believe historic preservation is important to New York City? YES

   Please explain your answer.  NWe must be careful in an old historic city like ours not to allow wealth and expediency to erase our culture and historical context. There are layers to any city and certainly NYC, preserving those layers is critical to understanding our history and how we are changing as city.

– Do you have a favorite landmark or historic district? YES

   Please explain your answer.  Morningside Heights Historic District – I was personally invested in that becoming a reality. And my favorite landmark building is the former Horn & Hardart building at 2712 Broadway at 104th Street. It is such a sweet and funny little building.

– Name a preservation effort in which you have been involved and briefly describe your role.  I am a member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Council, and also on the Landmarks Committee of Community Board 9 and pleased that the Morningside Heights Historic District became a reality, looking forward to expanding it.

– Are there particular buildings and/or neighborhoods that Landmarks Preservation Commission should prioritize for designation? YES

   Please explain your answer.  Aside from expanding the Morningside Heights Historic District, yes, particularly in upper Manhattan, the building at 857 Riverside Drive, believed to be owned by abolitionist Dennis Harris. Harris was a leader of the Underground Railroad in NYC, and allowing the site to be destroyed would evaporate a critical part of American history and its legacy of slavery.

– I believe the following about New York City’s landmarks and historic districts: 

   __ There are currently too many landmarks and historic districts

  __  There are currently enough landmarks and historic districts

  X_ There are currently too few landmarks and historic districts

– What percentage of New York City’s buildings are landmarks or within historic districts? 

  X_ ~5% 

  __ ~10%

  __ ~25%

  __ Other…

– Do you believe in the public purpose of landmark designation even if the owner objects? 

X_ Yes 

  __ No 

 Please explain your answer.   An owner may not have the best interest of the landmark-worthy site in mind, and allowing it to deteriorate, or be demolished. Landmarking prevents this from happening.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Keith Harris‘s Responses:

– Do you believe historic preservation is important to New York City? YES

   Please explain your answer.  New York’s story is predicated on the diversity of its people and the uniqueness of its history. Historic preservation enables us to bridge the past with our future while maintaining community character and livability.   

– Do you have a favorite landmark or historic district? YES

   Please explain your answer.  My favorite landmark is 891 Amsterdam. I grew up seeing it each day and recognizing it as a nod to the community’s past but upon learning about its history, understood it represented many core values. It’s storied past of charity and female empowerment was marked when it was the Association Residence for the Relief of Respectable Aged Indigent Females. Resilience has been demonstrated during the period of abandonment and rebuilding. Then, it created affordable access to New York City for youth travelers as the largest hostel in the North America.

– Name a preservation effort in which you have been involved and briefly describe your role.  As a creative, I am assessing the petition for converting the Metro Theater to an arts center that provides an alternative to the city proposal for a retail space. I would like to approach the petitioners to evolve the idea of the Metro Theater location being a performing arts center that expands the borders of the Broadway theater district to the Upper West Side.

– Are there particular buildings and/or neighborhoods that Landmarks Preservation Commission should prioritize for designation? YES

   Please explain your answer.  The entire neighborhood targeted for mass destruction for the planned Empire Station Complex should be prioritized for designation. There are a number of landmark eligible buildings at risk as well as residents from being displaced due to this project.

– I believe the following about New York City’s landmarks and historic districts: 

   __ There are currently too many landmarks and historic districts

  __  There are currently enough landmarks and historic districts

  X_ There are currently too few landmarks and historic districts

– What percentage of New York City’s buildings are landmarks or within historic districts? 

   X  ~5% 

  __ ~10%

  __ ~25%

  __ Other…

– Do you believe in the public purpose of landmark designation even if the owner objects? 

X_ Yes 

  __ No 

 Please explain your answer. Fundamentally, I agree with landmark designation even if the owner objects but do think that every effort should be made to obtain owner support for its designation as is consistent with the current practice.

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Maria Ordoñez‘s Responses:

– Do you believe historic preservation is important to New York City? YES

   Please explain your answer.  Growing up in my district, what often confused me as I got older was how little of Harlem is designatioed as a historic district.  In spite of the cultural revolution, the architecture, and the intense history of the area, there were few landmarks growing up and no historic districts (as Central Harlem W130-132nd had not been designated yet).  As I grew older, I took measures to learn about historic preservation in New  York, trying to understand the discrepancies that underlied why every street from West 70th to Columbia University seemed to have been marked with landmarks or as historic districts, yet besides Morningside Park and a few chapels, there was barely anything in District 7 marked as such.  The more I looked into the discrepancies not only in my area, but around NYC, I realized that the areas marked as historic districts were primarily filled with college-educated, whilte, affluent New Yorkers.  Areas that were full of life because they’d been marked as such, full of thriving businesses due to heritage tourism, and full of new jobs.  The more I learned about how the historic preservation that occurs in NYC is often far from inclusive, the more I understood the value of historic preservation in communities such as my own.  

I believe historic presrevation is important because it preserves our knowledge of community history and it directly benefits our community members.  It creates more consumers for local small businesses, creates jobs that do not require college education, and prevents gentrification of the region.  It allows for a local history centered around the people that created that community; with a city like New York, full of heritage, we must preserve the history created by our residents.  

– Do you have a favorite landmark or historic district? YES

   Please explain your answer.  My favorite historic district is Central Harlem West 130th-132nd Streets, that was designated a historic district in 2018.  The area has been fostering social justice movements for decades, and is tied into the Harlem Renaissance.  In Manhattan, most historic districts are are in wealthy, affluent areas, such as the Upper East Side, that are primarily white.  I believe when these streets were marked as a historic district, it represented a movement into making historic preservation more inclusive.  

– Name a preservation effort in which you have been involved and briefly describe your role.  I have not been extensively involved with a preservation effort, but I have been very supportive of the Central Harlem 130th-132nd Streets Historic District, which was designated a historic district in 2018.

– Are there particular buildings and/or neighborhoods that Landmarks Preservation Commission should prioritize for designation? YES

   Please explain your answer.  We should preserve the West Harlem neighborhood in order to ensure that we are preserving the history of the community, while ensuring that residents can still afford to live in the area. 

– I believe the following about New York City’s landmarks and historic districts: 

   __ There are currently too many landmarks and historic districts

  __  There are currently enough landmarks and historic districts

  X_ There are currently too few landmarks and historic districts

– What percentage of New York City’s buildings are landmarks or within historic districts? 

   X  ~5% 

  __ ~10%

  __ ~25%

  __ Other…

– Do you believe in the public purpose of landmark designation even if the owner objects? 

X_ Yes 

  __ No 

 Please explain your answer. You cannot put ownership on history; although I do believe that owners should be compensated as they likely did not buy the land with sufficient knowledge of its historical relevants and often, real estate agents do not provide sufficient forewarning on certain issues. For example, many of those who own small residences in New York Landmarks are not made aware, ahead of time, that often, in the case of something breaking, there are specific guidelines for how they fix something within their homes.  Often, these guidelines also mean that the owner must spend triple the amount they could’ve spent on cheaper alternatives.  We must remember that landlords aren’t the only ones affected by landmark designation — New York residents, many of whom are not ‘elite’ or upper class, are as well.  This stands as we hopefully continue to make the areas that are primarily made of low income residents, but full of history, into historic districts.  

Awaiting response.

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We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Tab through by name to read each candidate’s responses.

– Have you ever opposed a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes

  __ No

  If so, which one(s)? 

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in opposition? 

– Have you ever supported a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes 

  __ No

  If so, which one(s) 

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in support? 

– Do you think historic preservation has a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in New York City? 

  __ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer. 

– Would you commit to prioritizing rehabilitation and reuse of historic builidngs for new publicly-sponsored projects such as libraries, schools and senior and affordable housing? 

  __ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer. 

– Do you believe that there are ways to build new affordable housing and increase equity in our city without upzoning existing residential neighborhoods? 

  __ Yes

  __ No

  How would you approach balancing these important goals? 

– Do you believe historic preservation and affordable housing goals can work together? 

  __ Yes

  __ NO

  Please explain your answer. 

Awaiting response.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Marti Allen-Cummings‘s responses.

– Have you ever opposed a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes

   X   No

  If so, which one(s)? N/A

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in opposition?  I am generally in favor of historic district designation. I think there are many important pieces of history throughout the District and if they can be preserved, they should be. I don’t think there are many hypothetical proposals I would oppose – but as someone fighting for affordable housing, this would always be a consideration. I would work with organizations like Landmark West to ensure we are both preserving important historic districts and making housing affordable for all.

– Have you ever supported a landmark or historic district designation? 

   X   Yes

  __ No

  If so, which one(s)  I have spent much of my career fighting for LGBTQIA+ equality and visibility. Several years ago, I joined the effort to create a landmark in tribute to Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – pioneers of the movement for equality. While not exactly the same as a historic district designation, I think the effort taught me a lot about the interaction of ‘place’ and history. We need to preserve our stories so that we can learn from them and move forward to a better future. As a member of Community Board 9 I worked alongside the members of the LGBTQ Task Force to present a resolution to the full board to have a statue and landmark placed in our community to honor Audry Lorde. Audry was a member of this community and should be honored here for the work they did as a black queer poet.

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in support?  N/A

– Do you think historic preservation has a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in New York City? 

  X_ YES

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Historic preservation is imperative to the economy and quality of life of District 7. When I speak with voters, I so often hear concerns about the changing neighborhood and Uptown losing its sense of unique identity. If we want our communities to thrive, we have to fight to maintain our character and history.

– Would you commit to prioritizing rehabilitation and reuse of historic builidngs for new publicly-sponsored projects such as libraries, schools and senior and affordable housing? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  I think there is the potential for powerful partnerships if we are able to invest in rehabilitation for buildings and simultaneously deliver on our goals of progressive social services our neighbors need.

– Do you believe that there are ways to build new affordable housing and increase equity in our city without upzoning existing residential neighborhoods? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  How would you approach balancing these important goals?  I think there are neighborhoods that have resisted new housing for decades downtown that could be up zoned for more affordable housing. In our District, we have already seen several projects flout outdated zoning laws to build luxury developments. I would like for all development to be Community-led (similar to the Morningside Heights plan) which can allow for ample planning to save historic landmarks and districts.

– Do you believe historic preservation and affordable housing goals can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  I think that historic preservation can be an important tool in assessing our housing plans and needs as a city. Many of the historic districts in Manhattan are high density residential neighborhoods and we need to ensure that the laws and zoning passed both empower residents and preserve these vital neighborhoods. I look forward to working with Landmark West to do that.

– Do you believe landmark designation and economic development efforts can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Every neighborhood in New York has its own character that attracts a certain kind of resident, business and visitor. We can preserve the character of the UWS to help businesses thrive and grow opportunities for residents and students. As downtown is transformed by supertalls, we can make Uptown a magnet for those looking for a more authentic and storied New York neighborhood.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Dan Cohen‘s responses.

– Have you ever opposed a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes

   X   No

  If so, which one(s)? N/A

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in opposition?  I cannot think of a scenario where I would be in opposition.

– Have you ever supported a landmark or historic district designation? 

   X   Yes

  __ No

  If so, which one(s)  Morningside Heights Historic District

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in support?  N/A

– Do you think historic preservation has a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in New York City? 

  X_ YES

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Historic preservation gives us the tools to see how we lived, or to memorialize an event that happened, without it we would be forced to rely on memory or the written word, not nearly as impactful as the physical and once something is lost it is gone forever. 

– Would you commit to prioritizing rehabilitation and reuse of historic builidngs for new publicly-sponsored projects such as libraries, schools and senior and affordable housing? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Once a building has been preserved it could have new uses, and readapting (thoughtfully) a building for new use is a way to bring its context to life.

– Do you believe that there are ways to build new affordable housing and increase equity in our city without upzoning existing residential neighborhoods? 

  X_ Yes, we have the land and zoning in place for District 7 to building 1,000 new units on sites either owned or controlled by NYC that are not historic and would not require upzoning.

  __ No

  How would you approach balancing these important goals?  We absolutely need more affordable housing, and my hope is to utilize existing zoning and sites first, particularly vacant land and properties owned by the city that can be repurposed into affordable housing.

– Do you believe historic preservation and affordable housing goals can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Of course. Some of the more beautiful affordable housing has been in preserved buildings and I believe we should try to do that as much as we can.

– Do you believe landmark designation and economic development efforts can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Landmarking does not necessarily prevent development, even if it constrains it sometimes those constraints create a better more dynamic and interesting product than a blank slate of empty land.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Keith Harris‘s responses.

– Have you ever opposed a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes

   X   No

  If so, which one(s)? N/A

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in opposition?  Landmark designation is a prestigious honor but the costs of maintaining the buildings’ integrity may be burdensome to the owners. If there was a situation where the owners opposed based on financial concerns, I would want to know that funds could be made accessible to offset infrastructure costs.

– Have you ever supported a landmark or historic district designation? 

  _ Yes

   X   No

  If so, which one(s)  N/A

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in support?  I would support landmark or historic district designations that would immortalize architectural treasures of the past that can be adapted for the use by the arts.

– Do you think historic preservation has a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in New York City? 

  X_ YES

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Historic buildings create jobs to support heritage tourism and stimulates the growth of creative industries that are necessary to preserve the rich culture of our city as we see unprecedented modernization of our neighborhoods. Historic districts are our densest residential areas, particularly in Manhattan, that preserve the demographic makeup of our diverse communities.

– Would you commit to prioritizing rehabilitation and reuse of historic builidngs for new publicly-sponsored projects such as libraries, schools and senior and affordable housing? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Yes, adaptive reuse promotes sustainability and helps historical resources support continuity in our growing communities. The added bonus is the emotional and psychological impact of belonging and feeling of familiarity.

– Do you believe that there are ways to build new affordable housing and increase equity in our city without upzoning existing residential neighborhoods? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  How would you approach balancing these important goals?  Upzoning has long been seen as a panacea for housing issues. There are alternatives we can look to that do not rely on the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program which relies on a “trickle-down” effect that doesn’t work. We need to reimagine the utility of space and how to meet the living needs of different family sizes. The first step is to assess the impact of existing zoning policies on inequities in our communities. That would give us a baseline to determine the strategic areas of focus to close the economic and racial gaps exacerbated by these policies. The next step is to move towards a mindset where alternatives to zoning are the focus of our solutioning efforts where we reevaluate the use of spaces and potentially think about community housing trusts.

– Do you believe historic preservation and affordable housing goals can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Synergies exist between historic preservation and affordable housing goals. Protecting landmarks from being demolished and local residents from being displaced are core to maintaining the integrity of our communities.

– Do you believe landmark designation and economic development efforts can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer. Yes, landmark designations support heritage tourism and create jobs in the creative sector that would otherwise be unavailable. We can continue to build on this relationship by thinking about additional economic advantages we can bring to our communities.

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Maria Ordoñez‘s responses.

– Have you ever opposed a landmark or historic district designation? 

  __ Yes

   X   No

  If so, which one(s)? N/A

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in opposition?  Although I understand the desire to preserve our history, and although we have had many heartbreaks with some of New York’s most beautiful historical landmarks becoming gentrified and rebuilt, exceptions must be made.  New York is experiencing a housing crisis, one that disproportionately affects low income neighborhoods that are primarily occupied by people of color.  When we try to restrict development for the sake of history, whilst ignoring those in our communities who will inevitably suffer, we must ask ourselves if this is the type of history we’d like to create.  However, many times, it protects low-income historic neighborhoods from raze and redevelopment. 

– Have you ever supported a landmark or historic district designation? 

  X_ Yes 

  __ No

  If so, which one(s)  I have been supportive of the Central Harlem West 130th-132nd Streets Historic District, which was designated a historic district in 2018.  

  If not, under which circumstances would you be in support?  N/A

– Do you think historic preservation has a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in New York City? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  Yes, historic preservation can have a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in NYC.  Firstly, we are preserving communities that hve existed for decades and at the same time we are incentivizing heritage tourism.  Through this type of tourism we would be helping small businesses, that are the backbones of our communities.  Additionally, this will help communities avoid going through gentrification and haveing to face the negative effects of it like displacement.  

– Would you commit to prioritizing rehabilitation and reuse of historic builidngs for new publicly-sponsored projects such as libraries, schools and senior and affordable housing? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  I think it is important that we prioritize the rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings for new publicly-sponsored projects that will help our communities thrive.  We should create more libraries, schools, and public housing especially in communities of color that have gone underfunded and would benefit from these resources. 

– Do you believe that there are ways to build new affordable housing and increase equity in our city without upzoning existing residential neighborhoods? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  How would you approach balancing these important goals?  We need to ensure that whenever we are developing in our neighboroods we are centering the voices of our community first and securing permanently affordable housing.  We needto end the cycle of racist reszonings and continuous upzonings for our communities of color.  Therefore, if we are already building affordable housing in areas that will have avalue and look into supporting small businesses around them, then there is an opportunity to increase equity in that way.  

– Do you believe historic preservation and affordable housing goals can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Historic preservation and affordable housing goals can go hand-in-hand.  Through historic preservation we can make sure to support the current affordable units, public housing units, and rent stabilized units in the area.  We need to uplift the voices of residents and tenants, especially those that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and hte housing crisis.  

– Do you believe landmark designation and economic development efforts can work together? 

  X_ Yes

  __ No

  Please explain your answer.  Landmark designation and economic development efforts can work together because through landmark designation we can increase tourism to the neighborhood that will, in turn, incentivize attraction to local small businesses.  Through landmark designations we need to center minority and women owned businesses, so we uplift them through this process.  

Awaiting response.

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We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Tab through by name to read each candidate’s responses.

– In your opinion, what should be the #1 land use concern of this district’s constituents: 

– What is your position on Supertall constructions–do they have a place on the Uper West Side?  If so, where? 

– What is your position on the proposed Planning Together/Comprehensive Planning for New York City? 

– What, if any development proposals are important to you or your constituents? 

– Do you believe that the Unifor Land Use Review Procedure should be reformed? 

  __ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.

– Please use this space to add any further thoughts about preservation and development in New York City. 

Awaiting response. 

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Marti Allen-Cummings‘s responses.

– In your opinion, what should be the #1 land use concern of this district’s constituents:  The top priority for residents of district 7 is creating more affordable housing that is community-led. People do not want super talls taking over the neighborhood or luxury developments that will run the mom and pop shops out of town. We need to look local and make sure that everyone has a place they can afford to live long into the future.

– What is your position on Supertall constructions–do they have a place on the Uper West Side?  If so, where? I do not see place where Supertalls would be beneficial in D7.

– What is your position on the proposed Planning Together/Comprehensive Planning for New York City? I am in favor of a Comprehensive Planning Framework to ensure that every neighborhood shares equal responsibility for increasing housing, and hosting public utility functions.  The current plan is a great start that the next Council must continue to adapt to the needs of our city. 

– What, if any development proposals are important to you or your constituents?  The Morningside Heights Rezoning project is critical to prevent the explosion of luxury development that does not fith with the character or architecture of the neighborhood.  

– Do you believe that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure should be reformed?

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  I think ULURP has many benefits to the community but it needs reform. First, too many decisions take place outside of the process. For example, the Amazon HQ2 project circumvented the process and the recent Gowanus rezoning was litigated mostly outside the ULURP process. It should be comprehensive and *uniformly* used. In addition, I would like to see more professional staff for Community Boards to analyze impacts of projects on not just the environment but health, safety, economy, transit, etc.

– Please use this space to add any further thoughts about preservation and development in New York City.  N/A

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Dan Cohen‘s responses.

– In your opinion, what should be the #1 land use concern of this district’s constituents:  Preserving affordable housing

– What is your position on Supertall constructions–do they have a place on the Uper West Side?  If so, where? In select areas it may be appropriate, perhaps closer to midtown/Columbus Circle, but preserving light and air and views and not creating Hong Kong along the rest of UWS/Riverside Park is necessary. We can kill a thing by loving it too much, and supertalls risk destroying the things that make the UWS livable and desirable.

– What is your position on the proposed Planning Together/Comprehensive Planning for New York City? This feels rushed, at the end of the term of the mayor and the speaker of the city council, and I would oppose it. I am open to comprehensive planning but do not want to feel as though it is being promulgated by people as they are walking out the door of civic life and their public obligations.

– What, if any development proposals are important to you or your constituents?  The Morningside Heights rezoning – a plan to preserve affordable housing while also allowing limited, and height-restricted, development to occur in Morningside Heights.

– Do you believe that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure should be reformed?

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  IOften developers come to communities after their plan has been developed. Rather than allowing for input from the beginning, it is seen as already “baked” and forces communities to accept it or oppose it rather than be a part of the process.

– Please use this space to add any further thoughts about preservation and development in New York City.  N/A

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Keith Harris‘s responses.

– In your opinion, what should be the #1 land use concern of this district’s constituents:  The top land use concern for the district’s constituents should be the inequitable distribution of land, capital and opportunities.

– What is your position on Supertall constructions–do they have a place on the Uper West Side?  If so, where? Supertall constructions allow for people to live in the clouds while casting many to their literal and figurative shadows. While I understand that we cannot build horizontally, these buildings add density and take away our air space. There could be a designation of areas where supertall constructions could exist away from park spaces.

– What is your position on the proposed Planning Together/Comprehensive Planning for New York City? There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go far, go together.” This is basically the underlying idea of the proposal which I support. I especially like the idea of the appointment of a Long-Term Planning Steering Committee which increases inclusivity of the people historically underrepresented in the decision-making process.

– What, if any development proposals are important to you or your constituents?  The underinvestment and neglect of New York City’s Housing Authority has led to a critically needed strategic plan on not just addressing the backlog of repairs badly needed for tenants but also creating a sustainable infrastructure for the future. President Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill earmarks funds to repair public housing complexes but we need to set clear priorities not just to bring systems up to code but mitigate persistent defects and factor in sustainability.

– Do you believe that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure should be reformed?

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer.  The ULURP can benefit from expanding awareness about reviews to more residents who may not be able to attend public hearings or community forums. You will have a very activated base of constituents who are acutely aware of the reviews and are afforded the luxury to make themselves available to be involved. Then, there are others who are burdened by daily responsibilities who may not be able to attend scheduled meetings but should have a voice in the process and that’s where we need to do more to bridge the gap.

– Please use this space to add any further thoughts about preservation and development in New York City.  The vibrancy of New York comes from its culture and people. Preservation and development protect our two greatest assets. As a city council member, my goal is to co-create with our neighborhoods and ensure adequate representation across our district’s constituency.

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

We asked Candidates the following questions in RED.  Here are Maria Ordoñez‘s responses.

– In your opinion, what should be the #1 land use concern of this district’s constituents: We need to ensure that we have a transparent land use process for our district and citywide.  This means that we need to transform our ULURP process, to ensure that regular New Yorkers can have a say in what is happening in their communities every step of the way in the land use process.  This will create transparency and accountability that the community will be able to have a voice in the decisions being makde for their neighborhood. 

– What is your position on Supertall constructions–do they have a place on the Uper West Side?  If so, where? I am not for supertall constructions and they do not have a place in the Upper West Side.  There has been an ongoing fight by local groups to avoid continued developemnt with no sense of regulation in Morningside Heights, and this is why we need to ensure that we we ensure that all future development is truly affordable to the community.  

– What is your position on the proposed Planning Together/Comprehensive Planning for New York City? The proposed Planning Together/ Comprehensive Planning for New York City is not what our city needs because it is fundamentally flawed.  We need to ensure that we are centering the voices of our community first through a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach.  In order to do this, we need to ensure that data obtained from the community and community boards, just like community members, can have their opinions heard and be part of the decision making table. 

– What, if any development proposals are important to you or your constituents? To constituents and myself, it is important we ensure that all developments in District 7 are truly affordable for all New Yorkers.  This means making sure that we are looking at affordability, through a more community based lens than Area Median Income.  We also need to ensure that, becaues Columbia is one of hte biggest landlords, they are making sure to give back to the community through greater number units for affordable housing and acess to housing support.  

– Do you believe that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure should be reformed?

  X_ Yes

  __ No 

  Please explain your answer. District 7 and the city is facing a housing crisis, which is why it is important that we reform the ULURP process.  We need to ensure that we are centering our community’s voices first, instead of leaving land use decisions to people in power.  This means allowing everyday New yorkers to have a voice in this procedure so they know what is happening to their community.  

– Please use this space to add any further thoughts about preservation and development in New York City. We need to ensure that we are leading with our community and that they too are part of the decision making table.  I will co-govern and co-legislate with my community to ensure that as we preserve and develop it is being done with the community’s support.  

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

Awaiting response.

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