Lines outside of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian intersect the public (foreground) hoping to attend the City Planning Commission Hearing and those awaiting entry to Bankruptcy Court (fancy suits, facing east)

First the Good News: December weather is finally upon us!

Now the Bad News: If you were like us, you were stuck freezing outside the City Planning Commission! 48-degree weather (felt like 44-degrees at the foot of Broadway!) greeted a long line of preservation and community advocates, real estate developers and union Teamsters who circumscribed Cass Gilbert’s Landmark Customs’s House at 1 Bowling Green waiting for their opportunity to testify. Hundreds deep, the line had already more than wrapped the Broadway facade by 8:30 am, which, in LANDMARK WEST!’s case, translated to an 11:07 am building entry (for a meeting that began at 9am)!


Despite many open seats, the public waited for hours in some instances to enter. Many people who signed up to testify had left before they were called.

Despite the complexities of the ZQA (Zoning for Quality and Affordability) and MIH (Mandatory Inclusionary Housing), City Planning asked the public to summarize their position- for or against. Nothing in between, LANDMARK WEST! chose “against” and is still tightly holding our slot #147 (currently in its 9th hour, they are up to speaker #86).

The Commission offered each speaker a four minute window but frequently added follow up questions and commentary- at least for the elected officials and mostly those in favor of the proposals.  While LANDMARK WEST! has covered the issue widely and even commissioned an independent report on how these changes will impact the Upper West Side specifically, it was clear that there are a range of questions and concerns that have never been addressed.  One to note was that Chair Wisebrod even challenged one speaker on future alternate-use of specifically-built senior housing under these proposals and insisted that according to the copy that they Commissioners have TODAY, it is planned to be permanently used for Senior Housing.

The ever-changing elements of these proposals have made them an on-going moving target that has been rushed through the city so the Council can vote in 2016.  Each of these proposals alone can significantly alter the face of our communities and literally change the game of development.  Steamrolling these projects through our communities, our borough boards, and a marathon hearing in a facility ill-equipped to handle even half of the volume is no way to manage a city, let alone care for it.  So we ask the Planning Commission- where is the planning?

We join our colleagues at The Historic Districts Council and the New York Landmarks Conservancy and ask that a second hearing be scheduled so that everyone can have an opportunity to speak.  In speaking with neighbors in line and reporters, outside, there are many good points to be made.  They should not fall prey to a test of will and stamina to but be heard in a civilized process where all can participate!


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