This afternoon, elected officials and three Manhattan community boards are out with a letter they have sent to Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA Chairman John Rhea concerning a proposal to build luxury housing on parking lots and other open space surrounding public housing projects. Click through to see the full text.
We are writing to request a meeting to discuss public process and transparency regarding the New York City Housing Authority’s proposed infill development plan, which will impact thousands of NYCHA residents at eight developments in Manhattan. It is our understanding that NYCHA is undertaking this process in order to raise revenue necessary to fill critical budget shortfalls and meet its capital obligations. While we are aware of NYCHA’s financial troubles, we believe a robust community engagement process must be undertaken prior to any new development on NYCHA land in order to ensure that residents have meaningful opportunities to provide input and recommendations.
We therefore call for greater transparency in the potential development plans and a reconsideration of the expediency of the proposed timeline. This will help inform the public and affected NYCHA residents of the plans and provide adequate time for public engagement and meaningful discourse. Specifically, we request that Request for Proposals (RFP) for these sites not be released until there is more significant dialogue between NYCHA and the many potential affected residents.
Publicly-owned land is a limited resource in New York City, and once developed is unlikely to be redeveloped. As such, it is critical to understand the potential positive impacts on public housing due to increased NYCHA revenues, as well as all impacts on NYCHA residents and the larger neighborhood if these development plans are carried out.
Unfortunately, communication between NYCHA, elected officials and tenant leaders has been fairly limited at this point. Not all elected officials or tenants associations have received a briefing from NYCHA on the infill development plans. Further, many critical details, such as specific site plans, proposed densities and unit counts have not been made available for all sites.
We ask that NYCHA publicly disclose all plans and detailed studies related to the development on the identified 16 sites so that we can start to evaluate the effects of the proposal.
In addition, NYCHA must create a process to collect feedback from the relevant community boards, tenant leaders, community based organizations, and elected officials. This includes conducting meetings with tenant leaders, holding public hearings, attending community board meetings and developing a mechanism to incorporate resident feedback into NYCHA’s infill plans, including any direct benefits for developments where this proposed construction could occur.
Such a public community process will enable elected officials and affected stakeholders to begin a dialogue over critical details such as the location of buildings, the proposed uses of the buildings, mitigations to potential environmental impacts, as well as potential positive impacts that may be linked to individual developments.
If RFPs are released without an adequate public process, they are unlikely to reflect any community issues and concerns and will likely need to be amended or reissued.
In order to better coordinate our efforts and ensure that each NYCHA development receives equal treatment, we request a joint meeting with our offices next week to share our ideas for shaping this public process.
Thank you for your attention to this matter…
The letter was signed by numerous elected officials, including City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron. The chairs of Community Boards 3, 7 and 11 also signed.