Opinion: End the City Council Land Use Veto

"Member deference" is what they call it New York, but many local elected officials in the United States have veto power over land use and development plans.

1 minute read

October 28, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Sunnyside Queens

Doug Letterman / Flickr

An opinion piece by Alec Schierenbeck calls for an end to the councilmember's land use veto in New York City.

"Under the City Council’s longstanding practice of 'member deference,' Council approval of any land-use change — like allowing affordable housing on a lot zoned for parking — turns on the opinion of the local member," according to Schierenbeck's explanation of the practice.

The inspiration for the argument behind this post comes from a decision by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens, to kill a proposal that would develop a parking lot in the neighborhood into 100 percent affordable apartments.

That's a shame, according to Schierenbeck, in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. The writer calls for an end to the land use veto in New York: "But we can, and should, end a City Council practice that ensures the narrow preferences of each member control all of the Council’s power over land use. Because the forces behind rising rents, gentrification, and homelessness don’t stop at Council district lines, our solutions can’t either.

The idea seemed to win critical political support when Council Speaker Core Johnson entered the position in 2018, but during that time Schierenbeck doesn't see any change.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in New York Post

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