Virtual reality meetings are a poor substitute for the normal public engagement process included in the city of New York's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, according ton opinion piece recently published by City Limits.
Jo Anne Simon, a New York State Assembly representative and a Democrat representing the 52nd District, and Bradley Vogel, a Gowanus resident, pen an opinion piece for City Limits calling for the city of New York to continue to delay the ongoing effort to rezone the neighborhood of Gowanus in Brooklyn.
The articles argument rests of the question of whether the public engagement process possible during a pandemic is commensurate with the city's previous rezoning processes.
"The current limitations to large in-person gatherings and public engagement due to the pandemic substantially undermine the key process by which the public holds power accountable during land-use reviews," according to Simon and Vogel.
The city already paused the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) in for the rezoning, but is planning on restarting the process in September, with preliminary presentations in August, according to the article. The duo suggests that the city's desire to restart the ULURP responds to pressures from developers (i.e., "those who would benefit directly," according to the article). Other advocates have pushed to restart the ULURP because Gowanus is the most wealthy neighborhood to undertake a ULURP since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office.
"We understand proponents’ eagerness, but it is critical for the public to have a fair chance to weigh in meaningfully in a standardized manner on changes that will dramatically affect their lives, health, property, livelihoods, and neighborhoods. That’s essential. In fact, that was the entire reason ULURP was instituted three decades ago."
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