De Blasio Selects Planning Director
"Mr. de Blasio said he picked Mr. Weisbrod — most recently a partner in the real estate consulting firm HR & A Advisors [see job opportunity] where he managed the rezoning of Manhattan’s Hudson Square area — for his experience in revitalizing neighborhoods and his success in getting deals done," writes Mireya Navarro, a housing reporter for The Times focusing on New York City and its region.
Mr. Weisbrod, 69, spearheaded efforts to transform Times Square in the 1990s and to revitalize Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11.
Weisbrod has been involved in city planning in New York City since the Lindsey administration. De Blasio made it clear where he expects Weisbrod and the Planning Commission to focus much of their efforts.
Mr. de Blasio said he expected city planners to help him fulfill his ambitious goal of preserving or building 200,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years.
Mr. de Blasio wants to increase affordable housing through changes in zoning and land use. He said every city neighborhood would be assessed for its potential to add housing that is affordable to low- and middle-income residents.
In response to a question at the event where the de Blasio made the announcement, Weisbrod explains New York City's planning department titles and roles.
Question: Can you talk about the governance of City Planning – the chairmanship position – will there also be an executive director, will this be overseeing day-to-day operations, it is a full-time position–
Weisbrod: Yes, there is – the chair is also the director of the department, and there is also an executive director under the chair, and that's what the charter calls for, and that's what will remain.
In fact, Weisbrod has served as its executive director, notes Navarro.
Streetsblog's editor-in chief, Ben Fried, explains the importance of the position from a land use and transportation perspective. Weisbrod "now commands a post with tremendous power to shape the quality of New York City’s built environment. Of particular interest for the city’s transportation and housing future will be how vigorously Weisbrod pursues reform of NYC’s parking minimums, which Amanda Burden, the previous planning commissioner, barely touched.
The selection might have surpised Planetizen readers as Weisblod wasn't in the group we had speculated would be the finalists last December.