Senator Hoylman, Assembly Members Wright & Kavanagh Announce Legislation Requiring Full Public Review of Any NYCHA Land Disposition

Brad Hoylman

May 02, 2013

New York, NY— New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Housing Chair Keith L.T. Wright and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh are introducing S.4641/A.6964, the “NYCHA Real Property Public Review Act,” which requires that any disposition of land or buildings by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) be subject to New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the same review process that other city agencies must adhere to when redeveloping public land. The need for legislative action is clear. According to an August 2008 report by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer entitled “Land Rich, Pocket Poor,” there are 30.5 million square feet of unused development rights in NYCHA developments throughout Manhattan alone.

Earlier this year, NYCHA announced it was targeting fourteen sites, including parking lots and playgrounds, in eight Manhattan public housing developments for so-called “infill development,” in order to raise revenue and help close gaps in its capital budget. The Authority plans to lease the sites to private developers for the construction of new high-rise apartment towers in which 80% of the units would be market rate. Despite calls by residents, elected officials, and other community stakeholders for full transparency, NYCHA’s plans for engaging public input on infill development are woefully inadequate. 

Senator Brad Hoylman (D, WFP – Manhattan) said: “While infill development has the potential to generate much-needed revenue to pay for long-overdue capital projects, NYCHA will only score a win for the communities it serves by truly listening to residents and advocates before determining whether and how to proceed. This legislation will ensure that any time NYCHA seeks to sell or lease its land or buildings, public housing residents and the broader communities of which they are a part can help shape the future of their neighborhoods through a fair and transparent process. It will also enable public housing residents to avail themselves of the same community planning infrastructure resources that residents of private housing use to evaluate and weigh in on major land use actions. This legislation will bring NYCHA in line with all City agencies, and ensure that the City Council has binding authority in this extremely consequential privatization of publicly-owned land.”

“As both Chairman of the Assembly's Housing Committee and the elected representative for thousands of NYCHA residents, it is no surprise that I have voiced my staunch opposition to the Authority's notion that it should produce revenue on the backs of its residents without their input or the fair distribution of the resulting benefits. I proudly stand with Senator Hoylman and my colleagues in the Assembly, including Assemblyman Kavanagh  of lower Manhattan, to advance this legislation in hopes that NYCHA will come to its senses and abandon a plan that is clearly penny wise and pound foolish,” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D, WFP – Manhattan), a prime sponsor of the bill who represents proposed development sites on the Lower East Side, said: “Given the amount of property NYCHA controls and the potential effects of massive new development on communities throughout New York, it is essential that the interests of both public housing residents and the general public be considered before decisions are made to permit development, or about what, where, when, and how any building will occur. Our legislation would mandate that the review process routinely applied to many other public agencies making development decisions of this magnitude would also apply to NYCHA. It would ensure a thorough airing of the many concerns people have raised about NYCHA’s proposal, and it would add a critical ingredient that is missing from the current review process: an opportunity for New Yorkers to consider all the facts and then say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the new buildings that NYCHA proposes to build in the midst of our communities.”

“Low-income NYCHA tenants are alarmed by this proposal, and worry it will transform their communities forever,” said Senate Housing Committee Ranking Member Adriano Espaillat. “This bill would empower Community Board members that can articulate their neighborhood’s needs and challenges to share their input. Submitting NYCHA’s plan through ULURP will shine the spotlight on the problems our city’s public housing supply is facing, and will produce a better end result for everyone.”

Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents many of the proposed development sites on the Lower East Side, said, “There's no question: NYCHA residents and surrounding communities must be given a real voice in a process that will have such a real impact on our neighborhood. This bill will help ensure a more transparent and open community process that engages residents, the community, and all stakeholders. I will continue to work with Senator Hoylman, Assemblymembers Wright and Kavanagh, Borough President Stringer, and all of my colleagues toward the transparency and input NYCHA residents and all New Yorkers need and deserve.”

“I commend my friend and colleague—Senator Brad Hoylman—for introducing Senate Bill 4641, the ‘NYCHA Real Property Public Review Act,’” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Public Housing. “This legislation is singularly targeted to ensure that NYCHA abides by the clear and comprehensive public consultation standards—of the ULURP process—during any land disposition proceedings, including those related to Infill Development.  This important bill mirrors one of the twenty two cornerstone provisions of Resolution 1719-2013 which we recently passed in the New York City Council.  I look forward to our continued work on all levels of government to ensure that the valuable voices of our residents are considered, responded to and incorporated into all potential land disposition plans.”