Public Advocate Letitia James yesterday continued her push for a measure that will publicly track commitments to local communities in connection with projects green lighted through city-led zoning changes.
The bill, which James introduced in March along with Speaker,Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr.(Cypress Hills, Bushwick, Oceanhill-Brownsville,East New York), will not only record the City’s commitments for the first time, but will also require annual updates on the status of those commitments.
Among the co-sponsors were Council Members Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park, Red Hook) and David G. Greenfield (Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst).
“This legislation will hold our government accountable to the people, creating the first tool available to track projects. With this increased transparency, we will ensure that commitments made to our communities are fulfilled, and do not fall by the wayside,” said James.
Greenfield, who chairs the Land Use Committee, said when the Council passed the mayor’s affordable housing and rezoning plans, it did so with the understanding that there is an obligation to ensure that the city keeps the commitments it makes in connection with city-led zoning changes.
“This bill will ensure transparency when it comes to those commitments, so that government officials can be held accountable for delivering on the promises the city makes to those who will be affected by rezonings,” said Greenfield.
Viverito said the growing support for this legislation shows that New Yorkers want the ability to easily keep track of the City’s performance in delivering its commitments. “Additionally, this bill will allow City officials to evaluate their own progress in fulfilling those goals,” she said.
Espinal, who’s district was the first to get a massive rezoning under the de Blasio Administration, said a publicly accessible online capital commitments tracker that would be created under the bill would bring a level of transparency and accountability.
“There’s a real fear that commitments made in rezonings won’t be kept—and we’ve seen it in past administrations with Bushwick Inlet Park for example. As the representative for an area that recently underwent one of the largest rezonings in the city’s history, I want my constituents to be able to track all of the capital commitments that were made by the city as part of the East New York rezoning. Only then, can we hold this and future mayoral administrations accountable for their commitments and ensure that promises made are promises kept,” said Espinal, Jr.
If the bill is passed a database will be created that will be updated annually and will track all City commitments. In addition, the bill calls for the mayor’s office to designate an agency in charge of this tracking system and its implementation.
A date has not been set yet for a city council vote.