Citywide Working Group Releases Land Use Reform Recommendations to Mayor and City Council

Citywide Working Group Releases Land Use Reform Recommendations to Mayor and City Council

The Land Use Reform Working Group includes elected officials as well as grassroots and think tank organizations from across New York City


NEW YORK— Following a year of meetings around how to improve New York City’s land use processes including the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and environmental review tools, a working group of over 40 organizations and elected officials have released a white paper containing recommendations to transform New York City land use governance to be more inclusive, especially of community voices.  

The working group’s recommended strategies are oriented around three topics:

  1. Resources for planning in New York City

  2. Transparency for the public

  3. Environmental review

The reforms proposed by the working group would enact a citywide comprehensive planning framework, create an office of community planning to resource and legitimize bottom-up planning, and reform community boards. The recommended strategies are targeted to New York City elected officials entering a new term this January, since implementation would in some cases require administrative changes and legislation and, in other cases, the convening of a Charter Revision Commission.

Together, the strategies could make the city’s land use procedures more inclusive and therefore more predictable for all users, including for developers who seek less local opposition and more predictability, and especially for the most vulnerable in our city who fear displacement from their neighborhoods.


The working group recommends:

  1. Dramatically increase the amount of proactive planning in New York City.

  2. Increase communication, participation, and transparency in development decisions before and during formal procedures.

  3. Improve accountability, oversight, and enforcement in the City Environmental Quality Review process.

  4. Update the City Environmental Quality Review technical manual to ensure accuracy.


The working group was facilitated by the offices of Council member Antonio Reynoso, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Regional Plan Association, and working group members included:


  • 596 Acres

  • Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development

  • Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)

  • Collective for Community, Culture, and the Environment

  • Common Cause New York

  • Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center

  • Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

  • Faith in New York

  • George M. Janes and Associates

  • Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)

  • Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust

  • Inwood Preservation

  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation of NYC

  • Municipal Art Society of New York

  • New York Academy of Medicine

  • New York Communities for Change

  • New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

  • Pratt Center for Community Development

  • Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

  • SEIU 32BJ

  • Type A Projects

  • Office of the Public Advocate

  • Office of the Bronx Borough President

  • Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

  • Office of Council Member Margaret Chin

  • Office of Council Member Ben Kallos

  • Office of Council Member Brad Lander

  • Manhattan Community Board 3

  • Manhattan Community Board 11

The white paper may be found here:


An open letter to the administration may be found here:


About New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso

On January 1st, 2014 Antonio assumed office as the Council Member for the 34th District. During his first term, Antonio has proactively tackled the most pressing issue affecting his constituency by developing housing task forces in North Brooklyn and Ridgewood. His implementation of the Housing Task Forces brings tenant organizers together with City agencies to address buildings where residents are threatened with displacement. With this he hopes to discourage landlords from displacing tenants, and therefore preserving affordable housing.


About New York City Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Gale A. Brewer is the 27th Borough President of Manhattan. Since she took office in 2014, she has successfully passed legislation to reform the deed restriction process, add ‘caregivers’ to the city’s anti-discrimination law, remove criminal history questions from initial employment applications (the “Fair Chance Act”), and enforce requirements for street numbers on buildings in Manhattan (to aid emergency workers). She has also spearheaded community planning initiatives at the South Street Seaport, in East Midtown, and in other neighborhoods to address development and zoning issues.

Brewer previously served on the City Council for 12 years, serving as the founding chair of the Technology Committee and leading the Government Operations Committee. There, the Council passed her legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, requiring all City data be published online, and protecting domestic workers from abusive practices. Prior to that, she served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Ruth Messinger, NYC Deputy Public Advocate, Director of the city's Federal Office, and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Brewer has an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and did her undergraduate work at Columbia University and Bennington College.


About Regional Plan Association

Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resilience and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced three landmark plans for the region and in November of 2017 released its Fourth Regional Plan. For more information, please visit or