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197-a Planning Helps Implement Citywide Planning Goals

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Seeking to capitalize on existing neighborhood assets and plan proactively to secure good jobs, affordable housing, community health, and access to quality schools and services, West Harlemites living and working in Manhattan Community District 9 (Manhattanville, Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights) have developed a consensus-based plan for their neighborhood’s future through a 197-a plan. The official community planning process, 197-a planning is a key part of the city charter allowing community boards to create comprehensive neighborhood plans guiding local growth and development. If implemented, the community’s plan would play a big part in implementing the city’s forward-thinking sustainability agenda.

On Earth Day 2007, Mayor Bloomberg launched PlaNYC 2030, a series of goals that would make the city more sustainable in its use of land, air, water, energy and transportation by 2030. These goals include creating homes for a million more New Yorkers, increasing mass transit capacity to accommodate the population growth, ensuring all city residents live within a 10-minute walk of a public park, and providing cleaner and more reliable energy.

Community District 9’s plan meets and exceeds the goals for development of their neighborhood laid out in PlaNYC 2030, as it contains holistic and workable solutions to increase mass transit and use of bicycles, to protect and preserve significant numbers of large-scale public housing projects (NYCHA Housing and Mitchell Lama Housing) already in the district, and improve and expand the city’s current affordable housing incentive program. Other recommendations include, the expansion of opportunities for additional manufacturing, commercial, institutional, and retail uses — generating substantial numbers of manufacturing jobs; the creation of the city’s first-ever “Zero Waste” zone; and the greening of the district to better absorb rainwater run-off, lessening the burden on the city’s sewer overflows.

MAS urges the Department of City Planning, the Community Assistance Unit, elected officials, and the city’s operating agencies to provide oversight for the implementation of these 197-a plan recommendations through commitment of city resources.

The writer is Director of the MAS Planning Center.