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The city, she explained, has also committed to employing this approach in planning land use policies for No Ho and So Ho, where the borough president — concerned about the rise of big box stores — said, “we want more artists, we want more makers, we want more light industry.” On another controversial proposed development, further downtown, Brewer continues to press — along with Councilmember Margaret Chin, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, and community residents — to make sure that the Department of City Planning requires that four new megatowers proposed for the Two Bridges waterfront area on the Lower East Side, near the almost completed 823-foot Extell condo tower, go through ULURP. Even then they’ll be upset with what comes out of ULURP.” Despite her advocacy for community input on land use changes, Brewer is realistic about those she sees as inevitable.“Can you imagine this huge project not going through ULURP? In the heated battle in Little Italy that pits supporters of the Elizabeth Street Garden against the city’s plan to redevelop the site as affordable housing — with the participation of the LGBTQ seniors advocacy group SAGE and Habitat for Humanity — she said, “It’s going to happen.” While insisting, “I love the garden,” she said she is focusing her efforts on ensuring that “it has every inch of public space possible.” Brewer is highly critical of other land use decisions stripped of any meaningful public input, particularly the controversial decision to “infill” open spaces in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties.Their legislation, however, merely mandates the process, the results of which would then be subject to voter approval, Brewer’s Charter commission proposal was one of numerous issues — including land use, small business survival, food deserts, congestion pricing, and government transparency and accessibility — that she addressed in a 75-minute sit-down with the editors of Chelsea Now, Downtown Express, Manhattan Express, The Villager, and Gay City News.Brewer talked about two notable land use milestones she’s achieved in her four years as borough president and her tenure on the City Council prior to that.BY PAUL SCHINDLER | In 1989, after the US Supreme Court ruled that New York City’s powerful Board of Estimate, which gave each borough equal say despite enormous population disparities, violated the Constitution’s one person-one vote principle, voters approved the most sweeping Charter revision since the city became unified in 1898.
Similar pre-ULURP planning, she said, is underway in the contentious debate over a Midtown Garment district rezoning plan that under the city’s Economic Development Corporation’s initial blueprint would have migrated much of the industry to Brooklyn over the objections of many longtime Manhattan garment trade players.
Under former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the measure could not be taken up given its similarity to the SBJSA, but Brewer is hopeful that Speaker Corey Johnson will allow for competing measures addressing the same issue to be considered.
Asked why she is not pushing the version she originally favored, Brewer replied, “If we pass such a law and then it goes to court and we lose, then we’re nowhere.
Regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for a big push to revisit congestion pricing as a way to ease traffic in Manhattan and provide funding for mass transit, Brewer responded cautiously.
Acknowledging, “I support the idea that subways need money,” and “I believe in the concept of congestion pricing,” she raised logistical concerns about the efficacy of new technologies — such as photographing license plates — for capturing tolls on East River crossings or from cars entering Midtown from Upper Manhattan, and mentioned the State Thruway Authority’s loss of millions in unpaid tolls where booths have been replaced completely by electronic tolling.