The Real Estate Board of New York to The Committee on Land Use of the New York City Council Regarding the FY 2023 Preliminary Budget

Download the Testimony

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. REBNY thanks the New York City Council Committee on Land Use for the opportunity to provide testimony regarding the FY2023 preliminary budget, particularly regarding the Department of City Planning (DCP).

New York City faces tremendous post-pandemic challenges, and ultimately will not only be tasked with ensuring a robust economic recovery, but will need to leverage its land use tools to plan and invest in the City’s future more equitably. As an invested stakeholder to the success of the city, REBNY appreciates collaboration with the City Council to identify opportunities for job creation, economic and affordable housing development as well as greater environmental resiliency – all which can be accomplished in part through the prioritization of fair, robust and smart data analysis and planning.

That’s why it is important that the Department has the ability to continue providing the analysis necessary for elected officials and the public to make decisions based on timely, accurate data; for the provision of such data in accessible and digestible formats, and for placing development and planning decisions in context within capital expenditures and the city’s importance within the region as a whole. The department is also tasked with a myriad of strategic documents relating to the future, inclusive of waterfront plans, hazard mapping, and the guardian of the City of New York’s Zoning Resolution. Lastly, the Department’s team of environmental review and technical review specialists ensure the appropriate analysis and documentation is completed for any public or private action that requires review by the stakeholders in the City’s environmental and land use public review processes.

In recent years funding for DCP has decreased to the potential detriment of the goals outlined. DCP began FY22 with an authorized full-time headcount of 334 positions, with the city budget allocating $29.7M to agency-wide personnel services and $12.5M to non-personnel services. This was a net reduction of $2.4M and a decrease of 27 positions to the DCP budget compared with FY21.1 As DCP is now required to respond to the current Program to Eliminate the Gap, or PEG, the agency will be required to make additional reductions. The central divisions will feel these reductions the most, placing in jeopardy the City’s own priorities to move city owned land to affordable housing, to delay the analyses on air quality, socioeconomic impacts, and built character central to the City Council’s decisions on neighborhood rezonings, and to place in an ever-increasing queue private sector applications that would spur jobs, investment, and housing.

REBNY understands the underlying importance of the PEG and the need for fiscal responsibility across the city’s budget. However, as we collectively understand the importance of the planning needed for economic recovery, prioritizing DCP’s needs for personnel and resources will only allow for greater collaboration with community stakeholders, responsiveness to private development and investment, more robust analysis, and the timely execution of required processes, including through ULURP. If forced to do more with even less, particularly as planning requirements continue to evolve to include indicators for greater equity, inclusion, and affordability, it behooves the City Council to ensure that DCP has the resources it needs to respond to and meet these overarching goals.

Thank you for your consideration on these points.