Interested in what gets built in your community and how government works to deliver services in your neighborhood? Apply to join one of Manhattan's 12 Community Boards.
Every Community Board has 50 seats which are filled for two-year terms by volunteers, who are selected by the Borough President and local City Council members. Half the seats are up for appointment or reappointment every year.
Community Boards get a seat at the table in high-stakes land use, real estate, and zoning negotiations, and they work directly with city agencies to influence how government services are delivered at the neighborhood level.
Borough President Brewer and Council Member Margaret Chin issued a joint statement explaining why the City Planning Commission's approval of three proposed megatowers in Two Bridges today was incorrect and illegal, and vowing to keep fighting for Two Bridges residents. The statement concludes:
"We’re not against any and all development in Two Bridges or anywhere else. But rules either exist or they don’t. This is a neighborhood rezoning’s worth of housing, and it’s a wild departure from what the current rules allow. Two Bridges residents deserve the same rights, the same negotiation, and the same level of investment from the city that the residents of East Harlem, Inwood, Far Rockaway, East New York, Jerome Avenue, and other communities facing neighborhood rezonings are given. The de Blasio Administration’s insistence that these massive towers must move forward without a real review or negotiation is unlawful, and we are exploring all available options to oppose these developments."
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following public statement on the announcement of Amazon's HQ2 plans in New York City:
"New Yorkers are being told Amazon needs and deserves billions of dollars in payments and tax breaks to locate in Long Island City, minutes from Manhattan, when we have no certainty on a range of issues from local hiring to the effects on rents throughout the city.
"Moreover, the state plans to suspend local control over zoning – what gets built and where – not in order to build critical regional infrastructure, but to build a corporate headquarters. This sets a scary precedent for every neighborhood in every borough. This project should go through a full public review like any other major project and there should be a robust public engagement process.
"The consequences of thousands of new tech workers entering the housing market will be felt not just in Western Queens but in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and across the city. We’ll need something like 25 million square feet of new residential housing to offset the pressure of this new demand. And we’re not as well-prepared to fill many of these new jobs with local candidates as we should be: we must invest vastly more money and effort in tech training and career pipeline programs at CUNY.
"I’m thrilled that a tech giant like Amazon wants to be here, and I certainly want them here. But New Yorkers deserve to have more of a say, to know what they’re getting, and to know what it will cost before the pen hits the paper on this or any deal."
2019 Charter Revision Commission holds first round of hearings
September 28, 2018
The 2019 Charter Revision Commission completed its first slate of public hearings in each borough with a packed hearing Thursday, Sept. 27, in the City Hall Council Chamber in lower Manhattan. I attended and offered some of my ideas for improving city government -- you can read my testimony here.
The Commission was created to give city government's ground rules a full inspection and tuneup, with no preset political agenda and plenty of input from experts and the public. Residents from all over the city have offered ideas on city budgeting, community boards, elections, the land use process, police oversight, animal care and control, and more.
This first round of public hearings helped identify issues that are worth a closer look, and subsequent hearings later in the process will focus on particular subjects or provide opportunities to comment on specific proposals.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement after the City Council's approved the Central Harlem Historic District today:
"The blocks that make up the Central Harlem Historic District are a living piece of history, speaking to events from Harlem’s 19th-century building boom to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. I thank Council Member Bill Perkins and the Council's Land Use Committee for supporting the designation of this district, and congratulate the activists who worked to make this victory possible, including Valerie Jo Bradley of Save Harlem Now and the multiple local block associations and residents who made their voices heard.
"Landmarking isn't just for a select group of neighborhoods in mid- and lower Manhattan. We can and should use the Landmarks Law to protect superior architecture and historically significant buildings and spaces in every corner of all five boroughs. I'm glad to see this area in Central Harlem will be granted the protected status it deserves."
Fresh Food for Seniors relaunches in Northern Manhattan
Since 2012, I have partnered with GrowNYC, government agencies, nonprofits, and colleagues in the City Council to make fresh, healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables available to seniors in a growing number of Manhattan neighborhoods, from the West Village to Roosevelt Island. Starting Sept. 4, I'm pleased to relaunch our program in northern Manhattan.
For just $8, seniors can bring home a bag with $15 or more worth of fresh produce! Starting this week, seniors can sign up at my storefront office in West Harlem, the Kennedy Senior Center in Central Harlem, and the 92nd Street Y in Yorkville -- and we'll be adding more locations.
Click here for the full list of neighborhoods, locations, and delivery dates.
Brewer and all Manhattan Council Members: It's time to close zoning loopholes
August 30, 2018
The Zoning Resolution is supposed to set ground rules on what can be built where, to preserve light and air, create predictability, prevent development from overwhelming our infrastructure, and establish neighborhood context. But all across Manhattan, communities are seeing a new breed developments that exploit loopholes in the Zoning Resolution to achieve higher building heights that don't fit in the context of the communities around them, without providing any extra public benefits in exchange. This results in unpredictable, out-of-scale development -- and that's contrary to the whole point of zoning.
This month my office, with Council Speaker Johnson and ever Council Member in Manhattan, wrote to the City Planning Commission urging them to close these loopholes. Specifically, it's time to:
Stop letting developers build huge void spaces (in some cases, ten or even twenty stories of empty space) into their buildings without it counting against their maximum floor area;
Stop letting developers build buildings with with average floor heights of 20 or even 30 feet, to inflate building height without adding floor area; and
Letter to MTA: Don't slash Manhattan Select Bus plans
August 27, 2018
Earlier this month, my office discovered details in a Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget document indicating it plans to slash promised expansions of Select Bus Service in Manhattan, pushing back the improvements to 96th Street crosstown service and other lines through at least 2021.
The Wall Street Journal also unearthed these details and reported on them, and around the same time I sent a letter to Andy Byford, president of MTA-New York City Transit, urging him to reverse the cuts and criticizing his agency's failure to announce them openly.
MTA bus ridership has been suffering, and improved speed and reliability are necessary ingredients to turn that around. Pushing back planned service upgrades is penny-wise but pound-foolish.
Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island BPs to Mayor's Charter Revision Commission: Don't Weaken Community Boards
August 23, 2018
Borough Presidents appoint the members of New York City's 59 community boards, we work more closely with the boards than other elected officials, and we are the boards' first and most direct source of advice and technical support. We know what it takes for boards to do their job well, and we know how important that job is -- because community boards are neighborhoods' early-warning system and advocate during high-stakes land use and real estate negotiations.
Community Boards need to be strong and independent -- and they need to be able to rely on experienced members with know-how and institutional memory -- if they're going to properly scrutinize complicated land use proposals and negotiate effectively with real estate power players.
Seniors explore the benefits of creativity at Aging Artfully conference
August 13, 2018
Growing older shouldn’t solely be about loss of abilities – it can be a time of enrichment and new growth.
By 2030, it’s estimated that New York City’s 65-and-over population will be nearly double what it was in 2010. As this population grows and people live longer, staying culturally engaged is life-enhancing—and easy to do in a city as vibrant as New York.
That’s why my office sponsored “Aging Artfully,” an afternoon-long event aimed at getting older adults excited about the arts early last month. Over 500 seniors heard a panel discussion I moderated with Sandra Robbins of The Shadowbox Theatre, Jorge Merced of the Pregones Theater and National Center for Creative Aging, and Andrew Suseno of the SU-CASA community arts engagement program, outlining the many cultural opportunities for seniors.
Breakout sessions included one held by Dances for a Variable Population who led attendees in dance exercises from their program “Movement Speaks,” and another session focused on how arts and music therapy can help with those random creaks and pains. And Ed Friedman, the co-founder of Lifetime Arts, discussed the role prominent arts institutions play in fostering creative aging. We also had a resource fair on site along with a gallery curated by the Educational Alliance showcasing artwork by some talented senior artists.
Thank you to everyone who attended and to the staff and volunteers who made it possible.
Watch a video summary of the event here:
Celebrating the Dominican Day Parade ― and one ambitious student
August 3, 2018
In the stunning lobby of the United Palace Theater, hundreds of Dominican revelers and uptown community members kicked off the Dominican Day Parade with dancing, picaderas and an award ceremony.
More than 750,000 Dominican-Americans call New York City home and Washington Heights is the epicenter of this growing community. I host a kickoff reception every year in partnership with Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla and elected officials in the area to show how proud I am tat this vibrant cultural capital is right here in Manhattan.
The night’s honorees included Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, Dominican Parade president Maria Khurry and other parade leaders, and Jose Ramon Martinez, an impressive Harvard University student who has been an advocate for Dominican-Americans. “This award means that I’m in a position to be a voice for the Dominican community,” Martinez said. “Our presence is often felt but not respected and I’m working to change that.”
In Martinez’s tightknit community, word of his ambition spread quickly and he caught the attention of the Dominican Parade leadership, which awards a scholarship each year. Martinez, who hails from North Philadelphia, just finished his first year at Harvard. He’s majoring in Social Studies and has big plans for his college career and beyond. Martinez said that he hopes to get a masters’ degree in education and serve as a Harvard Teacher Fellow at the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), a partner of the fellowship program.
But his schooling won’t end there, if everything goes according to plan. Martinez said that he also wants to get a law degree and eventually get into politics. In a little more than a week, he’ll be back to NYC to march proudly in the Dominican Day parade as one of its 10,000 participants. Congratulations on your award Jose!
I’ll also be marching in the parade and I hope you’ll join my contingent. The parade takes place Sunday, August 12 at 12 pm. It starts at 35th Street and ends at 56th Street, all along 6th Avenue. See more information about the parade here.
NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement on new announcements in the Inwood rezoning negotiations:
“When this rezoning proposal came before my office it was missing critical pieces and did not offer enough to Inwood's existing residents and businesses. After careful analysis and outreach to businesses and residents, my office pointed out that the plan could add thousands of permanently affordable housing units by using available public land, and that it would pose much less of a threat to the businesses that form the neighborhood's backbone if the changes to the 'Commercial U' were delayed or removed.
"By including the Dept. of Transportation site for affordable housing development, by removing the 'Commercial U', and by utilizing the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program's deepest affordability option, the plan that's now taking shape is much closer to the outline I said I could support. I'm also very pleased to learn that the rezoning plan now includes support for a cultural center.
"Today's announcement doesn't solve every problem. We still need more resources for legal services and tenant support to prevent displacement and preserve rent-stabilized housing. The city should also be making every effort to purchase the Charter-Spectrum site at 218th Street and 9th Avenue and redevelop it to produce more affordable housing. I will continue pushing for these and other priorities, as my office scrutinizes the details of today's agreement.
"I thank Council Member Rodriguez and Speaker Johnson for their diligent work improving this plan. As I've said repeatedly, stopping this rezoning would not stop change from coming to Inwood. But if there's going to be a rezoning, it must be one that benefits this vibrant, inclusive community and helps to preserve what makes it great, even as it makes room for more jobs and housing. Today is a significant step toward that goal."
Borough President Brewer issued her recommendation on the Inwood rezoning proposal as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure on April 26. The recommendation is available here (PDF).
NEW YORK – Reacting to the news of a 50 percent editorial staff layoff at the New York Daily News, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today issued the following public statement:
"TRONC's executives should be ashamed of themselves for hollowing out a storied newspaper with a tremendous record of getting things done for the people of this city.
"Written local news -- both online and in print -- is essential to keep government honest and effective and ensure problems in our society are exposed and addressed. Our city, our state, and our nation will be worse off without robust local journalism.
"We can't sit back and be totally reliant on over-leveraged media conglomerates or billionaires for what is an essential public service. I'm not sure what form it should take, but it's clear that our city and state government need to do more to support local newsgathering, reporting, and publishing."
Manhattan Community Award Program funding applications online now
Applications for the Manhattan Community Award Program (MCAP) for Fiscal Year 2019 are now available.
MCAP provides small funding awards—typically between $3,500 and $5,000—to nonprofit organizations and public schools. Each award is contracted through one of four city agencies: Department for the Aging, Department of Corrections, Department of Education, or Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Proposals must relate to the specific agency's overall mission and goals.
If you have a project or program that could benefit from this funding, I encourage you to apply.
A review panel made up of the budget staff will assess applications based on the factors listed on our website. You can access the application at my office's grants portal. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 10, 2018. For more information, please visit my website's MCAP page. If, after viewing the website, you still have questions or need more information, please email our budget staff at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Vanessa Diaz-Lopez at 212-669-4814, Nelson Andino at 212-669-8145, or James Thomas at 212-531-4264.
Statement from B.P. Brewer on Supreme Court's decision to uphold travel bans
June 26, 2018
NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement in reaction to the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Trump Administration's travel bans:
"The Supreme Court failed in its duty today. This decision will go down in history along with cases like Korematsu v. U.S. and Hirabayashi v. U.S. as a shameful legal stamp of approval for a policy rooted in discrimination and xenophobia.
"In the long run this policy is diametrically opposed to American values and cannot last. Those of us who stand for equal rights under the law and against hate, fear, and division are going to win. I will continue standing with Muslims, immigrants and everyone else targeted by this White House until we do."
B.P. Brewer says no to current Inwood rezoning plan and outlines protections for businesses, tenants needed to gain her support
April 27, 2018
NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued her formal recommendation on the Inwood rezoning proposal working its way through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), rejecting the plan in its current form and outlining the protections for local businesses and area tenants that would be needed for the plan to win her support.
"Inwood is a vibrant, multicultural neighborhood with a huge amount of rent-stabilized housing and locally owned and operated businesses that provide an economic anchor for the community. Displacement is a threat that's already facing Inwood, with or without a rezoning. One test a rezoning plan must withstand is how much it does to counteract displacement," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "A rezoning could add sorely-needed new housing with guaranteed, permanently affordable units, but it cannot work unless it includes stronger protections and support for existing local businesses and tenants."
B.P. Brewer invites New Yorkers to pick up free reusable grocery bags for Earth Day this weekend
NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced that for Earth Day, which falls on Sunday, April 22, her office will be distributing reusable grocery bags for free at greenmarkets and grocery stores around Manhattan. In addition, Brewer's office will distribute reusable bags on Saturday, April 21 at the Car-Free New York Day event in Washington Heights on St. Nicholas Avenue near West 183rd Street.
New Yorkers throw away an average of 10 single-use bags per person every week, and the city as a whole throws away more than 9 million single-use plastic bags a year, generating 90,000 tons of plastic bags in our waste stream at an annual cost of more than $12 million. Moreover, petroleum-based plastic bags never biodegrade and litter New Yorkers' streets, trees, public parks, and waterways, creating a public nuisance, polluting the environment, and posing a hazard for wildlife.
"New York City has a problem with plastic bags -- a 90,000-ton, $12 million problem. But by bringing reusable bags when we go shopping, we can all be part of the solution," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Please stop by and pick up a bag from one of our giveaway sites this weekend!"
Free bags will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the locations listed below on Sunday. They will also be distributed on Saturday at the Washington Heights Car-Free New York Day event.
Earth Day (Sunday) Reusable Bag Giveaway Locations:
Tompkins Square Greenmarket, East 7th Street & Avenue A, 9 am - 6 pm Morton Williams Supermarket, 311 East 23rd Street, 7 am - 1 am Columbia Greenmarket, Broadway and West 114th Street, 8 am - 5 pm Key Food Supermarket, 421 W 125th Street, 8 am - 9 pm City Fresh Supermarket, 2212 Third Ave, 24 Hours Cherry Valley Supermarket, 1968 Second Ave, 24 hours Associated Supermarket, 592 Fort Washington Ave, Starting 8:30 am Foodtown Supermarket, 600 W 160th St, Starting 8:30 am Starting 8:30 am