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Fair Share: An Assessment of New York City's Facility Siting Process cover Fair Share: An Assessment of New York City's Facility Siting Process, (1995). ($4.00)
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Section 203 of the 1989 City Charter required the City Planning Commission to adopt criteria "to further the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with city facilities....". The Charter mandate was prompted by the widespread perception -- and sometimes the reality -- that some communities were becoming dumping grounds for unwanted city facilities. The city's poorer neighborhoods were particularly concerned that they were being saturated with facilities like shelters because most city-owned property is in low-income areas. In fact, there is hardly a neighborhood in the city, no matter what the income level, that does not believe it is "oversaturated" by burdensome facilities of one kind or another or, at the very least, overlooked when it comes to distributing benefits. The Charter provisions were a reaction against poorly planned and often secretive siting decisions driven by expediency.

To encourage early consultation with communities, a companion provision in the Charter (Section 204) requires the city to publish an annual Citywide Statement of Needs listing and describing the facilities the city plans to site, close or substantially change in size over the next two years. Community boards are given the opportunity to comment on the statement and the borough presidents may propose sites in their boroughs for needed facilities. To inform the public of existing patterns of municipal uses, the Statement of Needs must be accompanied by a map and list of city-owned and leased properties (called the Atlas and Gazetteer of City Property).

In December 1990, the City Planning Commission unanimously adopted Criteria for the Location of City Facilities, commonly known as the Fair Share Criteria, which became effective July 1991. At the time of adoption, the Commission called upon the Department of City Planning to monitor and evaluate the effects of these new and untested guidelines and to periodically report its findings to the Mayor and the Commission.

This report presents the department's observations about the fair share siting process during the three-year period since it became effective. It begins with summaries of the criteria as adopted and the statement of needs process, followed by an analysis of the number, type and locations of facilities sited under fair share. The report outlines a range of issues and shortcomings associated with implementation of fair share. The issues identified are based on review of borough president and community board comments, litigation related to fair share, consultation with siting agencies and examination of their fair share analyses, and the testimony of elected officials, community representatives and others at a public meeting held in June 1993. The report assesses the extent to which the fair share process has thus far achieved its key goals: "equitable" distribution of facilities; open and early consultation with affected communities; sound planning practices including heightened attention to impacts of facilities on neighborhoods; and efficient, cost-effective implementation of siting plans.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for addressing identified shortcomings. Recommendations include both administrative actions to improve implementation, and proposals for the Mayor's consideration to formally amend certain provisions of the criteria.

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