FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES MEASURES TO MAKE NEW YORK CITY'S ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS MORE TRANSPARENT AND USER-FRIENDLY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND HOMEOWNERS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched four measures to make New York City’s environmental review process more transparent and user-friendly for small businesses and homeowners. The measures include a new Environmental Assessment Statement short form with clear requirements that apply to small projects such as changes in property line delineation; a clarified full form to better target and improve the analysis of the potential impacts on medium-sized projects; an upgraded Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination website to create a one-stop-shop for environmental review including forms, calendars and review support; and a revised and more user-friendly City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual to improve the quality of analysis and its reporting.
“If the City’s environmental review processes are to be accurate and thorough, business owners and homeowners need to be able to understand what’s being asked of them,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The measures we’re launching today will clarify the requirements and, as a result, they will reduce the time it takes applicants to comply and lessen the need for them to hire expensive consultants and attorneys.”
“Complying with City regulations isn’t supposed to be cruel and unusual punishment for our small businesses and homeowners,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “These measures will streamline the certification process, create an improved website, and provide better forms, all in the interest of eliminating the small print and bureaucratic foot-dragging. We don’t want to antagonize small businesses: we’re looking to nurture and support them. These new measures will make sure we complete the environmental review process – with better and more modern responses to environmental issues – while making things as simple as possible for everyone involved.”
“The challenge here was to create an environmental review process that is more robust yet easier to follow – and the City has succeeded,” said New York League of Conservation Voters President Marcia Bystryn. “The addition of a greenhouse gas analysis is a major improvement that will give a snapshot of a project’s climate change impacts and help identify areas for improvement. Plus, the more detailed infrastructure analysis will give a truer picture of water and sewer needs. Perhaps the greatest benefit is a simplified process and checklist that actually encourages applicants to follow the rules. We applaud Mayor Bloomberg and his team for this step forward and for their ongoing commitment to a cleaner, greener New York City.”
Environmental review is mandatory for any project, public or private, that requires a City discretionary decision. Each year, approximately 250 separate projects trigger City environmental review. Projects requiring review range from large area-wide rezonings to small changes in property line delineation.
In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg announced a commitment to make the environmental review process more consistent, transparent, and user-friendly. An interagency team representing more than a dozen City agencies, including the Office of Environmental Coordination, Department of City Planning, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Board of Standards and Appeals, Department of Transportation, and Department of Environmental Protection, has worked to revise the Technical Manual and create new methods to target analysis and improve the quality of review.
The four measures designed to improve the environmental review process are:
Revised City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual – Revised for the first time in nearly a decade, the new manual has more readable chapters, provides clearer thresholds to target reviews, and provides greater instruction on the analysis and methodology required. The manual includes new topics that align with modern environmental concerns (Greenhouse gas emissions, pedestrian wind, sustainability/PlaNYC, and refined infrastructure) and will be reviewed periodically to be more responsive to technological and methodological improvements.
Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958