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City of Yes? Or Planning Mess?
What does Mayor Adams' "City of Yes for Economic Opportunity" mean for our Neighborhoods?

April 11, 2024, 6:30pm

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Michael Berne - Retail planning consultant, MJB Consulting

Laura Wolf-Powers - Professor, City University of New York Hunter College

Paul Graziano - Planning consultant, Associated Cultural Resource Consultants



George Janes - Planning consultant, George M. Janes & Associates

Join us online on April 11, 2024 at 6:30pm for our webinar "City of Yes? Or Planning Mess?"

Mayor Eric Adams is proposing one of the most sweeping revisions to New York's zoning code in decades. The Administration argues that these amendments will increase the commercial dynamism of the City by rendering land use regulations more flexible and by updating land use categories that have been in place since 1961. Conceived in response to perceived trends in commercial space demand and usage, the proposed changes are meant to address long standing high rates in storefront vacancy and volatility — a problem that intensified during the COVID pandemic crisis.  The City's approach reflects a sense that regulatory stringency lies, at least in part, at the root of this issue. Critics, however, question whether a less regulated real estate market would account for the diversity of businesses and of our neighborhoods. What kind of city will the proposal's once-size-fits-all deregulation produce?

To help us discuss the merits and limitations of "City of Yes for Economic Opportunity," we are joined by experts in the fields of land use planning, real estate planning, and economic development. 

Following the panel discussion, panelists will answer questions from the audience.


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Michael Berne

One of North America’s leading experts and futurists on urban and downtown business districts, Michael Berne is the founder and president of New York City and San Francisco Bay Area-based MJB Consulting (MJB), a 22-year-old retail planning and real estate consultancy hired by public, quasi-public, non-profit and private sector clients across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. He is a regular presenter and keynote speaker at industry conferences, and he has lectured in the graduate programs at Baruch, Pratt, Penn and UC Berkeley.  He is regularly quoted in high-profile publications like Financial Times, TheStreet, Planning, Bloomberg Businessweek, Governing and the Washington Post.  In addition to his widely-read “Retail Contrarian” blog, he has penned articles for Urban Land, Public Square and Dow Jones & Co.’s MarketWatch, among others. He served two terms on the Board of Directors of the International Downtown Association (IDA), including two years as a Vice Chair of its Executive Committee.  

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Laura Wolf-Powers

Laura Wolf-Powers is Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at City University of New York Hunter College and a member of the faculty in Earth & Environmental Sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center, with a focus on neighborhood revitalization and urban and regional economic development policy and planning. She teaches economic development, real estate development, community planning, and political economy. Prof. Wolf-Powers’ book University City: History, Race, and Community in the Era of the Innovation District was published in September 2022 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Together with colleague Sigmund Shipp, she is conducting community-engaged research on entrepreneurship and local wealth-building in partnership with the Brooklyn Communities Collaborative. She is an academic advisor to the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, a member of the steering committee of the Western Queens Community Land Trust She is a steering committee member of the Western Queens Community Land Trust.

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Paul Graziano

Paul Graziano, principal of Associated Cultural Resource Consultants, is an urban planning, land use and historic preservation consultant with three decades of experience in community-based planning, organizing and zoning advocacy in New York City as well as throughout the northeastern United States. A native and resident of North Flushing in Queens, Graziano is the co-author of the R2A “anti-McMansion” one-family zoning category which is now widely mapped in much of eastern Queens County. He also surveyed, designed and/or advised on most of the contextual rezonings adopted in Queens and other parts of New York City during the Bloomberg administration. Graziano is a past president of the Historic Districts Council and the founder of ( ), a statewide coalition that successfully stopped Governor Kathy Hochul’s “Housing Compact” from being adopted in 2023. He currently advises four borough-wide umbrella organizations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island totaling over 160 organizations on land use issues, including Mayor Adams’ current proposals, the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity and Housing Opportunity.

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George Janes

George Janes is the principal of George M. Janes & Associates, an urban planning consultancy that practices mostly in and around New York City. George has over 20 years of experience in zoning, simulation and visualization, and statistics and quantitative modeling. He works with clients as large as the City of New York and with clients as small as individual citizens looking to understand the impact of new plans, zoning or development proposals. Prior to founding GMJ&A, he spent six years as Executive Director of New York City’s Environmental Simulation Center, a pioneer in the world of visualization and simulation in planning and development.  George helped six Manhattan Community Boards in their review of Zoning for Economic Opportunity and advised each on how the proposed zoning changes could impact their community.  This work included detailed summaries for each community district of the 18 topic areas as well as Special Zoning Districts.  George submitted twenty-one pages of comments on the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity to the City Planning Commission and will be working to see that City Council makes additional changes. 

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