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October 31, 2018
by AIA New York

Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio organized a Charter Revision Commission to examine potential changes to the New York City Charter. Much like the constitution, the Charter is the guiding document of New York City’s government. The Charter Revision Commission has released three recommendations, which will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, November 6. Voters will have the opportunity to vote “Yes” or “No” on these ballot proposals.

The proposals are summed up as follows:

1. Campaign Finance: Should contribution limits be lowered, and public matching funds be increased?
2. Civic Engagement Commission: Should a Civic Engagement Commission be created to establish a citywide participatory budgeting program and support civic engagement efforts?
3. Community Boards: Should term limits be imposed for community board members, should there be new application and reporting requirements for applicants, and should land use professionals be provided to assist community boards?

You may read the full ballot proposal questions here. While the first proposal is not directly related to the practice of architecture, the latter two are very much connected with the profession.

The Civic Engagement Commission would oversee a citywide participatory budgeting program, which would increase public involvement in, and commitment to, crucial capital projects for public buildings. Meanwhile, the commission’s work to provide land use professionals to community boards and further general civic engagement efforts would be very beneficial.

Regarding the third proposal, opportunities for architects to serve on their community boards are often stifled by a lack of turnover among current board members. This prevents community boards from having access to members who understand land use policies. Not only could term limits help solve this issue, but the ballot proposal would go further by requiring that community boards have access to land use professionals who are employed by the city, if the Civic Engagement Commission is established.

AIANY encourages its members to vote on Tuesday, November 6, and recommends that they vote “Yes” for Ballot Proposal #2 in favor of establishing the Civic Engagement Commission, and “Yes” for Ballot Proposal #3 in favor of Community Board term limits and access to land use professionals.

As part of AIANY’s 2018 Presidential Theme, “Architect Activist,” we have encouraged our members to become more engaged in public service. We are fortunate that this year, there will be two ballot proposals which can increase the involvement of architects in New York City’s government.

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