Cea Weaver has two priorities in mind if her nomination to the City Planning Commission is confirmed.
“We need to build housing in our city that is able to solve our affordability and homeless crisis. And we need a plan for climate resiliency,” Weaver, campaign coordinator for the Housing Justice for All coalition and progressive activist, told BK Reader.
Weaver, who is based in Brooklyn, continued: “There are hundreds of thousands of families that live in the 100-year flood zone and face an increased risk of climate events. And when we’re talking about planning and growth, we’re talking about racial equality and climate resilience.”
Earlier this month, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams nominated Weaver to serve on the 13-member City Planning Commission.
Williams said in a statement that Weaver was “a bold progressive choice that has the potential to significantly shape the work of the commission and the future of the City of New York.”
The commission holds hearings and votes on applications for the use, development and improvement of property subject to city regulations.
Weaver’s nomination comes against the backdrop of a citywide housing crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
State law bars tenant evictions and foreclosures on many small property owners through May 1. It’s unclear what will happen after that date. A recent report by the Community Housing Improvement Program found that rent-regulated tenants owe more than $1.1 billion in unpaid rent.
Weaver, who holds a master’s degree in urban planning, brings to the table experience coordinating the 2019 campaign to strengthen and expand tenants’ rights statewide, as well as helping to win an eviction moratorium at the height of the pandemic.
The commission’s decisions “should be based on people, not profits. It is a public entity and should be driven by and for the public good rather than private interests,” Weaver said in a statement announcing her nomination.
In supporting Weaver’s nomination, City Limits published sharp criticism of the current commission and the real estate industry.
“Weaver’s nomination is particularly exciting, as it comes at the end of a particularly contentious year for the City Planning Commission (CPC), where the commission consistently sided with the real estate industry over the needs of everyday people,” the opinion piece stated. “Over the past several months, the CPC greenlighted two highly controversial rezoning plans: Industry City in Sunset Park, and the Flushing Waterfront Rezoning.”
Pushback from industry
Many in the real estate industry are unenthusiastic about Weaver’s nomination.
The Real Deal, a real estate industry publication, warned that “a socialist tenant advocate to the City Planning Commission won’t by itself block development in New York City, but it could be a thorn in the side of an already wounded real estate industry.”
James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, told the New York Post that “it would be unfortunate if the City Planning Commission became another vehicle to block the creation of good jobs and much-needed housing and investment” at a time when the city faces an economic crisis.
Weaver told BK Reader, “James Whelan is fear mongering in a way that’s pretty disingenuous. I would be one member of a 13-member board.”
She added, “the City Planning Commission is a place where New Yorkers with different ideas about how our city should look and grow can come … and give public testimony. As a commissioner, I want to take all that advice.”
Weaver is Williams’ first appointment to the commission. The City Council will hold a hearing on the nomination.
“I urge the City Council to quickly confirm her appointment,” he said.
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