Exit Interview: City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Charlie Rose, Amanda Burden, and Quincy Jones at Vanity Fair Party Tribeca Film Festival 2011. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

New York City has seen a drastic physical transformation during Michael Bloomberg's 12 years in office, and the driving force behind some of those signature changes - the remaking of the Brooklyn waterfront, the construction of the East River esplanade, and the ongoing Hudson Yards project - was Amanda Burden, director of the Department of City Planning and Chairwoman of the Planning Commission. 

She's one of the longest serving members of his administration, and her time as a member of the commission goes back even farther, to 1990.

Reflecting on her time in office, Burden talked about her greatest accomplishments (the High Line), the planning challenges the city must contend with in the future (the effects of global climate change) and her sometimes prickly relationship with developers.

She also had some advice for Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, who has a goal of creating 200,000 units of affordable housing. 

"The challenge for the new mayor is to persuade communities to accept additional height and density, so that more affordable housing can be accommodated and that can be a big challenge for him. It certainly was for us," Burden said. 

Burden is joining the outgoing mayor at Bloomberg Associates, which will help governments around the world implement projects based on his signature policies in New York.

Hosted by:

Amy Eddings

Produced by:

Tracie Hunte


More in:

Comments [6]

Scott from Brooklyn

Clearly, huge swaths of the city gave already been up zoned by Ms. Burden and associates, so if there is such a big opportunity to create affordable housing with more density, where is it?

Feb. 02 2014 09:25 PM
Henry Euler from Queens

As a civic leader, I feel that Commissioner Amanda Burden and the Department of City Planning (DCP) did a lot of positive work in our communities with regard to the massive rezonings that have been accomplished. Many sections were downzoned to fit the context of the housing stock in those neighborhoods. This helps preserve the character of our communities, making the homes in these areas desirable for the current residents and all those wanting to move in to these areas.
However, there is still much work to be done. My community of Auburndale/Bayside is desirous of a new zoning designation for single family attached and semi-attached homes. We also want to change a section of our community in the Station Road area from being zoned manufacturing to residential. We are also concerned about the zoning done along some of our commercial strips because we feel that it will allow for too dense development.
The notion that we need to accept more density and height in our communities is counterproductive to all the hard work that has been done to protect our neighborhoods from overdevelopment. If the new Mayor and/or new Chair of the DCP think that this will be an easy sell, they are deluding themselves.
It is true that more affordable housing is needed, however, perhaps that goal can be accomplished by demanding that a higher percentage of new housing units in newly constructed buildings, in zoning designations that allow such development, should be portioned off for those who need affordable housing, including not only the struggling working class, but also the elderly and the handicapped.
I would also like to comment that parkland should not be up for grabs for development. The plan for the mall at Willetts West in Flushing Meadows Corona Park is outrageous. Private enterprises have no right to take over public property anywhere in this City!

Dec. 29 2013 12:07 PM
Salvatore Principato from Manhattan

These exit interviews are insufferable. It's obvious that there's not a shred of self reflection or modesty in the Bloomberg administration starting with the mayor and running throughout his administration compounded by the fact that Amy Eddings is tossing softballs at the guests amounting to what sounds to me like a chest pounding, self serving interpretation of what I consider a deleterious period in NYC. Turning Manhattan into a gated community and Brooklyn into an adult playground for the moneyed class is nothing to be proud of.....

Dec. 27 2013 05:35 PM
martin Zelnik from Bronx

If Mayor elect de Blasio wants to implement his agenda on afforable housing, his appointments to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board will make an immediate impact...especially whom hew selects as chairperson of the RGB. There has been amazing silence on this critical leg of his 3 legged affordable housing stool
Former member of NYC RGB appointed by Mayor Bloomberg

Dec. 27 2013 10:08 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

Oh please. Asking Amanda Burden to "do" anything about affordable housing in New York is absurd. Look to the character as judged by action--not what she's saying but what she's doing and has done throughout her career. (Gosh, who will she be working for now? A tenant's right's organization?) No one wants working class or lower middle class people living in the city anymore although they/we provide services on a daily basis that make their lives possible.

I have lived in New York my entire life. My rent has just gone up 18%! when a "capital improvement" is added to my lease. It is no joke when I tell you within four years I will be homeless.

Thank you, Amanda and our outgoing Mayor.

Dec. 27 2013 07:54 AM
native new yorker

to Ms Butden,
I thought I would share my thoughts on the issue of
affordable housing as a person who lived in NYC all my
life ( Manhattan) and has a moderate income, quite
1. for every high end ie 90 story building or condo
require the developer to plan and include 10 % senior
accessible housing at fair market/moderate rates as
well as a percentage for handicap. This is not for
the poor and not for the rich but for somewhere in between
2. Then when the babyboomers reach the age of need
there will be accessible housing yo accommodate them.
3. require every new building high end or not yo
include a percentage of handicap and senior housing
w services included.
4. If not now when ???
Whete wete the zoning advocates on west 58 th street??

Dec. 27 2013 07:23 AM

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