About

 New Yorkers for a Human-scale City is an informal coalition and alliance of community organizations and civic groups concerned with city planning, over-development, supertalls, tenants rights, preservation, parks, and public space management across all five boroughs.  Their unifying petition can be found on the landing page of this website.   Lynn Ellsworth of the Tribeca Trust (an all-volunteer, neighborhood organization) and Mario Messina of the 29th Street Association (also an all-volunteer neighborhood organization) started the petition and alliance.

Human-scale NYC is a separate non-profit group that was born out of the petition drive with a goal of focussing volunteer time on developing the human-scale policy agenda and advocacy platform, drafting legislation, and creating a candidate scorecarding system. Steering committee/founding board members are Lynn Ellsworth, Mario Messina, Alison Greenberg, Alan Berger and Suki Cheong (Concerned Citizens for Community Based Planning), Lesley Doyle (Save Chelsea), Maureen Koetz, Ann McDermott, Layla Law Gisiko, and Kirsten Theodos. If you would like to serve on the steering committee (advisory) and eventual board of directors of the non-profit Human-scale NYC, please let us know.

Human-scale NYC has no salaried staff and no offices. Work is done on a volunteer basis. 

The mission of Human-scale NYC is to promote neighborhood livability, democratic control over the built environment, and human-scale urbanism by means of public education, policy debate, and advocacy.

FAQ

Are you NIMBY’s?

No, we favor environmentally responsible development that respects the historic scale, fabric, and character of our neighborhoods.  We do not support parking and favor policies that return the streets to non-car owners, pedestrians, children, bikers, and small-scale vendors.  The said, one of the key roles of government is to do regional transportation planning so that car-dependent neighborhoods are car dependent no more.  We haven’t seen much evidence of that kind of regional thinking.

Are you against density?

Odd question. Why do you assume we are against density?  We are city dwellers, after all.  There is a range of densities (meaning housing units per acre) that create human-scale, livable cities that people delight in, not merely endure. Call those optimal densities. We support optimal densities.  We welcome a policy debate about how that range of optimal densities should be defined with numbers.  We understand the answer will vary by neighborhood and history.

Are you against affordable housing?

Not at all.  We think there are other, less destructive policies beyond that of hyper-density that can be used to address the affordable housing problem in New York City.

Are you against change?

No. With respect to our built environment, we are for good change, useful change, desirable change, and regulated change. We are for all kinds of change – if the adjective in front of the word “change” is accurate and meaningful to us. We do not think unqualified “change” proposed by a developer or planner is inherently good just because the planner proposed it. Change in our built environment also needs to be supported by city residents in a democratic process that is more extensive than it is now and that gives residents more control over the fate of their neighborhoods.  Planners don’t like that, but that’s similar to not liking democracy.

Who is paying for you?

Our coalition members donated the small out-of-pocket costs of getting this website up.  We have no real estate developers in our coalition that we know about.  We are not a front for any lobby group. We have no budget, no staff and no salaries. We are just New Yorkers from everywhere in the city.

What are your plans?

In the first place, to get the petition out to other residents.  We would also like to organize an alternative policy summit to answer the question:  what policies would New York need to support a human-scale city?