“Cancel rent” housing activist tapped for City Planning Commission

Cea Weaver helped move 2019’s landmark rent law through Albany

Cea Weaver and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Getty; Weaver via Elijah Stevens)
Cea Weaver and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Getty; Weaver via Elijah Stevens)

New year, new face for NYC’s City Planning Commission: Tenant advocate Cea Weaver — known to the real estate industry as one of the architects of 2019’s landmark rent law — could be part of the powerful planning board.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams plans to appoint Weaver, 32, the campaign coordinator for tenant coalition Housing Justice for All, to the commission, the New York Post reported.

William Gerlich, a spokesperson for Williams, called Weaver “one of New York’s leading housing and progressive policy activists who has fought for equity on behalf of individuals and communities alike,” adding that the planning commission “is an instrument of real power with the ability to shape the future of our city in a progressive direction, to create change in this moment of crisis, and for years to come.”

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Williams can appoint one of the commission’s 13 seats. The seat is currently held by Michelle de la Uz, who was originally appointed by Bill de Blasio, then the public advocate, in 2012.

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Weaver told the publication that she’s considering the nomination. As part of Housing Justice for All, she helped push for the most radical expansion of tenant rights in a generation, and has advised a number of progressive (and not-entirely-friendly-to-real-estate) New York politicians, including State Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly member Diana Richardson. Since the pandemic hit, Weaver has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cancel rent and has helped organize rent strikes against large landlords.

“Ultimately, when it comes to matters of land use in New York City, my goal is to ensure that public land and public resources are used for the public good,” she told the Post.

Unsurprisingly, some within the real estate industry are not happy about the nomination. Weaver’s appointment “would be a significant setback” for the city’s recovery from the pandemic-driven economic downturn, said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a statement.

“[I]t would be unfortunate if the City Planning Commission became another vehicle to block the creation of good jobs and much-needed housing and investment,” Whalen said. [NYP] — Akiko Matsuda