The 1989 City Charter sought to give communities a greater say in the land use policies that affect them. The charter provision governing neighborhood plans, known as 197-a, was rewritten and the Planning Commission was instructed to devise formal procedures for their adoption.

The new rules were implemented after a lively debate over the relative merits of local versus centralized planning. As the first to have its zoning recommendations formally proposed as law, a plan negotiated between Manhattan’s Chelsea community and the Department of City Planning (DCP) is being hailed by many as a model of how the 197-a process can be used to reconcile neighborhood desires and citywide needs on sensitive land use matters.