Wish list for new Council


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Local leaders share their hopes for 2018 legislative agenda


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  • Council Member Corey Johnson, whose West Side district includes Greenwich Village and Chelsea, is expected to win election as the City Council’s speaker for the upcoming term. Photo: William Alatriste for the New York City Council




BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

As the City Council returns to session in 2018, Council Member Corey Johnson is expected to win election as the body’s next speaker and its de facto leader, succeeding term-limited Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Johnson, whose 3rd Council District includes the West Village, Chelsea and Hells Kitchen, has said that as speaker he plans to direct focus toward building supportive housing for the homeless population and strengthening the Council’s land use division to play a more proactive role in rezoning and other land use issues.

The speakership, selected by a vote of the 51 Council Members, is among the most powerful political posts in the city and wields broad power to shape the body’s legislative agenda.

“We have a diverse Council, ideologically and in other ways,” Johnson said at a November debate among speaker candidates hosted by City & State New York. “We have to ensure that every member feels heard and empowered and that their voice really counts, and that’s the type of speaker I would be.”

As the Council returns to session, we asked community leaders to share the entries on their wish lists for the city’s legislative agenda in 2018:

Keith Powers, City Council Member, District 4

My three legislative priorities in the next Council include preserving affordable housing, protecting small businesses, and addressing the impact of overdevelopment on the East Side.

As I promised during my campaign, I’ll work to make housing laws fair, providing residents an opportunity to stay in their homes for the long haul. With an ease in restrictions, businesses will have a better chance of succeeding and entrepreneurs have a shot at growing our economy. I’ll protect communities from overdevelopment by putting systems in place that preserve their character. Reducing homelessness and ensuring we have enough Pre-K seats across the district are also top of mind.

And regardless of what comes out of Washington next, from creating further income inequality to minimizing the issue of climate change, I’m ready to fight for New Yorkers.

As Health Committee Chair, Corey Johnson improved the lives of New Yorkers, as well as protected our vulnerable communities these past four years. This great work will only continue as he becomes Speaker. He’s prepared to lead us through the challenging years ahead, as D.C. presents new threats that we’ll tackle head on.

Helen Rosenthal, City Council Member, District 6

As we look to the year ahead, there is so much more to do to in terms of preserving affordable housing and protecting NYC tenants from harassment and displacement. One of my top priorities for 2018 will be putting my Office of the Tenant Advocate legislation, and all of the “Stand for Tenant Safety” laws, fully into effect.

I will also be focused on helping small businesses remain on the Upper West Side and thrive; fighting for development projects that are truly appropriate for our community; and meeting the needs of seniors and other New Yorkers who rely upon the social safety net. I’ll be working on all of these important issues with a guiding philosophy of fiscal responsibility.

Finally, I’ll be using my platform and voice to address the pronounced under-representation of women in elected office and leadership positions in City government; and to provide greater protections for people of all genders against workplace harassment — in the public and private sectors.

Only 11 of the 51 members in this new Council term are women. The correlation between the paucity of women in office, and effective protections against sexual harassment and pay inequity is clear. And to be clear — gender parity is critical for every societal issue we want to solve. To be fully effective, we need legislative bodies that actually reflect our society.

Sean Khorsandi, Executive Director, Landmark West!

For years, developers have been touting projects as “as-of-right” despite that term evolving into ever-more egregious incarnations. Landmark West! would like the Council to consider what the public can claim as as-of-right? Over-development threatens our public spaces, our skyline, and our sunlight. It over-burdens our infrastructure. What truisms are protected for the everyday citizen?

Landmark West! would like to see a re-prioritization of the public in land use decisions and planning. The East River Fifties Alliance made great progress this year. Communities should have a say in how they evolve. We need our elected leaders to reboot public participation and relevance.

Roberta Semer, Chair, Community Board 7

We want our community to continue to thrive. We need to preserve and create additional affordable housing, make it easier for local retail to deal with city agencies’ regulations, improve transportation infrastructure, create new legislation to ensure that new developments are contextual within the neighborhood (avoid supertalls), prevent homelessness, and ensure that all streets in the community meet Vision Zero standards.

Monica Blum, President, Lincoln Square BID

I look forward to working with the Council Speaker on issues of importance to the Lincoln Square BID including the proliferation of homelessness and other quality of life issues and continuing to make the Lincoln Square neighborhood an exciting destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Matthew Bauer, President, Madison Avenue BID

The NYC Department of Small Business Services not only supports and provides oversight to the City’s Business Improvement Districts and Local Development Corporations, it provides critical technical assistance to retailers throughout the five boroughs. Further empowering SBS in its efforts to support the city’s commercial corridors would be of great service to local businesses, their customers and their employees.

Valerie Mason, President, East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association

We need the Council to come out and support what local communities want vis-a-vis development. We need their support to help us make the city planning commission listen to what community boards are advocating on behalf of their constituents. East 50s [rezoning] and Community Board 8 resolution to limit height to 210 feet are two examples.

Council also needs to be active on issues relating to transportation, bike safety issues being a priority. How are bike lanes, bus-only lanes, creation of pedestrian malls and the influx of Uber and Lyft-type services adding to congestion? Transportation also includes making our sidewalks safe for pedestrians with as much room for them as possible.

We are lucky to be in a time that violent crime is not a major issue so we and the City Council should take the opportunity to focus on issues that affect New York City residents’ quality of life, zoning, transportation, pedestrian safety, sanitation, education and maintain our city’s reputation as the number one city in the world.

Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Our legislative priorities are better oversight of the Landmarks Preservation Commission by the City Council, and ensuring that any approval of the 14th Street Tech Hub by the City Council is paired with zoning protections for the adjacent residential Greenwich Village and East Village neighborhood.

We’re very much looking forward to working with Corey Johnson in his new capacity as speaker as well as continuing to work with him in his capacity as City Council Member for the 3rd district. We have had a very productive and beneficial working relationship with Corey in the Council and we expect that will only continue with his new additional duties, responsibilities, and powers.

Barbara Adler, Executive Director, Columbus Avenue BID

The homeless population has really gotten out of control in New York City, and I think that the city needs to do something different to end that. In our district, sidewalk bridges have also proliferated dramatically. Permits are often extended so they stay up even when work isn’t going on, killing businesses on blocks that are covered by the sidewalk bridges. The recently passed commercial rent tax reform bill could be a huge boon to businesses below 96th Street, and I hope the city will make sure that the tax is completely eliminated and that anyone who pays it this year will get a rebate.

Mark Dicus, Executive Director, SoHo Broadway Initiative

The SoHo Broadway Initiative hopes City Council picks up street vending reform legislation in 2018. It’s a shame to have a broken system that lets vending permit holders trade permits illegally on a black market with a first come first serve siting system that leads to fights over precious locations and carts that legally spew exhaust and noise pollution into our neighborhoods. The newly seated City Council should pick up where the prior Council left off by forming an advisory committee of stakeholders to lead an inclusive, collaborative and fact-based approach to bring about much needed reforms that will create a street vending regulatory system that works for vendors, residents, businesses and visitors.

Anthony Notaro, Chair, Community Board 1:

There are two major areas that are significant in Lower Manhattan. One is implementation of resiliency measures, particularly after Superstorm Sandy. The city has committed to building coastal resiliency, some of which has advanced on the East Side between 25th Street down to the Manhattan Bridge, but we in Lower Manhattan, from the Brooklyn Bridge around the tip of the island up to northern Battery Park City, are still doing assessment and planning five years later. That’s a very high agenda item for residents and businesses in Community Board 1.

The second is not very glamorous, but really important. We’ve had so much development and conversion from commercial to residential in Community Board 1, and it’s had a major impact on quality of life. Our population has essentially doubled since 2001, and yet much of the infrastructure has not been adjusted to accommodate that growth. It’s had a major impact on garbage collection, transportation, pedestrian safety, traffic and school seats. So we’re looking to the city government in terms of policies to help with infrastructure funding and development.

Michael Garofalo: reporter@strausnews.com





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