Bloomberg-Fatigue May Dampen PlaNYC Support in the Bronx

We’ve heard plenty of congestion pricing complaints (and some kudos, too) from the Bronx, but what about the rest of PlaNYC? City Limits reports on a recent community summit where Bronxites said they are unhappy with how the Bloomberg administration composed its legislative centerpiece, among them some who might ordinarily support pricing but are put off by what they see as PlaNYC’s top-down execution.

While many supported congestion pricing in
principle, the assembled group – including community board members,
clean water advocates, local elected officials and members of the Bronx
Council for Environmental Quality and of Sustainable South Bronx –
questioned its financial projections and implementation.

More fundamentally, the forum revealed
skepticism about the overall PlaNYC initiative and frustration with
what some called the Bloomberg administration’s heavy-handed approach.
Speakers voiced concern that PlaNYC was formulated and will be
implemented without sufficient input from grassroots urban
environmentalists who know what works. Others said the current
sustainability goals are too modest and that PlaNYC is more public
relations than policy.

"You don’t have to skim the surface much to
see some real collaboration and change happening in New York and other
cities. That’s why this is really frustrating, because it feels like
the door has been closed and they aren’t interested in new ideas," said
Miquela Craytor, deputy director of Sustainable South Bronx, an urban
environmental justice group that unsuccessfully pushed the architects
of PlaNYC to include the creation of "green-collar" jobs – those within
or promoting environmentally sustainable industry – as a central tenet
of the initiative.

"They are saying, ‘we just want to get this
plan done and then we’ll think about other ideas.’ Well, then you just
want to tell me what you are doing. You are really not interested in
what I say," Craytor added.

In addition to the oft-repeated concerns about motorists using the borough as a park-and-ride hub, there is also doubt, founded on precedent, that transit dollars will reach low-income Bronx neighborhoods.

Craytor and Dart Westphal, a former president
of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, said the city needs to
make subway and bus improvements before the plan is implemented, not
afterward.

Westphal said he found it hard to trust that the
revenues from congestion pricing would be equitably directed towards
transit improvements throughout the city.

"I’m really concerned,"
he said, recounting promises made by City Hall when the Third Avenue
Elevated train was dismantled during the Lindsay administration that it
would be replaced with an extension of the semi-mythical Second Avenue
line. Buses that troll the route of the old El were supposed to be a
temporary fix, Westphal said. "I’m really concerned all this congestion
pricing money will go to the Number 7 train extension and the JFK
express link in Lower Manhattan and building the west side, and we’ll
still be stuck waiting for the bus."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

A Bronx Cheer for Congestion Pricing

|
At a press conference today, a group of Bronx and northern Manhattan elected officials have signed on in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing effort. They are: Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Assembly member Michael Benedetto Assembly member Adam Clayton Powell IV Bronx Democratic Chair and Assembly member Jose Rivera. Council member James Vacca. Council […]

Pro-Parking Policies Will Sully the Legacy of PlaNYC

|
Photo: Getty via Daily Intel Former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, widely credited as the architect of PlaNYC, spoke at the Museum of the City of New York last week on the potential impact of Mayor Bloomberg’s signature program. According to City Room, Doctoroff considers the two-year-old environmental blueprint on par with such grand projects as […]

Small Business Leaders Voice Support For PlaNYC

|
Critics of congestion pricing often claim that small businesses will bear an unfair burden if the Mayor is successful in implementing his plan. But yesterday, a diverse group of small business leaders from throughout the five boroughs gathered on the steps of City Hall yesterday to voice their support for the Mayor’s PlaNYC initiative. From […]

Letter of the Week: Congestion Pricing Diplomacy

|
The Bloomberg Administration is aiming to push its PlaNYC congestion pricing proposal through this session of the state legislature. That means the entire debate will take place within the next 36 days or so. One thing that you can do as an individual citizens to support the Mayor’s plan is to write a letter to […]

Low Turnout But Surprising Support at Bronx Congestion Hearing

|
Erik Shilling reports: Though many agreed that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to charge cars and trucks to enter parts of Manhattan could be tweaked, a majority of those who spoke in last night’s Traffic Congestion Mitigation hearing in the Bronx expressed their support. The theater at Hostos Community College was quite a bit less than […]

PlaNYC Mastermind Rohit Aggarwala Leaving NYC

|
Rohit Aggarwala (better known as Rit), the lead author of PlaNYC 2030 and director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, is leaving the post he created from scratch, the Bloomberg administration announced today. Aggarwala will be stepping down in June to join his soon-to-be wife in California. Aggarwala was tapped in 2006 […]