Please note: This was an April Fool’s Day post…
Planning commissioner Amanda Burden and NYCEDC chief Seth Pinsky joined Mayor Bloomberg this morning at City Planning HQ to preview a major announcement scheduled for Earth Day, the third anniversary of the official launch of PlaNYC 2030.
The mayor indicated that the city is preparing to adjust the way it shapes real estate development, in an effort to address what he called "unfinished business" in the PlaNYC agenda.
"We realized that a lot of our development policies were working at cross-purposes with our sustainability goals," said Bloomberg, "so, we’re going to try some new things and see how they work." While specifics have yet to surface, the mayor and his deputies hinted at a shift that could transform New York City’s traffic-inducing parking policies.
Burden announced that the planning department is putting the finishing touches on revisions to the zoning code that will lower housing costs, enhance the walking environment and reduce traffic, telling reporters that everyone would have to wait til Earth Day for the big reveal.
"Affordable housing and walkable, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes have always been top priorities for us," she said. "These changes are the next step in City Planning’s commitment to a sustainable New York." When Streetsblog asked if the zoning revision would eliminate New York City’s Eisenhower-era minimum parking requirements, Burden said, "No comment," then winked.
The most detailed commitments came from EDC’s Pinsky, who said he’d ordered a top-to-bottom review of his agency’s commercial development strategies. "In the last year or so we’ve seen evidence that the regional shopping destinations EDC has helped to finance really aren’t leveraging investment in an optimal manner," he said. "A lot of valuable real estate has been wasted on parking and retailers are failing to draw potential customers who would come by transit, walking, or bicycling."
After describing a package of aggressive new tax incentives EDC will make available to developers who build mixed-use, infill projects without curb cuts, Pinsky loosened his tie, removed his glasses, and surveyed the gaggle of reporters. "The days of bean counters designing this city are over," he said. "You can take that to the bank."
In a short Q&A after the announcement, Bloomberg said he was captivated by the parking census underway in San Francisco and floored by the realization that New York City had never collected such basic information to guide its parking policies. "These are important decisions that shape the city for generations," he said. "We have to base them in real data, not junk science or irrational fears. That’s how we’re going to finish the job of PlaNYC."