Bloomberg Working on Livable Legacy

Matthew Scheuerman in today’s New York Observer runs a meaty cover story about secret efforts underway in City Hall to build a foundation for a more livable city. This is a big story and there is a lot more that has yet to come out. Stay tuned:

The Shape of Things to Come: View City in the Year 2026

  • AD

    “[T]he administration is expected to introduce the idea of congestion pricing.”

    I hope this means “will make it happen.”

  • Looking forward to seeing the whole thing. Will it be a real sustainable development plan or Atlantic/Hudson Yards Times 10?

  • mfs

    Most of the ideas in here aren’t new to those watching the development debate, with exception of decking over the BQE. I think the impact of putting them together in one place is admirable, but coming a little too late in the administration.

  • JK


    Maybe you should put a note in every piece on congestion pricing that says: “Legal experts agree that the mayor currently does not have the authority to impose pricing on city streets or bridges and must be empowered to do by the city council and possibly the state legislature.”

    The idea that the mayor can unilaterally impose road pricing is one of the most persistent and widespread misconceptions that advocates for pricing encounter.

    Unfortunately, it’s a myth that distorts the public’s understanding of the political realities surrounding the issue. It is crucial to keep in mind that road pricing in NYC is part of the big money, big politics world of funding for schools, civil servant pension and health benefits and medicaid reform.

    Pricing will happen as part of a grand bargain involving another (probably non-transportation related) issue which will win the support of powerful political interest groups. Since the state assembly, and to a slightly lesser degree, city council, is controlled by municipal unions, it’s reasonable to assume that the city unions will be involved in some form or another in such a deal. Since there has been no effort by City Hall or the big business represented by the NYC Partnership, to sell city unions on pricing, it appears that very little of the political groundwork needed to win legislative approval for pricing has been done. Indeed, many of those closest to the center of the labor/politics nexus — especially in Queens — are the core opponents of pricing.

  • JK makes a valid point, but the news here is that the mayor may WANT congestion pricing to happen. There was reason to believe Bloomberg would fail on mayoral school control, too. The question I’d throw out to the group: could relevant city workers benefit from congestion pricing by getting more manageable work and potential pay hikes for productivity gains?

  • JK – It doesn’t sound unreasonable to see unions or their political arm, the Working Families Party, support congestion pricing…

    -The MTA would receive a significant increase in ridership, which would help the TWU
    -It would increase response times for Fire and Police emergency vehicles- their unions should support it.
    -Most DC37 workers take mass transit or work in the outer boroughs – same with teachers…
    -Teamsters would benefit from much better travel times to their destinations

    The only union I could see having a case opposing it is the building trades as it would increase the time between road repairs…

    As for the equity angle, against it because it hurts working families, the folks I see coming over the Queensboro bridge look more like they are from rich Long Island suburbs rather than working class folks from Queens.

  • AD

    JK – thanks for the clarification. Yes, Alec is right: I was mostly wowed by the fact that mayor might lobby for it. Glenn, I think you’re being overly optimistic about union support. Many DC37 members who see "increase in transit ridership" might equate that with "harder to find a seat."

  • So another question: what kinds of civic activity can persuade Bloomberg, Doctoroff, Quinn, Shelly Silver and Spitzer to get urgent about creating livable spaces before the ’06 elections?

  • AD – I’m a marketing guy – setting optimistic goals is a starting point and then you back-in how you get there! Don’t let conventional wisdom deter you from making your case.

    Alec – Hold a “Transportation” or “Quality of Life” forum in every district with competitive elective races and invite the candidates. Make them take positions that EARN your support before they get elected.

  • Anon

    Unions in the city are not monolithic. It’s obviously very unclear from the Observer whether the mayor intends to pursue road pricing or just stick it in a big document, but I doubt that if the mayor and municipal unions were discussing grand deals like this, especially prior to the election of a new governor, that they would hold a news conference or release the agenda. In other words, we don’t really know what sort of discussions are or are not happening.


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