Deborah Glick: Devil’s in the Details of Congestion Pricing

Below is a letter from Lower Manhattan State Assembly Member Deborah Glick responding to a constituent who urged her to support Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. If you have written a letter to one of your local elected officials and received a response, send it in glick.jpg

Thank you for your letter expressing support of the Mayor’s congestion pricing plan. As residential development booms and our population continues to grow, it is indeed imperative that we search for new and creative ways to discourage unnecessary vehicular travel and encourage more sustainable modes of transportation. I firmly believe in transportation planning that valorizes walking, cycling and mass transit, by making these modes more attractive and viable so as to decrease the number of car-dependent commuters across the city.

With regard specifically to congestion pricing, the devil is always in the details, which seem to be evolving. Such a plan must include greater ease for bicycles and serious mass transit improvements and I will be investigating the particulars of the plan to see if it will truly help our community. The details of the sensor system have yet to be elucidated and I have concerns about how these will function with regard to alternate side parking so as not to target local residents, most of whom keep a car for occasional weekend travel, as they circle blocks in search of parking spaces. Additionally, I have lingering concerns about imposing charges on small truck traffic, much of which originates as a result of small businesses that were pushed to the outer boroughs and now must bear the brunt of city-imposed displacement as they commute daily into Manhattan for regular deliveries. A $21 a-day tax for former Manhattan small businesses seems steep.

Thank you again for your sharing your views on this vitally important environmental and quality of life issue. I assure you that I will be thoroughly examining the Mayor’s proposal and encourage you to contact my office with any further thoughts or concerns you may have.

Deborah J. Glick

  • I’m the constituent who wrote to Ms. Glick and to whom she replied above. Here’s what I wrote back yesterday.

    Dear Assemblymember Glick —

    Thank you for the courtesy of your reply to my earlier e-mail. I particularly appreciate your expression of belief in “transportation planning that valorizes walking, cycling and mass transit.” Valorizes is an apposite word, and it’s lovely to see an elected official use it in this context.

    But I’m disappointed by the tepid nature of your support for the congestion pricing plan. The plan needs vigorous support at this time, and particularly from Manhattan delegates to the State Legislature. To be sure, that doesn’t mean a blank check, but it certainly implies greater enthusiasm than you expressed to me.

    Knowing that you must address many issues and many constituents, I’ll confine myself to three simple but fundamental points I hope you will consider:

    1. Valorizing walking, cycling and mass transit requires stripping driving of its entrenched and massive subsidies. Congestion pricing is a major step in that direction.

    2. Small businesses that will pay $21 a day to
    drive into the CBD also stand to benefit greatly from reduced travel times.

    3. Your notion that “most [local residents] keep a car for occasional weekend travel” doesn’t jibe with the facts. Fewer than a quarter of households in your district own a car, according to data from the 2000 Census. (See attached spreadsheet, with car-ownership data for zip codes 10007, 10012, 10013, 10014, which I believe are your district’s main zips.)
    This isn’t to concede the point about alternate-side parking, which I believe need not be a concern. Rather, I wish to ensure we’re clear that car-owners form a small minority in the 66th AD.

    Thank you again for your reply. I urge you to come out swinging vigorously and effectively in support of the Mayor’s congestion pricing plan.

    Best wishes,

    Charles (Komanoff)

    [Note to fellow S’bloggers from CK: write me at if you’d like the spreadsheet.]

  • Joe Rappaport

    Glick’s response, unfortunately, reflects the so-far weak selling job done for congestion pricing. If, as you and I know, mass transit will be enhanced, why can Glick even raise it? I’d in this case blame the seller, not the recipient of the pitch.

    (There also are serious questions about what mass transit projects will move forward if and when congestion pricing is approved: will they be smart initiatives that will actually improve transit for Queens, Brooklyn and other non-Manhattan residents, or are they big-ticket items like the extension of the 7 line for a big-building business district on the far West Side?)

  • I heard the same “the devil is in the detail” from Lappin and Kellner up here. Maybe the democratic caucus sent out some talking points…

    IMO, the devil is not in the details, but in inaction, inertia, failures of omission, reactive posturing, pandering to motorists, no plan of your own, massive future MTA deficits, etc.

  • her claim that local residents are mostly keeping cars for occasional weekend travel points to the fact that the city be looking much harder at creating itw own car-sharing programs such as those that exist in the bay area and encouraging private car-sharing companies like zipcar. reducing private car ownership would drastically reduce the need to “circle blocks in search of parking spaces”, and the need to warehouse cars on public streets altogether.

  • srock

    Solving our traffic problems are imperative in the near-term. Even if pedestrian and bicycle safety mean little to a given official, it is indisputable that global warming is occurring and continues to wreak irreparable harm every year. It is rare, or perhaps unheard of, to see a law that everyone unanimously loves– however, congestion pricing in any form will at least begin to mitigate the damage done by traffic. Disputes about the details of this sort of program can be worked out in the process of implementation, and should not be a hinder the passage of the plan.

  • JF

    I can understand that there are some politicians who fear the powerful minority of drivers and want to protect them, and I agree that Bloomberg’s proposal is problematic on a number of levels. But I’d rather hear “it would be great, if we fixed this” than “it needs further study to make sure that this problem is fixed.”

    I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been even one politician who enthusiastically supports congestion pricing. I mean, come on: lower congestion, more money for transit, cleaner air! Make the rich pay just like the poor do! Isn’t there some rabble-rousing urban firebrand who can get behind this?

  • Jay

    Glick is known neither for her intellect nor her leadership ability – and her response here shows why. Very depressing.

    Her short-sighted opposition to the Gansavoort marine transfer station is equally shameful. She really ought to take a leadership lesson from Chris Quinn, who also represents the area and who supports the station.

    Yeah, Deborah, why worry about kids with asthma if they don’t live in your neighborhood? Why worry about the fact that other *poorer* communities have been shouldering your neighborhood’s garbage for generations?

  • LMmny

    1. Is this the only pricing plan the backers could come up with? This country/state/city should consider going to a fair wealth-related system. Why should the compact car driver worth a $100,000 pay the same as someone worth $100,000,000 traveling in a chauffered SUV? This wealth-related system would also apply to businesses and their commercial vehicles, too.
    2. Will congestion be relieved or will more SUVs, and the like, fill the newly made space?
    3. Who ultimately is going to pay for this tax/fee and be hurt by it? With our trickle down system, not business and not those with huge salaries.
    4. How about requiring a “Culture Impact Report/Statement” prepared by a completely independent entity that is made available to the public? It is not enough for the mayor, governor, etc. pushing this fait accompli plan and the feds offering money for its implementation to accept it on face value alone. Many questions may or may not have been asked/answered about the plan but, the citizens only have certain special interest groups advocating it. The citizens must have broad and in depth information and take an active role in matters of this sort. Business and politicians created this mess and they want the middle class to make the necessary sacrifices and pay for it.
    5. Why not have a sunset clause that ends the program after one year followed by an indepth “Culture Impact Study Addendum” (available to the public)? Public discussions about adjustments, continuation or abandonment of the plan would follow.

  • A failed constituent

    Whatever Shelly Silver says, Deborah is sure to follow.

    She has done little or nothing for her district in 17 years.

    She talks the talk, but shines Silver’s shoes.

    Time for change.


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