Charting a Course for Pricing Through City Council

CD12_Seabrook_G9.jpgCrain’s Insider has the most detailed look yet at the odds that the City Council will pass a congestion pricing bill [PDF]. The good news is that pricing stands a decent chance of getting through committee, thanks in part to some maneuvering by Speaker Christine Quinn. As things progress, expect to hear more about uncommitted council members like Larry Seabrook (right), who may cast the deciding vote in committee. Via The Politicker, here’s the scoop from Crain’s:

Congestion pricing’s first test in the
City Council will be a vote this month by
the State and Federal Legislation Committee,
chaired by Maria Baez, D-Bronx.
Speaker Christine Quinn, a pricing supporter,
gave the measure a boost by assigning
it to Baez’s panel instead of the
Finance Committee, chaired by pricing
opponent David Weprin, who had requested
it. Quinn added two members to
Baez’s committee last fall, improving the
plan’s chances for passage.
But committee member Lew Fidler,
D-Brooklyn, says the nine-member panel
is split. He pegs the uncommitted Larry
Seabrook, D-Bronx, as a potential swing

Seabrook is one of 20 council members to sign the letter requesting "fairer" fees be assessed on New Jersey drivers as part of any congestion pricing plan. He is also one of eight council members to officially endorse PlaNYC last June.

Crain’s also notes that Fidler predicts a close vote in the council as a whole, while John Liu believes pricing will pass after some tinkering to make it easier for Albany to swallow.

  • It will pass

    From an unnamed source inside the council:

    “The Council is going to wait until the last possible moment to pass this so that Albany can’t change it radically”

  • Marco

    Council is tripping. Albany always changes bill language at the very last second. That’s why lobbyists stand around in the hallway at 3am at budget time. Less time means less room for error. A more jaundiced way of looking at it is Council will mangle the Commission’s recommendations, and then send some last second steaming crap up to Albany before City Hall and the business/civic coalition have time to fully react. Gotta watch for all kind of garbage like exemptions for cops, firefighters, state senators and assemblymembers, their families, people they’ve met in bars, people thinking about maybe buying hybrids, people who would rather spend $8 on part of a movie ticket…

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Oh ye in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is the king.

    The process is simple: ALBANY must craft Assembly and Senate intros. They will then request a home rule message on these bills from the Council. [This is the way the State law on CP is written.] The Council may then only vote yes or no. So, with due respect to John Liu, there can be no tinkering at City Hall. All the tinkering will be done in Albany, where public hearings are not de rigour, and the bill will be sent to the council, too late for fair and full review of the language, too late to change or correct mistakes, and too late for meaningful public hearings. BUT of course, in this blog land, where nary a word of dissent has been heard about the gutting of Environmental Review laws, I imagine this lack of reasonable process will not bother anyone.
    Or will it?
    And for the record, there are more committed NO votes on this plan now than there are YES votes, by a long measure.
    No matter how many mint juleps Mike Bloomberg serves to members at Gracie Mansion.

    Please keep an open mind to better alternatives for raising more and consistently reliable money for mass transit, reducing congestion and most importantly cleaning our air.

    Let the Lew bashing begin.
    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Eric

    Lew, if you want to hang with some folks who would like to see (much) tougher environmental review laws, you should spend some time on some of the blogs offering criticism of Atlantic Yards and its shamefully weak EIS. But if I recall correctly, you’re a fan of that mess.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Lew resorts to ridiculous hyperbole.

    “More and consistently reliable money for mass transit.” Apparently Lew has been under a very large rock for the last twelve years when a blind man could see that no one in city or state government could find the political balls to write a check to the MTA. Apparently now, with the State government obsessed with providing “property tax relief” for the Burbs, Lew will organize around a payroll tax to fund mass transit, that must be what he is hinting at here. He certainly didn’t think fare increases were going to help when the MTA suggested it.

    Of course, now Brodsky in Albany is pushing a millionaires tax so maybe Lew won’t have to tax our wages. In any event, both are promising that all those tax payers who couldn’t pay while we were running up the MTA deficit will somehow now pay to pay it off.

    And the “gutting of environmental laws”. When environmental laws are used as a club stall critical environmental legislation gutting is too good for them. Reminds me of the Kennedys stopping wind turbines on Cape Cod because it ruined their view. Phil Ochs had it right, “Love Me Love Me Love Me, I’m a Liberal”.

    Hopefully, Lew is just as right when it comes to his vote counting but he lives there and we don’t. He has been honest in his hyperbole, these are apparently things he really believes regardless of how many academic studies and facts you show him.

    Or at the very least he believes that is where the voters are. Thats what I believe. And in his district, full of parking lots, malls and car sales and repair shops, I am certain that the citizens want both mass transit (paid by other people), a car and a place to put it.

    Lew has played fair and respectfully here, saving most of his stones for process issues (maybe because he is soooo far off a fact base). The process is not fair to his auto-centric constituency, the SEQR process is being ignored, the political process was greased early on, yada, yada, yada. And he expects us to remember how important the process was to him and how open he was with us in his sharing of pristine process fairness for his future runs for office. Apparently he wants his cake and eats it too with regard to environmental credibility. All in the interest of democratic process.

    I’m not someone who is generally obsessed with process fairness at the expense of good results. In the end it will be much more important to me to get the cars off my block six hours a day than that Lew and his friends won us an immaculate democratic process. His future campaigns will have to be more than “I was open about debate” (making sure every whacko speaks) to make up for the damage he and Weprin are doing here.

  • I’m not someone who is generally obsessed with process fairness at the expense of good results.

    So, Machiavellian!

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Dear Mr. MAchiavelli,

    I write here with a transaparent pseudonym, which you do not. SO I am at a loss to assess your motivations.

    I am not a declared candidate at the moment for any public office. I do not know if I ever will be such being the winds of politics. I certainly do hope to continue in public service.

    I have SURELY pressed issues here far more substnative than ones of process. True, my last post was process oriented, and I do find it truly amazing taht the avoidance of an EIS on a project of this consequence seems to bother no one. But to suggest that my opposition has been based on process over substance ignores just about every other statement I have made.

    Finally, you choose to impugn my motivations, suggesting they are merely political. I guess I could point to the dozens of issues that I have voted on or advocated for that are not terribly popular in my conservative district. For example, see my crusade on behalf of homeless youth, particularly LGBTQ youth. Whatever.

    The proof will be in the pudding. When CP is defeated, I will continue to press my vision for improving mass transit, and paying for it, cleaning our air and reducing congetion.

    And then, instead of suggesting tht it is not passable, I assume Nick, whomever you are, that you will be fighting to pass it.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    Most recent NY Times:
    “A New York Times survey of the Council’s 51 members this week found opposition to the plan running at nearly a 2-1 ratio among those who have taken a position.”
    Congestion Taxing (I hope this unfair tax does NOT pass) has all the signs and symptoms of the %18 parking garage surcharge – a lot of people paying a LOT more money to come in and park in Manhattan, with no reduction in traffic congestion.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Well, I have no beef with Lew from Brooklyn, its the City Council hacks opposing congestion pricing that lose my votes. I count the votes about the same as you 2-1 or so of the committed but I assume you are closer to the fire than I am as I’m chained to this computer.

    The key word there is committed. There are certainly ten or twelve of the usual suspects so far out on this they couldn’t move with a straight face. It is thusfar the basis of Weiner’s campaign for Mayor.

    There are enough supporters hiding in the bushes however to pass it especially if a few of the oppositionists can be moved. The likelihood of that movement is a gage of the degree of the individual committment. Of the 2-1 there are many more strong opponents than there are strong proponents.

    The proponents are still looking for a “champion”, someone willing to really run this up their flagpole. Weprin and Fidler are proud of their opposition and boldly go forward into the fray. In fact the field of oppositionist champions is crowded. Its hard to even find Weiner on a stage with McCaffery and Fidler. At the interminable public outreach sessions few City Councilpeople came forward in support publicly engaging the snarling and cynical oppositionists.

    Ms. Quinn did however, and continues to, use her appointment authority to people the commission and now to manage the process in the Council. You heard the oppositionists on this blog and in the public process howl about how the “commission was stacked”. I may have even read that in one of Lew from Brooklyn’s occasional posts here. Seldom has an oppositionist spoken or written when a complaint or jeremiad of some sort wasn’t issued against the “unfair process”.

    That is subtle background stuff though against Congressman Weiner’s outfront campaign for Mayor on the Anti-Congestion pricing ticket. So the support is tepid and the opposition is boiling hot. And, the boiling hot opposition is still crying about process reprinted ad nauseum by the media.

    The Council supporters have always come forth only cautiously, supporting Congestion Pricing “in principle” and “if this or that”. However, many of the council votes presently “committed” to opposing congestion pricing have engaged enough to actually give their reasons. The question is whether the Mayor and the Speaker can satisfy enough of those reasons to allow those people to slip away from the tight grip of McCaffery, Weprin et. al.

    Mayor Bloomberg is supposed to be a pretty persuasive guy and apparently Lew from Brooklyn knows about some devious Mint Julep technique he employs, Lucky Lew. But I think the City Council can be divided differently. There are Councilmembers who get to do another term before limiting out (more accurately they get to “do” us for another term). They have a different position and perspective than the great mass looking for a political exit strategy. Conceivably they will be easier for the Mayor to persuade.

    Of those looking for their next political gig are the mass of oppositionists. Some think their opposition will help them secure city wide office. Some are waiting for their Assemblypeople to vote for this so the term limited Councilpeople can jump on that vote as a reason to overthrow the incumbents and “drive” them from power. I’m just guessing here but I think the Assemblywoman from the 41st Assembly District will probably vote a lot like the Councilman from the 46th Council District.

    There will be lots of this type of mirroring here. Fortunately for Speaker Silver he can call in or distribute favors from upstate Assemblymembers who will provide cover for those in his conference that need cover from term-limited council people.

    I want the City Council proponents identified so I can write them a check and encourage them, maybe help them out with their issues. As long as they hide in the bushes though I can’t do that. Yassky has earned some props certainly.

    My beefs are seldom with process. I think complaining about process is the refuge of choice when you are losing. Maybe the increased complaints about the process, the SEQR stuff for example, is a sign that the oppositionists feel some vulnerability. If the process is violated, sue, won’t surprise me if Weprin, McCaffery and team sue about the EIS in the unlikely event they lose. Why not, its like free political advertisement and they are all lawyers anyway? If you don’t like the process change it.

    No my beef is strictly with strategy and tactics and how much of the policy value do you have to sacrifice to overcome clumsy political tactics. In my perfect world Bloomberg would have run under the New Urbanism banner with congestion pricing as its soundbite. That didn’t happen, but it was political strategy not process.

    The opponents claim hide behind principles of an open society while using all of their political skill to crush good policy with a smile on their face. You’ll know when the oppositionist feel the fight is really going against them, then they will call for a referendum.

  • Lew from Brooklyn


    For me, the issue is whether or not it is GOOD policy. I don’t think so and have said why. Repeatedly I might add.

    I assure you that I am not running against my good friend Helene Weinstein, the Assemblywoman from the 41st AD.

    The fact that the process here has been flawed is not reason enough to defeat congestion pricing. However, when one is claiming the high ground, one needs to proceed accordingly.

    And I do believe that the gutting of SEQRA is a serious problem that goes beyond process.

    Lew from Brooklyn

    PS They used to say that Fighting in the name of peace was like fucking inthe interest of chastity. Anyone see the analogy here?

  • They used to say that Fighting in the name of peace was like fucking in the interest of chastity. Anyone see the analogy here?

    I see the analogy very well: your point is that bypassing environmental regulations in the name of increasing environmental regulations is like fasting in the interest of famine relief. Oh no wait, it’s like building parking to get people to stop driving.

    The problem is that congestion pricing is itself an environmental regulation. Clearly there was no environmental impact statement for SEQRA. I don’t recall one for the recurrent plans to allow right turns on red for Staten Island.

    There is also the matter of this being a one-year trial. I believe it still is, although the MTA budget casts a doubt on that. If it really is a one-year trial and the environmental impact is negative, it can be cancelled. We could even do an EIS concurrently with a one-year trial, but no one seems to want that.

  • Lew from Brooklyn


    When originally proposed, CP was a three year trial. The Mayor said it was its own EIS.

    However, NOW, it is proposed as a permanent plan so that the money generated can be used for bonding and capital purposes. So this is now a requirement of law and of the proposal. After all if the money can’t be used for bonds, then you can’t build all of the things that have been promised.

    Of course, even that promise is subject to annual review or more by the unelected MTA Board, to the cost overruns of all the projects and to the whim of not doing the projects that were promised to elected officials in order to get their votes,m but which werent the favored ideas of the unlected MTA Board.

    But I digress. The point I am making to you is that this is no longer a short term experimental plan—and it lacks an EIS. Which would seem to me to be a gutting of SEQRA.

    Definitely fucking for chastity.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Okay, but you didn’t address my other point: why did SEQRA not need an EIS? Because as an environmental regulation itself, it was assumed to be pro-environment. Are there examples of wide-ranging environmental regulations that have to go through SEQRA?

    Definitely fucking for chastity.

    Well, you have fun with that!

  • As the person who last summer first made the irrefutable case for the need for SEQRA for the Mayor’s transparently permanent pricing infrastructure (see archives here), I believe SEQRA can be satisfied in a number of ways:

    1)The State legislature can take advantage of the provision in the SEQRA law that exempts only the legislature from SEQRA. But the City would still have to make a SEQRA determination before implementation.
    2) SEQRA only requires an EIS if there is the potential for a significant adverse impact. Most projects get through on a “negative declaration” that there is that potential.
    3) The “neg dec” must be supported by documentation of the process and analysis that arrived at that determination. The Congestion Commission’s outreach and interim and final report assessing alternatives would provide most of that information.
    4) The neg dec can also cite proposed mitigation, e.g., resident parking permits, transit enhancements and the extensive data collection and analysis pledged by the State which can point to modifications to the plan.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Meanwhile, Paris is holding elections today, and the Mayor is considered largely untouchable by the right, precisely because he restricted auto traffic and spent money on transit and cycling infrastructure.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Angus, SEQRA did nto require an EIS because it was procedural and it itself set up the EIS procedure. A bit circular of a question if you ask me.

    Dear Ms. Konheim,

    The vry mitigation strategies you suggest for why a neg dec would be justified would require an EIS as well. Residential parking permits, an idea that I find more offensive than CP itself, has not been studied. How anyone can asssert that there would not be potential negative impacts from such is beyond me.

    Also, the fact that oyu suggeswt that there is something to mitigate from CP itself PROVES that a negative declaration would be dishonest to begin with. If there is no impact, what need would there be to mitigate it?

    I repeat: Environmental review is not just for projects taht someone doesn’t like.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • brooklyn and i

    will the Brooklyn section from all the Bridges ( Brooklyn Bridge- williamsburg Bridge ) neighborhood’s bee the” park and ride ” for all long island cars
    it is very hard to find a normal parking space in Brooklyn. what dangress effect it will be to the the local residential environmental and business?

  • JF

    No, and none. Talk about a troll.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    So Lew, as usual I buy Ms. Konheim’s answer. While you continue to raise some interesting points what you address hardly rises to the level of a “gutting” of SEQRA. So, if the process has not been followed you can appeal the procedural issues. Go ahead.

    As to your view of the merits of the case Angus pretty much said it all with the “building parking to get people to stop driving”. That has been the strategy in the 46th Council district and the traffic builds every day. Maybe the 46th Councilman will look for city wide office when his term expires. I’m thinking that whoever replaces him will have the same position with regard to congestion pricing. The auto-centricity of that turf is predetermined.

    As to whether downtown Brooklyn will be a park and ride. Right now we are an on-ramp, I’d be grateful to be down graded to park and ride.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Dear Nick,

    I am not seeking City wide office. I am sure this is a releif to Streetsbloggers. And I am also sure given the overwhelming sentiment on the issue in my district that the next CM from my district will also oppose CP.

    But as to accepting Ms Kronheim’s reasoning, you fail to say why. And it seems pretty obvious, if she has to suggest mitigation strategies to begin with, that there is in fact an impact to mitigate.

    And as to why there need not be an EIS on the various mitigation stragies such as the “you can’t park in my neighborhood unless you live here and pay the next new tax on Ny’ers residential parking plan”, I am without a clue. This part of the plan strikes me as themost divisive thing we can do in our City. Why not just GATE certain neighborhoods off? Who will get this privilege and who will not? Will it be the higher income tony nabes or will we see it filter down to their minority neighbors. And if so, what about the next community in? Or how aobut the communites farther out like Wasshington Hts, proud owner of the soon to become GW Bridge park and ride?

    and what of the effect on loical businesses? Will I be able to drive to WillyB and visit the local art store?

    You can argue with me as to the extent that this will all have an impact, but you can’t argue with a straight face that it will have NO impact. Hence a negative declaration is worse than a legal fiction, it is a lie.

    And that Sir Nick, guts SEQRA.

    And I suspect will in fact generate litigation in the event that thsi plan actually passes.

    IF it comes to that.

    Lew from Brookyln

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    And it seems pretty obvious, if she has to suggest mitigation strategies to begin with, that there is in fact an impact to mitigate.

    According to what she says, that is perfectly reasonable. If “the neg dec can also cite proposed mitigation,” then it’s not as black-and-white as you claim, and SEQRA allows a “neg dec” that includes mitigation. I don’t really know anything about this; I’m just going on what people are saying here.

    Will I be able to drive to WillyB and visit the local art store?

    The L train goes right there.

    This part of the plan strikes me as themost divisive thing we can do in our City. Why not just GATE certain neighborhoods off?

    Your outrage over this says it all, Lew. You’ve asked us to think outside the box, and we have. We’ve asked you to simply imagine a scenario where you and your constituents go places without bringing two tons of deadly steel with you, and you’ve shown you are completely incapable of this simple mental challenge.

    I’d be perfectly happy to “GATE” everything off. Let’s do it, and do it now, because these “GATES” you scream about aren’t keeping anybody out. People can come and go as they want; they just have to take the subway or bus.

    You and your constituents are welcome to come to my neighborhood anytime you want, but I’d appreciate it if you leave your cars behind. I know your district is so car-dependent that it feels like a hardship to take transit, but even in your grand plans there are no proposals to bring rapid transit to your district.

    If you’re not even going to try to change things to make it easier to leave your cars behind, why shouldn’t we put up gates to keep the cars out? After all, they still wouldn’t keep you out; you’ll always be just as welcome as you have always been.

    You’re clearly a smart guy. I have no idea why you refuse to grasp this simple concept.

  • Erik Engquist

    Geez, lotta posts here from my humble little Insider item.

    I will add this: the “park-and-ride” effect of CP, it seems to me, would be minimal. The vast majority of drivers are not commuting by car to save money, so I don’t see them circling for parking for 30 minutes to save a whopping $4 ($8 congestion fee less $4 round-trip subway fare). The savings is even less when you consider that the average car has more than one person in it (I think it’s 1.4). Yet I talked to a Brooklyn assemblyman last week who’s still convinced that his district would become a park-and-ride. I think most opponents really believe this, but also that they don’t want to examine the evidence, lest they’d be convinced otherwise. None of them have crunched the numbers or done any behavioral analysis of auto commuters.

    P.S. If Lew Fidler is running for citywide office, he sure has an odd fundraising strategy (i.e., not to raise any funds).

  • Hilary

    People are apoplectic about “park and ride” but I wonder if they have any actual experience with what it means. I lived in a park and ride community in metropolitan D.C. We certainly preferred that drivers park in our neighborhood rather than drive (crawl and spew) through it. Small businesses certainly did too. More ridership insured that transit from our community was rich and bound to improve (both inbound and outbound). I am quite sure that if you look at the Washington suburbs, those with park and ride stations also have the highest property values.

  • Spud Spudly

    There is simply NO WAY on earth that the CP plan could reasonably get a neg dec under SEQRA. No way. There isn’t enough “mitigation” under the sun to relieve the EIS requirement for something this large and this intrusive. Streetsbloggers must have known this a long time ago, or else they were deluding themselves. SEQRA is the ace in the hole for CP opponents. It would be nice to see Lew keep it closer to the vest, however.

  • I’d like to hear some examples of when impact studies have and have not been required, including cases where the legislation is specifically intended to reduce pollution, before I hear anything else about how it is so obvious that it should be required in this case. If you know so much about this alphabet soup, please put it in a practical and historical context for those of us that presume environmental review law was not written to obstruct environmental reform.

  • Spud Spudly

    Read about it yourself:

    I think it’s pretty obvious Doc. Here’s pretty much all anyone needs to know:

    “In New York State, most projects or activities proposed by a state agency or unit of local government, and all discretionary approvals (permits) from a NYS agency or unit of local government, require an environmental impact assessment as prescribed by 6 NYCRR Part 617 State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). [Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law Sections 3-0301(1)(b), 3-0301(2)(m) and 8-0113].

    SEQR requires the sponsoring or approving governmental body to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity it is proposing or permitting.”

    Read the second graph. If there are “significant environmental impacts” you’re going to need an EIS. And nobody can argue with a straight face that CP has no significant environmental impacts since one of the stated goals of the program is to impact the environment significantly. And you can’t just say that all the effects will be positive ones, because you just don’t know that. Nobody does. Even if the overall effect is to reduce pollution, if you’re going to radically alter the region’s transportation plan then somebody may suffer, and that’s what SEQRA is there to identify.

    Regarding historical perspective, you can look that up yourself. The DEC says this about it:

    “If an agency makes an improper decision or allows a project that is subject to SEQR to start, and fails to undertake a proper review, citizens or groups who can demonstrate that they may be harmed by this failure may take legal action against the agency under Article 78 of the New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules. Project approvals may be rescinded by a court and a new review required under SEQR. New York State’s court system has consistently ruled in favor of strong compliance with the provisions of SEQR (see also case law to be posted later).”

    I guess you can click back ten or twelve years from now when DEC finally updates the site with case law. Or you can dream on that CP opponents couldn’t wield SEQRA like an iron hammer. I think the more appropriate course of action would be to just submit the whole thing voluntarity for review. Of course, that would push the whole project to the next administration, which may not be so welcoming to the idea, but them’s the breaks.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    So much to teply to…but not Erik’s tease about my non-fund raising.

    Angus, there is thinking outside the box and then thinking YOUR way. I do not see a future [until we have an earth changing scientific technological breakthrough] in which significant portions of our population do not drive by car. Nor can our mass transit system POSSIBLY absorb all car drivers right now or for the forseeabloe future. these diffeerent methodologies will have to co-exist.

    the absence of an EIS will surely not tell us who is right about parking permits. Maybe I am wrong about which nabes will be overwhelmed. Maybe not. An EIS MIGHT give us a fighting shot at knowing. spud is dead on, Doc, about the EIS issue. And I raised it over 8 months ago on a BCAT program that Erik moderated. Sorry Spud, I have been enganging in a fair and open dialogue here, so holding my caards closer to vest is not what this is about for me. Ihope you can appreciate that.

    As to some of you not caring if I come to your nabe or not, Isuppose you haven’t opened a local retail business. If it costs a local business 5% of his or her volume, that could kill a business. And then btw, if it does it to several, it could turn your local merchant’s strip into a declining ghost town.

    Hydrogen fuel cells. Better rules for traffic. Stricter enforcement. Broad based regional tax to support mass transit. Improvements that will cause people who CAN’T take mass transit now to be able to do so.

    That’s outside the box for me. CP is not the holy grail.

    We can agree on most of the goals. We have a radical departure it seems when it comes to the methodology.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Spud, I’ve asked for examples and you’ve given none. If you can’t be bothered establish it historically, I can’t be bothered to believe your extraordinary claim that environmental review can/should/will be used as a cudgel against environmental reform.

  • And by used I mean used to success. I have no doubt that the motorist contingent will see that a lot of their own and the city’s money is wasted in court over this, but what I reject is that an endeavor in using environmental law against itself is either moral or likely to prevail.

  • Spud Spudly

    “Spud, I’ve asked for examples and you’ve given none. If you can’t be bothered establish it historically, I can’t be bothered to believe your extraordinary claim that environmental review can/should/will be used as a cudgel against environmental reform.”


  • Great! Now that that’s settled, I let’s move on to debating what cliches we can stick to congestion pricing and not doing congestion pricing, then decide what to do base on that “thinking.”

  • Spud Spudly

    There’s nothing “extraordinary” about my claim. It has nothing to do with morality or whether environmental review “can/should/will be used as a cudgel against environmental reform.” It’s simply a question of whether the CP plan meets the legal requirements to trigger a full SEQRA review. I think it’s obvious that it does, but who knows, some judge may disagree with me. Regardless, I’m not here to provide you with a historical legal summary of SEQRA caselaw. A reasonable person can read the statute, apply the facts and reach a conclusion.

    And “success” can be defined in many ways. A full EIS process spread out over many years may ultimately conclude that there really aren’t any significant adverse environmental impacts to CP. But if a full EIS process pushes the implementation timeline past Bloomberg then the opponents may “prevail” no matter what the EIS ultimately concludes. But you knew that.

  • “A reasonable person can read the statute, apply the facts and reach a conclusion.”

    (Lawyers might find that notion quaint.) Instead of playing statute interpreter on the internet, I’m asking if there is any precedent for this particular derailment from those whose solemn duty it is to interpret the law. Signs point to no.

    “But if a full EIS process pushes the implementation timeline past Bloomberg then the opponents may “prevail” no matter what the EIS ultimately concludes. But you knew that.”

    I do know about that cynical ploy of congestion pricing opponents. (As you’ve said, I love to imagine them all.) And everyone knows about the funds riding on a timely implementation, which is a problem for the ploy itself. Without a sad precedent for waylaying pollution reduction measures with environmental review, I do not anticipate an injunction that would hand the millions of federal dollars to some other city. If c.p. becomes law, these newly minted SEQRA lovers will have a chance to tell it to the judge. (And yet, the purpose of spreading these doubts now is to prevent it from getting that far. Cynical ploys within cynical ploys!)

  • Angus, there is thinking outside the box and then thinking YOUR way. I do not see a future [until we have an earth changing scientific technological breakthrough] in which significant portions of our population do not drive by car. Nor can our mass transit system POSSIBLY absorb all car drivers right now or for the forseeabloe future. these diffeerent methodologies will have to co-exist.

    Of course I’d like it if you thought my way, but when I say “think outside the box,” I just mean to consider things from my point of view. Not to accept the conclusions I draw from them, but just to consider, and not dismiss my ideas out of hand.

    As for “a future where significant portions of our population do not drive by car,” I’m assuming you mean where the people who drive by car do not make up a significant portion of the population. These are people who have chosen to live in areas without rapid transit and whose representatives have not fought for rapid transit, or who have good transit but choose to drive anyway. This driving, and the sprawling single-family homes, put a tremendous strain on our resources. Why should we continue to spend valuable tax money making sure they can get everywhere conveniently, instead of giving them transit options?

    I’ve shown you how our transit system could absorb all the car drivers that currently come to Midtown and more. The fact of the matter is that people in cars take up way more space than they need to, or deserve to in a city. You did not respond to that comment.

    As to some of you not caring if I come to your nabe or not, Isuppose you haven’t opened a local retail business. If it costs a local business 5% of his or her volume, that could kill a business. And then btw, if it does it to several, it could turn your local merchant’s strip into a declining ghost town.

    Don’t make assumptions. I not only have a local business, but I’m a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce (which supports congestion pricing). I wouldn’t be supporting this if I thought it would put my neighbors out of business; quite the contrary, in fact. The reality is that if we’d lose any business due to car traffic, we’d more than make up for it by increased foot traffic. The noisy, dangerous car traffic on our neighborhood streets is bad for business. If you come here I can show you several strips that have high turnover largely because of this car traffic.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    I sqat thru an info session by DOT on permit parking this afternoon. Outside of the fact that ehy seem to making it up as they go, business people ought to be VERY afraid.

    Two points: Since permit parking will never happen under these rules on BOTH sides of a street on the stame day, all it will do is cut down on park n riders, but will not open up any parking spots. It will merely heighten the competition for the non permit spots….which will be sucked up by park n riders early in the day anyway.

    Second, all 3 major American cities that have parking permits are either charging fees for same or planning on it pBoston, the latter, and Chicago and SF the former].

    If we follow suit, welcome to the newest tax on NY’ers….another regressive tax to be charged to anyone who wnts to park their car in front of their home.

    If we don’t, the cost of the program will be absorbved as yet another cost of guess what, congestion pricing. Further diminshing government’s return for transit.

    When are we goingto stop weaviong this tangled web and look to a broad based tax to support transit, one that won’t cost 50%of what is collected for collection?

    And finally, not sure if it was Angus or Doc, probably Angus, who sort of complained about people living in their big sprawling one family homes. Gosh. First let me say that my sprawling one family home is fully attcdhed on both sides. What occurs to me is that perhaps instead of planning for an increase of a million people by the year 2030 in NYC, we ought to consider NOT trying to squeeze another million people in our unexppanding confines. Maybe we should just suggest that planning for that growth is NOT good for our metropolitan area and that other areas ought to prepare for this growth. Save a little space for green. Save a little spance for jobs. Save a little space for history.
    How bout that?

    But to suggest that all people ought to live in multiple dwellings—which is the only inference that I can see—is just not the way I see the world. Sorry.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Angus, who sort of complained about people living in their big sprawling one family homes.

    I didn’t intend to complain about big sprawling one family homes, and I’m disappointed that you immediately took the most negative interpretation of my comment possible. Let me clarify:

    I have nothing against one-family houses, whether big and sprawling or small and attached. I was making a point that the sprawl of one-family houses is expensive and ultimately unsustainable. And when I say “sprawl,” I mean row after row of uninterrupted single-family dwellings.

    What I would like to see us move towards is not all people living in multiple dwellings, but a more variegated model. Here in Woodside, we have areas near stations that are mostly apartment buildings, then areas further away that are attached one/two/three-family houses, then areas further that are detached single-family houses.

    The concentration of apartment buildings near transit stations allows for walkable communities. I’ve often boasted about my neighborhood, where there’s a supermarket right around the corner, and on the same short block are a hardware store, pub, newsstand, pizza parlor, podiatrist (a nice short walk), health food store/florist, hair salon and laundromat. Across the street are an excellent French bakery (that happens to be a customer of mine), a Japanese restaurant, a newsstand and another laundromat. I could go on like this, but you get the picture. I do have to mention the wonderful Malay takeout, though, and my talented hairdresser Fernando.

    This is all possible because of the subway station and the apartment buildings. There are plenty of single-family homes nearby – your colleague Eric Gioia lives in one – and that gives the neighborhood a nice balance: populous but not too crowded. The people who live in single-family homes benefit from the density (sorry, did I scare you?) by being able to walk to all these wonderful businesses. Many of them own cars, but they don’t use them very often, because they’ve got everything they need right around the corner.

    You can see how this is a much more sustainable model, right? Instead of having to build enough roads and parking for everyone in the neighborhood to drive everywhere they go, we only need enough facilities for a few. If we could get people from outside to stop driving through on their way to the bridge, we’d be all set.

    So I do favor increased density in certain places, but this does not have to come from population growth. I agree with you that the projected additional million may be better off living somewhere else. As people stop being able to afford to live in detached houses with big cars and move to apartments, we can tear down some of the houses – but only the newer, crappier ones, mind you – for the green and the jobs.


Council to Vote on Pricing Later Today [Updated]

From the Daily Politics: Multiple sources tell the DN’s City Hall bureau that the Council is going to go forward with a vote on congestion pricing this afternoon despite the fact that it has not received assurances from the state Legislature that the issue will be taken up in the Senate, and, perhaps more importantly, […]

Chris Quinn: “I Don’t Anticipate Congestion Pricing Coming Back Around”

Dana Rubinstein reports that City Council speaker and current mayoral front-runner Christine Quinn is bearish on congestion pricing’s political prospects: “I don’t anticipate congestion pricing coming back around,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told an audience at New York Law School today, when asked about its near-term future. “It didn’t do well and I don’t […]

Will Congestion Pricing Make or Break Mayoral Campaigns?

While we wait to see what happens, or doesn’t happen, today in Albany, New York Magazine takes a look at four mayoral aspirants and how their positions on congestion pricing may affect their chances of succeeding Michael Bloomberg. City Council Member Tony Avella: "[Avella is] an obscure pol, and attacking CP allowed him to grab […]

Undecided Council Members Speak Up at Pricing Hearing

Janette Sadik-Khan and Rohit Aggarwala (left table) fielded questions this morning from City Council members, including Lew Fidler and Larry Seabrook. At the first part of today’s congestion pricing hearings, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Rohit Aggarwala, director of the Office for Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, fielded questions from the City Council’s nine-member State and […]

Congestion Pricing Endgame Begins

With less than four weeks remaining for the city to meet the $354 million federal deadline, lawmakers are positioning themselves on one side of the other of the congestion pricing debate, as state and city prime movers quietly ready for "negotiations." According to the Sun, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s office is drafting a congestion pricing bill, […]