Pro-Parking Policies Will Sully the Legacy of PlaNYC

10_doctoroff_lgl.jpgPhoto: 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 Central Park and the development of the Manhattan street grid.

Among the outcomes so far: The conversion of 15 percent of the taxi fleet
to clean-fuel vehicles, the construction of 79 new playgrounds, $100
million a year to increase the energy efficiency of government
buildings, 20 pilot projects to clean up city waterways, hundreds of
miles of new bike lanes. Ninety-three percent of the 127 initiatives
are under way, Mr. Doctoroff said.

"The biggest achievement of them all," he said, is a greenhouse-gas
inventory showing a 2.5 percent reduction in citywide carbon emissions, "at a time when greenhouse gases in cities around the nation continue
to increase."

There is little doubt that PlaNYC is an ambitious and noble undertaking, despite the failure of congestion pricing — which Doctoroff rightly cites as a direct cause of the current MTA funding crisis. But it seems a little specious to brag about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions when the Bloomberg administration has continued to vigorously promote VMT-inducing suburban-style parking, a contradiction not lost on City Room commenters like Chris, who writes:

What’s most frustrating is how Bloomberg and his advisors fail to
make some very basic connections between their policies, for example
working for modest transit improvements while promoting development
that is very parking-intensive. Bronx Terminal Market is a prime
example of this. Big box development with considerable parking
availability which will do exactly what it is designed for- bring more
cars, congestion, and pollution into the city.

So give credit where credit is due, but so many people wish Bloomberg would connect the dots.

Indeed. Even as he lobbied for PlaNYC and congestion pricing, Doctoroff himself was a prime mover behind the Yankee Stadium parking deal and greenhouse gas catastrophes like the Gateway Center. There’s the legal battle waged by the administration to bring some 20,000 parking spots to Hell’s Kitchen. And just last week Bloomberg celebrated the opening of driving-intensive commercial development at the Gateway project — one day after announcing a new "green" buildings initiative. In fact, when asked point blank by Streetsblog about the connection between more parking and more driving, the mayor either didn’t understand the question or chose not to address it.

Chris believes there’s something "far more complex than just ignorance" at work here. We agree. The question is, will the Bloomberg administration safeguard the progress of PlaNYC by reversing its disastrous parking policies?

  • Off-street parking could be great, if free on-street parking is removed at a 1:1 ratio. Use that real estate for pedestrian and cyclist-friendly improvements. Charge for the off-street parking and funnel that money into public transit. No more subsidies for fossil-fuel consuming vehicles!

  • Free Parking

    All the ginormous new parking lots at the new big box complexes are free. What’s really sick is that they could be self-financing if the mall owners charged for them. Instead the tax payer is subsidizing them. Free, ample parking is one of the selling points for these big boxers.

  • The disconnect is just another symptom of the city pretending that any borough which is not Manhattan might as well be Jersey or LI, and treating them as such. And you’re right, they are NOT that stupid, they just don’t give a s–t about the outer boroughs, especially since the congestion problem won’t begin to manifest itself until shortly after the current clowns have moved up or retired to some cushy private law practice.

    I guess it’s up to individual neighborhoods to make their own rules. For example, I lived in Astoria for 7 years, and watched dozens of new high-rises go up in place of 3-story flats, and of course every single one of them provided parking in the rear or below. Will the streets be able to handle all the extra traffic? Who knows.

    Now I live in Bay Ridge, where apparently the community got the zoning changed to prevent this, because there is no such building boom going on here. Or at least not near me, which is all 2 and 3 family brownstones for blocks around. Which presents its own problems over time with skyrocketing rents faced by newcomers who want to live in such a neighborhood but that’s another issue.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Once again I think Rhywun is completely off base. So much so that it is discouraging countering the silly NIMBY arguments. The great thing about NYC, and what distinguishes its planning process from the suburbs and exurbs and upstate is that decisions are supposed to be made for the good and welfare entire city not any particular segment thereof. “I guess it’s up to individual neighborhoods to make their own rules.” I don’t personally agree with many of the planning choices made by Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Burden but I am certainly not hopeful of turning that decision-making over to the neighborhood Yentas.

  • I am merely stating the present reality. But since you have ascribed a moral position to my description, I will elaborate simply by positing that “change” occurs most readily from the bottom up. Frankly, I distrust “top-down” decision making. What’s right for you is not necessarily right for me. I +like+ the fact that different neighborhoods in NYC offer different environments.

  • Tom

    Rhywun, be careful what you wish for. In 90% of neighborhoods the biggest priorities (at least as expressed by the community boards, i.e. those residents with the time to be outspoken) are more parking, less “killer” bicyclists, and more parking.


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