Portland Metro President David Bragdon to Head NYC Sustainability Office

bragdon_lg.jpgDavid Bragdon, the new head of the mayor’s sustainability office. Photo: Metro

Portland-area Metro Council president David Bragdon will be the next head of New York City’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. The founding director of the office, Rohit Aggarwala, announced his departure in April after a three-year tenure in which he led the development of the city’s sustainability framework, PlaNYC 2030. Bragdon, an elected official with experience leading one of the country’s most progressively planned regions, will take over the role as the city prepares for the 2011 update of PlaNYC. 

Bragdon has led Metro, the only directly elected regional planning organization in the country, since 2002. As president, he’s managed a broad portfolio with many parallels to PlaNYC: regional planning, including the administration of Portland’s urban growth boundary; recycling; the preservation of natural areas and water quality; and parks. According to Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland, Bragdon paid special attention to parks and trails and strongly supporting walking and cycling.

Bragdon’s appointment comes at a critical moment for the sustainability office. PlaNYC is due for a mandated update next year. Whether by ratifying or expanding on previous commitments or by including missing pieces, such as off-street parking reform, the update provides an opportunity to set New York City’s sustainability goals even higher than before. 

We’ll have more on this appointment in a later post. 

  • We have seen lots of on street bike paths and lanes installed. Next up, let’s have more bike-friendly parks. No more “dismount bikes” signs in parks, instead, how about a bike infrastructure that leads to and through city parks, waterfronts,etc. Many more New Yorkers would be biking if they new they could bike safely to a nearby park and then be welcomed to bike (responsibly, medium-speed, etc.) within the park. And this should include city parks and also state parks such as Riverbank State Park (where there is lots of car parking and big signs demanding cyclists dismount).

  • Daniel

    Hows about we focus on some real environmental changes. I support biking in NYC but it will not do anything to save mother earth in the long run. We need to address buildings and shipping.

  • dbs

    From Twitter:

    @shetha Wouldn’t THAT be something! RT @rsadowsky David Bragdon to NYC. Can we get Jeanette Sadik-Kahn as trade? #pdxbikes

    Um, PDX, i don’t think so!

  • dbs
  • I heard David speak at the CNU Transportation Summit last fall in Portland. I was very, very impressed. Although he is an elected, he sounded far less like a politician and more like the most progressive planner in the room, in a room of very progressive planners. I believe this bodes well for our fair city.

  • He’ll be missed here in Portland; unfortunately, term limits force his departure from Metro in January 2011. He was often mentioned as a possible candidate for other elected office in Portland (including mayor), but has repeatedly denied interest in such posts. As a self-professed transit geek, this is probably a wiser career choice than any attempt to move to city hall.

    But yeah–can we get JSK in trade?


  • You can have her for free if you’d like.

  • JK

    New guy’s job is to write PlanNYC 2.0, and/or hire the crew with the chops to do that. Fundamental to that, he has to help identify a new core proposition for PlaNYC 2.0. The centerpiece of 1.0 was congestion pricing to fund the SMART infrastructure fund. SMART was a city/state creation that would build everything from transit infrastructure to replace school boilers. The SMART fund was an obvious political non-starter because it vastly increased the mayor and city’s power at reduced the state’s. Among other things it supplanted the MTA capital plan. Not bad things, just things that had zero chance in Albany. The less grandiose side of PlaNYC had/has lots to applaud, but it’s importance as a policy and political office will fade unless it creates a policy framework which is appealing to the next mayor and City Council.

  • AE

    JK, you have it exactly right. Bragdon has a very big job ahead of him…

  • JK: thank you.

    But even the small things require some rewrites. For example: planting trees does not reduce the heat island effect in middle latitudes. It’s only useful for reducing warming in low latitudes, where trees are light-colored.

  • Mike

    Huh, Alon? That’s just not true. Urban heat island isn’t just about color/lightness (albedo), it’s also about heat absorbency – how much of the sun’s energy gets absorbed versus radiated as heat. That’s why LEED uses SRI (solar reflectivity index) rather than albedo alone. Organic matter like leaves absorb and dissipate heat effectively in spite of not being a very bright color. Secondly, a tree canopy is still lighter than asphalt – so putting tree canopy over what had previously been uncovered roadway is still an improvement.


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