Today’s Headlines

  • NYC Posts Slow Growth Numbers, Says Census; Pols Blame Immigrant Undercount (NYT, Post)
  • LI Bus Riders and Workers Make Their Case Against Slashing 25 Routes (MTR)
  • Diaz Continues Push for Hotel at Yankee Stadium Garages; Others Want Parks, Flea Market (News)
  • Juan Gonzalez: Public Won’t See One Cent in Rent or Taxes From Those Garages (News)
  • CB 2 Approves Just One of Six Pop-Up Café Applications; Sean Sweeney Must Be Gloating (Post)
  • After Waiting a Decade, Prospect Heights to See Eastern Parkway Redesign in 2012 (Bklyn Paper)
  • Two School Bus Drivers Had Suspended Licenses, Kept Working Under False Names (Post)
  • NYC Considers Waste-To-Energy Plants, Potentially Cutting Trash-Hauling Truck Trips (Gotham Gazette)
  • Transpo Nation Has More Highlights from Yesterday’s Howard Wolfson Interview
  • ConEd Plan to Close Employee Parking Lot Has Union, Nearby Business in a Tizzy (Bklyn Paper)
  • DC Presses Forward on Demand-Based Parking Pricing, Adjusting Rates to Occupancy (GGW)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    “No one should forget that this boondoggle came about because the Yankees – who have no involvement in the garages – put a gun to the city’s head. They demanded a 9,000-space parking system from the city and the state as part of agreeing to build a new stadium. Now, those garages have become a financial swamp for taxpayers.”

    There’s the fact. But the city, and more specifically Bronx politicians, gave them the gun. Can you imagine what they would have said if Bloomberg said “go to Jersey if you want to?” Call them out, Juan.

  • bmwed

    The parking lot is such a disastrous boondoggle. 9000 spaces?? you got to be kidding. there are only 50000 seats in the new stadium. most sane people would take the 4 or d to the stadium. i love driving, but the insanity of dealing with traffic is a nightmare. and now who suffers. everybody, from the local area that have congested streets b/c of the outrageous parking fees from this garage to the pollution of the extra traffic.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Does any group of residents or businesses in SoHo give enough of a crap to form a new community organization to compete with Sean Sweeney’s SoHo Alliance? This guy represents a very small handful of people and he is destroying your neighborhood.

  • SoBronx Resident

    While we’re talking about parks and fleamarkets and such to replace overbuilt Yankees parking:

    As part of the construction of the new garages in 2008-2010, there were a few bright spots where previously existing parking was removed and replaced with higher and better uses. One such place was the former surface parking lot at the southeast corner of 157th Street and River Avenue. Prior to the renovations, it had been a place where 76 cars were parked on game days. Otherwise it just sat vacant and unused for 280 days a year. But it was turned into a facility that has proven extraordinarily popular, hosting lively activity well into the night from spring through fall. It’s now a sizeable skateboard park. (As a byproduct, I think the amount of evening skateboarding on the steps of the Bronx County Building may have decreased a little bit.) There is clearly pent-up demand for more skateboarding facilities, not that it could raise much if any revenue for the bond-holders in any way.

    If you ask me, this was the most successful change in the entire parking garage renovation project.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well, maybe the solution is to keep this garage and remove parking elsewhere. But remember, the Yankees have a deal that guarantees them 9,000 parking spaces. Do folks in the Bronx believe the city should cut the budget elsewhere and pay the Yankees a few $100 million to get out of that arrangement?

    The first step is bankruptcy, which divests the vested interests and equalizes claims. And maybe not just for the parking garages.

  • Pete

    That NYPost article about the Popup cafe spaces. Can someone please explain the logic disconnect about how popup cafes result in squeezing the middle class?

    (and what middle class is there in Soho, anyways?)

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    I like Larry’s idea: get rid of parking wherever you can. Put in street cafes, etc.

  • Daphna

    So the DOT wanted 7 locations. Then Transportation Committee cut it down to 6. Then the full Manhattan Community Board 2 cut it down to 1. This is horrible! These community boards do not represent their communities!

    Going forward:
    1) Is there any way to convince the DOT to treat the community boards as advisory-only? That is all they are. DOT has voluntarily given them more authority. These community boards clearly do not represent their communities so if anything they should be weakened instead of made stronger as the DOT is doing. (The DOT does not get credit in the media anyway for having collaborated with the community, so they should just do what is right for our streets. The DOT is loosing out in every way: they are letting their livable streets plans get watered down, canceled, or delayed by community boards, but are not even getting credit for having compromised. Meanwhile, the DOT still suffers bad press and New Yorkers suffer from not having livable streets.)

    2) Is there any way to lobby Manhattan Community Board 2 with letters and emails and get them to reconsider the other 6 pop-up cafes that they turned down? If they got a deluge of emails, maybe they would put it on the agenda for next month and have another vote on the other 6 possible locations supported by the DOT, or at least the other 5 that the Transportation Committee supported?

    I regret very much that I did not get there to speak. People are afraid of change – that is all. They need to give the new way a chance!

    Maybe the livable streets community could be mobilized to fight for these pop-up cafes. Unfortunately this meeting was not listed on the streetsblog calendar and was only in the article just hours before the meeting. Also, Transportation Alternatives did not send out an email encouraging people to go or to email the community board. Maybe that is why no livable streets advocates showed up to talk sense to the community board. (But I wish we did not have to fight to educate the communities boards. It would be so much easier if the DOT just treated the community boards the advisory-only bodies that they are.)

  • Larry Littlefield

    We can’t have it both ways Daphna. We can’t claim a favorable community board is evidence of community support in Park Slope, but a community board opposed is not evidence of community opposition in Soho.

    The issue in Soho is this. It is in the middle of the Manhattan Central Business District, but the people who moved into commercial buildings and got grandfathered believe they are living in Darien. The quote: “Soho is a low density residential neighborhood.” So they don’t want to attract even more business activity.

    And to be fair, the pedestrian congestion at Broadway and Prince is unbelievable. I ride by it on my way home. At City Planning, I scoffed at the idea that environmental reviews included pedestrian crowding as a subject of analysis. How much room do pedestrians need? Well, now I see the point.

    Exclusionary suburbs typically have used minimum lot and housing unit sizes to assure that only luxury housing is built, and only affluent people move in. New York City has similar rules in only two places — Soho and Tribeca. The reasoning was that the “artists lofts” were actually mixed workplaces/homes, and should be large as part of their exception to industrial zoning. The result is an exclusively wealthy community, even by Manhattan standards.

    In theory, you have to be a “certified artist” to live in Soho. But the rules have been ignored for years. But now suddenly banks and the city are getting tough on the rules, and some are lobbying to remove them. For fans of equal protection, opponents of speicial privilege, and one annoyed by liberal hypocrisy, this promises to be a source of much amusement.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/nyregion/12soho.html

  • Pete

    Daphna,

    It’s not, at this time, politically feasible for the DOT to ignore the community boards on projects like this. The project directly affects a single community, it is the responsibility of the community board to represent its’ constituency.

    The best bet is, simply put, to organize locally. As Marty posted above, a local group to compete with Sweeny’s SoHo Alliance. The boards are appointed by politicians, organize & get their attention.

    In the short term, the best bet is for these popup cafes to be proven as successful ideas elsewhere. Nothing hamstrings fearmongering like success.

  • carma

    getting rid of parking everywhere wont solve the problems that the bronx faces with congestion. although insane as it is to drive to the stadium, ppl will STILL do so. 9000 spaces is ludicrous especially if it was city money. a smaller scaled garage in line proportion to the stadium size would have been the appropriate build measure for the garage.
    if you want to get rid of parking everywhere, you would need fairly priced market parking to replace the spaces lost. even though the percentage of residents owning a car in the south bronx is low. you still need “some” parking.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I really think that if local businesses in SoHo did even the smallest amount of organizing, they would quickly overwhelm Sweeney’s SoHo Alliance, which mainly represents a small, aging group of 80s-era loft owners.

  • Sweeney seems pretty intent on preventing the formation of a Soho BID.

  • Larry Littlefield

    What you have in Soho is a conflict in what the community is. Sweeney’s vision is what it is, and I can accept that to a greater extent than the current hyporcrisy, and which richest flow to those who break the rules others must follow.

    Again, read the article I linked. “Complete streets” are the least of the issues there. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

  • Larry Littlefield

    In fact, “Soho” would make a great TV sitcom. So many characters and archetypes to send up. The grouchy old artists. The “artists.” The entitled Wall Street newbies. The sleazy property owners and developers. The politicians who are invovled. And, of course, the city planners and planning intellectuals (ie. the Municipal Arts Society) who created the whole mess. It’s a perfect little dysutopia created by regulations and loopholes.

  • Suzanne

    “And to be fair, the pedestrian congestion at Broadway and Prince is unbelievable.”

    Sounds like what’s needed is a pedestrian plaza.

    What reality is this Sweeney character living in, anyway? Soho is one of the biggest commercial drags in the city! And the reason people pay the outrageous rents to live there is precisely because of what it is (ie. *not* Darien!)

    Agreed that more community input would help. I find it hard to believe most residents wouldn’t favor things like pop up cafes and ped plazas, never mind most visitors (you know, the ones who spend money there?)

  • J

    I say let the pop-up cafes go elsewhere. They’ll be a big hit wherever they are set up. Sweeney has his little empire, and he can try his damndest to maintain the status quo. However, things just keep on changing all around him. Imagine that.

  • Sean is going to love all the twittering being made over him. (He trolls here to delight in the ire he raises.)

    The reality is that Local, which is immediately outside my bedroom window, got the troops together. The display of support from the immediate neighborhood made all the difference. No one else did. No one appeared in response to TA’s email to people in the CB2 district, who would have made the most difference.

    Community boards, in many cases, do not exist to make the right decision. They amplify whoever has the loudest voices. It is a courtroom where the judge says, “if guilty’s side screams the loudest, then he’s guilty.” In our district, with by far more sidewalk cafes and street fairs than any other, 1% of applicants are “bad guys” – so decisions are made in fear of that 1%.

    If you live downtown and are serious about organizing locally, get in touch with me. It’s been tough going.

  • By the way, other coverage (maybe for tomorrow’s Headlines?):

    DNAInfo: SoHo Pop-Up Cafe Battle Ends with Only One Location Approved

    Villager/Downtown Express/Chelsea Now editorial: Thumbs up for pop-ups

    Villager article: People popping off about new pop-up cafes; But others like them

  • Driver

    “although insane as it is to drive to the stadium, ppl will STILL do so.”

    That depends on where you are coming from. I have been to Yankee stadium a few times. Once I took the subway (one bus and two trains) and all the other times I drove there. While driving cost significantly more between the tolls and parking, it is much faster and more convenient from where I live, even factoring in the traffic. This is well worth the additional cost. There are also many people who drive in from NJ for whom taking mass transit is not a realistic option.

  • carma

    driver, i agree. thats why i mentioned. ppl still drive to the stadium.
    heres something to think about. while mass transit is not really an option in nj to the stadium. how about driving to somewhere pre-nj/ny crossing. park there, then take nj transit bus, and then take the subway up. it may be cheaper/faster. just a thought.