Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Daze

There are more folks following up on the ersatz Bloomberg sustainability mantra-this time an urban planner from Hunter does his own expose at the Gotham Gazette; and what Dr. Paul finds is that the mayor's rhetoric fails to mesh with the reality of his administration's programs: "The unfortunate truth is that many of New York City’s "transit oriented" rezonings instead encourage automobile use by requiring off-street parking. They destroy the mixed-use, walk-to-work character of communities like Long Island City in favor of high-end residential redevelopment. At the same time, the city has missed huge opportunities to cluster new development around transit stations in outer borough neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Corona, instead reducing development potential to preserve the car-oriented, suburban-like environment."

In more plain English, Bloomberg-and particularly his EDC-have failed to walk the walk, something we have learned first hand from all of the grass roots lobbying we have done over the past three years. And one of the biggest discrepancies is over the issue of parking: "Perhaps the greatest contradiction comes in the city's attitude toward parking. In striking contrast to the stated objective of PlaNYC2030 to reduce the number of cars on the road, the Department of City Planning continues to require most new developments to provide off-street parking - usually garages -- for residents.. In the past two years, studies by the Furman Center and Transportation Alternatives have called attention to the impact this has had on development patterns in the city."

Just a cursory look at the Sorcerer's Apprentice-like development in Queens, underscores the planner's dissatisfaction; as well as those of transit-promoting organization's like Transportation Alternatives. Put plainly, while posturing for all the swells about how green is his valley, Bloomberg has been flooding the boroughs with car dependent retail developments. Obviously, Willets Point and Flushing Commons are some of the more egregious examples of this trend, but the expansion of Gateway Mall in East New York-with an additional 600,000 sq. ft. of retail being added to the 643,000 already there is a further affirmation of Bloomberg's "do as I say" philosophy.

And, as Dr, Paul tells us, the environmental impacts are the opposite of the grand planning scheme's glossy brochures: "With thousands of new cars and drivers entering the city thanks to all this new parking, the impact of these supposedly transit-oriented, sustainable rezonings will be just the opposite of PlaNYC's goals -- a larger carbon footprint, increased dependence on fossil fuels, lower air quality, and increased congestion."

Another critic picks up on Paul's theme, and focuses in on the mayor's failure to provide the transit infrastructure to alleviate auto-dependency: "PlaNYC's original plan was to use funds from Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing pet project to fund mass transit improvements. When that legislation failed, Bloomberg didn't have a back-up plan. Studies have also found that the city administration has done little to encourage New Yorkers in the outer boroughs to pick public transportation over car use."

As a result, the only back up that is found is on the Van Wyck, the Cross Bronx and the LIE-with more congestion to come; bolstering the mayor's legacy of misdirection. What is needed is a really good traffic cop. One who can call the mayor out on all of the damage that he is doing-not to his image, because who really cares about that-but to the quality of life in NYC neighborhoods in all five boroughs. The stoppage of the carnage should begin in Flushing and Willets Point-before Gridlock Sam is forced to relinquish his nom de guerre to Gridlock Mike.