Posts tagged with "City Council":

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Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn't find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation's passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 "corner baskets" located in the five boroughs. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and some of her greener colleagues took a trip up to Astoria to check up on the recycling bins there as part of the pilot program and urge New Yorkers to lobby for more of them. “Next time you walk through your local park or down a major commercial strip, take a quick glance into one of the public waste baskets," Quinn said in a statemtn. "I guarantee you it will be brimming with newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, and soda cans—all of which can and should be recycled. As we head into summer and New Yorkers and tourists spend more time outdoors at our world-famous public attractions, this bill will give them the to opportunity to pitch in and recycle, and make our city an even cleaner and greener place.” While the council's initial efforts may seem meager, an official said that they would be conspicuously located in high-traffic locations, such as parks and major thoroughfares, allowing a limited number of cans to meet a considerable amount of the city's recycling needs. Also, the council continues to negotiate with the Department of Sanitation, meaning there could be more bins on the way. Given that another piece of the recycling legislation is the capacity to finally recycle paint, certain hazard waste, and plastic beyond those items labeled 1 and 2—now including takeout containers and juice bottles—it seems like this is the least, though certainly not the most, the city could do.
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Related Events?

With all the ink spilled of late on the Related Companies’ faltering plans to transform the massive Kingsbridge Armory into an equally huge mall, another of the developer’s megaprojects has been lost amidst the protests: Hudson Yards. As Bronx City Council member Joel Rivera has been leading a noisy fight against the armory, demanding a living wage for workers who will someday populate its stores and food courts, speaker Christine Quinn has been more quietly negotiating with Related on adding affordable housing to the western section of the outsiszed development planned for the Far West Side. On Wednesday, Rivera was prepared to lead a vote against Kingsbridge unless the developer met his demands—$10.00 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without—but the vote was cancelled at the last minute when stalled negotiations fired back up. Another vote had been scheduled for this morning, but that, too, was postponed until Monday, the drop-dead deadline for the council to act on either project. As for the Yards, Quinn, in whose district the project lies, has been working more quietly on behalf of her constituents to strike a deal for additional affordable housing—less than 10 percent of the 5,000 units are currently set aside for low- and middle-income families—as well as other sundry issues like schools and infrastructure that were raised when the project was approved by the City Planning Commission in October. “My staff and I have been working closely with Related,” Quinn said during a Wednesday press conference. “The negotiations with Hudson Yards are also ongoing and we expect an announcement when we come to a vote.” Could this also be cause for delay, then, on the Kingsbridge vote, that Related is busy working out two deals? Quinn’s staff declined to say, but council member Tony Avella, who is chair of the Zoning and Franchise Subcommittee that will hold the votes on the Hudson Yards and Kingsbridge projects, said he believes a deal has been reached and Quinn is only waiting until both projects are settled to make an announcement on hers. A city official confirms that negotiations are ongoing for Kingsbridge, but Quinn's people and Related have not returned calls seeking the status of their project. Til Monday...
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How Green Is It?

Coming out of City Hall today, we stumbled upon a press conference reaffirming the groundbreaking green-ness of the new green buildings measures first unveiled on Earth Day and due to pass the council this week. Measures that include a new energy code and more efficient lighting, energy benchmarking and training for building operators. But one measure no longer included, according to a rather damning story in the Times this weekend, is mandatory decennial energy audits for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet, which would be required to replace inefficient building systems if they are not up to current standards. The main culprit, as with many things these days, is the recession:
“It’s another unfunded mandate, and this is just not the time for it,” said Stuart Saft, chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, an opponent of the plan. “Come back in five years when we’re past this recession. At this point it’s just a slap in the face.”
Hence the press conference today, though it was not being hosted by the building owners and operators opposed to the bill but half-a-dozen environmental groups in favor of it—big ones at that, such as the Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC, and the Urban Green Council (aka USGBC NY)—along with as many council members, who will be voting on the green building legislation Wednesday. This group was not there fighting for the reinstatement of the missing measure but instead bowing to its removal while arguing the package of bills would still set New York on a historic path. "This is fair and responsible," James Gennaro, chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, said. "We'll get to 30 percent one way or another." Let's hope so.

TMI Too Late

Earlier today, the Municipal Art Society posted an incredibly informative presentation that the group gave at the recent City Council hearings on the Bloomberg administration's plans for rezoning Coney Island. The presentation, which can be found above, pretty succinctly explains what's wrong with the city's plan, why it won't work, and alternatives--proposed, of course, by MAS--that could be undertaken. So why has this presentation surfaced so late in the process, when it will have little, if any impact on the rezoning? Rumor has it the group didn't want to rock the boat--after all, they got a warning from planning commission chair Amanda Burden--as the presentation was considered too incendiary for public consumption. Still, it make a far more compelling argument than some loopy renderings. And besides, isn't the MAS supposed to rock the boat? Jane Jacobs would be so disappointed.
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Eminent Decision at Coney?

When the City Planning Commission barely altered the city's plans--plans that remain diametrically opposed to those of chief landholder Joe Sitt--we couldn't help but wonder whether the Bloomberg administration would some how grossly undermine its plan, or let it fall on the sword at the City Council, at least part of which is firmly under the sway of Sitt. Thus far, the Bloomberg administration has yet to allow a single one of its nearly 100 rezoning fail at the council, often crafting 11th hour deals. Would, could things be different this time? Well, following a hearing at City Hall yesterday, the Daily News reports that the city's rezoning proposal has indeed run up against council opposition, but not for the reasons we would have thought--or hoped. No, it has nothing to do with the lack of vision for either Sitt or the city's plans. The council's opposition stems from an aversion to eminent domain, which the city's economic development czar suggested could be on the table should Sitt not sell, something he has currently refused to negotiate on, despite repeated attempts by the city. But that's not what struck us as wrong. No, the problem is--shocking, we know--that many of these council members now in opposition to eminent domain once supported it, in a way. Look no further than Manhattanville or Willets Point, where Columbia and the city, respectively, have used the threat of eminent domain to push around small businesses and landholders. Clearly, it's not the principal that matters to the council but the size of one's pocketbook.