Op Ed: In Defense of Plazas, from Times Square to Brownsville

As posted in Gotham Gazette:

by Brad Lander, Daniel Dromm, & Laura Hansen

Police Commissioner Bratton's suggestion to remove the Times Square plazas in order to rid them of desnudas is not just about the future of one of the world's best public spaces. This regressive response could undermine a policy that has transformed New York's public realm.

Pedestrian plazas are an inexpensive, effective way to advance Mayor de Blasio's agenda for a more equitable city, addressing the essential tenets of his admirable OneNYC Plan. They improve public safety, promote health and wellness, cultivate arts and culture, create new open space (30 acres so far), and generate economic activity. Miles away from the crowds on 42nd Street, dozens of New York City neighborhoods have embraced their plazas and the civic benefits they deliver. Read more »

Wondering what happened to that project?

I’ve worked hard to bring more transparency to the New York City budget process each year. Thanks to Participatory Budgeting NYC, you can weigh in on the City Capital projects you want to see.  Thanks to new rules that I championed, and that the City Council adopted last year, you can get more information than ever about all the projects we fund.

However, once City Capital projects are funded, it’s still not easy to keep track of project timelines and see when winning projects get finished.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about our new Capital Projects Tracker, an online map and database that allows you to see the status of every project I’ve funded since first taking office in 2010. Read more »

Help Citi Bike Expand to Our Neighborhood

Since Citi Bike launched in 2013, many of you have been asking the same question: When is it coming to our neighborhood?

I’m pleased to report that we’ve got an answer: 2016.

Next year, Citi Bike will be expanding into Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Red Hook. And right now, you’ve got a chance to help identify good locations for the bike-share stations (or places you don’t think a station would make sense). Read more »

A Role Model for Me … and All of Us

This past week, David Lander retired from his law firm in St. Louis, after a 45-year career as an attorney. He won’t be resting on his laurels, though he would surely be within his rights to do so. In the coming days, he’s starting his “encore career” (as some people call it), working half-time each at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (which he directed many years ago), and St. Louis University Law SchoolRead more »

Following up from the Climate Change Town Hall

Thanks to many of you for attending last week’s Town Hall Meeting on Climate Change. We had a great room, full of engaged community residents, who came eager to work together on the steps NYC must take to confront one of the great challenges of our generation.

As we heard, the problems we face are daunting. New data from the NOAA shows that the global warming trend continues, with May, March, and June of 2015 all breaking previous records. Leading climate scientist James Hansen and a team of experts have put out a new study (not yet peer-reviewed, but still alarming) that resulting multi-meter sea-level rise could come much faster than previously thought.

The good news is that the scale of response – by global activists (like the 350,000 of us who took part in the People’s Climate March last fall), in public policy, and now even from Pope Francis –  is growing as well. Hopefully, and with all of our help, it will become commensurate with the challenge we face.  Here are some steps you can use to stay connected and continue to take action. Read more »

Statement from Council Member Brad Lander on Pavilion Theater Project

“I appreciate and support Hidrock Realty’s commitment to preserve a movie theater as part of their redevelopment of the Pavilion. 

When news broke this spring that Hidrock was planning to eliminate the movie theater – and replace it with generic ground-floor retail as part of their conversion of the building into condominiums – I voiced my concern loudly. There’s been a movie theater on the spot for over 100 years, and a neighborhood movie theater is one great part of Park Slope. My family has enjoyed countless movies there, and the idea of losing a theater altogether was painful to so many of us. Read more »

Town Hall Meeting on Climate Change: Wed, July 22nd

We are at a critical juncture for the future of our planet. Climate change threatens to wreak havoc on the world that we’ll be passing on to our kids, unless we make significant changes. During Hurricane Sandy, we got just a small taste of what sea level rise (just one consequence of climate change) can do to our city. I don't want to tell our kids and grandkids that we utterly failed to learn the lesson.

That’s why I’m working with environmental and community groups to organize a town hall meeting on climate change on July 22nd. We’ll have the chance to learn more about what NYC is doing, and how we can take even more ambitious steps to promote and use renewable energy. Read more »

My Statement On The Lawsuit Against NYC’s 50% Community Preference Policy for Affordable Housing

As a strong supporter of fair housing and a more inclusive city, I believe NYC’s policy of 50% community preference for affordable housing is an important tool in our efforts to create diverse affordable housing and fight segregation.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve helped lead campaigns for mandatory inclusionary zoning to require affordable units where we build market-rate ones, for the School Diversity Accountability Act to identify and confront segregation in our schools, for a stronger ban on racial and bias-based profiling by the NYPD, and for a renewed NYC Human Rights Commission with a robust testing and investigation program to combat discrimination in housing and employment.

In many of those efforts, the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York has been a valuable ally. But I strongly disagree with their lawsuit against the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s community preference policy, in which 50% of the units in new affordable housing lotteries are reserved for residents of the local community board, with the other 50% going to applicants from the rest of the city. Read more »

Google Maps: Please add "reduce left turns" and "stay on truck routes" options

Last week, I wrote a letter -- together with Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council's Committee on Transportation -- asking Google Maps to add "reduce left turns" and "stay on truck routes" features to their application. These simple steps will help reduce crashes, make our streets safer and more livable, and even save lives.  You can view a copy of our letter below (and check coverage by WNYC here).

Read more »

Great ruling for Prospect Park Residence seniors: Judge refuses cynical effort to have their case dismissed.

In response to Justice Wayne Saitta's July 1 decision to deny the "motion to dismiss" in the case involving the seniors at the Prospect Park Residence, New York City Council Member Brad Lander issued the following statement:

“I’m thrilled with Judge Saitta’s wise and fair decision to allow the courageous seniors of the Prospect Park Residence to have their case heard at trial. The despicable owner Haysha Deitsch and the Cuomo Administration’s NYS Department of Health sought to have their case dismissed, but Judge Saitta has denied their motions. Read more »

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