After 12 years, the Bloomberg administration is on its way out, and the time has come for New Yorkers to decide who should be the next earthly being to lead this great metropolis into the future. Tomorrow, September 10, is primary day. Eleven individuals?seven from the left, four from the right?want to be New York City's next mayor, and they have a wide range of policies and ideas. Some things, like storm protection and more affordable housing, are promises across the board, while more ambitious ideas, like giving the mayor control of the city's tunnels and bridges, have made candidates stand out from the crowd. For this brief and selective round-up, we summarized the housing, transportation, and post-Sandy proposals of the seven leading candidates.
Christine Quinn, Democrat
The current City Council speaker's housing plan centers around creating 80,000 permanently affordable apartments by giving developers of the units a hearty tax break. The plan has been criticized for closely resembling a 2011 plan put forth by the Real Estate Board that Bloomberg's office said was "not, fundamentally, an affordable housing program," but rather "a large tax break dressed up as a housing policy." Quinn's plan also calls for creating 40,000 new units for middle-income families over the next 10 years through an unspecified "combination of new financing and savings within the city's capital budget." Other housing goals include building the city's first LGBT senior housing community and providing rental assistance for homeless families.
In terms of infrastructure, Quinn's promises align with the $20 billion proposal she unveiled in November. This includes a possible $16 billion storm surge barrier, stricter building codes, natural defenses like dunes and wetlands, and new measures to protect the subway system, like those giant inflatable plugs. She also wants to transfer control of the MTA from the state to the city.
Bill de Blasio, Democrat
De Blasio's housing plan also focuses on affordability. If elected, de Blasio pledges to construct 100,000 new low-income apartments within 10 years, funded in part by $1 billion of investments from the city's pension fund. He also plans to preserve a similar number of already affordable units and make it mandatory for developers building in rezoned areas to include affordable housing in any new project or contribute to a low-income housing fund. Additionally, de Blasio wants to ease constraints on landlords and developers by legalizing currently illegal dwelling units (like basement apartments and "granny flats") and allow development rights to be transferred within neighborhoods, not just to adjacent properties.
De Blasio's urban planning policies include several storm resiliency measures, as well as transit improvements and sustainability goals. Like Quinn, he wants to invest in flood-resistant technologies for the subway system and utilities and rebuild the coastline with stronger dunes and tidal wetlands. He also proposes adjusting building codes to allow taller buildings in flood zones to account for elevating structures. His transit plan centers around expanding Bus Rapid Transit and improving Penn Station by making Madison Square Garden relocate.
Bill Thompson, Democrat
Thompson, like de Blasio, wants to return rent control to the city, and he pledges to create 120,000 new affordable apartments. Federal and state subsidies would pay for 50,000 of these, new loan agreements with landlords would cover another 50,000, and the final 20,000 would come from government-controlled vacant properties.
Thompson's transit and urban planning policies are similar to those of his fellow candidates. He wants to restore cut bus lines and invest in Bus Rapid Transit; he also pledges to "work to obtain" funding for phase two of the Second Avenue Subway, which is a very different thing than actually obtaining funding, so don't get too excited. His post-Sandy plan includes many of the same goals as mentioned before?stronger coastlines, better protected subways, new building codes?but he also wants to encourage voluntary buy-outs of homes in devastated or at-risk areas.
Anthony Weiner, Democrat
Does Carlos Danger even stand a chance anymore? Probably not, but Weiner's plan called for a 60/20/20 affordable housing plan, rather than the current 80/20. New buildings constructed under inclusionary zoning guidelines would be required to have a unit breakdown of 60 percent market rate, 20 percent affordable to the middle class, and 20 percent for low-income families. He also wants to shift rent regulation control from the state to the city.
Weiner's platform of 64 "Keys to the City" covers several transit and planning ideas. He proposes launching ferry services for all five boroughs, giving tax breaks to employers who promote biking to work, and installing cell phone service in every subway station. As for environmental policy, he'd nix the Taxi of Tomorrow since it's not a hybrid or electric vehicle, and he, like everyone else, would invest in rebuilding beaches.
John Liu, Democrat
Like all of his fellow Democrats, Liu focuses on affordable housing. He wants to create or preserve 100,000 affordable units over four years while also increasing affordable housing options for senior citizens. Liu strongly opposes Bloomberg's plan to lease NYCHA properties to private developers, and he pledges a "top to bottom" review of NYCHA's infamously mismanaged management system.
Liu's transit plan includes more ferries and expanded bus service, as well as increasing the city's contribution to the MTA by $100 million. His goals for a more sustainable city piggyback off of Bloomberg's PlaNYC, with more investments in parks, increased research for alternative energy, and expanding the Greener, Greater Buildings program.
Joe Lhota, Republican
Affordable housing: not just for lefties! In August, Republican candidate Joe Lhota told the Journal that "it's not right for the Democrats to own affordable housing." As such, he endorsed an $8 billion plan from the group Housing First. It's similar to those put forth by the democratic candidates in that it calls for expanded inclusionary housing and to build or preserve 150,000 low-income units. The plan would also reduce parking requirements and encourage denser building with bonuses for developers.
His campaign website may not list transportation as a priority, but Lhota has put forth one of the more ambitious transportation proposals: he wants the mayor to control all NYC bridges and tunnels. He also proposed building a subway extension to Staten Island. Unlike the bike- and pedestrian-friendly Bloomberg, Lhota does not support eliminating "precious road space" for new public plazas, but he says he would continue to build new bike lanes.
John Catsimatidis, Republican
Grocery store billionaire John Catsimatidis also endorsed the Housing First plan. He also wants to change zoning requirements to allow the development of larger towers in neighborhoods with several transit options, like East New York. As for increasing those transit options, Cats thinks NYC should construct monorails. Yes, really.
In terms of urban planning, Cats, like Lhota, is not too keen on creating more pedestrian plazas, but he differs from his fellow Republican when it comes to bike lanes. He told the Times that "the way the bike lanes were put in was wrong," claiming that the concrete dividers on some lanes cause problems for emergency vehicles.
· All mayoral race coverage [Curbed]