COVID has only shown that it’s past time to rethink the physical shape of New York. We need to rethink the most fundamental element of our city: the street, which makes up a quarter of all land in New York. Reimaginging our streetscape means more bike lanes and pocket parks, less traffic and car storage, efficient garbage and recycling solutions, greater accessibility, and ultimately safer, healthier communities. Our community is starved of green space, and innovative ideas like creating a “High Line” on the Montauk extension, creating a world-class walking path on the southern roadway of the Queensboro Bridge, or building playgrounds under the ramps in Court Square offer possible solutions.
It’s damn near impossible to afford living here. We need to take steps to increase housing supply and fight for real affordability. We can accomplish this both with well-planned, equitable development of Sunnyside Yard, and through supporting massive improvements to NYCHA.
We need to instate a residency requirement on NYPD officers so that they are actually responsible for the communities they work in. Training for new officers should be doubled or tripled. And ultimately we need to ask cops to do less – taking them out of schools, hiring professionals to serve the homeless and mentally ill, and removing parking violations from their domain.
Getting around this city is a nightmare, and it will only get worse if we succumb to increasing car commuting. We should embrace big transit ideas like QNS Rail and The Triboro that can reshape how we get around Queens. At the same time, we must build a comprehensive bike lane network in our community, expand micromobility options with dedicated parking, and redraw our bus network.
Thousands of businesses closed in New York City during this pandemic, and our economy is teetering on a knife’s edge. We must implement a vacancy tax on unleased storefronts to fight community-killing real estate speculation, and fund programs that spur entrepreneurship – particularly in underserved communities. Today – not next year or next term, we need to allow retail and cultural institutions use sidewalk and street space to enliven our neighborhoods and save jobs.
The biggest strategic challenge of our lifetime is the specter of devastating climate change, and we must act immediately to build resiliency and sustainability – especially along our waterfront. This calls for reimagining the superfund site that is Newtown Creek by turning it into a natural buffer that will help us handle future storms, expanding cap-and-trade programs, and embracing other elements of a Green New Deal.