Greenfield Attempts To Pull In Reins On Horse Carriage Bill


City Councilman David G. Greenfield (Midwood, Borough Park) today called for a postponement of this week’s expected vote on the horse carriage deal until Mayor de Blasio’s representatives are able to answer a lot more questions about the controversial plan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

De Blasio announced the measure less than two weeks ago and is attempting to fast track it through the City Council. Greenfield’s concerns stem from a “disastrous hearing” last week in which the representatives of the mayor’s office failed to answer “even the most basic questions about the plan.”

The bill as proposed would reduce the number of licenses for horses used in the operation of horse-drawn carriages to 110 licenses, and limit the number of hours a horse-drawn carriage may operate during a 24-hour period. The plan would also establish a stable in Central Park, limit the operation of horse-drawn carriages to Central Park, and prohibit the operation of pedicabs below the 85th Street Transverse in Central Park.

“At the hearing held just over a week ago, the Administration couldn’t tell us how many people would lose their jobs as a result of this plan,” Greenfield said. “They said the information was ‘not knowable.’ Yet the Teamsters estimated it at 40 to 50 jobs in the horse carriage industry. They couldn’t tell us how pedicab operators, who will be restricted from operating in Central Park below 85th Street, would be affected by the plan. They couldn’t tell us how many pedicabs are already operating in the north side of the park. They couldn’t tell us how many pedicabs are operating in the south side of the park. They couldn’t even tell us how many pedicabs are licensed to operate in the city at all. But maybe that shouldn’t be surprising, because the one thing they could tell us is that they had never bothered to meet with any representatives from the pedicab industry in the entire two years they’ve had to craft this proposal.”

City Councilman David Greenfield
City Councilman David Greenfield

Greenfield said the Mayor’s office later circulated a fact sheet in which it was disclosed that 837 pedicabs are currently in operation in the city, but without any further details as to location, and without any information on the number of drivers that might lose their livelihoods as a result of the new restrictions.

Since the deal’s announcement, pedicab drivers have said that the deal would be fatal to their ability to earn a living. The Mayor’s office has not addressed these claims, instead promising to “monitor this closely and consistently.” said Greenfield.

Also unanswered were questions about the relocation of the stables, which are currently located at 618 West 52nd Street, 547 West 37th Street, 538 West 38th Street and 608 West 48th Street – some of which is in the footprint of the multi-billion dollar Hudson Yards project. According to The Real Deal, the four properties would fetch $70 million on the market.

Under the Mayor’s proposal, the new stables will be built near the 85th street traverse in Central Park, which brings up more questions of the legality of allocating parks land for a private enterprise.

While the Administration insisted that its proposed use of Central Park for private stables is lawful, officials were unable to point to any legal authority to support that view.  “I continue to believe that the use of a public park for a private enterprise is an improper use of parkland,” said Greenfield.

When reached for comment, the mayor’s press office responded with the same four-page fact sheet that Greenfield says continues to leave his questions unanswered.

“The time to study whether your policy is going to put people out of work is before you put those people out of work, not after,” Greenfield said. “We simply aren’t ready to have a vote on this bill yet. A delay will allow the City Council more time to study the issue and to address the unresolved issues that this deal has created.”