MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Oct. 30, 2019

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Velázquez Calls on EPA to Withdraw Plan to Weaken Coal Ash Protections

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Last week, Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) and 26 of her colleagues sent a letter to the EPA urging them to withdraw their “Phase 2” proposal.

The proposal would weaken the 2015 Coal Ash Rule safeguards for coal ash waste piles, which requires them to comply with all the regulations applicable to landfills. As per the law, coal ash piles must have leachate collection systems, minimize toxic dust and clean up contaminated groundwater.

“Under the EPA’s ‘Phase 2’ proposal, toxic coal ash waste piles can escape these critical protective safeguards,” reads the letter. “The 2015 coal ash rule is currently the reason why hundreds of American communities are protected. Coal ash hits our most vulnerable communities, like the municipality of Guayama, Puerto Rico, the hardest.”

City Council to Vote on Speaker Johnson’s Streets Master Plan

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Today, the City Council will be voting on Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) comprehensive transportation reform plan.

The bill seeks to reform the city’s transportation systems in a way that prioritizes pedestrian safety, efficient mass transit, emission reduction and accessibility. It will require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a “streets master plan” every five years in order to facilitate that goal. The first plan, due in 2021, will mandate the creation of 150 miles of camera-protected bus lanes and one million square feet of pedestrian space, among other improvements.

The vote will take place today at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Brewer Releases Study on Zoned Parking Permit Practices

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) released a comprehensive study on resident parking zone programs in seven major cities around the world.

Brewer conducted the study in anticipation of the impending enactment of the City’s congestion pricing plan. The study compares the programs used in London, Stockholm, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. According to the data, the results of the cities’ respective permit parking programs were mixed, with some cities left wondering if the program was a good idea in the first place.

The takeaway, said Brewer, is that the potential pitfalls of congestion pricing – namely, the potential loss of street space to commuters near pressure points – are problems that necessitate a nuanced approach.

“Tthere’s no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution to the fundamental problem of parking demand outstripping supply,” said Brewer. “But our goal with congestion pricing– as with street reorganization– must be to improve quality of life.” 

Read the full report here.

Chin, Brewer to Rally for Commercial Rent Tax Relief for Grocery Stores

Council Member Margaret Chin
Council Member Margaret Chin

Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) and Council Member Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) will be rallying to introduce legislation to exempt affordable grocery stores from the Commercial Rent Tax.  

From 2005-2015, 300 greengrocers in New York City closed down; a third of those were in Manhattan.  According to data from the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, these store closures predominantly occurred in low-income neighborhoods. Chin and Brewer’s legislation aims to alleviate that problem by lessening their tax burden; it would apply to grocery stores from 96th Street to Murray Street.

The rally will take place today at 10 a.m. in front of Morton Williams, 133 Bleecker St.