Bloomberg: Buildings Can Be Green and Full of Parking

bloomberg_depot.jpgMayor Bloomberg at today's Gateway Center grand opening. Photo: WNYC.
Kudos to Mayor Mike for calling out the Senate Dems' poor excuse for an MTA plan. If only Bloomberg could see his own policies with such clear eyes.

Yesterday the mayor unveiled a package of legislation designed to cut carbon emissions produced by buildings, to much Earth Day fanfare. Conspicuously absent from the proposals, however, was any mention of the driving that certain buildings induce and all the emissions that could be cut by reforming the city's off-street parking policy.

At the presser, Streetsblog correspondent Gideon Shapiro asked the mayor how parking and induced demand for driving fit into his ambitious green building plan. "If you want to make an impact in New York City," Bloomberg responded, "you deal with the buildings first," since buildings are the source of most of the city's carbon emissions. He acknowledged that "traffic strangles our city and pollutes our air," but tabled the topic of auto emissions as if it were a totally separate issue.

Sure enough, today we got another reminder that the Bloomberg administration is greening the city with one hand and fouling it with the other. The mayor presided over the grand opening of a Home Depot at the Gateway Center, a project of the city's Economic Development Corporation, touted as "a multi-level regional shopping center" that "will feature an innovative concept that creates dedicated parking fields for each level." It's basically a big chunk of auto-oriented suburbia plunked down by the South Bronx waterfront.

In a statement, the mayor mentioned Gateway Center -- with its 2,800 parking spaces -- in tandem with the new Yankee Stadium, which arrived recently with its own fields of parking. The connection is only fitting: If you build the garages, the traffic will come.

City Hall estimates that its green building plan will cut citywide carbon emissions by five percent. But a building plan without a parking strategy leaves out a big part of the equation. If the city fails to curb the boom in off-street parking, much of the energy savings from more efficient buildings will be wiped out as New Yorkers drive more than a billion extra miles each year.