Pro-Parking Policies Will Sully the Legacy of PlaNYC

10_doctoroff_lgl.jpgPhoto: Getty via Daily Intel
Former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, widely credited as the architect of PlaNYC, spoke at the Museum of the City of New York last week on the potential impact of Mayor Bloomberg's signature program. According to City Room, Doctoroff considers the two-year-old environmental blueprint on par with such grand projects as Central Park and the development of the Manhattan street grid.

Among the outcomes so far: The conversion of 15 percent of the taxi fleet to clean-fuel vehicles, the construction of 79 new playgrounds, $100 million a year to increase the energy efficiency of government buildings, 20 pilot projects to clean up city waterways, hundreds of miles of new bike lanes. Ninety-three percent of the 127 initiatives are under way, Mr. Doctoroff said.

"The biggest achievement of them all," he said, is a greenhouse-gas inventory showing a 2.5 percent reduction in citywide carbon emissions, "at a time when greenhouse gases in cities around the nation continue to increase."

There is little doubt that PlaNYC is an ambitious and noble undertaking, despite the failure of congestion pricing -- which Doctoroff rightly cites as a direct cause of the current MTA funding crisis. But it seems a little specious to brag about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions when the Bloomberg administration has continued to vigorously promote VMT-inducing suburban-style parking, a contradiction not lost on City Room commenters like Chris, who writes:

What’s most frustrating is how Bloomberg and his advisors fail to make some very basic connections between their policies, for example working for modest transit improvements while promoting development that is very parking-intensive. Bronx Terminal Market is a prime example of this. Big box development with considerable parking availability which will do exactly what it is designed for- bring more cars, congestion, and pollution into the city.

So give credit where credit is due, but so many people wish Bloomberg would connect the dots.

Indeed. Even as he lobbied for PlaNYC and congestion pricing, Doctoroff himself was a prime mover behind the Yankee Stadium parking deal and greenhouse gas catastrophes like the Gateway Center. There's the legal battle waged by the administration to bring some 20,000 parking spots to Hell's Kitchen. And just last week Bloomberg celebrated the opening of driving-intensive commercial development at the Gateway project -- one day after announcing a new "green" buildings initiative. In fact, when asked point blank by Streetsblog about the connection between more parking and more driving, the mayor either didn't understand the question or chose not to address it.

Chris believes there's something "far more complex than just ignorance" at work here. We agree. The question is, will the Bloomberg administration safeguard the progress of PlaNYC by reversing its disastrous parking policies?