PlaNYC Mastermind Rohit Aggarwala Leaving NYC

Rohit Aggarwala (better known as Rit), the lead author of PlaNYC 2030 and director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, is leaving the post he created from scratch, the Bloomberg administration announced today. Aggarwala will be stepping down in June to join his soon-to-be wife in California.

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Aggarwala was tapped in 2006 by then-deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff to launch the mayor's sustainability office and formulate what became known as PlaNYC. He brought a strong background in transportation to the wide-ranging task of greening the city, having worked in the U.S. DOT during the Clinton administration. When the city's congestion pricing proposal went public in 2007, no one knew the details better or worked harder to explain them to New Yorkers than Aggarwala, whether at neighborhood meetings or public hearings in City Council chambers.

Aggarwala will leave a lasting legacy in New York, Transportation Alternatives deputy director Noah Budnick told Streetsblog. "The city doesn't improve because someone writes a policy," Budnick said in an email. "It improves because people work hard to turn words into reality. Rit is someone whose own intellect and ideals challenged New York to wholly embrace sustainability. He attracted smart ideas and committed people and engaged them in the struggle to green our metropolis. Thanks to Rit’s work, I think, as a city, we have permanently changed our perspective."

Today's announcement marks the second departure this week of a high-level administration official closely connected to sustainable transportation initiatives, following news that deputy mayor Ed Skyler is also leaving. In a press release, the mayor's office announced that a search is underway for the next planning and sustainability chief, who'll be charged with updating PlaNYC in 2011.

For a taste of the broad knowledge and exceptional patience that Aggarwala brought to the campaign for sustainable transportation policy, here's Aaron Naparstek's four-part interview with him about congestion pricing: 1, 2, 3, 4.