Vacca: Want Safer Streets? Don’t Even Try to Join Your Community Board

Does it get less democratic than this? The City Council Transportation Committee Chair, James Vacca, just told the New York Post that Transportation Alternatives shouldn’t help people join their local community boards.

Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca. Image: CBS 2

For the past few years, TA has held an annual event walking people through the process of applying for community board membership. The event is open to the public. If you go, you don’t get a seat on your community board, but you’ll come away with a better understanding of how to get appointed by your local council member and borough president.

But apparently, if you’ve demonstrated an interest in safer streets for biking and walking and better transit, you’re persona non grata to Vacca:

City Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), chair of the Transportation Committee and a bike-lane critic, blasted the pro-biking group’s influence peddling.

“If such a ‘jamboree’ was held by real-estate developers in any neighborhood in the city, I think there would be a hue and cry, and rightfully so,” Vacca said. “We don’t want any board to be dominated by any particular interest.”

Transportation Alternatives spokesman Michael Murphy shot back, “We are empowering residents to get involved in their own communities. I can’t think of anything more democratic than that.”

He also took a jab at Vacca, who was a community-board district manager for 26 years before becoming a councilman.

“It’s pretty ironic that Chairman Vacca, the self-proclaimed champion of community process, is criticizing us for encouraging local residents to participate in community process.”

“We don’t want any board to be dominated by any particular interest.” Agreed. So why do people who speak up in favor of safer streets get booted from their local community boards? And why, in districts where the vast majority of residents don’t own cars, do the interests of the privileged few with free curbside parking so often trump the interests of the many who would benefit from a more democratic use of street space?