New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick represents Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Tribeca and a good piece of Chinatown and Lower Manhattan. Encompassing the Holland Tunnel, Canal Street and a section of the Westside Highway, her district suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in all of New York City. Transit-rich and offering some of the city's most walkable and bike-friendly streets (Jane Jacobs lived and worked in this Assembly district) Glick's constituents would likely be among the greatest beneficiaries of any traffic reduction plan.
Glick, however, isn't a fan of Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. In the 1,300 word letter below she lays out her concerns and explains to a constituent why she and her colleagues opted to create a 17-member traffic mitigation commission rather than approve the Mayor's plan.
While many of Glick's questions and concerns have been answered repeatedly in public forums, through local studies and by examples in other cities, there is a certain thoughtfulness and sincerity to her letter that you tend not to hear in the arguments of congestion pricing opponents like Richard Lipsky and Walter McCaffrey who, one suspects, are doing little more than representing the deeply regressive interests of the parking garage / Automobile Club / Queens Chamber of Commerce cabal.
Glick calls herself a "responsible legislator" who "has long been concerned with traffic congestion" problems in her district. The questions that she raises are questions that will need to be answered again and again and again in the coming months.
Fundamentally, Glick believes "there is no consensus" on whether Mayor Bloomberg's pricing plan "would reduce congestion, or simply raise revenue." She "had too many unanswered questions and found too many flaws in the congestion pricing legislation to be supportive of it in the form that was presented to the Legislature by Mayor Bloomberg." And she seems to have resented the intense lobbying and the feeling that New York City's Republican Mayor was trying "to stampede the Legislature into a vote" on his plan. Glick raises the following as an example of the kind of question that she feels was not answered:
The proposal purported to reduce asthma, especially for children. However, many communities just outside of the congestion pricing zone have significant asthma rates and it is possible that those communities might have to contend with increased vehicular traffic as commuters driving into the city attempt to park in these neighborhoods outside of the zone.
Other questions that Glick felt were not properly answered by the Mayor:
- Why create a new authority?
- Will the money raised be used strictly for mass transit improvements?
- Why aren't there exemptions for people who drive into the designated area for serious medical treatment?
- How will residents of the congestion zone be charged for moving their cars for alternate side parking or for leaving the city for the day?
Finally, Glick isn't convinced that the Bloomberg Administration has suddenly gotten religion on traffic reduction. The Administration, she writes, "has in fact been irresponsible and disingenuous, because, after years of ignoring more simple congestion mitigation efforts, they are trying to rush through congestion pricing legislation with almost no study or debate." She wonders why the Mayor isn't doing more to control parking permit abuse among government employees, a problem that plagues her Lower Manhattan district.
You can read Glick's letter, in its entirety, after the jump...