February 21, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio: So, first of all, this is one of those great only-in-New-York moments. Kent came here all the way from China, started a business, and it is a kosher vegetarian restaurant. I mean, this is just – this is the thing I love about this place. It's why we're the greatest city in the world. And it's like the melting pot in one – in one place, it’s beautiful. And Kent, I want to say to you – first of all, express my admiration that you came here very much like my grandparents who came here from small towns in southern Italy, had very little, created a business, a family business that eventually thrived and ensured that the next generation would do so much better. This dream is alive and well in New York City, and Kent’s a great example of it. And I love that he is bringing people of all different backgrounds together in his restaurant, which is a symbol of the unity we need. So Kent, I just want to congratulate you for what you've achieved.
And he's going to stay for just a few minutes, but I know he has to then get back and run his business, which we all appreciate and understand. But look, the good news is that we have seen the example of the American dream in what Kent has achieved. The bad news is that every day his small businesses being hurt by placard abuse. And as he said, it's getting hard for his customers to come to his business, because there are too many people breaking the rules, breaking the law, and undermining small businesses, and harming the neighborhood, and doing sometimes just playing an unfair to their fellow New Yorkers. So, I understand the frustration that Kent feels. I hear it all over the city. We're New Yorkers, we are always concerned about parking – it’s part of who we are. And this is not going to be a fair city if people have to spend too much of the day driving in circles trying to find a parking space when the space they want is being taken up illegally by someone who shouldn't have it. It's not the kind of place it should be if people have to walk out into the street to get around a place that shouldn't even be where a parked car is. It’s not a fair city if folks in wheelchairs can't use a curb cut because a car is parked illegally, blocking that curb cut. This is not what we accept in this city.
Now, I'll say the blunt and honest truth – we’ve had placard abuse in this city for a long, long time. It goes all the way back to the Koch Administration that people were talking about this as a serious issue. It is a difficult issue, it’s a thorny issue, but it must be confronted. And I want to thank the City Council, which has been very aggressive in saying this ends now, and they're working on legislation that's going to play a crucial role. But we, as the administration, are ready to do things that have never been done before to stop placard abuse. We're ready to use the latest technology and the toughest enforcement to ensure that parking spaces actually go to the New Yorkers who deserve them and not people break the rules and break the laws.
I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this. This is work that's been going on a long time. A lot of our colleagues in the media have asked a question for quite a while – when is this all going to be done? It has been an intensive effort, because getting this right isn't easy. If it was so easy, they would've done it in the Koch administration, or the Dinkins administration, or the Giuliani administration, or the Bloomberg administration – but, finally, in this administration, due to the hard work of so many of my colleagues, I think we found what will be a long-term solution to the problem of placard abuse.
I want to thank everyone from my administration – a special thanks to our DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and our Chief of Transportation for the NYPD Tom Chan. Both of them have been heroes of Vision Zero, but they're also a heroes of the effort to finally end placard abuse.
Let's give them both a round of applause.
And I want to thank everyone who's with us here today from the community. I know this is something that people really, really care about. A special thank you to our host, Wayne Ho, the President and CEO of the Chinese American Planning Council. Thank you, Wayne.
So I talk to New Yorkers all the time about the quality of their life – it takes a lot of forms, what people care about. But I'll tell you something, I've done dozens and dozens of town hall meetings and parking comes up essentially in every single one of them. And when I was a City Council Member and I walked down the street in the neighborhood's I represented in Brooklyn, I assure you, people come up to me and talk about parking all the time. And when I used to drive my own car around and tried to park at my home in Brooklyn each night, I spent many a night where – 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes circling, looking for a space. So, I understand what every-day New Yorkers feel about this issue and how frustrating it is. I understand that this is one of the biggest quality of life concerns in New York City, and it drives people crazy when they see City employees violating the public trust by using a placard illegally, or, even worse, creating a fake placard and trying to get over with it. The public gets really angry – the people in New York City get really angry when they see the folks that they pay the salaries of abusing the situation and taking away parking spaces from hardworking New Yorkers who, by the way, are working longer and longer hours than ever. When they get home at night, especially, they want to park their car and get home, they do not want to circle and circle and circle. Or, for our small business owners, it's tough to be in small business right now. It's tough to be in retail. They need their customers to be able to get to them. They understand it's a complex city, but one thing that everyone should agree on is you don't want someone taking up a parking space who shouldn't have a legal right to that space. And that's what drives small business owners really crazy, and, bluntly, it's an insult to all New Yorkers when a public employee abuses a placard and takes up a space illegally – it’s just not fair. So, we believe we now have a solution that actually gets to the heart of the matter. It won't happen overnight, but, as it happens, people all over the city are going to feel the effect.
In 2017 we started this crackdown and the tool we had then was summonses – traditional parking summonses. I want to thank all my colleagues involved in this effort, because they nearly doubled the number of illegal parking summonses. We never saw this level of activity previously and it sent a very powerful message that people who did the wrong thing, we're going to suffer consequences.
But we know we have to go a lot farther, so here's what we're going to do – we’re going to phase out placards as we know them entirely by 2021, and we're going to switch to a fully digital system, pay by plate system that will guarantee that our traffic agents know exactly whether someone belongs in the space they are in or not. With a push of a button, traffic agents will know if a car is violating the parking rules, and they'll know what consequences can bring to bear. So, we're going to let technology do the work here, and this will put an end to the use of fake placards once and for all.
Now, as I said, it's going to take us a couple of years to get this fully up and running around the City. So, in the meantime, we're going to use a low-tech solution – it’s called a sticker. And these stickers will replace placards more and more. They'll be placed in the windows so you cannot transfer them from one car to another, which is big part of the placard abuse. They are being tested already on 300 Department of Transportation vehicles, and you're going to be seeing them a lot more. And this is an example of these stickers – these alone are going to start to change things. You have a proper sticker in your car, you're okay. If you don't, you have a problem. And these things, you cannot fake.
So, we are going to use this as a beginning. When we get to the digital system, we're going to have a much more comprehensive solution. Now there's another piece of the equation that we have to fix, and this has been not only unfair to our neighborhoods, but it's been unfair to our police officers and our firefighters and those who serve us in uniform, because we ask them to protect us and we often ask them to come in at all hours a day as part of their job. When they get to their precinct, when they get to their station, they need to have a place to park. But what has been the history over five administrations? There's no place for a lot of our officers to park, just not enough parking, so they have to go somewhere and they do their best. We need to fix that problem once for all. There’s several ways of doing it.
One – we can designate more and more parking spaces in the community for our uniformed officers and make very clear to them that that's where there will be enough parking for them, but we need them not to be any place that they're not authorized to be in. We can also – and we will – we will purchase parking lots, we will lease parking lots, parking garages, whatever it takes – and this will take time, but we're going to move very quickly – so that our firefighters, our police officers, our EMT’s actually have a place that they know they can park so they don't need to be someplace that takes away parking from neighborhood residents or the customers of small business. Until we give them that good option, of course, many officers will feel they have no choice. We've got to get the situation right to begin with, and this is a very worthy investment – it’s fair to our employees but also fair to our neighborhoods.
So, you're going to hear from Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin in a moment, she’ll go into some of the details, and I really want to thank her for extraordinary effort that she and her team have engaged in here. But what's clear is, not only are we taking the issue seriously, we're moving very quickly. Right away, Department of Transportation will be adding traffic enforcement agents. Right away, we will be working with the State to quintuple existing fines so that folks who violate the law will really suffer the consequences. We are going to make clear to city employees that we value them and we value their work, but we do not accept them breaking the law. And as this has been a problem that goes, as I said, all the way back to the Koch years, that means the frustration has just grown and grown and grown. It has to end now. So, for anyone out there who thinks that they can keep abusing the placard they have or using a fake placard, that day is coming to a close. And if you do that kind of illegal activity, inappropriate activity, you will suffer the consequences.
Quickly a few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, again, with great things for her hard work, her team's hard work on what's been a really complex, but important initiative, I turned to Deputy Mayor for Operations, Laura Anglin.
Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin, Operations: Thank you, sir. And thank you all for being here today. We are here to talk about an issue, as you all know, that has plagued our city for decades, as the Mayor said, and today's plan builds on the work we did – and we started in 2017 – to curb placard abuse. As the Mayor said, since then, we have increased in number of summonses that have been issued by 93 percent in two years – that’s pretty impressive. But today, we are launching a bold and more comprehensive strategy that will pair a new technology with several new policies and will increase accountability and help eliminate the misuse of placards.
First, we can't enforce what we completely don't understand. So, what we're going do, is we're going to do a placard census, and that will provide us with new data to measure our progress and add transparency on this issue for the public. As we begin to gather that data, we will also roll out several new initiatives. First, as the Mayor mentioned, we are going to eliminate paper placards. Currently, DOT, led by Commissioner Trottenberg, is conducting a pilot program. As the Mayor mentioned, we will be replacing paper placards with stickers for DOT vehicles – about 300 of them. The stickers will make it impossible for the placard to be transferred to any other vehicle. The result of the pilot will be available this summer. It is our goal to expand this program citywide to replace paper placards all together. The stickers are a bridge to a digital parking system, or pay by plate. After we're done with that, we need to transform the way that we – once we launched the sicker program, we need to transform the way we manage our system, our parking system by moving to pay by plate. We will roll out a state of the art parking management system that will link parking meters, handheld enforcement devices, and license plates. The system will automatically allow us to determine if a car is parked illegally. I cannot stress enough how this new system will aid the city and tracking and enforcing placard use.
Let me turn to enforcement, because we're doing some additional measures there as well. As the Mayor mentioned, we will be creating 10 traffic enforcement agents within the Department of Transportation, and this will be a dedicated team solely focused on particular hot spots in the City, such as Lower Manhattan or Downtown Brooklyn. The City will also create a strict three-strike policy that will lead to permanent revocation for misusing an official placard three times – three times in a year – three times is just three times. We also change our rules to make misuse or fraudulent use of a placard a separate and new violation with stiff penalties. And that violation will be in addition to the parking violation you can already get. So, just to be clear, if a placard is misused three times, it will be revoked forever.
Lastly, we want to track better the use of illegal placards. So, the Mayor’s scout team will conduct an annual survey of illegal placard use in critical hot spots throughout the city to create a baseline of data and track the progress of this plan. So, it's a comprehensive plan that we have already begun with the pilot, but we will be rolling out the other initiatives within the year-to-two years.
And I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor for your leadership, and really – you have pushed us to come up with what we think is a comprehensive plan, and I look forward to making it a successful plan, working with both Commissioner Trottenberg and Chief Chan.
Mayor: Thank you very much. I want to say that the Council – the City Council's been really focused on this issue. They've been, I think, diligent in trying to come up with new solutions, and some Council Members really understand this because of the particular impact on their communities. Margaret Chin is obviously one – her community has borne the brunt of a lot of this problem. People are fed up, they want solutions. I want to thank the Council Member for being one of the leaders on this effort and one of the leaders in terms of sponsoring new legislation.
So, my pleasure introduce Council Member Margaret Chin.
Mayor: Thank you, Councilmember, very much. We’re going to take questions on this announcement, and then we’ll go to other topics, this announcement, yes?
Question: How are you going to get the NYPD traffic agents to enforce placard abuse outside the precincts? I think we heard a couple of years ago that there were about 2,700 summonses given out and only nine to cops.
Mayor: The DOT traffic agents will handle that. Yes?
Question: And I guess following up with that, you know, the issue anyone walking around the city notices it’s not with the actual placard, but it’s just, you know, a 2012 PBA card, or a vest that says NYPD on it.
Mayor: Not even a current PBA card, a 2012 PBA card.
Question: I mean, that’s enforcement, so I mean will there be further enforcement from the police? Because that seems to be the issue, you know, if you have some kind of NYPD memorabilia in your car, you don’t get a ticket.
Mayor: But, the digital system will blow right by that. Because the digital system is not going to give any, you know, acceptance to something made up. You either literally – you know, I had to understand this over several meetings. You have the ability through a digital system for the agent to know exactly what kind of placard is allowable and what kind of use in that particular parking space, right down to the parking space. Like, if you have a placard that says, you can be in this zone in these times, you either have that kind of placard or not and it’s going to be able to zap the placard or the license plate and know if you are lying or not. If not, bang violation. So it takes – hang on brother, we’ll get you. It takes all of the – I know it’s a really emotional topic, we’ll get there. It takes the guess work out of it. And that is going to be something we’ll have in the scheme of things very quickly.
Question: So before 2021, will there be more enforcement, because that’s the issue?
Mayor: Yeah, because first of all as this kind of system is put in place, this also takes away a whole bunch of the guesswork, because once it’s affixed, it’s affixed – it’s like a registration or anything else, it’s in the window and it’s not going anywhere, you can’t fake this. And so we’ll – we’re going to be squeezing – no, you can’t in the end, because there is, there is specific barcodes and all that. So we’re going to keep squeezing the situation, more enforcement in general. This as a low tech improvement and then the digital system as the real crucial difference maker. Yes?
Question: Mayor, did you give any thought to reducing the number of placards? This plan doesn’t do that, there are lot of people who are hoping it would. They see placards as encouraging people to drive to work when they might take public transit instead. But also the – you know a lot of experts say, there more that there are, the higher the chances for them to be abused. Why not reduce them?
Mayor: We – first of all, we think the central problem is the abuse of existing placards and the use of fictional placards. We solve those problems, we’re going to solve a whole lot of what people deal with, and the really idiotic situation of asking public servants who need to go a precinct for example to find parking where there is no parking. So we have to be a part of that solution and something that should have been done a long time ago, and we have to fix that underlying problem. I think that’s where we can make a big impact. The way placards have been distributed is, as we said in previous press conferences, some of those are by union agreements, some of those are just common sense realities of people who actually need to use the placards appropriately as part of their official business, so long as they do that, it’s going to be a whole different reality, so that’s where we’re focusing our energies.
Question: Do you think that there is a cultural issue at play here? Because, you know, a lot of people would say it’s not just placards. If you stand outside a police precinct or any other city agency, you might see many vehicles where the license plate has been defaced or bent or has a cover on it so that they don’t get a ticket when they go through a red light camera or they don’t pay a toll.
Mayor: Yeah, we don’t accept that. I mean, is that a reality for someone individuals in public service? Yes, and it’s one we don’t accept. Commissioner O’Neill’s made very clear that there is going to be systemic enforcement against that as well. Yeah, there is a history we have to overcome, there is no question, but I think this kind of action is going to send a message. This is the stick, that there is going to be a lot more enforcement and there is going to be a digital system. The carrot is helping folks who are uniformed officers to have more parking options where they need them, which they’ve deserved for a long time. Yeah?
Question: Question about that. You know, why should uniformed officers get dedicated parking spots in neighborhoods and around the precincts when the rest of us also want access to those parking spots? Shouldn’t they also take the train or find some other way – I know that a lot of them come from out of the city, is there a park and ride system the city could come up with?
Mayor: Look, let’s talk about now, and then let’s talk about the future. It’s a fair question, but I want to deal in the real world. We depend on our officers as we saw yesterday, when we’re telling the story of Detective Simonsen. He would drive 70 miles each way, each day. I mean there is a lot of our officers are coming in from very far away for objective reasons, the cost of housing in the city and etc. So – and we’re also asking our officers often to stay all sorts of hours because of overtime needs or to come in the middle of the night or whatever it may be. We can do better at providing them a way to park near where they work. That makes a lot of sense in the here and now. Now, if you said going forward, can we find ways to encourage car-pooling, and incentivize car-pooling? I think we can. Are there situations where people can use mass transit more? Sometimes, but other times not realistically, and not with the long hours they work, and the long commutes. So we have to mix and match. Our uniformed officers do something very, very special and very powerful for this city, they deserve special consideration. But we can do it in a smart way that both helps them to park where they need to park but also overtime incentivizes other choices. That’s not here yet, but it’s what I want, I want us to work on that going forward.
Question: One follow up for the Deputy Mayor. Question about the license plate recognition technology, will it be able to determine when a car is being used specifically for official business versus just being parked for commutation?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yes it will be, and that will be part – if we can see if a city official is using their card to be parked somewhere they’re not supposed to be, and so it’ll be just a license plate reader.
Question: [Inaudible] city official would have to mark off somehow that they are, you know, I don’t inside arresting somebody or at a meeting that requires a vehicle?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yeah, correct, I mean marked cars will be treated obviously, and emergency vehicles will be treated differently. But other vehicles – first of all, they will be read, and if it’s deemed that they were not supposed to be there, they can go to an appeals process to show that they were supposed to be there, currently as we have with parking tickets for city officials.
Mayor: Come on, no dude, you’ve had enough. Come on, we’re dishing the ball here. Go ahead.
Question: Could you elaborate on why you think DOT enforcement will actually write more tickets than the previous enforcement you had before?
Mayor: It just stands to reason, it puts the employees in a less problematic situation. We understand, we’re human beings, we understand that asking people to write a ticket related to a member of their same agency is uncomfortable. We believe this is a better way to do it.
Question: In 2017, when you announced the initial crackdown, you emphasized the severe consequences, and you said one of the most profound consequences would be that anyone found in violation will have their placards permanently revoked, and now it seems like you’re actually loosening that by taking it to three strikes, rather than threatening at any point we can take away your placard. Especially if they park in a bike lane or a bus lane, why can’t you just stick—
Mayor: Because the three – I think it’s an acknowledgment of human reality, that sometimes people make mistakes, sometimes people do something unknowingly, sometimes there are exigent circumstances. We want a little bit of flexibility, but as the Deputy Mayor said, three strikes and it’s gone forever. That seems like the right balance.
Question: Less flexibility, but if you set a minimum, that’s less flexibility than—
Mayor: Again, I’m comfortable in the context of an entire package that we put together here, that that’s a fair outcome. Right here, right here.
Question: Mr. Mayor, if you take a look at the things that are exposed on placard abuse website, you see that a lot of the things that go on have to do with people putting articles of clothing and other—
Mayor: Yes, very creative.
Question: —badges, whatever, and they are not ticketed. So my question to you is, how do you get the same people who now ticket, to ticket those people who are clearly ignoring it? They’re not making a false ticket. You can have the digital system, any digital system you want to, but if you’re not going to get a ticket for putting your vest or your hat or your badge in the window, what’s the—
Mayor: No, let me be clear. And I’m not the expert on all the technology, my colleagues will jump in. But when the technology has a hit on it, you can’t not write the ticket. In other words, it’s recorded in the system that there was inappropriate parking. It’s not like the officer can then just walk away, they have to write the ticket.
Question: [Inaudible] activate their parking ticket machine to show—
Mayor: We’ll go over the details, but I want you to fully take in what I just said. It registers in a computer system that their supervisors have access to, etc. It’s not like they’re off on their own on some desert island. Once they get a hit, you have to write the ticket. And until we get to that day where we’ve obviously doubled enforcement, we intend to keep going and the stickers are going to help too, but the point is, I’m not missing your question, your question is very fair one. We are going to train our personnel to enforce more aggressively, more consistently, we’re adding personnel. But the ultimate goal here is a situation that has a fail-safe, which is the technology that indicates there is a violation.
Question: My question is very simple. How do you prevent the person who is enforcing it who is just walking by, not activating your digital system?
Mayor: Okay, you’re turning off the machine that they’re supposed to be using as part of their job, go ahead.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Right, so our goal would be ultimately, and this will be a transitional phase, is that we could have agencies or – you know, driving down a street and you’re just pinging in each license plate, you’re not getting out and looking in the windshield, you’re not doing this. It’s going to be that automated.
Mayor: The question is if people, if people somehow decide, our employees, that they’re not going to do their job and have their system on.
Question: This is what they do now.
Mayor: Well, they do something different now.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Its hand held right now, and they actually have to go look in the windshield and see what it is, then do this. So this is more like, you’re just going to read the license plate, that license plate will tell us if you’re allowed to be parked there, and if not a ticket will be generated automatically.
Mayor: Right and I think it’s a question of as with everything else in life, training and supervision. That we have to ensure that every one of our employees understands this is part of their responsibility. But I do think to your point, Marcia. I do think the more technology you add into the equation, the more automatic it becomes, the easier it becomes, and let’s say an agent, you know, you’re an agent and you mysteriously don’t seem to write a lot of tickets, but you know, Yoav is an agent doing blocks near you and he’s got 20 tickets from the same time frame, it’s going to be pretty clear if someone is not doing their job.
Mayor: I put you in a tough role there Yoav. Hold on, hold on, coming back your way.
Question: What about the placards that are not issued by the city? Do you know how many – like what percentage of placards that – you know that are around the city are from the state or from the federal government? And how are those placards, you know, impacted by this?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: It’s a good question, I don’t have the exact numbers, but we know the state issues placards, the MTA issues placards. Our system here will first deal with city issued placards. Our goal would ultimately be to have all our government partners come join us. So that is step two, we will start having those conversations. But we would like the city to be completely placard free, but we know we can at least start with our placards that we issue.
Question: You don’t like let’s say the city has 75 percent of the fall placards that are in rotation are city issued?
Mayor: Well, I think we can – it’s a fair question, we should get you our best estimates. I think we can say, and I’ll turn to my panel of experts that the city issued ones are much more of a concern numerically than federal or state or MTA. I think that stands to reason.
Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation: That is fair, Mr. Mayor. And some of you have seen the numbers; it’s about 125 total city big—
Mayor: 125,000, go ahead.
Commissioner Trottenberg: A big chunk of those disability permits, DOT issued, to sister agencies is about 14,000. Then the balance is PD and DOE. We don’t have a good handle on the numbers for sort of our federal, state, and sister transportation agencies. We think its tens of thousands but beyond that, can’t say. I think it’s true, if we got a handle on the city placards that would be a big piece of the equation.
Mayor: Okay, hold on.
Commissioner Trottenberg: 125 – 125,000—
Mayor: 125,000. Go ahead.
Question: When are these stickers going to be phased in or what time period—
Mayor: Some have started, but how—
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Some have started. We’re going to look at the results of the pilot in the summer and hopefully within a year, would be very aggressive, would be our goal is to have all the city placards turned over.
Question: So is this a one-size-fits-all placard or are there going to be like, you know, bronze placards and gold placards, platinum placards – say if you’re a Deputy Mayor, would you get a placard that’s powerful than another placard?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I’ll turn to the Commissioner but there’s different—
Mayor: I think we should have – I think we should have levels – “oh, you have a gold placard, I only have silver.”
Deputy Mayor Anglin: There are different access levels by placard so.
Mayor: Yeah, that’s right.
Commissioner Trottenberg: There are certainly are. I mean, some – some for Commissioner level and certain jobs where you need to be all over the city it’s a broader type of access and just to be clear, for example, for law enforcement, for certain unmarked types of vehicles we may try and find another solution. So it won’t be one-size-fits-all but I think for the big majority of city-issued placard we can go pretty standard—
Mayor: But Rich, the logic holds either way. Let’s say you have a placard that gives much greater access because you’re supposed to be anywhere, everywhere, versus a placard like I had as a City Councilmember, it was very specific times, very specific places you could be. The digital system can have all that in its database obviously and then it can tell if you have a gold placard and I have a bronze placard, it’s going to know whether, you know, you’re still following the rules for the gold placard in that particular space you’re in, whether I’m following the rules for the bronze placard, it makes the adjustment either way and gives the penalty if someone’s out of line. Yes?
Question: So right now, when you call 311 to complain about a placard abuse [inaudible] the NYPD, will that change and it’ll go to the DOT, or will be a dedicated like DOT enforcement, because there’s—
Mayor: More than one agency involved so it’s not one or the other, go ahead.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: For the most part, the 311 calls would still be directed to PD. What DOT is doing with the unit is they’re going to go out to areas that we know – specialized areas that we know are problematic – Downtown Brooklyn, this area around here – and they’re going to try to just focus like SWAT teams in these areas.
Mayor: Okay, go ahead.
Question: Mayor, do you think that anyone should, I guess kind of getting to the three-strikes issue here, why should anyone ever think it’s appropriate to park, with a placard or not, in a bike lane or a bus stop—
Mayor: They shouldn’t.
Question: —in front of a fire hydrant—
Mayor: But again, I’m trying to – I’m giving you the common sense answer, these guys can give you a more expert answer. We’re still dealing with human beings here. So, I think, in most things in society, we try to discern, you know, what’s one strike and you’re out versus what’s several strikes and you’re out and there’s different situations. Someone who is law-abiding and a good human being could actually just make a mistake in where they use a placard. It does not have to be a venal, awful action. Want to give a little bit of flexibility. But, you know, I want you to hear what the Deputy Mayor said. Three at any point and it’s taken away permanently. It’s a pretty rigorous standard. Go ahead.
Question: How many placards have been taken away under the first—
Mayor: I don’t know that, go ahead.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: We’d have to look at that and get back to you, I don’t know.
Mayor: We’ll find out, I don’t know what that is. There is a number—
Commissioner Trottenberg: It is more than zero, at the moment it’s sort of handled agency by agency—
Deputy Mayor Anglin: But we can try to—
Mayor: It is a number beginning with a digit other than zero – we’ll get it for you.
Question: What exactly are the rules governing these placards, like where can they be used—
Mayor: Each one is different is the first innervating reality. As I said when I was a City Councilmember, it was literally, here’s a map. You can park on these streets during these hours but you can’t park – if it says this you can’t park there, if it says that you can’t park there, it was like really, really detailed. And other people, as the Deputy Mayor said, have much broader mandates that they’re allowed to work with. So it really depends on the situation. Do you have something you want to share there?
Commissioner Trottenberg: Well, I think some of you have seen this. We can give it to you afterwards, it’s the enforcement guide that we worked with PD on and it shows some of the specialized area where only a pretty limited number of folks can use they’re placards and, as the Mayor said, there are different types of placards limited by geography, limited by time of day.
Question: Do you all like the current rules or do you want to reconsider them? Like right now you can use a placard to park in a metered spot for free?
Mayor: Again, everyone – each one is different and it is, at least, in principal, calibrated to the work a person does. So for example, if you are an elected official and you’re allowed to use it in certain areas under certain conditions, it is a recognition of the fact that you’re doing public business. If you’re doing an emergency service, obviously it’s an even broader recognition. We don’t want someone who’s doing urgent work to stop and try to figure out – you know, pay the meter when they’re doing something in the public interest. The underlying principal is sound. The day to day reality is not sound at all and it needs to be addressed. I think it’s also fair to say we need to keep thinking about the rules over time and how to improve them. Marcia, go ahead, I’ll be right back to you, go ahead.
Question: [Inaudible] now it’s just for members of the NYPD. How many more will be added so that you can [inaudible] and also would you add any extra spots for teachers who also feel they need to go into—
Mayor: So I want to – love our teachers and all of our other civilian employees. I want to really, and this is just, again, a common-sense answer – our first responders have a particularly important role to play and they work particularly long, and difficult, and unpredictable hours, and we often require them to stay a lot longer than planned, we often require them to show up in the middle of the night, that is not true of civilian public servants the same way. So we’re going to do something for our first responders that is different than what we do for other people. We can find out for you how many spaces we have currently, and I think that census is being done, but what we can say with assurance is there are some police precincts, some fire houses where there is ample parking and there are a lot where there is not, and that’s crazy. We have to come up with a system that actually accommodates these employees, and again, if it takes leasing a parking lot or leasing spaces in a garage or whatever the heck it is, we’re going to find a way. Go ahead.
Question: What about teachers—
Mayor: Again, the first responders – I just differentiated. First responders, we’re going to do this for only first responders.
Question: The number of placards has doubled during your time as Mayor. I’m curious what is, sort of, the threshold for who gets a placard and should that be reconsidered at all under this plan?
Mayor: So, the reason you saw the increase is a combination of things. I’ll start and the experts will add in. We had a legal settlement, or a labor settlement based on legal action, involving the teachers that we honestly believed was an unavoidable situation and that was just, by far the biggest reason why we saw an increase. I want to remind everyone, we also have a growing population. So you heard the Commissioner mention folks who are disabled and needed the disabled access placard. Of course we’re going to accommodate them and that’s more people. So anything like that where there’s a legitimate underlying need, there’s more people who need them because they literally just need them, we’re going to be responsive to that.
But, I believe that what we’re doing here is trying to take all of the things that are profoundly broken and going right at them. You know, get rid of the fake placards, get rid of the abuse of the standards of the existing placards, and that’s job one, to make sense of the situation. If people were only using their placards the way they were supposed to we would have an entirely different situation. At the same time, I absolutely think it’s fair for us to ask the question “do we want to redefine how we use placards going forward,” and that’s something we’re going to look at too. But right now this is about fixing what’s immediately broken and we think it’s going to really improve the quality of life in a lot of neighborhoods. So, is there anything else? Way back?
Question: [Inaudible] or make the connection or can answer this: if third strike means [inaudible] will be revoked—
Mayor: Say that again, I’m sorry?
Question: If the thirds strike means the decal is going to be revoked, do we know what the penalties are for strike one, strike two? Has that been flushed out yet?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: The current – we are creating a new violation for placard misuse, so it would be a new ticket on top of a parking ticket that you can already get. The current fine for that would be $50 under what we are authorized to do. We will be seeking state legislation to change in state law to allow us to increase that to $250. For the first, and every one after that.
Commissioner Trottenberg: And I will just add, each individual agency, we also have our own disciplinary procedures when our employees are abusing their placards.
Question: These could start as high as $250 for strike one?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Correct, if we get a change in state law that we’ll be requesting.
Mayor: Way back.
Question: A fake placard gets you a $250 fine but a safety vest that says NYPD on it doesn’t?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: It would be the same thing, that’s still not a real placard.
Question: It’s [inaudible] parking ticket is what I’m saying because you’re getting an extra fine on top of that for showing a—
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Correct—
Deputy Mayor Anglin: We’re creating a new violation in addition to the parking violation.
Mayor: But I want to just, again, introduce some common sense into the equation. If someone leaves a vest in their car and they’re not trying to do a fake placard, we don’t want to penalize them. I mean, there has to be a belief that is was an effort to actually violate the law so there’s a little bit of eye of the beholder there. Okay. Go ahead.
Question: In 2017, you said you were going to propose to raise the fine by $100. It doesn’t look like that happened. What happened to that?
Mayor: I don’t know if you noticed there’s a different situation in Albany now. We often found that the things that we tried to do in Albany were stymied in the State Senate. We think we have a different environment now, we also think this issue is something a lot of constituents care about and our elected officials in Albany will understand that.
Question: Deputy Mayor Anglin said at the time that you could do that at the city level, did not require—
Mayor: I don’t remember that. I know the stuff that requires state – the problem we’ve had on the state level is not having a cooperative State Senate and now we do.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I don’t recall that. Our research now does say that we would need a change in state law. So I can go back and look at what was said then but that was my recommendation—
Question: Going to raise—
Mayor: I heard you the first time brother, but I’m saying we are saying what we believe now is we need state law. We’ll get it back to you. Go ahead.
Question: I wanted to go back – I know you said that it’s – could be awkward for the NYPD to ticket their own, I immediately hear from the NYPD, I mean, don’t you guys arrest fellow police officers, and it’s not only police officers who abuse placards, it’s firefighters, it’s Department of Corrections. I mean, do you think that logic really holds – I mean, that seems weird to me that police wouldn’t ticket—
Mayor: I think it’s fair to say, and I’ll turn to Chief Chan, but I’m just – again, I’m going to constantly try to take this back to the real world and real life. If someone’s committed a serious crime, we’ve seen many, many occasions of course where NYPD will arrest one of their own who’ve done something serious but I think when it comes to a placard, you know, there’s going to be more pressure to not. We understand – we’ve seen it. It’s not a theoretical thing, it’s not something that’s a moral question – we’re talking about real life in New York City. Clearly, a number of enforcement agents didn’t feel comfortable. We want to find a way around that. So first is to bring in the DOT, second is to go with the decals, and third is to go to automated system. It’s just reality, I think. Go ahead, Tom.
Question: Isn’t that the root of the problem though? You know, I mean that if a police officer doesn't feel comfortable ticketing their own, you know, member of the force, then that could lead to other –
Mayor: No, I think it's an entirely – look, as much as I understand the feeling you have for this issue and your readers and viewers have, this is different than serious or violent crime, for example – it is just different. I don't like it. I mean, your question is fair – I’d like to believe if we were all police officers, we would be very comfortable if we saw a fellow officer violating the placard rule that we would issue the ticket. But, again, I'm living in a real world place here and we all see there's a historic problem – it goes back a long, long time – so we want to address it in a real world way, and I think this is the way to do it.
Tom, do you want to add?
Chief Thomas Chan, NYPD: Yes, and as you mentioned before – the Deputy Mayor – that the enforcement being done early on in 2016 – we issued a 28,000 parking violations to a vehicles that were in violation. And, at this point, the last year, we issued over 54,000 – so, a 93 percent increase. I would say that's fairly dramatic. And we have officers that have been issuing summonses. So –something that DOT will be joining us in terms of the enforcement.
Question: Why subject people, in some cases, to an arrest for not paying the subway fare but not subject them to such – at least –
Mayor: Well, right now, as you know, we don't subject people to an arrest for not paying the subway fare and we use summons, unless there's extenuating circumstances like other offenses or the has been a substantial pattern of a repeat offenses. So, I actually think we're talking about the same thing – one is a summons, the other is a summons.
Question: How big – how many people are going to be in this DOT unit? How much is it – how much money is going towards it?
Mayor: It’s 10 to begin, right?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: 10 to begin – 10 people, correct. And we're still estimating the complete fiscal needs for the unit, but roughly the personnel costs will be about $800,000, and then we'll have to look at equipment and other things like that.
Mayor: So that's focused where we – we honestly know where the problem is the greatest, and we're in one of those places right now. We're going to start there. But again, we're going to – we have – I want to give everyone credit for this point – a doubling of summonses, and I want to give you the numbers, because I hope you're not underestimating the meaning of this. It is from 28,000 in 2016 to 54,000 in 2018. So that's real movement and that's going to continue either way. You’re going to see a constant uptick. So this group is to deal with the very specific hotspots, but we've hired a lot more enforcement agents in general, they’re all going to be trained that this is the way of the future, and we expect constant enforcement.
Question: Just to follow up on what [inaudible] was talking about – do you wish [inaudible] the DOT employees? Like, how does that get around to, like, employees – you know, the problem with the issuing summonses to their colleagues essentially? And then I was also wondering how you're going to manager like the success of this program?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: So, yes, DOT – as you know, we’re piloting the sticker right now with DOT employees who currently have placards – so about 300 of them. I think the same thing the Mayor said – it’ll be training, it'll be awareness. We also are going to, as I said, use the Mayor’s scout team, which is our observation team for things happening on the street to go and do a census first, and to help us try to understand the magnitude, and that will give us a base that we'll be able to then track as we go forward with the different phases of this program.
Question: Just on the 54,000 – do we know how many were members of the NYPD from last year?
Chief Chan: I don't have that breakdown, but we can get you the numbers.
Question: Do you think this new enforcement and technology, can it do anything on the issue of diplomatic plates and UN parking all over the Turtle Bay and elsewhere in the city? Is there anything that this kind of approach that could bring to that problem?
Mayor: Good question.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I mean, I think that's a bigger issue, really, involving our Office of International Affairs, and our Parking Unit does a lot of work with them and the diplomatic community, and we try and work together to get good behavior so we can see if there's a role here for this to play.
Mayor: Okay. Anything else? Yes?
Question: Just to clarify, the summonses, the penalties – would there be a difference between a ticket issued for using a placard inappropriately, or having a fake placard, or, you know, paraphernalia like an NYPD shirt or a government agency shirt on a dashboard? Is that – that would be the same offense under this plan?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: So, I think – I would like to get back to you on that one. So, clearly, if you are creating a fake placard – you’re putting a fake placard in there – I guess I would like to go and see how we would define fraudulent or fake. So, we know if you create a physically fake one, I don't know if putting your vest in the window concerns of fake placard. So, we would need to research that with the Law Department to be able to do the broadest swath that we could do, obviously.
Question: You're looking to increase from 50 to 250 –
Deputy Mayor Anglin: We’ll we’re going to create one first and then increase it, correct.
Question: [Inaudible] or misusing legitimate placards –
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Or creating fake placards, correct.
Mayor: Okay. Last call on this issue – yes?
Question: [Inaudible] stepped up enforcement of placard abusers were parked in dangerous situation such as hydrants, and intersections – that's been a chronic problem [inaudible] parked in front of hydrant for a day, or weeks [inaudible]?
Mayor: Yeah, the hydrant one is particularly dangerous. So, look, we are – we
believe what they're doing here is going to change the whole culture of enforcement, and it needs to be very, very aggressive. The doubling in summonses is a good start, but we need a lot more. Anybody inappropriately parking in front of a hydrant is endangering the lives of others. And I mentioned, for example, when people a block a curb cut so someone disabled can't cross the street – that’s absolutely inappropriate and unfair, there should be consequences. So, we're going to keep pouring on enforcement, and showing there's consequences, but we all – everyone’s questions indicate we know that there's a culture change here. We're going to have to do something very different than the last few generations in this city, because if you go back to the Koch years, you're talking about a couple of generations now. But the digital system I think is when we have the revolutionary moment of change because then when we make sure everyone does their jobs and we will, it will be very hard for people who are abusing this to evade penalties.
Question: Have you put any thought into how much at all it would cost to build parking spots for uniformed officers that don’t exist now?
Question: So, we are currently working with in NYPD to do a survey for every precinct, and to, like the Mayor said, to understand currently how many spots they have allowed – allotted – and to figure out what they need. It becomes a little tricky with shift changes and overlaps. So that's why it's going to take us a little while to accommodate that. Firehouses are a little different – by their collective bargaining, they get six spots. So, we’ve worked with them to figure out what kind of spots they would need. But we're still working with PD on a number.
Mayor: But the point here – I just want make sure that my direction is clear – it never made sense – in my opinion – again, I'm going to say first responders are different in terms of the parking issue. We need to accommodate them. If we're not accommodating them, we’re creating an untenable situation for them and for neighborhood residents. This is a different approach and I'm very comfortable with the approach, and whatever's going to take to get us there, we’re going to get there.
Last call on this – Rich?
Question: So just – so, I'm a little confused. So, you’re going from physical placards to stickers, to what? License plates?
Mayor: I’m going to do my best and then you jump in. The physical placards will exist during the transitional period, but more and more will be replaced by the stickers, and then ultimately we go to a situation – so I'm going to try my best as a layman and you'll try – Rich Lamb has a license plate; Rich lamb has a placard; the computer system knows your name, your license plate, your placard, the conditions of your placard, what you can use it for, what you can't use it for. The license plate reader knows that, right there, they’re on Mott Street, and the computer does its magic and says, Rich Lamb – here’s his license plate, we know who he is, we see his placard standard, and it actually fits here on Mott Street and this particular parking space – he’s okay, let's keep moving. Conversely, let's say now you're on Canal Street, and the license reader does it’s thing and says Rich Lamb is not allowed to be here, and he didn't pay the meter, so he's in violation. And all that is in a centralized system, so it's not, again, just some dude with a handheld thing who never manages to tell anyone about it. It's all retrievable and monitorable.
Am I getting it right?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yup, that’s it.
Mayor: I’m going to do the parking placard digital enforcement for dummies –this is gonna be my new book.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you haven’t been to Chinatown for four years –
Mayor: Is this about this issue? We’re going to take other issues too, I just want to know if this is about this one?
Question: You [inaudible] Chinatown for four years [inaudible] Lunar New Year, and then you came three times [inaudible] so my question is, is this a [inaudible] or you’re trying to send out some particular message?
Mayor: You know, I came to the community to talk about the new jail facility. I want you to recognize that in recent months, the first time I came was to have a meeting with community leaders, which I think was a very productive meeting. I’ve definitely been to the parade previously, and this is – we’re doing this because this is one of the communities most affected by the parking placard problem. But I definitely also want to make sure that people in the Chinese community and the Asian community know that the City wants to work with them on a whole host of issues. I think it's important to be present to make that point.
Okay. On this topic, last call – last call on this topic – this topic – yes, sir?
Question: It’s related, it’s about parking.
Mayor: I’ll take it.
Question: Okay, With e-commerce you have the delivery trucks everywhere and you have no parking. Another issue that’s coming up, particularly on the Upper West Side, is that you have the truck there and then another truck comes and takes its spot. It's been there eight hours and it’s being used as a distribution center – we’re talking about maybe Amazon, Fed-Ex, Fresh Direct. What is being done about that? And what should be done?
Mayor: Good question.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: You should talk enforcement –
Chief Chan: Yeah, okay, sure. And again, it’s really determined by the signage that’s currently on that particular street. And what happened is that – is it permitted? Are they paying a commercial parking fee, and things of that nature? But in general, vehicles – we don't allow them to park at that one side and remain at that one particular side and basically control that particular parking space.
Question: [Inaudible] happening over and over again though. [Inaudible] Commissioner Trottenberg, is it something where more loading zones, spaces should be available for Fresh Direct? We require the service, we demand it, and yet we get angry –
Mayor: Well, require and demand are two different things, but –
Mayor: Some people need it, a lot of people just like it, but go on.
Commissioner Trottenberg: I think it's both, and I actually think placards fit into it, which is – it obviously requires good enforcement, and some of you know we've been doing some experimenting with clear curbs in Midtown. And it's challenge – I mean, it is a challenge in terms of manpower to enforce that many vehicles. It is also DOT, and we're constantly reviewing how we're striping the curb, where we're putting loading zones. But we also – I think helping to get a handle on placards, because sometimes what happens when we create loading zones is placarded vehicles go and fill them up and then the FedEx or the Fresh Direct truck can even get into the loading zone they need. So, I think all the pieces need to come together.
Mayor: Yeah, and it’s a very good question, because what I see as one of the, sort of, essence points of your question is that this city is changing all the time. 20 years ago, who ever heard of Fresh Direct, right? I mean, this is – we got a bunch of evolving situations. We've got more population. We've got new services we didn't have before. We've got, obviously, challenges that the retail establishments are facing. We clearly have an issue with placards we have to address, but we also have ways of addressing placards we didn't have before, like the technology we're talking about here. Everything’s evolving and moving – so, one, we have to constantly update our policies. Two, we're going to have more to say on this soon. I think some of the big structural things, like trying to clear out certain times a day when we don't have a commercial deliveries – very challenging, but it’s still something I think about a lot as a solution. A lot of New Yorkers raised this to me, can we have some times of the day where there's not commercial deliveries? We're trying to see if there's a way to do that. Obviously, trying to get more mass transit to work better so people get away from their cars. There's a lot of moving parts, but it's kind of like a challenge that never ends.
One more thing I want to say – I held up this other thing before, but I want to hold up this one because this is really cool. This is an actual piece of glass. These guys thought of everything. This is a sticker on an actual piece of glass so you can see what it would look like in a windshield. And once it's on, you're not getting it off. You're not transferring it to anyone. So that's a good – that's a good step.
Last call on the question of the placards. Let me try one more time – going once, twice, three times – other topics. Yes, way back?
Question: The deadlines for the City to inspect the group of yeshivas has passed. I’m wondering what the next step is? Will there be any penalties or [inaudible] funding?
Mayor: So, we’ve got a series of dates and we made clear that – and there’s only four yeshivas left that are the problem – that we are going in, in March. We are going in with the standards we have used for every other school. If, for any reason, our DOE officials not allowed in, end of discussion. If for any reason there's any attempt to interfere with the inspection, end of discussion. Any act of noncompliance will result in the City in New York reporting to the State Education Department and making very clear from our perspective – ball game over and that the State needs to consider revoking funding. So, we've been really, really clear. And, again, the vast majority of Yeshivas have complied. There's four and only four left that have not.
Question: Mayor, I’m wondering if you some of your colleagues last night at the debate –
Mayor: I did not watch the debate – was engaged in other important matters.
Question: Someone asked the question about you running for president [inaudible] reaction to that?
Mayor: I respect my colleagues, but, you know, again, I will be considering what's the right decision using my own judgement.
Go ahead, Marcia.
Question: This is a follow-up to what Zack said – I mean, specifically Melissa Mark-Viverito said you’re not qualified, Ron Kim said you’re delusional. I’m wondering specifically how you feel about those comments –
Mayor: I love the conversation with Ron Kim during the very same parade that Margaret mentioned – he didn’t mention to me that – what did he say?
Question: He said you’re delusional.
Mayor: He should have said that at the parade. I mean, when you’re actually next to someone there’s a great chance to tell them they’re delusional. But he was – he hugged me. It was a lovely conversation.
Question: I guess the question is this – these are people who have enlightened self-interest, because if you were to go to Washington, they would get your job.
Mayor: Marcia, you understand –
Question: They don't want you to run. So, will it cause you to change your mind?
Mayor: I find that really – I'm impressed with the way you constructed that question. Respect them all – I'll keep my own counsel. I respect them all.
Question: Just wanted to get your take on the potential [inaudible] has NYCHA monitor considering – has a longstanding affiliation [inaudible] critical of your administration and claiming that it’s trying to privatize NYCHA. She also has made some remarks that have been viewed as anti-Semitic in the past.
Mayor: I have not seen a details on his connection to her, so I can't comment on that. The process of a naming the monitor and all of the specific terms and conditions that go with that is not complete. So, until there is a formal announcement, you should not consider it done. From what I’ve seen he is an impressive guy with a lot very pertinent experience, but I’d have to look into that issue to be able to give you a better answer.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I think it’s been at least 24 hours since you’ve spoken publically about Amazon so I wanted to ask you –
Mayor: It’s been so long.
Question: About the question, again, your Economic Development Director, James Patchett, said this morning that the Amazon deal was basically botched from the start. Do you agree with that assessment?
Mayor: I didn’t hear his comments and I work very, very close with James so I don’t want to just take a snippet of what he said. What I think is – you know, very unusual in all my experience dealing with tech companies, financial sector, major employers in New York City, I’ve just never seen anything like this where there was an agreement and then a party just walks away with no dialogue.
So I think there was something about the way Amazon went about this, all over the country, that put – pit city against city in a very, very elaborate way that I hope that can be stopped by national legislation one day. I don’t think – and I’ve talked to a lot of my fellow mayors about this – I don’ t think we should have situation where cities are trying to bid against each other. I think we need some limits on what companies can ask of different places but that can only be achieved with national legislation or else, you know, you’re left in this untenable situation where you are trying to get jobs for your city, your trying to get revenue for your city, it’s understandable that people compete. But this process I think has raised greater concerns about whether we’re not in a broken system overall that needs major change.
Question: Specifically, he said that both the rollout didn’t go smoothly and we – we all regret that. And he said that to say he didn’t do a great job of helping residents imagine themselves in those high paying jobs.
Mayor: Well, look, again I have not heard all of his comments. I think that the central ideas that it was going to be 25,000 to 40,000 jobs, it was going to be $27 billion in revenue for the City and State government as opposed to three billion in eventual incentives. Those ideas register which is why there were clear strong majorities for it in every poll. So, one of the things I think we should sort of dwell on here is how do we grade what opposition is? You know, anything you do in New York City, there’s will be some opposition, it’s New York City, and there’ll be some rallies and there will be some people who speak out on essentially everything. I am an expert from the last half decade of doing this job but when you have consistent polling that shows clear majorities for something, well something got across to people and they believed in it.
So, again, I can’t speak to his comments because I haven’t heard them in their fullness, but I think the basic ideas did get across to people. We’d all love to, you know, have a time machine and go back and figure out how to make this work, but the fact is that I actually think City government, State government, agreed to a fair deal, we were pushing Amazon to do more for the community which is our job, and they just walked away. I really think it’s like that and I don’t think any other company I know would have handled it that way.
Question: Mayor if you are out and about a lot, as you like to remind us, you go to town halls, you’re at the parade, have you heard from anybody who wants you to run for president? Like are people coming up to you saying like, we can’t wait to see you run for president?
Mayor: I’m not going to try and fall into the trap of the question because I’m not here for – no, I mean look – again, when I have something to say on that topic – I will, as I told you, I haven’t ruled it out. I get a lot of encouragement from people, I know it may be hard to believe after we’ve talked about placard abuse and the anger and frustration that New Yorkers feel on that issue broadly, but every day I have New Yorkers come up and talk about different things that the administration is doing that they like, and plenty of people who urge me on for the future, but I just don’t want to get into the details of it.
Question: If I can ask another Amazon question, I know you mentioned in the op-ed published over the weekend that Amazon didn’t do a lot outreach, they didn’t go into the community and explain the deal. Would you say that you did enough of that? I don’t think you visited Queens, especially in the immediate aftermath –
Mayor: Again, I look at it this way, the majority of the people of this city believe in this deal very clearly, so I was constantly asked about it. I spoke about it. And yeah, it’s good to go out to communities, I do it all the time, but let’s face it, in the end the many times I spoke to the people through the news media, whether it’s on the weekly radio show or settings like this, including when we originally announced the plan and we went - you guys will remember – a whole lot of detail that day. I think I was there for like 30 questions or something, we really went into it. That information got out which is why we had – not just from me, but from other places – which is why we had clear, strong majorities. On most issues you would rightfully say, if you had those kind of majorities, something got through.
I believe there were some opponents that if I had gone out and talked them all day long, I wasn’t going to change their mind. Maybe there were some neighborhood residents that if I talked to, they would have felt proportionally better, but I don’t think that’s the essence of this. It wasn’t like there was a vote and we lost the vote in the neighborhood we had a referendum on. It was out there, most people supported it, a relatively small number of people vocally opposed it, that’s fine, that’s democracy, the company walked away. If the company hadn’t walked away, we would not have this conversation, obviously, because there was nothing – I believe – that would have stopped it from going through.
Question: Yesterday the construction trades were dealt a pretty big blow. They’ve been trying to negotiate a labor deal on Hudson Yards and basically all the trades have been protesting this one building that Related Companies has been working on and the National Iron Workers Association essentially struck a deal with Related that applies to the whole country and they fired the local leadership and are telling all the workers to cross the picket line to work at Hudson Yards. I’m just wondering, Mayor, what you make of this dispute? It seems that it is essential for the future of construction labor here and how do you think it should be resolved.
Mayor: I’m not – what you’re telling me, honestly I’ve been talking to people on a lot of different issues today, this one I have not briefed on, so I’ll just speak very broadly. I have spoken – excuse me – to the Building Trades Council about the broader issue of Hudson Yards. I think they are right to want to come up with a fair plan for union labor there. I think that the main company involved, and everyone involved in Hudson Yards, should be working with the Building Trades Council to come up with an equitable solution. I don’t know about the specific action by the Iron Workers, so I can’t speak to it until I get a fuller briefing on it.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you cancelled your trip to New Hampshire after the death of the Detective. Do you plan to resume that trip –
Mayor: As per usual, we will be providing updates on travel as soon as they are ready. I want to emphasize to everyone, just so everyone knows how this is going to go down, that when we travel, we’re going to try and give you sufficient prior notice that if you want to join, you will have time to do so. I said and answered questions over the last few weeks, I will be traveling around the country to talk about what I think is the vision of the future of this country that we need to focus on and to talk about the specific successes here in New York and examples here in New York that could be really helpful as part of this national discussion and talk about a lot of changes that will have to happen nationally that will help the people of New York City.
So I did that at the Mayor’s Conference in Washington, I did that in Harvard University, I will be doing that in a number of places around the country. Some of those places will be early primary states, some of those places will be other types of states, I’m going to go where the discussion is happening and where I can enjoin the debate effectively, and clearly you’re going to see overlap with some of what happens in the presidential discussion because that’s where people are focusing on talking about the future of the country.
Question: So advocates and elected officials have expressed frustration over a lack of long term funding in the preliminary budget for bridging the gap, social workers for students who live in shelters, so there’s currently 69 of them and the funding expires at end of the year. I’m just curious, what conversations have you had with them and will there be funding in the final –
Mayor: We spoke to this I believe on the day I announced the preliminary budget. Unquestionably we’re going to fund educational services for kids in temporary housing. It’s just a matter of which approach and the exact dollar figure. So we’ve been taking an approach so far that we’ve seen some good results from, but we’re constantly evaluating because this is not entirely uncharted territory, but it’s something that is different from what the DOE has historically done and it’s a recognition of a challenge that honestly went under addressed historically and we need to do it differently and better. Will there be funding? Absolutely. How much, exactly how it’s structured, exactly how the services will go, we’re still working through.
Question: Mayor, are you running for president? I’m just kidding –
Mayor: That’s something I was like, okay, I’ll go over this again.
Mayor: That’s good, good comic timing.
Question: I wanted to ask about the [inaudible] tax credit in light of that Amazon [inaudible] something maybe was considered as part of the State Budget, do you think that’s being beneficial [inaudible] push back against it?
Mayor: So this is an excellent question, because I think we need to have this conversation in general. Let me give you the counterfactual first, 421-a. 421-a was broken, it was broken for a long time and honestly no one really did anything about it. I am very proud of this administration. It was a – as you all saw – a two year rather bloody battle, but we said 421-a was built for a time when we were begging people to invest in New York City, begging them to build residential housing. A whole new world now, let’s change it so it’s less generous to developers, much more bang for the buck for any incentives given, much more affordable housing back for any incentives, the new 421-a is extraordinarily better. I mean it’s much, much better, it’s a much fairer outcome, both for creating affordable housing and the taxpayers. Okay.
Then we come along with the incentive programs related to Amazon. Some of them, you know, you say anyone who’s bringing a lot of jobs, maybe you want to have an incentive program to encourage a lot of jobs. Maybe you want to have an incentive program for certain geographic areas that need more investment. I think we can safely say that the State rules need to be looked at again because they’re very broad, and some of them seem – like 421-a – to be based on a reality of a different time. Let’s reassess them and tighten them up. Okay.
Then you got film and T.V. tax credit which has unquestionably worked. So I remember when we couldn’t get the film and T.V. industry to commit here in a serious way. They had been a big part of New York City. They had walked away in large measure. They were getting all sorts of incentives elsewhere and just for a lot of reasons they felt that New York City was too difficult to manage, there wasn’t enough space, whatever parking problems, everything we’re talking about. This city made a very concerted effort over multiple administration to win back that industry and the tax credits clearly were very helpful in that effort. We now have a booming film and T.V. industry, it’s astounding how much it’s grown in the city, and we need it. And I am a progressive who fundamentally believes we need jobs and we need revenue to live up to our progressive ideals.
So that one I say works, can it be tweaked in some ways, I’m sure that’s a fair discussion. But would you get rid of something that’s had that much impact? No. We’re thrilled to be – again – a national and international leader in T.V. – I don’t want to risk that.
Any other questions? Yes?
Unknown: Last two.
Question: Sure, there was a settlement announced in the Southern District about FEMA defrauding on Hurricane Sandy payments by the Department of Transportation. I just wanted to know what did the city learn from that, beyond what’s announced by the U.S. attorney, what’s the city’s story on what happened?
Mayor: People screwed up. Department – no disrespect to our good friends at Department of Transportation – but some of our good friends at Department of Transportation [inaudible] present company screwed up. And it was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened, and we believe we now have the safeguards in place and we willingly worked with the federal government to make them whole on that. Okay, last call anyone, going once, twice –
Question: I should be sitting over there.
Mayor: Alright, you have a pad – go ahead, you have a pad, that makes you real.
Question: On that, in TriBeCa we have a lot of filming.
Question: So the question is I have had a few residents complain about the constantly filming on their blocks. Is there any thought [inaudible] is there any thought to limiting like what lots filming can take place on? When it’s always on the cobblestone streets or always on Greene Street, they’re not even cobble. But they have like – it just takes up the whole block, the craft trucks are on the sidewalks –
Mayor: Yeah, it’s a real issue. Yes we constantly try and strike some balance. Now there are some things like, some irreplaceable sites that there’s not a lot of other examples of and that’s a particular challenge. But the goal is always to try and create some fairness and balance where you can create different options and one of the things that the Mayor’s Office of Media Entertainment has done a very good job on I think is encouraging the industry to use all five boroughs. That’s been true in terms of the soundstages, but it’s also been true in terms of locations for shooting and that’s one of the equitable things we need to do is get the industry spread out over the city so no one takes the burden too much. So it’s a fair concern, we’ve got to better. Some places are particularly iconic and particularly beloved by the industry to be strong. It’s a great industry, lots of good paying jobs, tons of opportunity, and also promotes New York City constantly by its very existence. So – but yes, where we can create more balance and fairness, we need to.