NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 26
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Long Island City • Astoria
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NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 26
Sunnyside • Woodside  
Long Island City • Astoria
English Español বাংলা 简体中文 한국어 नेपाली
DONATE
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Immigrant and Language Justice

  • Our City, Our Vote: It’s time to give lawful permanent residents of the U.S. who are permanent residents of NYC the right to vote in our local elections. There are more than one million lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) in New York City - immigrants who have permanently made the U.S. and NYC their home, but might not yet be citizens - or might be taking too great of a risk to become citizens, based on where they are originally from. The overwhelming majority of these New Yorkers - our friends, neighbors, family members, colleagues - work, pay taxes, send their kids to our public schools, utilize and contribute to all our city services, and yet, they have absolutely no say in how the City makes critical decisions about their lives and those of their families. It’s no surprise, then, that their inability to vote for their Council Member, Mayor, and other local positions results in their extensive and unique housing, healthcare, and educational needs not being met. This must change immediately. 

  • Fully funded legal services, including ActionNYC and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. Every New Yorker should have the right to counsel before any court of law: civil, housing, criminal - and, yes, immigration. The City’s average annual expenditure on NYFIUP, which provides representation in immigration court, is $16 million, and it is $7 million on ActionNYC, which provides free immigration legal services - amounts that could be doubled overnight by reallocating just 1.5 day’s worth of the NYPD’s operating budget. This is how we invest in communities, not criminalization.

  • Fully funded Adult Literacy Programs. We must end the annual budget dance regarding Adult Literacy Programs, which are the foundation of social, civic, cultural, and political empowerment for thousands of New Yorkers. Once again, the lack of funding here is a reflection of a misalignment of our priorities. We must baseline this funding at a minimum of $12 million annually (less than one day’s worth of the NYPD’s budget), and increase it based on need.

  • Interpretation Cooperative and a Public “Language Bank.” There’s no reason any New Yorker should ever be blocked from accessing City services, from schools, to hospitals, to social services, and more, because they might not have a mastery of English. The City must establish and fund an interpretation cooperative that seamlessly enables access to all services that immigrants will need. 

  • Prioritize Dual Language Learners. One of the greatest failures of the DOE during the pandemic - failing to communicate comprehensively, effectively, and on time with immigrant families - was just a snapshot of a much larger and systemic problem within our public school system. In order for all of our kids and families to be truly and equitably served, the City must fund formal partnerships between trusted, culturally and linguistically relevant organizations and local schools to ensure that all language and cultural needs are being met and that school administrators and teachers alike are integrating their students needs, and not allowing a lack of proficiency in English to stymie progress. 

IMMEDIATE RELIEF FOR MARGINALIZED WORKERS: 
TAXI DRIVERS, DELIVERISTAS, SEX WORKERS, STREET VENDORS, AND MORE

  • Justice for Taxi Drivers: On Day 1 of the new mayoral administration and City Council, the City must immediately identify a path of buying and relieving the outstanding $75 million in taxi driver (owner-operator) debt. This debt is one of the darkest stains on our city’s moral fabric, given that the City of New York created the secondary medallion market, was wantonly negligent in its regulation, and allowed for its crash, resulting in hundreds of millions in profit for predatory lenders and more than a dozen suicides and a lifetime of debt for our city’s taxi drivers.
  • Justice for deliveristas: Deliveristas have kept quarantined New Yorkers fed and nourished throughout the pandemic, and yet remain among the most vulnerable workers in the city. The City must take immediate steps to ensure they can work with dignity and safety. This includes mandating that all restaurants allow deliveristas to use the bathroom and to have access to designated work spaces rest. In addition, the City could consider a licensing scheme wherein the deliveristas and/or their bikes are licensed, meaning that the City could then provide them with bikes and bags, and that there would generally be a much higher degree of public visibility into the operations (and much less of an incentive for the private firms to exploit the deliveristas).
  • Justice for Sex Workers: Now that the “Walking While Trans” law that has criminalized untold numbers of BIPOC trans folx has been repealed, Amit will focus on the elimination of NYPD’s Vice Squad, saving millions that can be reallocated for healthcare and mental health support services. Furthermore, the City must explore all possible legal paths to ensure sex workers can be included and covered in key labor protections: Sick and Safe Leave, and more.

GUARANTEED HOUSING FOR ALL: 
RENTERS, SMALL HOMEOWNERS, NYCHA RESIDENTS, AND NEW YORKERS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS

Housing is a human right, and yet for too long, we've allowed developer greed instead of human need to dictate the housing that gets built in NYC. We must work directly with tenant organizers, housing activists, and those New Yorkers in greatest need to understand the full scope of the challenges, so that we can, together, begin to solve our housing crisis. We must do all that we can on the City level to work towards the goals of social housing, which can only be truly accomplished with significant congressional action. We must:

  • Ensure all housing built on public land is deeply and permanently affordable. We are not building enough housing for the people who need it most. Prioritize creating housing for those who are the most severely rent-burdened, living in dangerously overcrowded conditions, and in shelter.
  • Work exclusively with non-profit entities (and hold them highly accountable) when we must work with residential developers.
  • Expand Right to Counsel to ensure all New Yorkers have free representation in Housing Court.
  • Repurpose portions of the City’s $2 billion shelter budget to create purpose-built supportive housing and meaningfully increase voucher amounts.
  • Fight in Congress for the repeal of the Faircloth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from building new public housing.
  • Work to overhaul the rules that prevent the creation of dedicated affordable housing for artists and creators.
  • Ensure that the approximately $200 million that goes unused by NYCHA every year in its annual capital budget is used to address the most pressing issues (mold, lead, lack of access to basic services).
  • Replace AMI with a new formula, the Housing Vulnerability Index, that is based on a survey / community-driven “census” of those living in dangerously overcrowded conditions, in shelter, and in currently-illegal basements and attics.

HEALTHCARE IS EVERY NEW YORKER’S RIGHT

Healthcare is essential. Particularly for our essential workers. We are living through one of the greatest crises we have ever faced, and our essential workers, primarily Black and brown, kept our city running. Yet, Black and brown New Yorkers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We owe it to them to do everything we can to ensure every New Yorker has access to quality healthcare. We must:
  • Develop a citywide plan to vaccinate all New Yorkers. This plan will prioritize frontline healthcare workers, individuals with the greatest health risks and neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID.
  • Expand access to healthcare to all New Yorkers. This includes undocumented immigrants, gig workers, and those ineligible for Medicaid by piloting a single-payer model for NYC, starting with the expansion of NYC Care to all five boroughs.
  • Increase the number of hospital beds in Queens. Of all the boroughs, Queens has the lowest number of beds per capita

From the Streets to the Stores: Thriving Small Businesses for a Thriving NYC

Give small businesses their due. New York City is a city of small businesses. 89 percent of all businesses have fewer than 20 employees. These small businesses employ more than half of New York City’s private sector workforce, and often provide a first chance for economic self-determination and a path to the middle class for their owners. During these challenging times, more than ever, we must:
  • Improve city contracting. We should privilege New York City businesses over the lowest non-NYC based bidder. City agencies should have the freedom to purchase from local vendors provided that the good or service from the local business costs no more than 10% of the lowest non-NYC based bidder.
  • Do right by our own homegrown businesses. Streamlining the city and state MWBE certification will allow small businesses to more easily find opportunity and make investments right here in New York. Create a path to commercial rent relief. Working with the state legislature, we must build power by organizing our small businesses to ensure that storefronts do not remain vacant for years as landlords seek ever higher rent and rent is affordable for new businesses to open. If a space remains vacant for three months, there would be a mandated 10% reduction in the publicly listed rent and additional reductions thereafter if the space remains vacant.
  • Support our street vendors. Support proposals for expanding the number of permits to vend food on the streets and sidewalks; create a new dedicated vending law enforcement unit to eliminate NYPD from writing summonses; and create a street vendor advisory board, which will ensure fair and balanced vendor enforcement of the law, bringing street vendors to the policy making table. In addition, city law must be updated to require Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to consider the inclusion of street vendor membership, so that the interests of all small businesses in an area-- of which street vendors are a part-- are collectively represented.

Re-imagining a fair and healthy NYCHA

Establish NYC as a hub of Green jobs. New York City has historically been home to industries that create a path toward upward economic mobility, but as we’ve shifted toward a service economy, these types of jobs have been lost. Today, faced with both an economic and climate crisis, we must turn to sustainable infrastructure as a mechanism for creating new jobs, many of which do not require a college degree. These jobs will both reduce greenhouse gases and offer economic mobility. Building on this, we must:
  • Ensure healthy homes. Immediately tackle the most urgent issues that affect the health and wellbeing of NYCHA residents, beginning with lead and mold remediation.
  • Listen to NYCHA residents. NYCHA is one of our greatest public assets and therefore must remain in public hands. As the city explores ways in which to partner with others to significantly improve living conditions, NYCHA residents--and not just an unelected bureaucracy-- must be an indelible part of the decision making process about the future of NYCHA, development by development.
  • Leverage NYCHA’s buying power. Support resident entrepreneurs by creating a pipeline for purchasing from tenants, starting with identifying needs and supporting tenants in creating or sourcing needed products or services.
  • Prioritize building community wealth through paradigm-shifting efforts pioneered by Urban Upbound and other Western Queens leaders that would involve potentially granting equity, ownership, or other revenue-generating rights to NYCHA residents through the leveraging of the City's land-use powers in the process of zoning or development deals made in the surrounding Long Island City area. If future developers, businesses, and employers want to utilize New York City's land and workforce, we must think creatively and aggressively about how to ensure that District 26 residents who have been most excluded from economic growth are included and stabilized into the future in an effort to dismantle the structure of race-based economic income inequality.

public education: integrated, holistic, and substantive

Each child deserves to thrive. New York City is home to the nation’s largest public school district, serving 1.1 million children, but inequities persist from district to district, and school to school. The city has an obligation to make sure every school and every child has the education and support they deserve. This is especially true now, when our students have been through so much trauma due to COVID-19--and so have our families and educators. The only way forward is to listen and follow the voices of our school communities. We must:
  • Ensure that school buildings are safe. COVID-19 has shown us the potholes on the pathway to the future, and we must prepare by creating a task force drawing from the Departments of Education, Health, and School Construction Authority to invest in school infrastructure and ventilation to keep our schools safe today and for decades to come.
  • Break the vicious cycle of intergenerational and racial poverty by having the City cover operational costs of NYC Kids Rise, which, in conjunction with the NYC College Savings Plan, immediately establishes college savings accounts for young students in DOE schools, allowing parents and communities to help save and build assets over time to help send kids to college. With income inequality and the racial wealth gap on the rise, it is critical that the City use every tool in its toolbox to make good on its promise of opportunity for all by preparing families and communities for economic mobility through higher education. In order to truly be effective, efforts to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty must start early, and expanding covering the basic operational costs to expand this life-changing program is a very small investment with an enormous return.
  • Bring parents to the table in a meaningful way. Amit pledges to stay in real, consistent, substantive touch with parents and elevate their concerns to city leadership on an ongoing basis. Every school must take into account very sensitively the specific needs of its students and ensure that the school is speaking to parents regularly, and if the school needs help it should partner with local organizations.
  • Ensure every school has sufficient mental health resources. Particularly as a result of Covid-19, children need additional support. Part of supporting this effort will include the city helping to recruit a corps of mental health professionals--social workers, counselors, and therapists-- from across the city that are dedicated to serving the unique needs of teachers as a cohort. Also in light of Covid-19 and its effects on social development and academic advancement, we must ensure that after school programs are fully funded and that is a priority.
  • Continue building upon the city’s restorative justice initiative. We must work within the DOE and also dismantle the school to prison pipeline by ensuring educators are reflective of the diverse populations that they serve, further reducing the ceiling for suspension caps through re-examination of the disciplinary code, and fast-tracking the study and implementation of current City pilot models in all DOE schools.
  • Ensure basic instruction, and teach the root causes of our social ills. First and foremost, we must ensure that teachers are keeping our children on track or challenging them to pursue their strengths. We must also ensure that we are righting the wrongs of the past by teaching the true history of racism, fight for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, and a truly post-colonial approach to understanding histories of the colonized world so that we can build a commitment towards a more equal and just world. Inclusive in this approach is improving multilingual communications from DOE and making Diwali school holiday.

a green new deal for queens

There is no greater existential threat to New York City than climate change. Immediately and aggressively cracking down on our emissions, strengthening our shorelines with “green” and “gray” infrastructure, significantly expanding open space, and ending our over-reliance on cars that’s killing us both physically and through pollution aren’t just important; they’re prerequisites to our future.

NYC’s BIPOC and immigrant communities that suffer from the greatest economic marginalization, police brutality, and lack of access to services and opportunity are unsurprisingly and shamefully the very same on the front lines of our current and future climate crises, with our waste transfer stations, our power plants, and our most heavily truck-trafficked areas all located in these communities. Addressing our climate emergency is therefore central to achieving racial and economic justice for all New Yorkers.

We need to use every tool in our toolbox -- the City’s budget, the Council’s legislative power, publicly funding local organizing, and constant, vociferous advocacy in Albany and in Washington to tackle our climate emergency head on. 

 

We must:

  • Create 100,000 Union Jobs to Fight Climate Change. One of the centerpieces of my platform is creating up to 100,000 union jobs to retrofit our building stock, which contributes 65% of all emissions in NYC, and to aggressively expand solar power. This is an urgent and immediate need, both in terms of addressing the climate crisis and retraining out-of-work and yet-to-work New Yorkers in employment that guarantees dignity, safety, and mobility. Read the plan here.
  • Universalize Residential and Commercial Composting - and keep Big Reuse open. Composting is an essential tool in both our battle to fight climate change and the fight to develop more sustainable, livable neighborhoods in Western Queens. Composting keeps food scraps and yard waste out of our landfills, thus reducing emissions of methane—a greenhouse gas that has been found to be significantly more potent in increasing global temperatures than carbon dioxide. The nutrient-rich soil generated from composting also helps reduce the amount of carbon in the air, because soil is the second largest “carbon sink” after oceans. We must also fight to prevent the closure of Long Island City’s Big Reuse site, which has been processing more than one million pounds annually of waste that would otherwise have ended up in landfills. The Parks Department is flat-out wrong about its interpretation of an old court case. As we fight in the State legislature to make composting an explicitly permitted activity for which the City doesn’t need to seek permission, let’s maintain our commitment to addressing our climate crisis by keeping Big Reuse doing what it does best.
  • Open Spaces, Open Streets - Open Now. District 26 is among the most starved for open space and parkland anywhere in the city. It is imperative that we expand the Open Streets program wherever feasible, and we must use public dollars to buy private or convert public land into open space and parkland. Nothing could be more important for our climate present and future. 
  • Close our 11 “Peaker Plants'' - starting with Big Allis (the Ravenswood Peaker Plant). NYC’s peaker plants get turned on when our A/Cs do every summer, when the energy grid experiences massive spikes in usage. Keeping us cool indoors is heating the entire planet up outside -- and is sickening (from respiratory illnesses) and killing New Yorkers from our frontline communities, especially Queensbridge and Ravenswood in District 26. This means establishing renewable energy sources (including Rikers) and closing "peaker plants," a major issue in Western Queens. We must hold the New York Power Authority accountable in fulfilling its obligations under its agreement with the PEAK Coalition to close six (6) plants by 2028 and the rest by 2035 or sooner. These must be replaced by a resilient, green electrical grid that will lower peak demand.
  • Let the Sunshine In (Go Solar). We must get the City back on track to meet its goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar by 2025. Sadly, we have only added 1.6 megawatts over the last four years. In order to meet this goal, the city must lead by adding additional solar capacity wherever possible, and in creative ways. For example, by building out canopies over City-owned parking lots and leasing roof space on private buildings (especially affordable housing and buildings owned by non-profits) for the installation of City-owned solar must be a priority. In addition, the City can do more to encourage solar power installations by passing a law that doubles the property tax abatement from 20% to 40%, and by streamlining the application, permitting, and eliminating permit fees at the Department of Buildings. We must also expand community-shared solar projects such as Sunset Park Solar, which use the shared solar model to lower the energy bills of low- and moderate-income residents of affordable housing. This type of initiative also creates an important opportunity to build worker power and encourage MWBE solar and cooperative installers so that BIPOC communities are included in the clean energy transition and workforce.
  • Ban New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure and Phase Out Existing Polluting Infrastructure. This means continuing to fight against projects such as the Williams Pipeline that bring additional fuel capacity to the city. We must take inventory of all of the city’s large fossil fuel infrastructure, including existing oil and gas pipelines, power plants, and other infrastructure so we can begin to implement ways to phase them out and replace them with renewable energy. Such a phasing out will of course need to prioritize workers and our communities. 
  • Public Power. Private industry will not on its own bring us to the green future that we need. A publicly owned energy utility that will deliver reliable, sustainable, safe, and affordable energy to the five boroughs will have to be a top priority. National Grid and Con Edison are not our partners in meeting our reduced emissions goals. Under the current model, taxpayer dollars fund fossil fuel expansion, generating high returns for these corporations, and undermining our progress towards our emissions goals. Instead, a public utility would redirect profits into programs that support renewables, provide bill relief, or encourage energy efficiency. A decentralized grid with small scale power generation and net metering—technology that enables a locally-owned grid to finance itself/find savings by selling energy back to the centralized grid—will ensure its reliability and efficiency beyond what private utilities are currently constrained to offer. Public utilities are also cheaper and more reliable than for-profit utilities, and if San Antonio and Austin can do it in oil-rich Texas, so can we right here in New York. 
  • Be Bold and Electrify Everything. Working with the State and Federal government, we must encourage a movement towards electrifying buildings and vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions. To make this possible, we can mandate that all buildings must transition to electric (electric water heaters, heat pumps, etc.) when a building is sold. The cost could be split between the buyer and seller, and lower and working class homeowners would have the support of the state to find a way for the government to cover the cost. For large residential rental buildings, the law would ensure that tenants are not unduly burdened with this cost. City Council can pass a law that requires this to happen.
  • Protect our Coastlines from Rising Seas. We must ensure that the city’s coastline is fully protected from rising seas—Western Queens in particular must be at the forefront of any coastal protection plans, not an afterthought. We must also work with the MTA to ensure the subways will be safe during the next climate emergency.

Living While __: Justice for all LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers

Too many New Yorkers face structural barriers that make them unable to live with the dignity we deserve. This is true for those of us who are Black, Brown, and immigrant New Yorkers, and is especially true for folx who are LGBTQ+ and, critically, women. If we are to be a city where all of us have access to opportunity so that we can all live with dignity and so that each of us is empowered to realize our potential, the City needs to do its part to prioritize safety and eliminate disparities.
  • From 2006 to 2010, Black women were 12 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes in New York City. We must address this societal failure with the urgency it deserves. I support Tricia Shimamura’s plan to ensure maternal mortality is not an inevitability.
  • Ensure that we center women in any economic recovery plan. Nationally, four times as many women as men have dropped out of the labor force to take care of their families (data current as of September, 2020). We must take on immediate and long-term action to expand the child care infrastructure and establish more progressive work-family policies for both men and women.
  • Address the reality that thirty years later, the MTA still consistently and flagrantly ignores the accessibility requirements outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Just last year, they lost a federal lawsuit brought on due to providing insufficient means of accessibility. Only approximately 25% of MTA stations are accessible under ADA requirements, which severely limits the social and professional opportunities of disabled New Yorkers, who already face ostracization and disenfranchisement. We must expand ADA compliance to all MTA stations and center the voices of disability advocacy leaders to ensure their needs are truly being met.
  • Co-sign the Municipal Voting Rights Bill, introduced by City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in January 2020, allowing Green Card holders and those with working permits to vote in Municipal Elections. New York City is home to more than 2 million immigrants who contribute to the financial, cultural, and social network that allows our city to thrive. Despite such contributions, they are not allowed to participate in elections that directly affect them and their families. The signing of this Bill would ensure that approximately 900,000 NYC residents would be allowed to participate in political parties and vote in Municipal elections, such as City Council, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, and Mayor.

NYPD? DIVEST FROM WHAT’S BROKEN; RE-INVESt AND RE-IMAGINE AN ENTIRELY NEW COMMUNITY MODEL

Since 2014 NYC has spent $1.3 billion to pay for police misconduct claims. That’s not a functional policing system and the result is discrimination and death for far too many black and brown New Yorkers. We can keep people safe and reinvest in education, and civic engagement so that we can work to dismantle systemic racism, fight poverty, and build power. To ensure the safety of our communities, we must:

  • Divest $1 billion from the NYPD with a plan to move toward $3 billion within 2-4 years. Including the police in the City's hiring freeze, an initial reduction of the force by 5%, cutting invasive surveillance technology, and repurposing policing funds by dedicating them to addressing issues of mental health, education, and employment are all ways to implement this cut immediately.
  • Divert these funds to communities in the aforementioned or similar means. With just one day of the NYPD's operating budget (~$15.5 million), we could fund one year of CUNY for 2,000 students, provide more than 600 businesses with loans of $25,000 each, or pay for 1,000 young New Yorkers to work at local small businesses in their communities for an entire year. Imagine, then, what we could accomplish with a week’s worth; a month’s worth; or even more. 
  • Make marijuana legal and tax it. Overturn and expunge any and all sentences based on minor quantities of marijuana possession. Aggressively invest the resulting tax profits in neighborhoods disproportionately devastated by the racist war on drugs and over-policing.
  • Decriminalize all drugs and institute fines for possession of small quantities of illegal drugs. Utilize portions of the revenue generated through marijuana tax and drug possession fines to fund rehabilitation centers and safe injection sites.
  • Closing Rikers is a non-negotiable top priority, and I will fight hard to implement the Renewable Rikers plan.  As we're working to do that, we must truly halt solitary confinement (despite assertions, it has not been fully eliminated), and commit to working towards a jail-free NYC. 
  • Remove the NYPD from all mental health crisis response operations and from our schools. We need to reimagine policing entirely, and establish a civilian “First Responder Corps” to respond to defuse and neutralize, not escalate and criminalize. 

In schools, DIVEST from our criminalization:

  • Remove all police personnel from New York City public schools, and do not transfer their supervision to the Department of Education.
  • Remove all metal detectors, scanners, and invasive security measures from New York City public schools.
  • Remove NYPD from responding to mental health crises in schools and from entering schools for any school related matters.
  • End all zero tolerance policies and practices, and prohibit arrest, summons, and juvenile reports non-criminal violations and misdemeanors, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown young people.

And INVEST in our care:

  • Fully fund and implement restorative practices at all schools by 2022.

  • Fully fund and increase school support staff, including guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, restorative justice coordinators, and academic and social support staff. 

  • Establish a system-wide mental health continuum and increase funding for mental health supports for all students.

  • Ensure all students have access to 1) Culturally responsive education, 2) high-quality and comprehensive selection of sports, arts, and elective courses, and 3) college access supports including Student Success Centers.

Advocating for Greater Opportunities for SNAP Recipients

So as to ensure that EBT/SNAP recipients are able to access as many opportunities as possible, we must:

  • Advocate in Congress to increase monthly SNAP benefit amounts so no New Yorker has to go hungry before their benefits replenish

  • Advocate for discounted rates for SNAP recipients at green markets of all types in NYC

  • Advocate for free entry at cultural institutions for all SNAP recipients 

To address food scarcity we must:

  • Increase funding for local food pantries
  • Baseline food assistance in the City budget and make sure that it's fully funded
  • Ensure that food provided by the City is fresh and culturally appropriate
  • Expand SNAP and WIC Outreach, SNAP Pre-screening, and enrollment to ensure eligible residents access these benefits
  • Expand the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program brings healthy and affordable food options to communities by lowering the costs of owning, leasing, developing, and renovating retail supermarket space
  • Increase funding for urban gardens as a means to produce locally grown nutritious food
  • Establish and empower a permanent NYC Food Champion to assess and address food insecurity from within City government every day—bringing together all relevant agencies (DSS/HRA, Sanitation, DOH, Mayor's Office of Food Policy, ACS, DOE and others.

Overhaul LAND USE: All public land for public good and community need, not developer greed.

Reforming the Uniform Land Use Review Process

As it stands, the ULURP process means that almost all major development and zoning decisions are made on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis, which does not allow for decision-making based on the city’s housing needs as a whole. Further, the current process makes it such that developers and the mayoral administration get to pre-negotiate deals before the community has a say -- it's like they've finished the first course before communities have even looked at the menu. This has led to an environment where developers and profit, not people and need, are given outrageous leverage in our land use process, and the results are clear: a city that is more segregated and gentrified, with mass displacement and economic instability. Some specific key changes that must be included in ULURP reform include:

  • Exploring an enforcement mechanism whereby commitments made by developers are actually delivered, so that we can be sure--not just hope--that community benefits are fulfilled
  • Ending member deference to remove local politics from land use actions 
  • Creating a comprehensive plan that considers the needs of the city as a whole. We are an interconnected city, and the decisions that are made in Gowanus affect our neighbors in Woodside. 
  • Generally increasing the hard data available to all decision makers about the project, it’s construction, labor commitments, and other choices and impacts.
  • Improving both the notification process and the language justice resources available for public land use hearings. Formalize a feedback process which allows for written comments to be received, acknowledged and taken into account. The community should never feel as though its voice has not been heard. 

With a comprehensive plan, we would be able to focus on creating deeply and permanently affordable housing, and add schools, hospitals, and green space for working people. 

  • The comprehensive plan must put people and their true needs at the heart so that it is clear what type of asset needs to be created to solve which problem for whom. Our land use process must be driven by solving actual challenges faced by the people of the city, not driven by the goal to simply build the next shiny new building for profit. 

Our land use process must also redress the legacy of racist redlining by ending exclusionary zoning.

  • This includes: increasing deeply and permanently affordable density in areas that are well served by mass transit and not existing LMI and non-white neighborhoods; ending single family zoning; and legalizing accessory dwelling units and basement apartments.

Finally, when it comes to actually housing people in new units of affordable housing, we must make sure that we are not leaving it up to people to figure out the convoluted system for applying for that housing. We do that by co-governing-- investing in community resources that pay tenant organizers and housing advocates to work with BIPOC and immigrants. 

animal rights

The philosophical/intellectual basis of fighting for social justice is undoing harm and preventing harm and violence. These tenets permeate through all aspects of life, including, of course, to animals. Aspects of animal justice also intersect with addressing climate change and achieving climate justice for marginalized communities. We know by now that efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions will not be met without drastic changes in human diets and curbing the consumption of meat. As a champion for animal rights, I will advocate for:

  • Prohibiting the operation of horse-drawn carriages. Even with the incremental changes that have been put into place to help ensure the safety and welfare of our carriage horses, I believe that the ultimate goal is to end this practice. Laws that have been passed to improve conditions have not materialized in any change because they are nearly impossible to enforce. As we continue the fight to prohibit carriage horses, I will work to improve their day-to-day lives and give them the welfare and protection that they need to live full and healthy lives. 
  • Banning the sale of fur. Fur farms breed and confine animals in tiny, filthy cages where they suffer intense stress and unimaginable cruelty. This practice is completely unnecessary, as there are ethical alternatives to fur which are not only stylish and warm but environmentally friendly. We must pass the current bill proposed in the Council, which will ban the sale of new apparel products using real animal fur. 
  • Increasing Funding for Animal Care Centers (ACC) and Independent Animal Rescue Organizations. ACCs are open admission shelters required by law that accept every animal brought through its doors, whether arriving due to homelessness, family crisis, abuse, abandonment, or even from no-kill shelters. Their funding from the Council was cut by $3 million over the past year, despite their contribution to reducing the amount of surrenders over the past few years. When the moratorium on evictions eventually ends, surrenders are expected to increase, and an inadequately funded ACC will become completely overwhelmed.
  • Pursuing a More Humane City: Pet Friendly Housing. The impact a companion animal can have on one’s mental health--particularly those living in challenging circumstances-- cannot be overstated. Yet our current housing policy tears people apart from their pets. We need a housing policy that expands affordable pet friendly housing options as well as the ability of those experiencing homelessness and victims of domestic violence to seek refuge in shelters with their pets. Keeping people and companion animals together reduces the burden on animal shelters and allows New Yorkers to stay in their homes. By not providing shelter to those with pets, New York City is not meeting its legal obligation to find shelter to all those who need it. We must utilize one of our existing shelter assets to be a designated shelter for people with pets.
  • Promoting plant-based diets in schools and hospitals for a healthier planet and population. The City, with the $20+ billion it spends on contracts, has enormous buying power. The City Council should pass a law prohibiting the Department of Education and NYC Health + Hospitals from purchasing meat from factory farms, which are inhumane and emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. Diverting money from purchasing meat could also mean that school and hospital meals become increasingly plant-based and, ultimately, healthier and better for the environment. In situations where meat is purchased, it can be done so from small farms that treat animals humanely.

DISABILITY EQUITY

  • Create a dedicated Sub-committee for Students with Disabilities in the City Council

  • Sponsor legislation to codify an aspirational employment target for people with disabilities in all NYC governmental agencies.

  • Combat Sub Minimum Wage for people with Disabilities by ensuring employers abide by local minimum wage laws.

  • Expand Local law 28 to require Community Boards and Elected officials to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Modernize AAR reservations by creating a mobile application for users and expand AAR operations to enable same day reservations.​

  • Expand ADA accessibility by installing elevators and escalators across all NYC Subways and repair any existing ones that no longer function.

  • Expand Access to Cultural Institutions by sponsoring legislation that requires no cost entry or deeply reduced prices for people with disabilities.

Transforming Transit: Bikes, Buses, and more

  • Immediately address the sharp decline in MTA ridership and revenues. By advocating for a federal stimulus and municipal control of the subway and bus systems operating within the five boroughs we can make the MTA more reflective of local needs.
  • Expand Select Bus Service to provide better transit access in our district
  • Ensure universal access to transit by enforcing ADA compliance
  • Support the plans put forth by Transportation Alternatives. We must demand:
  • Zero deaths on Queens Boulevard and fixing Northern Boulevard by adding safer crosswalks, exclusive time to pedestrians to cross the street, and wider medians; protected bike lanes so new cyclists will have a safe space to commute to work and small businesses in their neighborhood; repurpose and beautify excess road space with greenery, street art, and more seating for the community.
  • Exclusive Walkway and Bikeway on Queensboro Bridge, including the creation of new, safe, ADA-compliant pedestrian access and approaches on both Queens and Manhattan sides.

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