On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio gave his second State of the City address. The more than an hour-long speech took place at Baruch College and mainly focused on de Blasio’s plans for creating more affordable housing throughout New York City. “If we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York, New York. We risk losing the very soul of this place if it isn’t a place for every kind of person,” he said. “Nothing more clearly expresses the inequality gap, the opportunity gap, than the soaring cost of housing.” There was also some stuff about transportation, homelessness, minimum wage, and a little about the police. Here are the highlights:
- De Blasio announced that he hopes to transform Queens’s Sunnyside Yards into a housing development with 11,250 affordable apartments. (The 200-acre transportation hub is currently used by NJ Transit, the LIRR, and Amtrak, which owns much of it.) The mayor called the massive proposal a “game-changer” that would create “an opportunity to keep our city affordable for thousands of New Yorkers.” But Governor Cuomo seemed less than enthusiastic. Two hours after the speech, a Cuomo spokeswoman said, “The MTA uses Sunnyside Yards as an important facility for our transportation system, and it is not available for any other use in the near term.”
- The mayor also proposed a “citywide ferry service that will knit together existing East River routes with new landings and services to Astoria, the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, Soundview and the Lower East Side.” De Blasio said that ferry fare would be equal to that of the subway, and that service would launch in 2017. “$55 million in capital funds would be used to cover construction costs,” NBC New York reports. “The program, which officials say could serve 4.5 million people a year, would also receive $10 million to $20 million annually in city subsidies.”
- The mayor spoke about zoning laws, which are key to encouraging developers to build more affordable-housing units. “For the first time in New York City history, we are creating a mandatory inclusionary zoning requirement that will apply to all major residential rezonings. In every major rezoning development, we will require developers to include affordable housing — not as an option; as a precondition,” he said. This policy is being considered for East New York, East Harlem, Long Island City, Flushing West, the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue corridor, the Staten Island’s Bay Street corridor, and nine soon-to-be-named neighborhoods.
- De Blasio also called on the state legislature to strengthen New York’s rent-control laws, which are set to expire in June. “We need stronger rent regulations that reflect today’s New York,” he said. “To preserve our city as a place for everyone, we need to do more than ever to protect the one million rent-regulated apartments in New York.”
- The mayor vowed to find homes for New York’s roughly 1,000 homeless veterans by the end of the year.
- De Blasio pledged to raise New York’s minimum wage to $13 per hour by next year — $1.50 more than what Cuomo suggested in his State of the State. (Cuomo’s office called the $13 idea “a nonstarter.”)
- Despite all the recent attention paid to de Blasio’s relationship with the NYPD, he didn’t say much about the police. “We ended the overuse of stop-and-frisk, reducing stops by over 75 percent,” he said. “And since we instituted our new marijuana policy just months ago, arrests are down almost 65 percent. At the same time, thanks to our courageous men and women in uniform, we’ve not only kept New York City safe, we made it even safer. Our NYPD officers helped bring the city’s crime rate to an all-time low, with the smallest numbers of murders, robberies, and burglaries in our history.”