De Blasio Speech Focuses on Big Ambitions

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Mayor Bill de Blasio Delivers State of the City

Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio Delivers State of the City

State of the city speeches follow a formula. The mayor tells a couple jokes, recounts his successes over the past year and runs down a laundry list of the new stuff he wants to do. Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday threw out the laundry list to instead focus on a handful of big priorities.

Dealing with schools, policing and health only briefly and largely in the rear-view mirror, the mayor focused squarely on housing and development in his address to a friendly crowd at Baruch College.

Saying the city was “going to make sure that all kinds of housing are built,” the mayor said his administration would target the development of 160,000 market-rate units, creating thousands of temporary construction jobs and, he said, 20,000 permanent jobs. He also:

  • recommitted the administration to increasing density while keeping its “duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods”;
  • named six neighborhoods—East New York in Brooklyn, Cromwell-Jerome in the Bronx, Flushing West and Long Island City in Queens, East Harlem in Manhattan and the Bay Street Corridor in Staten Island as targets for the mandatory inclusionary zoning program;
  • earmarked a $200 million capital investment for the Lower Concourse area of the Bronx, promising 4,000 units of housing (“much of it affordable”) as well as parks, schools and shops along the waterfront;
  • discussed a plan to “acquire underutilized property” in the Rockaways to “create affordable housing for thousands”;
  • promised to end chronic homelessness among veterans this year, to set aside 10,000 units of housing for seniors and to create new artist housing and workspaces;
  • said the city would provide free legal services to tenants who accuse their landlords of harassment in any of the newly rezoned areas;
  • and, in the biggest proposal, promised to create 11,250 units of affordable housing as well as parks, schools and other facilities by building over the Sunnyside railyards.
  • The mayor also said he’d create a new citywide ferry service—with rides priced the same as the rest of the transit system—by 2017 to link the Rockaways and other far-flung areas to the heart of the city and establish 20 new bus rapid transit routes in the next four years to cut commute times by 15 percent to 25 percent for 400,000 New Yorkers.

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