Supporting the Upper West Side’s Quality of Life
The Upper West Side is the greatest neighborhood in the world’s greatest city. We are a strong, proud community and it is incumbent upon all of our leaders to vigorously protect the character of our neighborhood. Upper West Siders are fortunate: we have access to green space, the waterfront, and vibrant businesses. As a councilman, I will bring renewed energy to protect and promote the livability of our neighborhood. I will fight for the small businesses that dot our sidewalks, protect the vitality of our parks, and constantly work to keep housing costs at a reasonable level.
- Protecting our Small Businesses. The Upper West Side is unique and vibrant because of the quality and variety of the stores and restaurants. We cannot allow big box stores and fast-food chains to dominate where our favorite family businesses previously thrived. My wife and I love this neighborhood because of our favorite diners and local cafés, and do not want to see them overrun. In recent years, the city has made it increasingly difficult for these local businesses and, as Councilman, I plan to support them because these business are part of the fabric of our community.
- Affordable Housing. It is not acceptable for senior citizen and young families to be priced out of the Upper West Side because of skyrocketing housing costs. We must protect our current stock of affordable housing options and hold developers accountable. Upper West Siders value cultural, racial, and economic diversity and the affordable housing crises runs counter to those goals. The era of giving sweetheart deals to developers who are only building luxury rentals must end.
- Maintaining our Parks. Upper West Siders deserve a parks system that is well kept, preserved and expanded. Central Park and Riverside Park are each part of our shared heritage and our future as a community. Our access to clean, green, and usable parks keeps the Upper West Side the family friendly neighborhood that we all cherish. In the City Council, I will be a leader for parks funding as their upkeep, and expansion, is vital to our community. Our parks are our refuge and I plan to constantly improve them.
- 95th Street Homeless Shelter. Comptroller Liu recently rejected the West 90’s homeless shelter contract, an important victory for the Upper West Side, the homeless, and the city. By using an 'Emergency Provision', the City bypassed community approval and entered into a no bid arrangement with a group named Aguila that is run by a former Commissioner of Homeless Services, using our tax dollars at a tune of over $3500 per unit per month. The community pushed back against the City, and Ken worked hard as a candidate for City Council to raise awareness about the problems associated with this action and provide counsel to neighborhood organizations.
- Improving Neighborhood Accessibility. We have a mutual responsibility to take care of our residents who have been here the longest and are in the most need. Upper West Side Seniors deserve a neighborhood that is accountable to their everyday needs. The city should continue install countdown timers at all crosswalks, hospitable and comfortable bus shelters, and more park benches. We must also be relentless in holding motorists and bicyclists accountable for transgressions that make pedestrian life dangerous.
Investing In Our Community’s Future
We must invest in our community’s future means believing in what New York City Can be - and turning that potential into a reality. Investments in infrastructure, mass transit, and energy will enable our neighborhood, and our city, to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. The Bloomberg administration has made great strides here and we need to continue them. When it comes to transportation and efficiency, we must have a comprehensive and proactive plan rather than a reactionary scramble. Acting now will create a cleaner, greener, and healthier community for our present and our future. Hurricane Sandy was yet another awakening: we must do everything we can to prevent future disasters while also preparing for their inevitable arrival.
- A 21st Century Infrastructure. To remain the envy of both business and residents, we must improve our current systems while expanding and upgrading. New York cannot be a truly global city if we do not have a first class infrastructure. Our highways are crumbling, our electrical grid is outdated, and the core of our transit system is over 100 years old. Investing in infrastructure will put New Yorkers back to work while upgrading every aspect of city life. Particularly, the city must explore ways to provide universal WiFi and broadband to residents and entrepreneurs. This will ensure that we continue to lead to world in innovation while attracting the most productive talent to our jobs.
- Responsibly Expand Bike Lanes. Bike lanes are a part of the Upper West Side and we are fortunate to have them. I support the responsible, planned expansion of bike lanes because they make our community cleaner, healthier, and safer. Bike lanes keep our community livable and family friendly. New York City will be adding thousands of bikes to our streets with the introduction of the bike share program and we must be prepared to handle the influx. The expansion of bike lanes must be part of a regional transportation plan that also includes mass transit, resident parking, and increased neighborhood communication. Sharing the road also means that we must hold cyclists accountable for driving safely throughout our city’s streets so that they do not hurt themselves or others.
- Funding for Mass Transit. We live in a compact, over-populated city and mass transit is our lifeblood. The city, and state, must increase funding for the MTA to ensure it keeps up with demand. While the Upper West Side is served well by the subway, it is past time that we introduce “select bus service” on West End Avenue and cross-town bus lanes. The city must also assist seniors and the disabled by installing above ground Metrocard kiosks at all primary bus stations. Street-side vending would not only speed-up bus service but allow riders to refill their cards without going into subway stations.
- Sandy Recovery. Global climate change is real, it is here, and we must act accordingly. Sandy taught New York to prepare for the worst because major weather events are no longer uncommon. Aside from preparing our infrastructure for future disasters, the city must begin to relocate essential resources away from low lying areas and begin to move building utilities off the basement levels. On the Upper West Side, we must also do what we can to slow the effects of global warming. The city must further incentivize energy-efficient building, retrofitting of windows, and expanded use of electric cabs and trucks.
- A Greener New York. Conservative Republicans in Washington have prevented action on the environment and climate change but New York has to act. We have a responsibility to leave for our children a planet and a city that is cleaner and greener than what was left for us. It is time we get to work right away: promoting green buildings, installing solar panels on our roofs, and developing an efficient waste removal system. Now is the time to take the next step by limiting transportation's impact on our air quality. The City has clear opportunities to improve bus service on the Upper West Side while mandating the use of electric taxis and trucks.
Standing for the Progressive Values of Our Neighborhood
The Upper West Side needs a city council member that will stand for the shared progressive values that make our community strong. Our neighborhood must continue to be the city’s conscience: supporting public education, fighting hunger and poverty, and standing for women’s rights. My wife and I chose to live and raise a family in this neighborhood because we recognize the critical importance of our shared principles and, in City Hall, I will fight for these beliefs. Standing on these firm Democratic ideals has been the basis for my career and will serve as my guidance in the City Council.
- Believing in Public Education. It is time we treat education in our city budget as a value and a human right, not a political football. Access to public education on the Upper West Side is nearing a crisis point, as we simply do not have enough quality seats to meet our growing demand. We must go above and beyond to provide parents with the best classroom options for their children. I believe in treating education like a science: constantly searching for new methods and new ways to be more effective. Finally, the city must reexamine our curriculum to ensure we are equipping our students with skills needed for the jobs of the future.
- Keeping our Neighborhood Age Friendly, Family Friendly, and Pet Friendly. The Upper West Side’s true value comes from the diversity and variety of its residents. Our neighborhood prides itself on being age-friendly, family-friendly, and pet-friendly and it must remain that way. We cannot allow our community to become too expensive for long-time and elderly residents or for young families. It is imperative that we remain conscious of the convenience of our own lives and that of our neighbors as well. This community must continue to attract middle-income New Yorkers, not repel them.
- Support Women’s Rights. Although we recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the fight for women’s rights and equality continues today. It is shocking that in 2013, Republican attacks on the right to choice have not only continued but increased. Our community, and our elected officials, have a responsibility to stand up for everyone’s right to privacy, right to equal pay, and right to basic fairness. I strongly support Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act and believe New York City should pass similar legislation.
- Standing with Israel. Our shared and common heritage with Israel is undeniable and I stand side-by-side with the Jewish State. Today, the State of Israel serves as a beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and as a trusted U.S. ally. While I believe the U.S. and Israelis should eventually work towards a “two-state solution,” Israel should never be required to negotiate with a nation that denies its right to exist.
- Ending Stop and Frisk. New Yorkers have a responsibility to stand up for civil rights and the “Stop and Frisk” policy is a violation of those rights. This police tactic does not make our community safer and leads to racial profiling and bogus arrests. I believe in using innovative, smart, and tough tactics to fight crime but I do not support violating any American’s civil rights under any circumstance.