A New Perspective for New York City
Last Friday, Michael Bloomberg was sworn in for his third term as mayor of New York City. In his inaugural address Bloomberg gave few clues about what his agenda for the next four years will be. The mayor pledged to approach the city's challenges with "a fresh look at everything - with fresh thinking and fresh energy."
But what is missing is a fresh perspective, one that values equity, opportunity, and sustainability as much as growth, development, and wealth.
A fresh perspective would allow Mayor Bloomberg to see the benefits in supporting and protecting the city's manufacturing jobs. While the industrial land they sit in may be more valuable if it were turned over to real estate developers, the manufacturing jobs located in the city's scarce industrial zones provide economic opportunity to the city's traditional middle class.
With a fresh perspective, the mayor would ensure that companies that receive tax breaks and subsidies create good-paying jobs for New Yorkers who need them. Instead of being concerned about whether these requirements would lower profit margins, the mayor would be concerned about families that work forty hours a week but still cannot manage to get out of poverty.
The mayor would shun the construction of suburban-style malls in the heart of the city, such as the Gateway Center in the Bronx. These developments, and the thousands of parking spaces that go with them, not only fly in the face of the city's sustainability goals, they also harm the city's urban fabric and put neighborhood retailers at a disadvantage.
Equity and development are not mutually exclusive concepts and there is no reason why both cannot happen simultaneously. What is necessary, though, is the acknowledgment that concepts such as equity, opportunity, and sustainability are just as important as business growth.