December 1, 2021
by Adam Roberts
Photo of Eric Adams standing in front of a brick wall.
Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and incoming Mayor of New York City. Photo: Krystalb97 via Wikimedia Commons.

Next month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will take office as Mayor of New York City. He is already taking important steps to form his administration, such as organizing a transition team. Over the next few months, Adams will fill key city positions, such as deputy mayors and commissioners, that impact the practice of architecture. However, the incoming Adams Administration will not be able to start off with a clean slate and will instead need to address critical architectural issues left unresolved by the current de Blasio Administration.

Perhaps the most immediate policy decision will be around the continuation of the city’s Open Restaurants program, which allows for expanded outdoor dining. Currently, the zoning text amendment to make the program permanent is awaiting City Council approval. Assuming it is approved, Adams’ new Department of Transportation team will be charged with setting the rules for its functioning. AIANY strongly supports Open Restaurants and is currently partnering with city agencies and advocacy organizations to draft agency rules and design guidelines. Fortunately, the Mayor-elect has been a vocal supporter of the program, despite opposition from several elected officials.

The new administration will also need to quickly address compliance with Local Law 97, which requires large buildings in NYC stay under emissions limits. These limits for the dirtiest buildings will go into effect in 2024, requiring them to undergo retrofitting and other emissions-cutting efforts immediately. Adams will need to determine how well these limits are enforced, if the Department of Buildings will have the resources to enforce those limits, and whether city buildings will need to comply with the law as well. AIANY was an early proponent of the law, and many of its members are currently working to strengthen it. However, Adams has indicated that he is skeptical of the law, meaning more advocacy is needed to convince him of its importance.

There is also the question of congestion pricing, which will use tolling revenues from cars entering Manhattan to fund the MTA. While the MTA is under the control of the governor, the mayor will still have an important role in congestion pricing’s enactment over the next few years. As mayor, Adams has a powerful bully pulpit to pressure the MTA on how congestion pricing will be enacted and what its revenue will be used for. AIANY has long supported congestion pricing, with its Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, sitting on the MTA body overseeing the distribution of tolling revenue. Adams has said that he supports congestion pricing but is open to exemptions from its enforcement.

There are many other important architectural issues facing Mayor-elect Adams around housing, resiliency, criminal justice, and more. We will keep our members updated on his policies and how AIANY is advocating on them.

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