THE FIVE POINT PLAN FOR PARK EQUITY

New York City’s parks and open spaces are critical infrastructure. In the densest city in the United States, our parks and open spaces have always been our backyards. Parks are places for joy but also essential resources for physical, mental, social, and ecological health. They are critical tools in our fight against climate change and they are drivers of economic development. For NYC to recover and thrive, parks and open spaces must be catalysts for equity and environmental justice. We need a new era for parks. 

 

1. THINK BIG

COMPREHENSIVE PARKS & OPEN SPACE PLAN

NYC needs a cross-agency open space vision that focuses on parks, equitable access, climate resiliency, public health, and equitable economic development. We need a 21st Century Parks System.

SOLUTIONS

Prioritize equitable access to parks and open space

Access to open space varies widely across boroughs, neighborhoods, and districts. The size and quality of parks follow in step with patterns of historic neglect, disinvestment, and environmental injustice, which disproportionately impact communities of color and those with lower incomes. As NYC continues to recover and develop, equitable access to parks and open spaces must be a singular priority and one integrated into the priorities of other sectors including affordable housing, transportation, and infrastructure.

Resources:
Trust for Public Land "2020 ParkScore"
Regional Plan Association “New City Parks” campaign

 

Create a Director of the Public Realm

NYC needs a comprehensive vision for its parks and public spaces. A new Director of the Public Realm position, as outlined by NY4P and the Municipal Art Society, would set the agenda for the future and ensure that plans and agencies are collaborating to advance an open space vision across NYC.

Resources: 
NY4P and the Municipal Art Society “A Public Champion for the Public Realm”


 

 

2. DOUBLE DOWN ON PARKS

1% OF THE CITY’S BUDGET FOR PARKS

Top U.S. cities dedicate 1-2% of their city budget to parks – NYC has been stuck at less than 0.6% for decades. Put our values into policy.

SOLUTIONS

Commit to goal of 1% of the city budget for maintenance and operations

For decades, NYC Parks has received 0.6% of the city budget for maintenance and operations, even less than it received during the ‘70s financial crisis. Most major U.S. cities spend between 1-2% of their city budgets on parks. Conditions in NYC parks vary widely, with parks in low income areas often receiving less maintenance and investment. Parks conditions fall short of the City’s own standards. NYC must commit to a higher standard of maintenance across the five boroughs and designate NYC Parks as an essential city service. Committing 1% of the city budget for maintenance and operations would fund a year-round well-trained team of parks professionals rather than relying on seasonal staff that turns over each year, and ensure more robust green job opportunities..

Resources:
Center for an Urban Future “A New Leaf: Revitalizing New York City’s Aging Park Infrastructure” 
Trust for Public Land "2020 ParkScore"


Ensure existing and new parks can be safe, clean, and accessible

NYC must invest in positions and programs that enhance safety, routine maintenance, and access to better serve surrounding neighborhoods. Urban Park Rangers and Parks Enforcement Patrol officers, now woefully underrepresented in numbers, help park users feel more safe and comfortable. Right now, 47 Urban Park Rangers and fewer than 300 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers monitor over 30,000 acres of parks and open spaces in NYC. More full-time maintenance staff presence helps build community relationships, volunteer participation in parks, and overall better conditions.

Partners:
DC 37
New York League of Conservation Voters
Play Fair Coalition 

 

Identify resilient and equitable alternative public funding models

NYC parks generate enormous economic benefits for NYC, but NYC Parks is often the first agency budget to be cut and last to be restored. For decades, this has worsened chronic issues. NYC Parks needs more resilient and reliable funding to protect our parks, specifically those in underserved communities, from economic downturns. One model implemented in many major U.S. cities is to have dedicated tax streams that fund their parks budgets. 
Another source of revenue includes funds generated from concessions in NYC parks - currently, those funds go to the NYC general fund. NYC should change this model and keep concessions revenue within the parks system.

Resources:
NY4P and New York Building Congress “Building the Future of New York: Parks and Open Space”
NYC Green Fund "Literature Review"

 

 

 

3. BUILD MORE PARKS AND OPEN SPACE

EQUITABLE ACCESS FOR ALL NEW YORKERS

New Yorkers do not have enough access to parks and open space. Period.

SOLUTIONS

Build new parks and playgrounds in under-resourced communities and neighborhoods that don’t have adequate access to parks

The COVID crisis has laid bare what has been known for decades – NYC does not provide equitable access to parks. New Yorkers in large swaths of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx do not have access to a park within a 10-minute walk, a minimum standard measure for cities across the country. Parks in low-income communities are two times smaller than parks in more affluent areas of NYC, and parks in majority Black communities are nearly four times smaller than in majority white communities. Additionally, there are far too many neighborhoods impacted by environmental injustices like major roadways and heavy industries, where residents do not have access to large, safe, and healthy parks.

Resources:
NY4P Open Space Profiles
El Puente "¡Nuestro Aire! / Our Air!"
Trust for Public Land "Park Equity Plan for New York City"

 

Invest in comprehensive access and maintenance of natural areas and waterfronts

NYC has 20,000 acres of natural areas, an urban forest of over 7 million trees, and 520 miles of waterfront, 161 miles of which are managed by NYC Parks. These spaces are not equitably accessible or maintained, and many frontline communities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. As climate change continues to threaten our waterfront city, NYC must invest in comprehensive environmental plans that protect natural areas, ecology, and waterfront to make our city more climate resilient.

Resources:
Natural Areas Conservancy “Forest Management Framework”
Waterfront Alliance “Four-Point Plan for the Waterfront”
NYC Nature Goals “Goals & Targets 2050”
Harbor Estuary Program “Action Agenda”
Natural Areas Conservancy “Wetland Management Plan” (forthcoming)
Natural Areas Conservancy “Strategic Trails Plan” (forthcoming)
The Nature Conservancy in NY “Urban Forest Agenda report” (forthcoming)

 

Commit to creative proposals including greenways and Open Streets

While it is not possible to build large parks in some parts of the city, NYC must provide easier and safer access to existing parks and embrace creative strategies to develop public spaces. NYC should expand the greenway network and invest in the existing network of community gardens to enhance access for New Yorkers in communities that lack parks and open spaces. Further, the next administration must expand the Open Streets plan to create additional public spaces in areas that lack access to parks and playgrounds.

Resources:
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Queensway
East Coast Greenway Alliance
Regional Plan Association "Designing Streets for Recovery & Equity
Transportation Alternatives "25 x 25 Campaign"

 

 

 

4. FIX THE CAPITAL PROCESS

SO WE CAN FIX OUR PARKS

Parks projects in NYC take longer to complete and cost more than they should. And our neighborhoods suffer because of it.

SOLUTIONS

Reform the citywide procurement process so we can build faster and cheaper

As part of our recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, NYC must reform its capital process to save valuable public dollars, especially during the fiscal crisis. Public capital projects in New York City, including parks projects, take much longer and cost more than they do in other cities. Estimates indicate that nearly $1B could be saved over five years by reforming the city’s capital process. Parks infrastructure is no different. Park bathrooms/comfort stations cost $4 million to build and street trees cost $3,400 per installation. With $6B in deferred maintenance projects, the majority of which are in areas long neglected, these delays and costs are robbing our residents of better parks.

Resources:
Center for an Urban Future "Stretching New York City's Capital Dollars"NY4P and Public Works Partners “A Survey of Capital Projects Management Among New York City Government Agencies”
New York Building Congress “Building The Future of New York”


 

Give NYC Parks a flexible capital budget

Unlike other agencies that do capital construction, NYC Parks does not have a meaningful discretionary budget nor does it have a comprehensive capital needs assessment, making it impossible to plan and budget for capital projects long-term citywide. Further, the agency is reliant on discretionary allocations from City Council Members and Borough Presidents whose priorities may not align with those of the Department. This creates an inequitable, inefficient, and potentially politicized process for funding capital projects. This system compounds the effects of chronic neglect in under-resourced communities, who often have less opportunity and political capital to advocate for vital improvements.

Resources:
Center for an Urban Future “A New Leaf: Revitalizing New York City’s Aging Park Infrastructure”
NY4P and New York Building Congress “Building the Future of New York: Parks and Open Space”

 

 

5. EMPOWER OUR COMMUNITIES

SO THEY CAN SUPPORT OUR PARKS

From volunteers and community gardens to “friends of” groups to conservancies, NYC has a deep history of civic engagement and not-for-profit stewardship. Yet the city makes it difficult for these groups to do their work.

SOLUTIONS

Champion and indemnify our not-for-profit partners and volunteer groups

NYC has a deep history of not-for-profit parks advocates and stewards. Many of these groups gained traction when disinvestment in our communities led to disastrous park conditions and blighted vacant lots. The not-for-profit and volunteer model is now an essential part of the NYC parks system. These stewards range from large conservancies to “friends of” groups to community gardeners to small volunteer networks. The city must embrace and support these groups to allow them to improve the park and garden spaces their communities rely on. By streamlining the process for license agreements and indemnifying these small not-for-profits and volunteer groups, NYC will ensure that these vital partners continue to care for parks and gardens across the five boroughs. Additionally, NYC Parks must continue to prioritize the voices of the communities that are most impacted by park improvements and developments.

Resources:
City Limits “Nonprofits Say They’ve Felt a Legal Squeeze from the De Blasio Administration”

 

Facilitate partnerships and programs that enhance access to resources in parks and open spaces

Parks and community gardens are the centers of their communities and their stewards address many of NYC’s most pressing social needs. During the COVID crisis, many community gardens helped address food insecurity, volunteer groups collected compost when programs were cut, and “friends of” groups volunteered in record numbers to pick up trash. NYC should promote these activities and make it easier for groups to facilitate programs that serve social and community needs.

Resources:
NY1 “Volunteer Organizations Clean Parks Across the City Amid Maintenance Budget Cuts”
NYC Council “Growing Food Equity in New York City” 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

NY4P developed this platform with input from the 300+ Play Fair Coalition and other organizational partners and groups, including:

  

Mayoral Candidates on Parks

FRONT-RUNNING DEMOCRATIC MAYORAL CANDIDATES ON PARKS

THEIR ANSWERS TO FIVE KEY QUESTIONS

NY4P asked mayoral candidates to answer five key questions related to our Five Point Plan for Park Equity. Below are each candidates' responses detailing how they would serve our parks and open spaces if elected as Mayor. 

Curious about candidates in other races? Check out what over 100 candidates for Council, Comptroller, and Borough President said over at Candidates on Parks.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Eric Adams

Eric Adams


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
Yes, in fact I called for this back in 2018 when I released “The Pulse of Our Parks” report from Borough Hall. We need to support our city parks that provide so many vital services to this city. In the moments of this pandemic our green spaces provided a place for us to gather, express ourselves, and too simply catch a breath of fresh air. We need to do everything we can to preserve the future generations of New Yorkers the right to these essential parks.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
Yes, I would support the creation of such a position to oversee the holistic planning of our parks, streets, sidewalks, plazas, waterfronts, and natural areas.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Yes, in my “A Greener City, A Brighter Future” plan for New York, I specifically note my plan to allow all New Yorkers regardless of the neighborhood they live in to have access to open, green space. This includes opening dozens of new public spaces, closing the park equity gap in high-need, underserved neighborhoods, and transforming 100 asphalt schoolyards into green community playgrounds. I am also calling to create a “Safe Routes to Parks” program which will build out protected bike and pedestrian infrastructure to safely connect neighborhoods far from large open spaces to destination parks.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
As I mentioned above, an equitable parks system starts with funding for the agency and accessibility for New Yorkers. I will commit to spending one percent of the budget on parks services. I am calling to create a “Safe Routes to Parks'' program which will build out protected bike and pedestrian infrastructure to safely connect neighborhoods far from large open spaces to destination parks. In addition, every New Yorker knows we can’t grow more land so I will begin a program that will recapture land lost to Robert Moses-era highway projects. That means jump-starting projects like the BQGreen and PX Forward, as well as mapping and analyzing additional opportunities across the five boroughs to recapture lost land and reconnect our communities. Creating a more equitable parks system has been a priority for me as borough president, evidenced by my investments in perimeter access projects to underserved communities on the edges of both Prospect and Fort Greene parks.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
I am running for Mayor to eliminate all the government inefficiencies that have restricted services and opportunities to so many New Yorkers. For example, we can directly address the capital process and we can do so by expanding the role of franchises to handle capital projects in our parks. We will partner with conservancies who can execute work faster and cheaper than the City. This will allow us to open up opportunities, complete important projects, and provide essential park services.



Art Chang

Art Chang


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
Yes. It's still too low. Should strive for 2% over the course of my administration.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
Absolutely, at the Deputy Mayor level.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Yes, with a focus on communities that lack parks. 

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
I would start with a city-wide plan that integrates parks and open spaces with childcare, schools, grocery stores, healthcare, transportation, and housing, including the impact from the 10' sea rise by 2100.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
I would seek to unify the fragmented set of funding sources, unify capital projects across parks, implement a project management discipline aided by technology, and pre-qualify vendors.



Shaun Donovan

Shaun Donovan


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
Yes!

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
Yes!

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Yes!

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
To create a more equitable park system, I’d ensure that every resident is within a 10 minute walk to a NYC park. In order to get there, along with our Chief Equity Officer, we will conduct an audit of the parks and open space system in the city and find where there is the lowest density to prioritize those neighborhoods first. Parks receive less than 0.5% of the city’s total budget every year despite seeing their highest usage in decades during COVID-19. This is unacceptable, and we plan to make New York City Parks an essential service in order to safeguard a minimum level of public funding. This includes:
• Restructuring funding to ensure equitable quality, maintenance, and access to open spaces across all five boroughs.
• Prioritizing funding for neighborhoods and spaces that have less open space, fewer investment opportunities, and that face disproportionately negative impacts of environmental and public health conditions. 
• Initiating direct stewardship of spaces, which will lead to the creation of new jobs. 
• Fostering strong public-private partnerships within public spaces in order to localize stewardship.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
Through the greater investment in the capital budget, the city will be able to address the growing backlog of maintenance of parks. We must ensure these spaces stay open and available to our residents throughout the city and that can only happen if our parks receive adequate funding. The reinvestment will greatly impact low-income, minority residents whose local parks are predominantly funded by the city budget as opposed to the larger parks like Central and Prospect Park. We will make sure that maintenance projects are not outsourced, thus driving up the cost, and are done efficiently. 



Kathryn Garcia

Kathryn Garcia


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
Yes. Parks are critical to New Yorkers – we go to parks to gather with loved ones, enjoy nature, and exercise – but we have not consistently funded parks. I commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to the Parks Department and allocating capital dollars to renovate parks.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
No. I think our current planning process leaves a lot to be desired but I would focus on tighter management of existing agencies rather than creating a Director of the Public Realm.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Yes. My strategy will also include opening up schoolyards to the public in non-school hours in addition to identifying places for new parks and playgrounds. In New York City, our parks are our backyards and every New Yorker should live within a walk to a park.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
We need to invest more in parks in general rather than relying on an individual Council Member to allocate funding. From an equity perspective, I will focus Mayoral funding on parks in neighborhoods that have not had their fair share of funding historically. In addition, with the increase of the Parks budget, I will expand recreational programming in neighborhoods with greater need. Finally, my plan to create 150 million square feet of green infrastructure is the most ambitious the City has seen and will make a dramatic difference in redressing health inequities caused by car traffic, reducing the urban heat island effect, and making our communities more resilient.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
We cannot continue with business as usual. I pledge that 95% of community infrastructure projects will be completed in four years or less – from project inception to ribbon-cutting. One of my top legislative priorities will be to work with the State to create a Citywide Capital Projects Authority to provide agencies with a flexible structure to enter into best value contracts and use innovative procurement structures beyond design-build. I will also cut out the back-and-forth between agencies that occurs for every capital project. We don't need layer upon layer of approvals for capital projects. Finally, the Mayor's Office will run a CapitalStat process that will monitor the timeliness of capital projects and create a venue to unstick roadblocks to completion.



Ray McGuire

Ray McGuire


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
As mayor, my goal will be to work towards 1% of the city budget going toward parks. The past year demonstrated more clearly than ever that parks are critical infrastructure that New Yorkers rely on. As mayor, investing in parks and ensuring that all New Yorkers can share their benefits will be a priority of my administration. 

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
As we expand the scope of the uses of our public spaces, opening up streets to a multitude of uses, connecting New Yorkers to the waterfront and improving and expanding our green spaces and pedestrian and cycling paths, it is important that we have a point person in City Hall who can bring all the relevant city agencies together to plan comprehensively and make the most efficient use of our public spaces.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
As mayor, I will invest in the equal distribution of open, public places, including additional park spaces, playgrounds, and outdoor learning centers. Additionally, I will expand constituent access to the waterfront through piers and kayak launches like Hudson River Park to increase resident’s quality of life and stimulate economic development. My plan calls for creating an interconnected network of greenspace and pedestrian and bike paths to ensure that all New Yorkers have easy access to open space and no one is more than 20 minutes from the waterfront.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
As mayor, I will prioritize investment in underserved areas by focusing capital dollars on the parks that are in the greatest states of disrepair, which often are in underserved communities and expanding community gardens especially in communities that have high levels of food insecurity. Additionally, we have the opportunity to take advantage of the green spaces in and around NYCHA properties. We should leverage these spaces to encourage our youth and our seniors to cultivate gardens and which builds community and encourages a sense of pride.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city? 
As mayor, I will push Albany to allow us to design-build, which would not only save money but also would deliver faster repairs. Additionally, I have the experience as a manager and can assemble the teams necessary to streamline the oversight process of capital expenditures. Currently, the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Contracts, Law Department, and Department of Investigations each have different oversight roles in the capital budgeting process. As mayor, I will direct these agencies to better coordinate their oversight roles through an interagency task force to reduce redundancy and inefficiency.



Dianne Morales

Dianne Morales


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
No response. 

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
No response.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
No response.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
No response.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
No response.



Scott Stringer

Scott Stringer


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?

Park usage skyrocketed during the pandemic as more New Yorkers spent time outdoors. It's clear that our parks, playgrounds and open spaces are vital to New Yorkers' wellbeing and we need to invest more in our outdoor spaces. As mayor I will bring Parks funding to 1% of the City's budget to double down on maintenance and sanitation, increase agency staffing, and improve the employment pipeline for local New Yorkers. With more resources, Parks can hire more staff and expand services and upkeep. We can bring our Parks programs and funding in line with cities like Minneapolis and San Francisco, which are well known for their impeccable facilities — and we must. I will set ironclad maintenance standards for parks and playgrounds and ensure that sufficient funding is in place to achieve these goals.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
As Mayor, I will streamline the capital planning, contracting, design, engineering, and construction process in order to deliver on our City’s goals. My administration will fully fund the Parks Department’s capital needs assessment, track capital projects more closely, accelerate the OMB approval process, and scale back the responsibilities of the Department of Design and Construction. Instead of waiting in the queue alongside library, hospital, and sanitation projects, the Parks Department will be empowered to manage on-call contracts, using trusted construction firms for standardized, recurring capital projects. I will also create a new Mayor’s Office of Public Space to issue construction permits, coordinate agency activities, and champion street redesigns — including the massive expansion of mid-block playgrounds, slow streets, dog parks, skate parks, plazas, and other neighborhood community spaces.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Every New Yorker should live within walking distance of a park or playground. For nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers, parks and playgrounds are inaccessible and for many low-income and BIPOC communities park sizes are small and prone to overcrowding. This must change. Within my first term as mayor, I commit to building 200 new playgrounds citywide, pedestrianizing hundreds of streets and creating 100 mid-block play spaces, and opening up schoolyards for neighborhood kids. New Yorkers need more outdoor green space and I will deliver on that promise.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
On the whole, New York City has too few parks and playgrounds. But, in certain communities like Borough Park, Bensonhurst, and Jackson Heights are deeply underserved. This is especially true in neighborhoods that have a growing population of children. Far too many neighborhoods are without parks or playgrounds and the largest "park deserts" in our city are in lower-income and BIPOC communities. That’s unacceptable. Every child should have a safe and green space to play and run around. I am committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to a nearby park or playground that is well kept and equipped with a clean bathroom and changing station. To do this, I will increase Parks funding to 1% of the City's budget and build 200 new playgrounds citywide within my first term, prioritizing communities that are underserved.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
Our parks system can thrive with effective management and robust funding. For too long, capital projects stalled due to poor management and lack of resources, leaving countless communities with poorly kept parks and playgrounds. That will not be the case under my administration. As mayor, I will establish a new Mayor’s Office of Public Space to streamline and track capital projects,  coordinate agency activities, and champion street redesigns. Instead of waiting in the queue alongside library, hospital, and sanitation projects, the Parks Department will be empowered to manage on-call contracts, using trusted construction firms for standardized, recurring capital projects.



Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?
My campaign has begun developing our potential FY 2022 budget, which recommends a $587 million commitment to Parks & Open Space. I am committed to doubling the amount of green and open space in our city, and will make the necessary investments to get us there.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
I recently released my Community First Climate Action Plan. One of its centerpieces is to create a new Office of Public Space Management, with the mission of giving streets back to New Yorkers, by permanently reallocating more road space to walking, cycling, community gatherings, and green urban design projects, thereby reducing carbon emissions through increased pedestrianization. The Office will expand Open Streets, and continue to invest in Safe Streets, building on the success of newly opened streets like 34th Avenue in Queens. The Office will be composed of a mix of agency workers who are already working in this area within DOT, DCP, the Parks Department, and SBS, among others. Each of NYC’s community districts will be managed by one or multiple Public Space Managers, depending on size, who would work with the community to identify needs and preferences for how their streets could be re-designed to allow for more open, green spaces, through additions like bike corrals, increased tree planting, and rain gardens. The DOT would work with the OPSM to create a street hierarchy, to differentiate between transportation networks and neighborhood streets, with the latter available for communities to design according to their needs. This Office will follow the model of cities like Boston, Paris, France, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, among others, who have all created similar departments to improve their city’s walkability, liveability, and climate responsiveness. It is evident that there are many similarities between my plan and the potential creation of a Director of the Public Realm. I look forward to exploring how a Director of Public Realm position could fit into the Office of Public Space Management as a department executive leader.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
Yes. All New Yorkers, regardless of race, class, or income level, should be able to enjoy clean air and water, and have access to green and open space. Through increased enforcement of existing laws that protect against air and water pollution, and expansion of the City’s parks and green spaces, we will make meaningful improvements to the health and wellbeing of all of our residents. As Mayor, I will;

  • Double the City’s open and green space, including bike and bus lanes, open streets, parks, community gardens, and accessible waterfront areas
  • Ensure agencies are working together to create and maintain more green space in areas historically lacking, such as Flatlands in Brooklyn, through activities including neighborhood tree planting by;
    • Reducing the cost of tree planting by expanding the number of contractors overseeing these activities, focusing primarily on those owned by women and minorities
    • Ensuring that every neighborhood has equitable access to clean, uncontaminated green space to support recreation, mental health, and property values
    • Prioritizing neighborhoods with limited access and higher concentrations of particulate matter in the air, like Staten Island’s North Shore
    • Exploring the expansion of waterfront access and recreation in historically marginalized communities, including Orchard Beach in the Bronx, and Red Hook in Brooklyn
    • Fully funding the Department of Parks and Recreation’s capital budget through New Deal New York
  • Create a new NYC Green Future Force that will place members for up to a year with City agencies and nonprofits doing sustainability and resiliency work, from maintaining our parks to improving our food system.
  • Consider expanding application of NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines beyond all city capital projects to private developments. I will partner with the Waterfront Alliance’s Access for All Task Force to ensure that investment in waterfront parks, development, and resilience are made equitably, and prioritize vulnerable communities in the floodplain. My administration will substantially increase funding to maintenance and operations for parks on or near the waterfront.
  • Explore a universal organics recycling collection by opening up parks as local drop-off sites, incentivizing participation, and investing in public education campaigns.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
Environmental justice is at the heart of my Climate Plan. As Mayor, I will develop equitable adaptation measures for both social and built infrastructure, with a focus on the low-income communities and communities of color that experience disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards and increased vulnerability to those hazards. My administration will make a sustained and comprehensive effort to partner with environmental justice communities, organizations, and other community-based organizations, such as mutual aid groups, to successfully pursue this work. Environmental justice is also about ownership, job creation, and bringing political power to historically marginalized communities. As Mayor, I will not only create green jobs and high-quality career pathways, but will also pursue policies and programs that make individuals, families and communities investors and owners of the renewable energy economy, not just consumers and workers. Some of our plans worth highlighting include;

  • Create a citywide Asthma Action Plan to address the public health emergency facing communities with high asthma rates like Mott Haven in the South Bronx, Brownsville, Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens.
  • Establish citywide groups of community members for resilience planning and action, following the 2021 Bronx People’s Platform for NYC, developed through years of engagement with Bronx residents
  • Launch a New York City Green Future Force to address rising youth unemployment, and to provide good, green jobs for young people, putting them to work restoring public lands, improving access to parks, and building out composting infrastructure. We will focus on employing young people from frontline environmental justice communities, who have lived experience of what their communities need, and how we can achieve their goals.
  • Partner with NYC’s ecosystem of green employers, workforce development programs, CUNY, and organized labor to provide training, networking, and other professional development opportunities to Force members that set them up for high-quality career pathways after their service
  • Commit to energy democracy for New Yorkers by empowering community residents to be innovators, planners, and decision-makers on using and creating energy that is local and renewable. This will be done in partnership with groundbreaking organizations like UPROSE and WE ACT who are leading the way, supported by City efforts to map green energy infrastructure opportunities across neighborhoods.
  • Create an Office of Public Space Management, which gives community leaders the ability to spend funding and implement the specific environmental projects their neighborhoods need.
  • Invest in care jobs that are low-carbon, people-centered and critical to the social infrastructure of our city such as transitioning care facilities, including Community Care Centers, to low-carbon hubs with toxin-free, healthy and sound architecture that enables clean air and water
  • Lastly, train a green workforce by supporting NYC’s rich ecosystem of workforce development organizations, to train hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and connect them to good, green jobs. Our primary focus for this initiative will be in communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and rising unemployment.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
My Economic recovery platform, New Deal New York, directs $3 billion in new and accelerated spending toward building a climate resilient NYC. Part of this amount will go toward fully funding the Department of Parks and Recreation’s capital budget, and addressing the backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects. Moving forward, I will direct more resources to the Department to ensure that projects are completed on time.



Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang


Would you as mayor commit to allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks?

New York City woefully undervalues its parks. Making up 14% of city land, parks only receive about .6% of the city budget and are often the first casualty in budget cuts. Due to the pandemic, the city cut $85 million from parks, even though they were one of the most valued resources for New Yorkers during lockdown. As mayor, I will immediately restore the parks full budget and work to increase it to 1% of the city budget.

Would you support the creation of a Director of the Public Realm to oversee the holistic planning of parks, streets, sidewalks, plaza, waterfronts, natural areas?
Parks projects are often left to languish for years and maintenance ignored, largely because of the lack of leadership in this past administration. As mayor, I would provide the momentum needed and put my full support behind completing projects such as the QueensWay and Freshkills Park without adding to the bureaucratic processes that sometimes can stymie action.

Would you commit to a policy of developing parks and playgrounds so that all New Yorkers have access to parks and open space within a 10 minute walk?
I absolutely commit to achieving 100% park access within a 10 minute walk to all New Yorkers and will do this by building NYC’s next generation of parks and open space.

How would you create a more equitable parks system for NYC?
I will make our parks system more equitable by prioritizing communities and neighborhoods who are underserved. I will partner with TPL to transform schoolyards into playgrounds, I will build more pedestrian plazas and fund open streets so the program can permanently expand. I will also partner with NYCHA, whose land is made up of 70%-80% open space, to examine the best use of the available space alongside NYCHA residents and create new city run parks on the currently underutilized land. I also have a vision for completing large park projects that have been stalled by years of inaction. For example, the QueensWay will bring vital open space, economic development, bike lanes and street redesign to meet Vision Zero goals in six neighborhoods in Queens that lack parks and where the roads are notoriously unsafe. This will bring equity and revitalization to neighborhoods and I will do this in all boroughs.

How would you reform the capital process so we can more effectively address the growing backlog in deferred parks maintenance projects across the city?
I am committed to completing existing projects and breaking ground on several new projects in my first term as mayor, and I plan to do this both by increasing the budget for parks and by strengthening public-private partnerships. It is key to have public and private funding and buy-in to complete these projects well and in a timely manner. We’ve seen this model executed successfully with the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Central Park; there’s no reason this can’t be the case in low-income communities, as well.