Plan is first step in
protecting NYC’s future
BY COSTA CONSTANTINIDES AND
Many of us were heartened to see
the $2 trillion climate plan proposed
by Joe Biden last week. It
fi nally addresses the needs for clean, renewable
energy as well as the environmentally
racist policies that got us into this mess in
the fi rst place.
Yet as we push for a national Green New
Deal that frees us from the fossil fuel industry,
we must accept that climate change, to
some degree, is here to stay. That’s why the
United States must not only act to mitigate
the effects of pollution, but adapt to the
damage a hotter planet will bring in the
decades to come.
Nowhere do we need that more than here
in New York City, where 520 miles of coastline
will be battered by rising tides. The next
federal administration and Congress must
use its fi rst 100 days in offi ce to invest in a
resiliency plan that keeps every New York
City neighborhood safe. We are staring down
a crisis like we have never seen — and right
now we’re set to blink fi rst.
Hurricane Sandy barreled into our
neighborhoods almost 8 years ago and
killed 43 New Yorkers. Since then, we’ve
gotten little more than studies and sandbags;
far-fl ung promises of investments to
come, and single-neighborhood proposals
that were frankly insulting to seven-eighths
of the City. New York City’s shoreline is
made up primarily of low-income communities
of color in the outer boroughs.
Yet, little has changed since we raised this
issue a year ago, when extreme heat and
violent storms gave a one-two punch to our
outdated, unprepared power grid. So what
has our city accomplished to prepare for
the next major hurricane? The answer is:
very little outside of Manhattan.
One thing did change: our climate has
actually gotten worse. Our refusal to act
in a meaningful way puts us closer to the
worst projections for 2100, when New York
City’s Panel on Climate Change projects
that JFK Airport might be underwater and
we will endure four times as many heat
waves as we do now. There have been six
named storms since mid-May, including
Tropical Storm Fay, which pummeled the
Big Apple earlier this month. This is well
above the average for this point in the hurricane
FILE PHOTO REUTERS/MARK KAUZLARICH
Frankly, inaction over the last four years
is a disservice to the estimated 366,000
New Yorkers which the Union of Concerned
Scientists expects to be inundated
by relentless fl ooding within 80 years.
They represent a change in home ownership
in which lenders demand more money
upfront. Even banks realize climate change
is a matter of when, not if. Rising seas, at
their record rate, will displace whoever
rising rents cannot.
This keeps us up at night, which is why
we introduced legislation last year to create
a fi ve-borough resiliency plan. While
the Army Corps of Engineers’ storm surge
study was well intended, it was incredibly
limited by the legislation that created it.
Demands grew all over the City for a plan
that truly assessed sea level rise, but didn’t
prioritize one needs of one neighborhood
over another. Our bill does that.
We need leaders who will act just as
FDR did in the throes of the Great Depression.
FDR used New York as the laboratory
for the New Deal, and partnered with local
leaders, because what works here can
weather the worst storms anywhere else.
Washington saw that same need for New
York City in those dark days after 9/11,
issuing bonds and sending relief when we
were on the brink of collapse.
With COVID-19 still here and the worst
of the climate crisis ahead, we need that
kind of support again. Resilience in every
borough is a strong place to start.
Costa Constantinides represents the
22nd City Council District, which includes
the Queens neighborhoods of Astoria
and Long Island City. Justin Brannan
represents the 43rd City Council District,
which covers the Brooklyn neighborhoods
of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst
and Bath Beach.
It’s on them. It’s on us
All of us long for the day when we can
go out in this amazing city on a given summer
night and have fun with other people
— whether it’s by taking in a show or a
movie, watching a baseball game or simply
hanging out at the local bar with friends.
But we’re not there yet because of COVID
19 and the risk it poses. The virus is
low in New York, but it’s still here — like
a simmering pot kept over an open fl ame.
Public offi cials have warned of a resurgence
of COVID-19. Media outlets like
ours have related those warnings to you.
And yet, this past weekend, in pockets
of the city, there were throngs of people
packed together outside bars having a
good, carefree time as if everything were
back to normal.
Both the governor and mayor have come
down hard. They say they’re ready to shut
bars down that allow congregant behavior
to happen. And they’re right to condemn
and take action.
Look at the country outside of New
York. COVID-19 is out of control. New
York had it very bad in March and April,
but at least we pulled together to stop the
spread and begin reopening. The rest of
the country didn’t take it as seriously, and
so the virus rages on.
Each of us must ask ourselves a few
questions: Do we want that again? Is a
night out for drinks and music worth getting
sick, or worse, making many others
sick? Even deathly sick?
New York City and State can enact all
the ordinances and legislation that it wants.
Police can enforce them to the best of their
ability. But whether these efforts are effective
rests with the business owners and the
It’s on them. It’s on us.
Bar and restaurant owners have taken
an economic beating this year. We know
how hard it is for them. Yet that doesn’t
excuse bending or breaking the law, and
endangering public health to make a profi t.
And those of us who want to go out and
have fun must do a little soul-searching and
move the moral compass further away from
If nothing else, let’s remember this: If we
keep ignoring the rules, we’ll cause another
spike — and another spike will mean that
our return to a fun and normal New York
City is put off even further.
Publisher of The Villager, Villager Express, Chelsea Now,
Downtown Express and Manhattan Express
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8 July 23, 2020 Schneps Media