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Transcript: Mayor Adams Hosts a "Talk With Eric: A Community Conversation"

June 12, 2023

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Commissioner Fred Kreizman, Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Fred Kreizman, commissioner of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit. Just wanted to basically go through what the format has been. Six to seven o'clock, we had the round table conversations with a member of the mayor's office, taking diligent notes, ensured to transcribe the issues discussed. We always have Q&A cards on every single table. It's just in case your questions not asked. With a two to three week timeframe, we make sure that all the questions are recorded. Everyone gets a phone call back from the agency, the questions raised concerning. This is the second round of community conversations. This one is the second one in Flushing in the set round. The first one were public safety. This is a wide range issues, and we were going to start off by giving the borough president a chance to give a statement, comments as well as Council Member Ung. And then afterwards, the mayor will speak.

Queens Borough President Donavan Richards: Thank you. Let's give it up for Mayor Adams for doing these community conversations and all of his agency heads who are here this evening. It is great to be in Flushing. I feel like I'm in Flushing every day. Was just in Flushing opening a new health center. I think we were Friday. But really a great time to see all of you. And listen, there's nothing more important than being engaged in your community. And I think for most of you in this room, I see many friends. We cannot do this alone. We can't do this without you. So it really takes the partnership between the communities, between our city agencies, and more importantly to follow up after conversations like this. There's been a lot going on in Flushing and I know the mayor will hit on some of those areas. But I'm very grateful to this administration's partnership and really getting a lot done for Queens. We've been able to invest close to $200 million in Queens since I've been borough president, working along also with our City Council members.

And just some quick highlights. We're investing in the Queens Botanical Gardens. We're investing in Flushing Hospital in a big way. We've invested in Flushing High School. We're going to have some news on Casino Corridor Park in a few days after the budget passes, working with the Parks Department. And of course to all of our cultural institutions like the Bound House as well. I really want to thank them for their partnership. Just some some other quick things I'll touch on. And I know flooding has been a big issue as we see climate change continuing to rear it's ugly head right here, even in Flushing. I want to thank the DEP commissioner who's been working very closely with us on Peck Avenue, and I know we're working on some long-term solutions there.

And then on the safety issue, which I know Mr. Mayor will come up over and over again, I want to thank you for providing us with an additional I believe 40 officers to the 109. We still have a lot of work to be done in Flushing, in particular in the 109. I see Inspector Hall here. I know he's doing everything he possibly can, and we'll continue to work with him to make progress. So thank you all for having me this evening. And am I passing it to the councilwoman? And now I get to pass it to my partner here who works with us day in and day out, to ensure we are leaving this community better than we found it, your city councilwoman, Sandra on.

Council Member Sandra Ung: Thank you. And I want to thank the Queens Borough president for being such a great partner and I want to thank Mayor Adams for coming to Flushing, and all the CAU unit for putting this together. I know it's not easy to put this event together. But the mayor is not a stranger to Flushing. I'm sure all of you know that. Actually, just two or three weeks ago, we were standing out in Main Street Flushing, giving out flyers to invite everyone to the hiring hall right here in Flushing. And I heard it was one of the most successful ones. So for tonight, it's so important that they hear from all of you. It's so important. We work together as city agencies, as partners, to always better Flushing and always better New York City. So tonight is actually for all of you and I'll also look forward to hearing the questions and concerns that all of you have. Thank you.

Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. The mayor asked me just to now to have the commissioner stand up while I read their names. We have the commissioner of Small Business Services, Kevin Kim. We have Deputy Commissioner Mark Stewart of NYPD. We have the Department of Education deputy chancellor, Kenita Lloyd, DEP Commissioner Rit Aggarwala here. We have the commissioner of DCWP, Vilda Vera Mayuga, Consumer Worker Production. We have the chairman of City Planning, Dan Garodnick. We have the commissioner of Probation, Juanita Holmes. We have the commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Commissioner Manuel Castro. We have EDC president, Andrew Kimball. We have DOB commissioner, Jimmy Oddo. We have ACS commissioner, Jess Dannhauser. We have OEM first deputy commissioner, Christina Farrell.

We have the Mayor's Office of Climate and Environmental Justice, acting executive director, Vicki Cerullo. We have H and H Calvin Thomas, CEO of Queens Hospital. Mayor's Office Community Health executive director, Eva Wong. Department Health Mental Hygiene chief of staff, Jenna Mandel-Ricci. DSS first deputy commissioner, Jill Berry. Sanitation borough chief, Iggy Azzara. FDNY borough commander, Chief Joseph Ferrante. We also have EMS chief here, HPD assistant commissioner, Nicole Simmons. We have DOT first deputy commissioner, Margaret Forgione. We have DFTA chief general counsel, Penney Vachiraprapun. Parks borough commissioner, Jackie Langsam. NYCHA executive vice president, Daniel Greene. DYCD first deputy commissioner, Alan Cheng. Department of Finance director Kieran Mahoney. MOCJ director, Deanna Logan. Human Rights Commission, Deputy Commissioner Kajori Chaudhuri. And Gender Based Violence first deputy commissioner, Saloni Sethi. And of course, we have the Mayor's Office, people disability commissioner, Christina Curry. Thank you. Now, I'll hand it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much. And Commissioner Curry said, "You better not forget me down at the end." We can't do that. So we really want to hear directly from you. These community conversations are so important to us. We did a round earlier last year and earlier I believe into this year. This is a way of hearing directly from you and hearing directly from me, and not allowing others to really to start and to interpret what we are doing and what we are saying. I remember the first town hall we left, a gentleman walked up to me and he said, "This was the first time I heard exactly clearly what the vision was, what city and the direction we were going in." And that is why we're doing this. I'm going to try to do as many as possible. My team, they know that I enjoy doing this a lot. I enjoy interacting with people on the subway, in the streets, in the parks, walking the streets together.

This is how you should be interacting with the person you elected. I'm the mayor of the city and I cannot run this city from City Hall. I have to be among you and hear directly from you. It really blows the mind of my team. We walk down the block and someone would stop me and ask me a problem. And I'll give them my cell number and it drives them crazy. But I want to hear directly from people. A young girl that was at one of the schools, LaGuardia High School, New York Post, wrote an article on it. She texted me from her school when they were doing a walkout, and she said, "We having a problem in our school, we need your help." And I said, number one, "You need to get back in school. Let's start with that."

But I responded back to her in 30 seconds and they wrote an article about it like it was unique and it wasn't. This is what I did as a state senator, as the borough president and I'm not going to stop doing it as a mayor. I have the same number for so many years on how I communicate with people. And before we go into today's town hall, the announcement came out today that the police commissioner is leaving at the end of the month. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate the service, her service. I appreciate what she has done. And when she came in, crime was moving in the wrong direction. She worked 24 hours, seven days a week. Really making sure that we can do what we saw with gun violence, what we saw with homicides, what we saw with our major crime categories.

We were trending in the wrong way. No one wanted to get on the subway system. You saw just a really dangerous environment. She turned it around. Look at the numbers today. It shows double-digit decrease in homicide, double-digit decrease in shootings. You're seeing all the major crimes moving in the right direction. And I just cannot thank her enough for what she has done for the men and women of this amazing department, a department I was proud to serve in. And as she moves on with the next stage in her life, we want to just really thank her for coming to our city, serving this city and the manner in which she did. And so we want to hear from you. We want to open the floor up. I don't want to take any time. I want to maximize the time of hearing your questions directly and continue to learn.

But I also want to thank Councilwoman Ung. She called us a couple of months ago. She was having a real problem with the vendoring on her sidewalks. She reached out to us, the precinct, sat down with her, mapped out a plan. We first went out and told people that you can't vendor in this magnitude. We're going to give you a period of time to clean it up. The councilwoman saw that was a real quality of life issue in her district. And we went in. We were there the other day handing our flyers for our hiring hall. It was a different area over there. The streets were clean. People were able to walk by. Local representation and communication is the success of any community. Thank you so much, councilwoman, for raising that issue and partnering with us as we address the issue in your community.

And Queens, get the money. Donovan Richards. He's a master at getting capital dollars for your borough. I don't know what the number is right now, but he finds ways to get money and we have been doing so many ribbon cuttings, so many capital projects. He's focused on getting resources here. He's a master at doing it. Great job. Continue to do the good work that you're doing, our borough president. So I'm going to turn it over to open the floor to you.

Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. So we'll start off with table number one. Every table has a community affairs officer as well as a member of the Mayor's Office. So let's go to table number one. Ed?

Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor. We met a number of times. You came to the Clinton Democratic Club and proud to see you again.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Question: Tonight, I'm here as the vice chairman and the land use chair for Community Board Seven. And Community Board Seven has oversight on the Willets Point redevelopment. So over the past 15 years I've attended or chaired over a hundred meetings on this project. So we're very familiar about this project and very excited about going forward with the next phase. In past administrations, we had access with deputy mayors. It was very important to make a positive approach to bring this to fruition. And one of the things I asked tonight is access again to your deputy mayor economic development and your deputy mayor of public safety.

There's strong support in our community for the construction of affordable housing and the soccer stadium at Willets Point. But however, the community board has already raised a concern and one condition for approval of the soccer stadium: We need the additional police precinct to supplement our existing and heavily overburdened 109th. And as you remember, we met in the late fall last year. And it's been something that's been in our budget for the past 20 years. And we desperately, desperately need the public safety equity for our underserved community board. So I thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much. And give me the mic for a moment, 'cause I need to have some clarity. When you say access to the deputy mayors and the deputy mayor of Public Safety and Economic Development, define that for me so I can make sure we can make that happen.

Question: Well in the beginning, Robert Lieber was the deputy mayor of Economic Development. We created the special district. It was very helpful. EDC, I see Mr. Kimball is here. Obviously, they're spearheading. But it helps to work the synergy about what we need and what we're talking about. And obviously, the deputy mayor for public safety would be part of what we need as far as the precinct.

Mayor Adams: Yeah, Andrew, you want to touch that?

Andrew Kimball, President and CEO, NYC Economic Development Corporation: Sure. First of all, we're so thrilled to be involved in this project. This is a game changer, as you well said. This has been in the works for many, many years., but I couldn't be more thrilled to be part of administration with a mayor that took this project to a whole new level, a project that was maybe going to have a thousand units of affordable housing. Now, we're going to 2,500 units. The largest affordable housing project undertaken in this city in 40 years. Plus a stadium entirely financed by the private sector, three quarters of a billion dollars of investment.

I'm very familiar with the community commitments that you're bringing up. And you can be sure as we work through the community process and work with the council member in that district, council member Moya, but also with the borough president who have made it very, very clear that the kinds of public services that you're talking about need to be there on the project. So we look forward to working with you. And I obviously work very closely with Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer and she's intimately involved in this project. And we both look forward to discussing with you as we move on.

Mayor Adams: And public safety is crucial. So let's talk about how you would like that communication to be with the DMs. We are more than willing to accommodate that. Communication is the key. So define it for us and let's map it out and make it happen. Okay?

Yes. Give it right then I'll make sure we give it to Deputy Mayor Banks and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. Okay? And we added 40 new officers to this command. I was watching the numbers. I saw what was happening, the 109, and we need to turn the corner on it. And that was why we added those new officers here.

Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. Thank you very much. Next table. [Inaudible], you want to give it to someone?

Question:  Good evening, everybody. My name is [inaudible] and everybody call me Sunshine, so that's easy name. I work for DSS ICA, but tonight I help with table number two as a translator. And first of all, we'd like to thank you, Mr. Mayor and borough president, council members and every commissioner to join this meeting. And this is very important for us, and we like to thank you all for this. And our question is about the housing crisis for Mayor Adams. How can we have more housing or senior housing in Flushing, as well as in NYC, that are affordable for working people and families?

Mayor Adams: Thank you so much. And I know we have this assistant commissioner, Nicole Simmons that's here. But many people don't realize how much we are dependent on Albany to do the housing here in the city. The governor put in place an aggressive housing plan. Albany did not pass that plan. We needed Albany to pass an extension on 421-a. That is the tax incentive that allows housing to be built. They did not take that up. We needed Albany to look at lifting how high we can build. It's called the FAR, how high we can build. They did not take that up as well. We need to expedite the capital process and have capital reform. They did not take that up. And so there was some very serious initiatives, that the governor partnered with the mayor's office and we wanted to push through to get more housing.

We would like to build 500,000 more units of housing. We have a housing shortage. And so even when people have the vouchers that gives them housing, if you don't have a housing place to go to, that voucher is not going to serve the purpose. We are hoping that Albany sees how important this is and consider doing something to pass what the governor presented, to deal with the housing crisis that we're having.

And in addition to that, we are still going to become creative and do what we have to do to try to get a shovel in the ground. But it's going to take even longer without that housing proposal that the governor put in place that we agreed on. We were in Albany repeatedly attempting to get them to understand how important it is. So Albany has a big role in the housing that you are talking about, and we were not able to get the plan done that would allow us to build. We want to build, but Albany must give us the opportunity to do so. So you can reach out to your state lawmakers and tell them we need to build more housing, low income, middle income housing, for those working class people in the city.

Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. We have Assistant Chief [inaudible] at the table, chief of the borough. Gilbert, you have someone at your table to ask a question?

Question: Good evening. My name is Jerry [inaudible]. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming here to Flushing. You could tell that you've put together a great team with all these commissioners. So thank you for bringing your time and coming to us. One question we have from our table is how is your team dealing with addressing the homeless and mental health crisis here in Flushing, in the trains? We just see a lot of it lately.

Mayor Adams: We are we going to turn it over to Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. But if you ... I always say there's a moment before you go from what you felt to what you are feeling. I know what I felt January 1st, 2022. I know what I'm feeling right now. I spent a lot of time on the subway system, I walk through, I look at what we're doing. There is a noticeable difference than what we were seeing January 1st, 2022. I made a commitment that we were going to remove all the encampments off our subway system, you don't have any encampments anymore. 

We rolled out an ambitious plan of removing all of the... You saw the tents, the cardboard boxes on our streets, you don't see that any anymore. We put in place through Dr. Vasan, the commissioner of Health... Department of Health and Human Hygiene, we put in place a plan that really leaned into giving people the care that they deserve. We got a lot of pushback from a lot of people that said we should not have people who are dealing with severe mental health illness remove them, involuntary removals off the streets. We felt they were wrong. We felt if you are in danger to yourself, you can't take care your basic needs, we should not wait until you commit a crime before we give you the service that they deserve. We rolled out an ambitious plan.

We presented that plan also to Albany to have Albany codify in law what the courts already ruled on. But we are moving forward with a combination of mental health professionals and police officers because there's nothing dignified about a person sleeping on the street. I'm not going to accept that, we're going to give people the services that they deserve. Who do we have over from Department of Health and Mental Hygiene?

Jenna Mandel-Ricci, Chief of Staff, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Hi. Good evening everyone. Thank you so much. I'm Jenna Mandel-Ricci, chief of staff with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Thank you so much for the question.

So to build on what Mayor Adams said, we released in early March a comprehensive plan for the city that focuses on severe mental illness, the opioid crisis and youth mental health. And within severe mental illness, we want to see people's humanity. These are our brothers and our sisters, mothers and fathers. We believe everyone deserves to have healthcare, have a home and have a community. And so we're really building on those three areas and it's fitting that I'm sitting next to the Office of Community Mental Health and Health and Hospitals and this really is a team sport. We're very, very focused on building community for these individuals so that once they're stable they can live productive lives.

Eva Wong, Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health: Thank you for that question. I'm Eva Wong. I lead the Mayor's Office of Community Mental Health. Wanting to add to what Jenna had already said is that, folks who are on the street there is a, of course, intersection between maybe have a mental illness and other factors why they're on the street. And we're also thinking about those who maybe not feeling comfortable right when they are on the street feeling like, "Am I safe? I'm not sure." So balancing the both, making sure that everybody in New York gets the access they need when it comes to mental health services and people reach a certain point you don't get diagnosed one day and next day you are maybe away from your family. There is a continuum. We really need to get the services and support to people.

And also looking, I live in Queens myself and also my children go to school in Flushing. We know a lot of our cultures we don't feel like mental health is something we can talk about. So how we can partner together to really address the stigma and misconceptions we might have so that people that we care for, even including ourselves, will not be afraid to reach out for the mental health support that they need earlier. So I'll leave it at that.

Mayor Adams: And we have just witnessed an uptake post Covid and with Dr. Vasan and his team is doing in the schools, he's created a web based app where young people can communicate directly with the mental health professional if they're going through a crisis. We know this is a real issue and it's really impact an entire country, but we have been a leader. Just a few days ago we held a summit on the role social media is playing. We had social media experts from all over the country that came in to really lean into the role social media is playing on impacting the mental health of our children and adults. So this is something that's very much on our radar and we have been implementing real initiatives to address it.

Commissioner Kreizman Excellent. Next table.

Question: Good evening, Mayor Adams. My name is Joseph Benedetto. Although I currently sit as president of Community Education Council for our district, I have to represent the concerns of my table, Table Four. So there seems to be a really big concern regarding Local Law 97. And for those of you who don't know, that will affect co-op owners, but it regards the efficiency of buildings and certain penalties that will be arising out of the enforcement of that local law, which is I think scheduled to come to fruition January of 2024. A majority of the constituents in this community are co-op owners or residents and they are very concerned because they're on fixed income and they'd like to know what your opinion is regarding the enforcement of Local Law 97. What, if anything, can you tell the constituents about what the repercussions are and what you are looking to do to protect their interests?

Mayor Adams: I feel like this is a hair club for men moment. I am a co-op owner. My first property that I own was that co-op and I know that if you are a co-op owner, if you are in a fixed income or if you are dealing with the repairs of buildings, I know this is a serious issue. And it is really my goal... This law was passed prior to my administration. I know that we have to deal with the environment, if anything as a reminder of that we saw it last week. We have a real greenhouse gas problem. We need to figure it out without harming those entities like our co-ops and I'm open to figuring that out. I know we have Rit here, Rit Aggarwa who's the commissioner of DEP, he could give you an update on the start date and all that of that good stuff. Okay?

Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala, Department of Environmental Protection:  Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And yes, thank you for the question. The Local Law 97, as the mayor says, is a very important law because across New York City the largest source of our carbon emissions is energy used in buildings. We have to get our buildings to be more efficient or the climate crisis will only get worse. As you're suggesting and as the mayor points out, however, we have to do it in a way that's realistic about what building owners and the co-op members and others can actually achieve.

So the law has a couple of phases. Its first phase, as you point out, kicks in December... Or sorry January, 2024. It then has a much more aggressive target that kicks in 2030. In 2024, relatively few buildings will actually have to do that much work. I don't have it offhand, but we can certainly get all the information on how many of those buildings are in Flushing, et cetera. We're working very closely with the Department of Buildings, which actually administers this law under Commissioner Oddo's leadership. We are working on a set of regulations that will come out over the next couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, to give guidance to building owners about what they need to do either to comply with the law or to figure out how to come into compliance over time.

The law has a clause that talks about the city having discretion to help buildings that are undertaking good faith efforts. What that means is that if a building is genuinely trying to do the right thing, we don't have to hit it with all of the fines. We have no interest in fining buildings. What we want is the carbon, not the money. And so we are going to be working on how those regulations take place. We are also thinking about an under Vicky Cerullo's leadership at the Mayor's Office of Climate Environmental Justice, an inter-agency approach to add a number of new financing mechanisms to help buildings come into compliance with that law over time.

So I guess my overall message is, building owners have to take de-carbonization seriously. There's lots of resources out there with the federal government, with the bipartisan infrastructure law, at the state government, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. New York City has the New York City Accelerator, which any building can call and they can get advice on what they might qualify for. But we are also going to do everything we can to make sure that this law is implemented in a real way, in an aggressive way, but in a way that doesn't bankrupt the kind of people that you're concerned about.

Mayor Adams: Councilwoman.

Council Member Ung: Hi. So, the Queens Borough President and my office and Congresswoman Grace Meng's office, we are actually hosting a town hall next week from 6:00 to 8:00 where if you're going to have the Department of Buildings, also New York City Accelerator to talk more about Local Law 97. So I really encourage all of you, if you don't know about it to come to the town hall and please feel free to reach out to my office for the specific times and location. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: So we are with you, we can't destabilize our co-ops in the city and that is not our goal and I think there's win-win, anything from finding a way of to doing some form of tax abatement to finding some dollars to assist our co-ops. We cannot destabilize our co-ops that it just going to really undermine the entire goal of doing so. And I thank you for that question.

Commissioner Kreizman: Next table, Table Five, Tony.

Question: Good evening, honorable Mayor Eric Adams and other public officers. My name is Soyoung Lee Siguro, I'm currently working as International Baccalaureate primary years program, a coach in Long Island, but my heart is in Flushing because I grew up in here and I'm today representing KAAQ, Korean American Associations of Queens Education Committee. I'm attending with our leaders such as Mr. Han Tak Lee and Mr. John Park as well. At our table, Five, we have a representatives of these communities, acupuncturists, educators, and police officers. And I found that today the alarming fact that we wanted to share with you, that we need increase more security guard in our public schools. Some cases 1,050 students go to public school with 1 security guard. I think this issue matters because it affects teachers, students, and community as well. We strongly suggest the increase of the security guard in public schools. Thank you for listening and your attention.

Mayor Adams: Thank you so much. And many of you may recall during the campaign when there was a push by just about every candidate that was running that stated they wanted to take school safety officers out of schools. I was very clear that that would not happen if I was the mayor of the city. We will never take school safety officers out of school. I think the numerical minority that are the loudest gave the impression that our students don't want school safety officers, that is just untrue. We held a series of about five or six town halls with young people. Every one of those town halls, those young people overwhelmingly stated they want their schools safe and they want school safety officers in their schools. So I don't know who the loud folks are speaking on behalf of, but they darn sure aren't speaking on behalf of the children.

We need to increase the numbers of school safety officers, we have a real deficit that is part of what we were doing with the hiring halls. These are good jobs and we're hoping that we will all encourage people to come in, be a school safety officer. Every time I walk into school I'm impressed that the school safety officers are doing more than just providing security. They know the children. They show a lot of compassion. They're very caring for their school environment and we want to encourage more people of different ethnic groups and backgrounds to come in, be school safety officers. We would like to increase the numbers in school, but we have to increase the ranks of school safety officers. We have a real deficit in all of our agencies. We have 12,000 jobs that are available in the city, 12,000 jobs. We have been doing these hiring halls all over the city where we're bringing the agencies to the community. I'm hoping that all of you encourage people to become an employee of the city in general, but specifically as a school safety officer.

And we're getting ready to do something new with school safety officers. We are looking at how do we allow school safety officers to eventually graduate into the New York City Police Department after serving a certain number of years at school safety officers, traffic enforcement officers and others, how after doing that you could get promoted and go into become a New York City police officer because we saw how well you are at doing your job.

Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. Next table, Anastasia, if you give us someone the mic.

Question: Good evening mayor and esteemed panel. I'm Janine Werner. I'm the principal of WJPS District 25 and our table represents the New York City Department of Education. We have superintendents, principals, parent advocates, CEC president, parent leaders. And here's our question. Almost a year ago the governor signed a bill requiring New York City to reduce class size significantly. Meanwhile, New York City public schools are welcoming and supporting thousands of asylum seekers. How is the city addressing these issues separately as they exist and as they affect each other?

Mayor Adams: Great question. And it was codified in law. So we are going to always carry out the law. It's going to cost billions of dollars to do. And unexpectedly we were really hit with the financial cost and the number of people who came into the city, over 70,000. When I became mayor on January 1st 2022, we had about 45,000 people in our shelter system and little over a year we had over 70,000, additional, about 40-something-thousand are still in our care. We're close to 90,000 people in our care. One of the areas where it was the greatest impact was our school system.
Our school system was impacted because every child that came here, we had to provide education. We wanted to make sure that they were placed in the school. And now we have to ensure that next year when the stimulus dollars run out, we have to still meet our obligation based on the law of ensuring we have class sizes and we have to build new facilities via capital dollars. We're going to do. We're going to comply with the law like we've always have done. But it is a real challenge and we're hoping we get the proceeds from Albany to assist us. They did the class size bill but they didn't attach any money with it. An unfunded mandate is something that we should never put on a local municipality. We need Albany to examine the bill that they passed and attach the dollars with it so we can accomplish the goal. But we will accomplish the goal. The law is the law, and we will follow the law.

Question: Good evening. My name is [inaudible] and I am a API advisory council member and thanks for coming in Flushing and I really grateful to see everyone here. My question is this Table Seven we choose one of the topic that I know Sandra Ung City Councilwoman was working on the city vendor... I mean unlicensed vendor, take it out from the city, the main street especially. I was wondering they keep coming back after even had a very officially taken out. But, what other solution, we can come up with some alternative? The issue with the street vendors and overcrowding on the main street. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Yeah, I'm sorry, finish the last part I didn't hear. You said, is there a plan?

Question: Yes, there's a overcrowding on the vendors keep coming back. And is there any other alternative issue you can think about. Illegal street vendor.

Mayor Adams: Right. Well, the first thing is we better still be coming back because not tolerating something means you don't tolerate it. And so Chief, why don't you grab the microphone and tell us what the plan is to make sure... Hey, you can grab it here from Fred. What's the plan on making sure that it is repeated enforcement? I'm not into one time enforcement. Repeated enforcement sends the right message, and so give us a plan. Hey, you could grab my mic.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Yes. So there actually is a plan and we are continuing to address this issue. We did work hand in hand with Council Member Ung and her team, all the city agencies. We had sanitation, DCWP, the police department. We do have additional officers in the precinct. It has been very good in the area. We have heard some recent complaints that folks are starting to migrate their way back. Deputy Inspector Hall has his officers out there and anytime that there is an issue, they are doing enforcement. So we're going to keep on it every day.

Mayor Adams: Got it, got it. So our goal is not to allow it to cycle back and as the chief stated, we are going to do continuous enforcement and I'm going to... From time to time, I'm always in this area hanging out with Peter Koo. So we are going to make sure we'll walk up and down the block, but it's important to us that we don't slip backwards and I'm sure the council person will let us know if there's a problem, but we will be consistent in what we're doing.

Commissioner Kreizman: Next table, Alina.

Question: Good to be here tonight together with you. Thank you for taking time out of your schedules and I'm sure you have commitments to family, et cetera. Appreciate it.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Question: The table conversation that we want to ask is what policies can the Mayor's Office put into place to protect our communities from the overdevelopment of luxury properties, therefore keeping the integrity of our smaller neighborhoods? Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you, thank you very much. And there is a real process in place. That's what ULURP is about. Those who are here from the community board, these projects go through the ULURP, they go through the borough president. They go through our office as well. Dan... Where's Dan? Former council person that's in charge of city planning. And Dan, you probably want to go into some of that, but as we make sure we don't oversaturate communities, I want to be very clear that we have a housing shortage. Our residency, the numbers, we don't have enough inventory. And so we have to be creative in finding places for people to live. We want to do it without destroying communities. And so that's why it's good to have input from communities, but we have a real housing crisis that must be addressed. So Dan, you want to go into what you guys are doing?

Dan Garodnick, Director, Department of City Planning: Thank you, mayor. I think that that is exactly the most important point here, which is that in a crisis like the one we are in, we are going to be thinking citywide as to how we deal with it. We in the last decade have created... We've had a growth of 800,000 jobs with only 200,000 homes. In the last 40 years, our population grew by 1.7 million people and we created housing at half the rate that we had created it in the prior 40 years when we actually had seen our population decrease. The results is what we see for people who are really struggling in the city with rent burden. 50 percent of New Yorkers are rent burdened today and there can really be no tenant's rights or no opportunities for people to push back against bad practices when there is insufficient supply. But your question is a very specific one, which is how do you make sure that you do not overdo in the process?

And I can say from the perspective of the Department of City planning, we want to make sure that every neighborhood is doing their share. The mayor has set very ambitious goals, which we are 100 percent behind, but we want to make sure that every neighborhood is doing their share. Not just one neighborhood, not just another neighborhood, but every neighborhood. We also intend to do this thoughtfully. We do not want to do harm even as we grow. So we want to do it in ways in which infrastructure is supported, communities are supported, and quality of life is supported. So these are really important principles for us. So we want to grow, we want to grow thoughtfully, and we want to do it in a way which alleviates the burden on New Yorkers, which they are really struggling with today as a result of decades worth of production.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Question: Good evening, sir. The table was a little shy. Nobody wanted to ask the question, but over the years, Flushing has enjoyed vibrant growth. However, it has also witnessed the rising traffic congestion throughout the community. What we really need is a comprehensive traffic study that will address the many challenges in traffic congestion, particularly along Roosevelt Avenue.

Mayor Adams: Margaret, you want to grab that?

First Deputy Commissioner Margaret Forgione, Department of Transportation: Thank you very much for the question. Yes. So as we continue to thrive in New York, we hear from various communities that they are feeling the effects of traffic congestion. What we will seek to do in this neighborhood and in every neighborhood is improve transit, working carefully with our partners at New York City Transit to develop better bus service, look at other alternatives as well, such as city bike and other micromobility. But we're also happy to talk about any specific corridors or issues that you're seeing in your community. So we're happy to follow up with you with our Borough Commissioner's Office.

Question: Mr. Mayor, we also had a bit of a shy table as well too, but one of the topics that was discussed was in the community there's a huge issue with the speeding cameras in the area. The community feels that there's a bit of a target in the community. They feel like it's a way of getting more funding for the city through the targeted camera speeding. So can you speak to a little bit of that particular action, Margaret?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, we're going to toss it over to Margaret again, but let me say this, speed cameras save lives. The numbers are clear. When you look at the numbers of one of the top reasons for deaths and serious injuries, speeding. And some of these scenes are just horrific. Folks really need to slow down. People are driving too fast. And then when you add it with the scooters, you add it with the skateboards, the dirt bikes, the bicycles. Our streets have become very complicated and speeding is one of the top issues of deaths and serious physical injuries.

And so we don't want to use speed cameras as a money generator, but it is clear that the stats are showing those who are hit with a speed camera violation as less likely to do it again. That's number one. And in areas where we have placed them, we have witnessed a decrease in serious physical injuries. So there's a correlation between the speed cameras and the deaths and serious physical injuries. I don't think anything is more horrific than having someone knock on your door and telling you you lost a loved one because someone was speeding to a business appointment, school, or somewhere else. Speeding is a real issue that we are attempting to address. Margaret, you want to add anything on that?

Forgione: The mayor covered it beautifully. We don't want our speed cameras to be ticketing people heavily. Okay. The violation is not expensive. In addition, we're only targeting people when they're going 11 miles or more over the speed limit. So by and large, what we're trying to do is remind people not to speed. As the mayor says, a crash that happens at a higher speed is much more likely to kill the people involved. So that's really what it's about.

Question: Okay. Good evening. In the last few years, the flooding issues and concerns have increased in Queens communities.We want to know what can be done or is being done to mitigate the flooding problems in the homes, transportation, and roadways.

Mayor Adams: Rit, you want to grab that?

Commissioner Aggarwala: Thank you. So first of all, there is no question that unfortunately, as the mayor was citing earlier with last week's smoke issues, climate change is real and the weather patterns are changing. Our sewers, our storm sewers were designed for a maximum level of rain that New York City had actually never experienced until two years ago at Hurricane Ida when literally Hurricane Ida doubled the amount of rain in one hour that our sewers were even designed to handle, right? It set a record, and we've started over the last two years since then to see a number of storms that in very targeted areas for short periods of time, they actually have that same record setting intensity of rain. So the weather is changing in a way that makes our sewer system somewhat obsolete. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to rebuild the urban infrastructure. So we are doing a number of things all at the same time.

The first is my agency, DEP, is working on a comprehensive stormwater resilience strategy that will figure out what are the major investments that we're going to make, what the costs will be. These are real costs. If you worry about your water bill, you will want to worry about whether we do this efficiently or not, but we are working on that comprehensive citywide strategy. That will include a lot of surface treatment because we literally do not have enough space underground to expand the sewers large enough to accommodate an Ida level storm. So a lot of our strategy is going to be around green infrastructure. We are working, for example, on a citywide approach to blue belts using lakes and other things to manage stormwater. That's how nature does it. And oftentimes what we see is the most flood prone parts of the city are places that used to be lakes or swamps or streams.

And they were filled in by developers, but they weren't filled in very well. And as people say, water has memory. So we're thinking about those kinds of green infrastructure strategies. Unfortunately, those also take a long time. And so the other thing that we have done is what I like to think of as band-aids, the things that don't solve the problem, but they give you a little bit of protection. Last year under the mayor's leadership, we started a program called Rainfall Ready, which included both knowledge. We have issued a map that shows where we expect flooding to take place under certain rainfall categories. Fortunately, it has proven to be pretty accurate. We know pretty well when we have an intense rainstorm where we are going to see flooding to those houses that are most prone to flooding, we reached out proactively last year to offer flood barriers, these inflatable kind of large pipes or hoses that you fill up with water and it actually creates kind of a barrier the same way sandbags do, but you can get rid of the water and roll them up and store them.

They really do work. They require some effort. I'm not saying that's the perfect answer, but it is a way to protect property in the near term. And then finally, you mentioned transportation. And we have now at DEP, just beginning last summer, we implemented a new approach to cleaning catch basins. Those are the drains on the side of the road and if those get clogged, that's what leads to roadway flooding or water cascading into the subways. We've actually worked closely with the MTA to identify hotspots where that was taking place, and we now have a data driven approach so that we clean catch basins, we inspect them on a regular cycle based on how much accumulated debris we expect at that location. So it's a data driven way. So we are targeting our inspection and cleaning capacity regularly. We do expect over the next year or so to see some real results from that, but again, I wish I could say we could solve this problem next year.
There is no way we can solve this problem next year. It is about homeowners paying attention to the weather, getting flood barriers. We're going to be doing more events in Queens over this summer where we give these flood barriers away to people who feel that they need them. There's also a need to get flood insurance because that is something that every homeowner really needs to be thinking about, whether they need flood insurance or not. That's how you protect your property and paying attention to the weather and being thoughtful about what's coming on any given night.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you, Rit.

Question: Good evening, Mr. Mayor, for the question table number 12 is for those seniors who are not qualified for Medicaid to enroll in adult daycare centers, what option or programs are available for them?

Mayor Adams: We're going to turn up to DFTA, chief counsel, general counsel, DFTA.

Penney Vachiraprapun, Chief General Counsel, Department for the Aging: Hi, how are you? Thanks so much for your question. My name's Penney Vachiraprapun. I'm general counsel at New York City Aging. So for older adults, there are six older adult centers here in Flushing. So those older adults can go to any of the older adult centers and they can take advantage of any of the services that are available at the older adult centers.

The older adult centers offer meals and services that are available to anyone who is 60 and above. So you can go to any of the older adult centers in Flushing. As long as you are 60 and above, you can go. You don't have to even register if you want to go for meals. If you want to take advantage of any services, you do have to register. But if you just want to take advantage of meals, you can just go in and take advantage of meals. The only eligibility requirement is that you are 60 and above and that you reside in New York City. For social adult daycares, you do have to Medicaid. I do want to say that the New York City Department for the Aging does not regulate social adult daycares. So we don't contract with them. They do have to register in order to operate in New York City, but we don't fund any of the social adult daycares. We only fund nine and those are discretionary funded, so we don't contract with them. We only contract with nine.

Mayor Adams: And the adult daycares are so important. There was a move in Albany at one time to what I thought was a mistake, to take away from those local adult daycare facilities. I believe they're so important because they're culturally sensitive and to allow our older adults to have a place to come and coalesce, I think is crucial. The Surgeon General, I believe just came out to report that loneliness is the equivalent to smoking several packs of cigarettes. Loneliness is a real issue and we need to make sure that we support our social adult daycares and make sure that we continue to do what DFTA is doing, the Department of Aging is doing to make sure that our older adults have a real healthy environment. And so I really thank the commissioner for doing so. We want to continue to lean into that. And all the adults are mean pickleball players. They beat me the other day.

Question: Hi. Good evening, Mr. Mayor. We have another sensitive table here. Didn't want to speak. Our issue is food insecurity and access to healthy food in our community. We have very few large supermarkets in this area. Small business, healthy food is too expensive to acquire. What resources are available to address this concern and demand, like funding for pantries, et cetera.

Mayor Adams: Funding for pantries, food pantries. We have witnessed a real strain on our pantries and the budget director is really trying to find more money so we can put into our pantries. There has been a greater increase. We have been partnering with many of our food pantry providers, but there's been a real challenge. And one of the things we want to do is to ensure that the food that is given out at food pantries, the food is a healthy assortment of food. Because the worst thing could happen when you are in need of food for whatever reason, you are getting unhealthy food. But why don't we turn it over to DSS, the first deputy commissioner. Jill, you want to respond to that? Where's Jill?

First Deputy Commissioner Jill Berry, Department of Social Services: Yeah. Thank you Mr. Mayor. We're really happy with the food... While absolutely the food pantries need more resources, this administration, this mayor's commitment to food is unparalleled and the amount of money and resources that we have put into food pantries under this administration is more than double anything we've ever done in the past. We've also completely revamped the food pantry program. Instead of the city deciding these are the foods that we're going to make available to the pantries, we've contracted with a vendor who makes lots of healthy, culturally appropriate, diverse food choices available to pantries. And each pantry can select the food that is appropriate for their community to stock their pantries. And we're really proud of that program. Absolutely we need more resources for the pantries, but it is an entirely different and better program this year under this mayor than it has ever been in the past.

Question: I thought my voice would carry, but apparently not. Our table has homeowners, health service professionals and other people, and I myself, am a technology attorney and am founder of Wired Broadband, a nonprofit which is focusing on safe technology for the public. We have a general quality of life question, what recreational projects are in the works in the area, including Jamaica, to build pools and gyms for the youth?

Mayor Adams: Well, the first time I heard about the pool part of it, I'm a big believer in Swim Strong. We need to make sure our children getting more swimming instruction and learning how to swim. We need to look at how do we identify those locations. This is the first time anyone ever asked about more pools, so I thank you for that, and we need to put that on our radar. But oftentimes people ask the question about community centers, gyms open for our young people, and I say over and over again, we have community centers, they have gyms there, some have pools, some have classrooms, some have auditoriums. They're called school buildings. The problem is we tell our children at 7 a.m. come in and then at 3, 2 p.m. we say, "Get out and don't come back until tomorrow." We have to change that. I did that as borough president. We did something called Extended Youths where we opened our school buildings so our young people could utilize them and the school buildings should be a focal point for the entire community.

Chancellor Banks is looking to do a similar version to open our schools to allow our children a safe space. We do it now on Saturdays with the Summer Rising program, or is it Summer nights? What is it called? 


Saturday Night Lights, where we allow them to come in and use the gymnasium. But I think our school should be open seven days a week, if we have nonprofits that's willing to do so, and the cost of it should not be on our nonprofit, it should be on the city to pay for it so you don't have to pay for school safety agents, insurance, rent to of the space, cleanup. I think that's our job to do if you are using human capital. And so we're trying to figure out exactly how to do it, but that's our mission, is to open up our school builders and allow our young people to use them, not only during the day to be academically smart, but during the evening to be emotionally intelligent as they cross pollinate with each other.

Question: Good evening, Mr. Mayor, and everyone up there, thank you for taking the time, I appreciate it. My name is Adam and I live in Whitestone. I represent We Love Whitestone. I'd like to take a moment and thankfully thank all the NYPD that are here this evening, I appreciate your time as always.

So we have a shy table, but it made it worse because we're table 15 and we had to go through I don't know how many questions because you all asked them all, thank you. So just to elaborate a little bit more in representation of the educators that I have here at my table, obviously Flushing is growing. Now, I don't know the numbers on how quickly it's growing, but it's growing quickly enough. It's very diverse. So the major issue or our concern is school space, school space, more and more space, like we talked about, a little bit about the school, about the class sizes, things of that nature, are there going to be more life centers for students with children, more gym space and things like that? Obviously I heard that you're opening up the schools on the weekends and things of that nature, that'll definitely help. But just overall, obviously this community is obviously getting bigger, new buildings is what we need. Thank you. Thank you for your time, that's the question.

Mayor Adams: Thank you so much. There's a short term, a midterm and long term. The long term is clearly, that's part of the reform we were pushing through in Albany of getting the faster reform capital process. The capital dollars are the dollars that are being used to allow you to build and it takes too long, and we wanted to put in place a more expeditious capital reform process so we can get this stuff and get a shovel in the ground.

The School Construction Authority has a master plan based on population on where they're going to build and where the new school spaces are going to be. But you're right, we're seeing a growing population. Back when I was a transit cop in District 20, this place was not this crowded. I mean, this place is boom and when you have the growth that you are experiencing out here, you need to have the school space to fit. And I believe one of the speakers earlier, I think it was one of the educators were talking about the class size of... We are going to live up to the class size agreement and some of that is going to call for us to build new spaces.

Question: Just speak? Okay. Hello, Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us tonight and all the panelists who took their time to come to Queens and particularly the beautiful neighborhood and very diverse and broad neighborhood of Flushing. Our table is not bashful. We had a great conversation led primarily by our facilitator and our community affairs officer and we talked a lot about quality of life issues. I am a lifelong resident of Queens. For the last 41 years I've been a homeowner in a beautiful and historic neighborhood called Broadway Flushing. I am here tonight to ask you one specific item.

I am the current chairperson of the LaGuardia Committee of the New York Community Aviation Round Table. For the last 10 years, we have been fighting to restore a bit of our quality of life. And what happened was in 2012, the FAA made certain flight procedure changes to help deconflict the airspace between LaGuardia Airport and JFK. The round table was established by Governor Cuomo to bring all the interested stakeholders together so that we could meet on a regular basis to identify problem spots, talk about solutions, and to work directly with the FAA and the Port Authority. Queens Borough President Donovan, Councilmember Sandra Ung are very familiar with the round table. The round table is made up of elected officials, community boards, other interested airport stakeholders, and I was asked and honored to be asked by Congresswoman Grace Meng to represent her as a volunteer constituent who was directly impacted.

What happened was that although certain flight procedures were put into place that ticked off all the boxes for the FAA, because their mandate is safety and efficiency, what happened was that these flight procedures created what they call noise corridors. And we have become, in Flushing, beginning Downtown Flushing West and heading out points north, Northeast Queens, our residents live under a noise corridor and we have become known as an over flight community. Now, the Airport Roundtable seeks to identify and work out equitable solutions so that we can keep our airports to be the economic engines that they are, to build the airports to allow people to travel. Everyone loves to travel, but we are trying to seek solutions where we are asking the FAA for more dispersed flight procedures so that everyone gets to share in the excessive aircraft noise, which the FAA calls an annoyance, but it's really not, really a national public health problem.

So my question to you tonight is, that, is there someone in your office, specifically, perhaps the Environmental Protection Agency or the Economic Development, who would be more hands-on, who would be willing to participate more actively in the New York Community Aviation Roundtable? Because we really do need the support and advice and suggestions of the Mayor's office. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: No, thank you so much for that. And it was extremely thorough in explaining what the issue is. And it was a wake-up call for me when I was in Rockaway and someone did a presentation on noise pollution and how it's a public health issue. Sometimes we don't realize that we get used to the noise awareness, but it does impact your health.

And so we would love to participate. I don't know, Rit, if someone in your unit is best to do that or if we get someone from Commissioner Kreizman's unit? Let me drill down and find out who is the best person, but we're all in. We would like to participate. We met with the FAA last week on another issue, and so we have established a good communication with them. If you brief us and let us know what are the talking points, if you could give me sort of a one or two-pager to explain this issue to us, I could better tell you who on the team would be the participant. But thank you for that, it was very thorough and I want to make sure that we're on top of it with you.

Commissioner Kreizman: Before you leave, Jessica will give you a card and we'll follow up directly with you. The last question, Andrew, your table.

Kimball:  Good evening, sir. This table spoke a lot about the redevelopment of lands in the surrounding areas. Can you speak about the importance of public lands for public use and how that model is going to be used in the redevelopment of the Willets Point area?

Mayor Adams: I love this guy's voice. He sounds like the smoothest thing, man. We just did an announcement today that I was really proud of, I was with Commissioner Rodriguez talking about Open Streets, that's open throughout the entire five boroughs, not just Manhattan. I'm a five borough mayor and we are open throughout the open street program. We are really pushing the use of public space and everything from pedestrian plazas to how we are going to use this project that's taking place in Willets Point to have real community engagement. I think that's so important to determine how that space is going to be used. Now folks, if you have ideas on where you want plazas, what are your recommendations on how, as we move this project forward, as Andrew stated, we want to hear from the community to make sure we get this project moved forward and other public space in your community, how to better use it.

The more open space we have, the more public space, the more parks, we have an amazing Commissioner of Parks with Sue Donoghue, the more we hear from you in utilizing these spaces, I believe it creates the right environment for our city.

Okay. So we want to... Listen, I see Winnie Greco is in the back. She has been amazing in this community, and I just really want to thank her for what she has done, give it up for Winnie. And the diversity of this room, when you look at Commissioner Kim, the first Korean American to be the commissioner of Small Business Services, Peter Koo, Eva Wong, you see the diversity of this team and really pleased on that. And could all men and women of law enforcement, please stand up. We don't get them enough acknowledgement for the job that they're doing. Really, really, thank you. Really, really thank you.

And as I stated, we did these town halls with young people, and those of us who have attended these town halls with us, not one town hall with young people, we had about three, 400 young people in the room, not one town hall did the conversation, the most important conversation, was we want to build a better relationship with our police department. Our young people love their police, they support their police, and we're going to continue to do all that we can to build that relationship. They had some good ideas. We're going to follow those ideas. In doing so, I got Fred over here giving me all of these darn notes. But no, we are really, really big on building that symbiotic relationship between young people. I think you could have, and we must have, public safety and justice, they go together. We all want it, we want to be safe. That's the prerequisite to our prosperity if we're safe. Thank you all for coming out and I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Commissioner Kreizman: And just we want to really commend the new Chief [inaudible] the new XO for Chief of Patrol Borough... for Patrol Borough of Queens North.

Mayor Adams: Oh, that's right. Congratulations Chief.


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