CARLOS MENCHACA RESPONSES
1) What are your top environmental and climate-related priorities?
As mayor, my top environmental and climate-related priority would be to commit to a municipal Green New Deal. Central to this plan would be capital investments in green technologies that would stimulate our economy, create new jobs, and bring New York City into the 21st century. As part of a municipal Green New Deal, we must support our community partners in the work they do to strengthen city services. Secondly, my administration would focus on revamping our transportation infrastructure to ensure all New Yorkers have access to more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, such as cycling and mass transit.
2) How would you prioritize the creation of climate jobs in New York City and investment in communities of color, if at all?
We will need to gain the support of trade unions and use project labor agreements to ensure quality wages/protections while bringing local not-for-profit infrastructure to connect us to BIPOC New Yorkers. As the Immigration Committee Chair and Co-Chair of the CENSUS Taskforce, I learned we have a robust network of messengers in our communities of color. We must bring them back and fund them to integrate the same New Yorkers who learned to trust the Census into our new effort in an NYC Green New Deal. Project Labor Agreements can be structured to focus on BIPOC communities. We need to ramp up the Adult Literacy Programs in this current budget to ensure New Yorkers are ready to jump into training programs; we also should have multilingual training programs to remove not knowing English as a barrier.
3) How would you advance the City’s goal of implementing 100% clean, affordable energy and maximizing greenhouse gas and co-pollutant reductions, if at all?
As a city councilman, I was a proud supporter of the Climate Mobilization Act. I believe that its successful implementation will play a crucial part in advancing the City’s goal of achieving 100% clean, affordable energy and maximizing greenhouse gas and co-pollutant reductions. To cut carbon emissions, I will follow the comprehensive framework laid by Local Law 97. The team assembled to review its execution has already come up with practical recommendations for the affected buildings to ease their transition to abiding with the law. For implementing 100% clean and affordable energy, Local Laws 92, 94, and 96 are critical first steps, and I will carry out their stipulations. Beyond the Climate Mobilization Act, I am always open to engaging in collaborative learning with cities worldwide and using innovations in our fight against climate change.
4) How would you support the affordable and low-income housing sector in improving energy efficiency, enhancing residents’ comfort and living conditions, and meeting the City’s emissions reductions goals, if at all?
As part of NYC’s Green New Deal, I will use an infusion of City Capital dollars to support the affordable and low-income housing sector in their quest to improve energy efficiency, enhance residents’ comfort and living conditions, and meet the City’s emissions reduction goals.
5) How would you support the expansion of clean public transportation in the City, if at all?
I am an avid cyclist; the danger and lack of access for bikers is something I experience first hand every day. Making our city more bike-friendly is imperative in our fight to tackle the climate crisis as biking is an efficient and clean form of transportation. I want to triple the current amount of bike lanes and give them protected status. It is not sufficient for us to paint our bike lines green when cars, trucks, and construction—not to mention trash—can obstruct and create dangerous conditions for cyclists.
To encourage New Yorkers to use more public transit (which is proven to be more environmentally-friendly than using private vehicles), I would invest in expanding the number of exclusive bus lanes in the city. I would also want to reconfigure the outdated bus service map, which fails to serve the communities with limited mass transit options, such as disabled and older people. I will work with communities to reimagine their neighborhood transportation options in the best way possible. Micro-buses are one example of how communities with restricted streets and access to transit options can benefit from our public transportation infrastructure.
6) How would you upgrade local industrial port infrastructure in a way that is both sustainable and equitable, if at all?
I am in support of electrifying our industrial ports. I will also continue the city’s investment in offshore wind development.
7A) How would you develop climate resiliency infrastructure on public lands to protect New York City’s most vulnerable communities, if at all?
This is a space I know well as I represent frontline communities like Red Hook and Sunset Park. Hundreds of good ideas can address resiliency. Still, the most important thing I have learned is that we must start with the city’s vulnerable communities first and build on the plans they have already begun to develop. We must bring city planners and experts to support the ideas of our communities. Many excellent strategies often find immense opposition, and the city ends up spending so much time and effort opposing local communities' wishes. We can save time and build trust as we make big decisions to change the landscape with infrastructure. The last 20+ years have eroded community confidence in a participatory democracy that I know our city can achieve. We must start with community and build from there.
7B) How would you support the Renewable Rikers proposal, if at all?
As mayor, I will support the Renewable Rikers proposal; however, we must immediately reinvent the current administration’s decarceration plan and create a strategy that builds and strengthens communities instead of constructing new jails. I will work in tandem with criminal justice advocates and directly impacted individuals to implement such a plan. Once that is accomplished, we can begin developing and constructing renewable infrastructure for the island, which I envision as a participatory process that prioritizes the voices of the communities most negatively impacted by Rikers’ correctional facilities.
8A) How would you support the City in meeting its target of becoming zero waste by 2030, if at all?
For one, I would reinvest in the city’s organic waste recycling program. Its pilot was successful and had good community engagement. I believe that the program will continue to grow and produce positive results as long as we ensure its accessibility for all New Yorkers. I will also continue forward with the City’s plan to implement Commercial Waste Zones and enforce the requirement that contracted carters develop an efficient zero waste plan.
8B) Commercial Waste Zones and Local Law 199 is an example of the sort of comprehensive and transformative climate justice policy that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission while also raising labor standards, and its implementation will likely happen under the next mayoral administration. How will you ensure that the ambitious goals of the policy are prioritized and accomplished in its implementation?
To prioritize and accomplish the objectives of Local Law 199, I will have a Commercial Waste Zones task force designated within the Department of Sanitation.
9A) How would you invest in the New York City workforce for a future of climate jobs, if at all?
Committing to a municipal Green New Deal—one that would focus on making capital investments in green technologies to stimulate our economy, create new jobs, and bring New York City into the 21st century—is the primary way my administration would invest in a future of climate jobs for the New York City workforce.
9B) How would you implement measures to ensure the creation of high road jobs, if at all?
I will work with trade unions to ensure quality wages and protections for workers. Additionally, my administration will enforce and look to expand the parameters of the city’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act and the state’s Paid Family Leave.
10) Is there an innovative idea, policy or otherwise, that you believe would allow NYC to be a leader in our quest for Climate Justice?
I believe that New York City cannot become a leader in the climate justice movement unless we work in direct collaboration with New Yorkers, specifically the communities most impacted by the climate crisis. Policies that ignore the people's voices only stand to benefit those in power and inevitably fail to make significant progress.