The release of the Mayor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 has initiated the next phase of discussions between the Mayoral Administration and City Council toward finalizing the budget. As New York City faces many environmental and climate challenges, it is imperative that the City’s final FY24 budget prioritizes efforts to move us towards park equity, zero waste, reliable and affordable clean transportation, and more. Allocating sufficient funds towards these initiatives can help create a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future for the City and its residents.
Throughout this budget process, the New York League of Conservation Voters has advocated for funding in several key areas of sanitation and waste, parks and open spaces, housing and buildings, transportation, environmental protection, and NYCHA. In recent months, we have also testified in support of these priorities at various City Council preliminary budget hearings. Now, following the release of Mayor Adams’ Executive Budget for FY 2024, which amounts to $106.7 billion, we suggest the following.
Sanitation and Waste
The City has been behind schedule on meeting our zero waste goal of reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills 90% by 2030, so it is imperative that the City take bold action to drastically reduce waste over the next 7 years. Achieving zero waste will improve New York City’s sustainability, equity, and quality of life, and it will reduce garbage collection costs, increase street hygiene and attractiveness, and benefit the health of our planet and community. NYLCV underscores the importance of allocating robust funding and staffing for programs such as the citywide curbside organics program, Commercial Waste Zone law implementation, and citywide waste containerization. As it is most often low-income communities and communities of color near polluting facilities like waste transfer stations and incinerators, these programs would benefit these same neighborhoods.
Parks and Open Space
As co-founders of the Play Fair for Parks Coalition, we stand with New Yorkers for Parks, DC37, and the rest of the Coalition to demand a City budget that gives parks the fair funding they deserve. New York City’s parks and green spaces help to mitigate climate change, fight extreme urban heat, absorb stormwater, provide clean air and habitats for native wildlife, and improve the physical and mental health of our communities. While parks and green spaces make up 14% of the City’s land, they continue to receive less than 1% of the City’s budget. We need the City to allocate at least 1% of the budget to parks for the protection, maintenance, expansion, and promotion of the City’s urban forest to benefit all New Yorkers in a way that is just and equitable. This includes the restoration of hundreds of DPR staff positions and improvement of the efficiency of the DPR’s capital process. Additionally, increased investment is needed in natural and nature-based solutions that protect residents from coastal and inland flooding.
Housing & Buildings
In order for the City to adequately address existing public health inequities and future climate threats, Local Law 97 implementation and efforts to end lead poisoning need to be funded. In New York City, buildings account for over 70% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Local Law 97 is a critical step towards addressing this by reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change, and we cannot afford any missteps or delays. There needs to be more adequate funding for DOB hiring and staffing, increased funding to support the outreach and education needed for this transition, and increased funding for an equitable, green workforce training and development program–with more investment in frontline communities. As a member of the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP), NYLCV also stands with advocates calling for the elimination of lead poisoning in NYC through investing in programs and interventions that will especially protect children from lead poisoning. This includes fully funding agencies so they can conduct inspections, test dust and paint for lead, remove lead service lines that deliver water, and other necessary functions that address lead concerns of New York City’s families.
Everyone should have access to reliable, affordable, and clean transportation in addition to safe streets and open spaces. In New York City we need to decrease the amount of private vehicles on our streets since they contribute to a significant percentage of our carbon emissions and result in public health issues such as air pollution and asthma, vehicle crashes, congestion, and noise pollution, which are all more prevalent in low-income communities and communities of color. This is why NYLCV believes it is imperative to fund the NYC Streets Plan, 25×25, Vision Zero, and Fair Fares. These plans will help to improve existing infrastructure for transit, cycling, and pedestrians, as well as solve bottlenecks and congestion. They will also reinforce the use of public transportation and micro-mobility options, which will make New York City safer, cleaner, and more accessible.
NYLCV stresses the importance of providing sufficient funding for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) programs and staffing. This includes robust funding for DEP’s Green Infrastructure and Bluebelt Programs, which is critical to the City’s efforts to manage stormwater runoff and reduce the risk of flooding. We also request that the City fully fund, prioritize, and implement Local Law 122 of 2021, which requires the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice to develop a citywide climate adaptation plan. We support DEP’s prioritization of areas that have been historically overburdened and underinvested in and urge the City to provide increased funding for DEP’s mitigation efforts to combat problems from treatment plants located in environmental justice areas.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been long-neglected due to significant underinvestment and mismanagement. Chronic issues such as lack of heating and hot water, mold, lead paint, rats and other pests, and little to no recycling access have plagued NYCHA residents for years. Compounding this, many campuses are located in flood zones, exposing residents to sea level rise, coastal storm surge, and inland flooding. Many NYCHA campuses also lack access to air conditioning, leaving residents, especially seniors, more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and death. NYLCV stands with advocates calling for increased funding for long-needed building upgrades and public health improvements, as well as significant funding to address the impacts of climate change. This includes providing more funding for capital repairs, including heating and cooling systems, storm water management and green infrastructure projects, and lead, mold, and pest removal from NYCHA residences. Lastly, as with other City agencies, NYLCV calls on the City to prioritize hiring and staffing at NYCHA.
By allocating appropriate funds to these areas—sanitation and waste, parks and open spaces, housing and buildings, transportation, environmental protection, and NYCHA—the City can make significant progress towards a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future. It is essential for New York City to invest in these initiatives to protect the well-being of its residents and stem the tide of climate change.