One of the biggest threats facing New York City is the unmitigated impact of climate change. Scientists agree that human activities continue to cause climate change, resulting in a warming of our oceans and atmosphere, severe storms, and rising sea levels. Unless significant measures are taken to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on a local, national, and global scale, communities—especially low-income communities and BIPOC communities—will continue to face dangerous living conditions and an uncertain future.
As a member of the New York City Council, Tricia will lead the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, while also preparing District 5 to properly adapt and build resilience in a changing environment. New York City must take immediate steps to reduce our carbon footprint through policies that prioritize clean, renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles and manufacturing. We should be enacting strategic policies that promote energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure, while also making forward-thinking investments in “green jobs” and clean energy. It is up to us to train the next generation of leaders on the real impact of climate change, providing all New York students with information and resources to advocate for change and promote environmental sustainability and resilient practices in their own communities.
In addition, the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and rising sea levels. With significant portions of Council District 5 in or adjacent to AE Flood Zones, families and businesses are at extreme risk when severe weather hits. The Upper East Side has the second largest number of senior citizens compared to all other New York City districts, which makes our community particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and poor air quality. Repairs to the East River Esplanade are not coming fast enough, with new sinkholes emerging along the waterfront, and the City has yet to fully fund infrastructure upgrades needed to keep the entire Esplanade in a state of good repair. The fight for climate justice is also the fight for economic and racial justice—without action, the effects of climate change will continue to disproportionately harm low-income communities and BIPOC communities.
As a member of the New York City Council, Tricia will prioritize the following agenda:
In order to reduce our overall impact on climate change, New York City must address the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions: the built environment. The transition to renewable energy and environmentally sustainable design practices could not be more critical. As our city begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must prioritize new green infrastructure that will:
Invest in sustainable roofing
As a City Council Member, Tricia will work to create legislation that requires all new developments with roof slopes of less than 30 degrees to create green roofs, solar panels, or a combination thereof. Green roofs help retain rainwater, regulate city and building temperatures, and bind and remove particulate matter from the air. They reduce long-term building maintenance expenses by mitigating energy and drainage costs. Similarly, the installation of solar panels on commercial and residential real estate can greatly help reduce our city’s carbon footprint as well as decreasing electricity costs. Green roofs should cover at least 80% of a roof surface area, contain a drainage layer at least 0.5 inches thick, and have a minimal water retention capacity of 45 liters per square meter. Solar panels should also cover at least 80% of roof surface area. New York City Property Tax Abatement must be extended and increased to help subsidize the push for greener New York roofs for existing properties as well as new developments. Moreover, Tricia will push to develop sustainable roofing on city-owned property, including NYCHA and the Department of Education. Green infrastructure is essential to evolve New York City into a more livable, healthy city for all its residents.
Decarbonize residential energy
As City Council Member, Tricia will advocate for a ban on the use of natural gas in new large residential properties. She will also promote providing subsidies to existing properties to transition from natural gas to alternate home heat sources. Approximately 3% of all natural gas is leaked into the atmosphere during the extraction process. Eliminating fossil fuel hook-ups is an essential component of New York City’s goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2035. New York City must immediately and seriously invest in innovative solutions to reducing its carbon footprint, and that begins with divesting from residential natural gas.
Mandate LEED certification for new developments
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is already the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED standards have already been adopted by major cities across the United States, including Phoenix, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. LEED provides a framework for efficient and cost-saving green buildings that benefit residents and building owners in equal measure. By standardizing our green building requirements through LEED for all new developments, New York City will be able to systematically implement a greener, more cost-effective future for all New Yorkers.
Upgrade our sewer system
Every day in New York City, there is nearly a 50% chance that sewage pollution would make it unsafe to touch water somewhere in the city. The NRDC has found that as little as one tenth of an inch of rain can overwhelm our sewers and sewage treatment plants. Heavy amounts of sewage overflow during wet seasons can disturb the wetland carbon sink process, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. During periods of heavy rainfall, the combined sewer system may go to “combined sewer outfall,” which mixes directly into the city’s waterways. Approximately 60% of New York City has a combined sewage system. As City Council Member, Tricia will fight to prevent combined sewer overflows to improve city water quality. She will work to move away from combined sewer systems into separate systems.
Manage Stormwater Runoff
Effective stormwater management is essential for protecting the health and safety of New York residents. Stormwater from rain and melting snow carries with it unhealthy particulate matter, chemicals, oil, and trash that enters our sewer system and fresh water. As a City Council Member, Tricia will lead the city in investing in green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff, including green streets, street trees, rain gardens, and increased community garden space. To grow the city’s green infrastructure, Tricia is committed to running a public education campaign to help private building owners access the Green Infrastructure Grant Program and the Private Property Retrofit Incentive Program. Tricia will work to further develop the Bluebelt program by protecting and expanding urban wetlands beyond the existing Staten Island Bluebelt system. Finally, Tricia will work to streamline existing long term control plans, including reducing combined sewer overflows, to promote better water quality goals across New York City.
Tricia is committed to finding the best long term solutions for her constituents, and this means fully transitioning away from Fossil Fuels. The transition to green renewable energy will not only reduce our carbon output and increase our energy conservation, but it can also generate millions of jobs. Tricia will fight to:
Harness Renewable Hydro and Wind Power
As a City Council Member, Tricia will push for the adoption of municipal renewable energy within and beyond District 5. Within her council district, Tricia will advocate for piloting water turbines in the East River to increase access to renewable energy. Tricia will also support the implementation of the South Fork Wind Farm on the Coast of Long Island to help power over 70,000 homes with renewable energy. The New York League of Conservation Voters has reported that over 20,000 New Yorkers in the clean energy sector lost their jobs in March and April of 2020. The Long Island wind turbine projects are estimated to create over 1,600 jobs and generate $3.2 billion in private investment. Tricia is committed to investing in a clean energy economy that benefits all New Yorkers.
Electrify New York City Transit
In order for New York City to meet its goal of reducing GHG emissions by 80% in the year 2035, city leadership must start pushing bold, progressive transit policy to reduce emissions. Tricia is committed to transitioning city-owned and operated vehicles to electric power. The electrification of transit is a critical means of reducing our city’s air pollution—a Harvard study found that fossil fuel emissions accounted for 18% of worldwide deaths in 2018. In the United States, BIPOC communities are exposed to an average of 25% higher exposure to particulate matter from vehicle emissions. As a Council Member, Tricia will work with the Department of Sanitation to continue testing the efficacy of the Mack Truck’s electric garbage truck. Tricia will also support the electrification of New York City’s school buses, moving away from the current use of diesel school buses that degrade overall air quality. New York City must work closely alongside school bus contractors to encourage the use of electric vehicles and must consider conducting its own pilot program to explore the efficacy of electric alternatives. Finally, Tricia is committed to advocating for the full funding of the 2020-2024 Capital Plan to transition to zero-emissions electric buses. The City must provide the $1.1 billion promised to invest in modifying depots for electric bus operations and to purchase 500 electric buses. New York City must make good on its promise of emissions reductions by investing intentionally in the electrification of city transit.
Tricia supports a Green New Deal for NYCHA that would center combatting the climate crisis in the lived experiences and needs of our NYCHA residents. A Green New Deal for NYCHA would work to reduce our carbon emissions, increase NYCHA residents’ participation in the green workforce, and make long term, sustainable investments in our resiliency and sustainability, all while prioritizing our NYCHA families. This is the intersection of Environmental and Housing Justice, and Tricia is committed to:
Protect and Uplift NYCHA Residents
NYCHA is home to 1 in 15 New Yorkers, many of whom are essential workers, like firefighters, teachers, and nurses. However, New York City has failed to protect NYCHA residents from countless harms, including environmental degradation. In City Council District 5, NYCHA housing is primarily located in or adjacent to Zone AE flood areas that are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. These residents live closest to the FDR, as well as a marine waste transfer station, which also contribute to poor air quality. At least 9,000 NYCHA apartments where young children live have been found to contain lead paint. Fighting for environmental justice also means fighting against environmental racism and classism. New York City has a responsibility to create a safe, healthy, livable environment for all New Yorkers, particularly those in NYCHA residences. Tricia is committed to taking an aggressive approach to combating climate change and making strong investments in the East River Esplanade to protect vulnerable, low-income New Yorkers. She will continue to partner with NYCHA activists to combat development projects that will expose residents to hazardous waste, poor air quality, and other pollutant materials. Tricia is committed to fighting for increased funding and accountability for remediation projects and technical assistance for NYCHA residents to ensure they have the fiscal and regulatory resources they deserve. Finally, as New York City grows its green infrastructure and clean energy economy, Tricia will fight to ensure that those new jobs and benefits are directed towards NYCHA residents who have been disproportionately affected by environmental injustice. Only by directly investing in the health and wellness of NYCHA residents can New York City begin to build a green future that truly uplifts all New Yorkers.
Tricia’s running for office to put District 5 first and prioritize the most local issues that impact our community. Putting the families, seniors, small businesses, and residents first also means adopting an environmental policy plan that prioritizes our parks, streets, and waterfront, including:
Fighting for Parks and Open Space in District 5
The Upper East Side has some of the least amount of open space per resident population in the entire City of New York. Our parks and open spaces are vital resources to our community, and we need to preserve the open spaces we have while also identifying new types of open space to turn over to the public. This is not just a question of park space - it's a question of sustainability and resiliency. Our parklands are some of our first lines of defense against heavy storm waters and heat waves, which most severely impact our children and seniors. Tricia will work to create a dedicated association to raise funds for Ruppert Park and will advocate for funding to redesign both Ruppert Park and John Jay Park to fully utilize and enjoy these great spaces. Tricia will also continue to fight for year round public use of the Queensboro Oval. Tricia will also fight for increased funding for designated dog parks and wildlife education in schools.
Increasing and reforming privately owned public space (POPS)
New York City currently has 592 POPS provided at 389 buildings. However, in 2017, the Comptroller’s office found that over 300 buildings with POPS lacked required amenities or failed to comply with legal hours-of-operation. Moreover, with over one million buildings in New York City, 592 POPS is an incredibly small fraction of what New York City is capable of building. We must hold existing developments accountable to provide consistent access to members of the public and advocate for the creation of more POPS in new developments. Not all developments will have sufficient space to provide a POPS. In these cases, retail and commercial developers must be required to fiscally contribute in perpetuity to the preservation and improvement of existing public open spaces, including our parks and waterfronts.
Building Local Food Resilience
Far too many families and individuals in New York City regularly experience food insecurity, an experience only worsened by this pandemic. Approximately 1.4 million New York City residents are dependent on emergency food programs, including 339,000 children and 204,000 seniors. As a weekly volunteer at our Roosevelt Island Food Pantry, Tricia has seen the increased need for emergency food programs firsthand. At the same time, food waste significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. New York City needs long-term, innovative solutions to fight food injustice and diversity our food sources, and that begins with local food resilience. As a City Council Member, Tricia will fight to expand our City’s composting program, with a goal of having a compost bin in every residential building in District 5. She will work to increase access to food pantries and will fight to establish a mobile pantry that can help directly deliver food to constituents across the district. She will also work to support our Community Supported Agricultural programs, encouraging the direct connection between consumers and our local farmers. Tricia will pioneer subsidies for urban farming using vertical hydroponic farming systems, which can greatly reduce usage of water, pesticides, and space and increase local food access. Finally, Tricia will fight to increase funding for city-based food security assistance programs through direct relief as well by strengthening partnerships with food assistance organizations.
Promoting Environmental Justice in our Schools
As a mom and former school social worker, Tricia understands the importance of uplifting the voices of young people in the fight for climate justice. Tricia is committed to integrating environmental justice and sustainability curriculum into all New York City schools to ensure that future generations can promote environmental stewardship. Curriculum must include both greater ecological system changes and how to combat them as well as what students and their communities can do to promote sustainability in their own backyards. Tricia will advocate for sustainable meals at school lunch programs, focusing on nutritious, locally-sourced foods, as well as recycling and composting programs to reduce the carbon footprint of New York schools. Finally, Tricia will work to form partnerships with higher education institutions to create an online database for climate-focused education and workshops, bringing together multiple stakeholders and organizations to drive environmental stewardship and advocacy.
Fighting for Our East River Esplanade
Tricia has dedicated nearly a decade to fighting on behalf of the East River Esplanade. As a member and representative to the East River Esplanade Task Force, Co-Chair of Community Board 8’s Parks and Waterfront Committee, and Former Board Member to Friends of the East River Esplanade, Tricia has spent her career working to take care of our waterfront.
The East River Esplanade is one of the most important open spaces in the community and provides critical protection to our FDR, hospitals, schools and residents against rising stormwaters. Unfortunately, the esplanade is in desperate need of infrastructure repairs and has suffered from a slow trickle of funding that comes in too little and too late, and work that should take months - not years - to complete. Tricia will advocate for a new study of the structural integrity of the waterfront and will fight for additional esplanade funding to fill the sinkholes and expand access to potable water. She will work to secure funding for topside enhancements including a map system, educational programming, and strategic plantings to make our waterfront more flood-resilient against future storms. She will fight for accountability of funds and will work everyday to ensure our esplanade is the waterfront our children need and deserve.