New York Mayor Bill de Blasio takes a page from D.C.

The District’s recent building boom has been likened to a Brooklyn-ization or sometimes even a Manhattan-ization of the city, but there may be some Washington-ization of New York on the way as well.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, four months into the job after replacing Michael Bloomberg, has not been shy about pitching economic, education and housing proposals that mirror policies that have been recently implemented or are in the works in nation’s capital.


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks after being sworn in during the public inauguration ceremony at City Hall in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Perhaps because D.C. is so much smaller, and has no state government (though it is lorded over by Congress), the city has become something of a testing ground for new urban policies and ideas during a period when it is adding 1,000 or more people every month. De Blasio, a self-described progressive, appears to have taken notice.

Early in is his tenure, the New York City mayor considered hiring D.C. planning director Harriet Tregoning to oversee New York City planning before Tregoning accepted a job at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (where De Blasio also once worked).

Among other things, Tregoning was central to the creation and expansion of the District’s bikesharing service Capital Bikeshare, the first of its kind nationally. New York has since replicated it with its Citi Bike program, with mixed results.

One of De Blasio’s signature efforts has been his commitment to creating prekindergarten spots for every 4-year-old in the city, arguing that universal preschool cuts into economic inequality and the achievement gap between low-income families and their wealthier counterparts.

De Blasio and his team celebrated after a hard-fought win for $300 million in the state budget for the program, and applications for Pre-K slots are on the rise.

With its pre-K initiative New York is also following in the footsteps of the District, which has 11,855 students already enrolled in preschool or prekindergarten this school year. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has been an avid backer of early childhood education since his days on the D.C. Council.

On Monday De Blasio released his latest set of proposals, all part of a $41 billion plan to improve housing affordability in New York over the next 10 years by building or preserving 200,000 affordable units.

Again there is a proposal here with which D.C. politicos have great familiarity. One of the central policies proposed by De Blasio is inclusionary zoning, a rule that requires real estate developers to build a certain percentage of below market rate units in new projects.

The De Blasio administration expects to have inclusionary zoning in place by mid-2015. Though D.C. leaders didn’t invent inclusionary zoning by any means (and the policy has only produced few hundred units below market rate so far), the District has had its rule in place since 2009.

Perhaps next month De Blasio will unveil a grand streetcar system.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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