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.
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.
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