An Introduction to Obama’s Urban Czar

Adolfo Carrion, the Bronx borough president and former Hillary Clinton supporter, is rumored to be Obama's pick as director of the White House Office of Urban Policy. Carrion was one of Mayor Bloomberg's foremost outer-borough partners in the failed fight for congestion pricing in New York City. A former city council member rumored to have mayoral ambitions, Carrion has brought environmentally sustainable affordable housing to his borough. But his highest-profile role was as a leader of the successful effort to build a new, commuter rail-accessible stadium for the Yankees. The new stadium, built essentially "across the street" from the old one (the street is a major highway), is seen in some camps as a boondoggle. But environmentalists and streets reformers hoped the transformation of Yankee stadium into a transit hub would mean that suburban fans would leave their cars at local train stations on their way to the game, improving quality of life in the Bronx and promoting the MTA in the larger region.

Those hopes were dashed last year, when the New York State Assembly subsidized, to the tune of $70 million, the construction of three new parking garages for the stadium, bringing thousands of additional spaces to a neighborhood already blighted by bumper-to-bumper traffic. That means although the new stadium is smaller than the old one, it will be serviced by all the old stadium's parking garages, plus three new ones. A parking bonanza. For more on the controversy, check out the reporting at Streetsblog.

To his credit, Carrion dissented, claiming that local authorities weren't consulted in the process of approving the parking plans. Nevertheless, the kind of big-box developments Carrion has championed are ripe pickings for urban powers-that-be, chief among them the parking and corporate real estate industries. So I'd say Carrion's record is mixed; he's done a good job spurring construction in a borough stereotyped as broken-down and poverty-stricken, yet he hasn't completely earned the trust of local merchants and residents concerned that the redevelopment of the Bronx is benefiting Manhattan business interests more than the old neighborhoods.

cross-posted at TAPPED

2 thoughts on “An Introduction to Obama’s Urban Czar

  1. southpaw

    Carrion had nothing whatsoever to do with the metro north station. it was not even a consideration as he tirelessly flacked for the Yankees. the station was Serrano’s project and he put the first money in, which the city and state later matched and then some. this is a huge error in judgement for the transition.


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