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De Blasio offers goals for environmental and economic makeover of NYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at Baruch College on Feb. 3, 2015 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to transform New York City environmentally and economically, with goals to lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near-poverty within 10 years and eliminate all landfill waste in 15 years.

But he offered limited details on how he'll accomplish some of the formidable goals and no overall price tag, saying some answers would come in his budget plan next month. He ducked comment on a renewed proposal to impose tolls on East River bridges to reduce congestion and generate transit dollars, saying he still hasn't read the report issued in latest form in February.

"This is going to be a game-changer in this city," de Blasio said in releasing his 332-page blueprint, "One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City," to coincide with Earth Day.

It's a rebranding of PlaNYC, a nine-year-old environmental sustainability plan by his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, and a widening of its scope to set economic goals. De Blasio called his plan "the antidote to the tale of two cities," the slogan of his 2013 run for mayor that focused on the gap between rich and poor.

As part of the latest plan, de Blasio said he wants to reduce most New Yorkers' commutes to work to 45 minutes, improve transportation in underserved part of the city, and give residents all the medical care "they need."

He declined to take a position on a plan to impose congestion pricing in Manhattan and revamp tolling on the city's bridges. Asked about the congestion pricing component -- which died when Bloomberg tried to get Albany to approve it -- he said it is "one of the ideas on the table."

De Blasio said that essential to his anti-poverty goal is the state's agreeing to hike the minimum wage past $8.75, as the administration has so far unsuccessfully lobbied.

"Even though I don't control it, if people say, hey, you all fought like hell and other people in Albany didn't get it, that's one thing. But we're going to fight like hell," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said he wants to offer the city's organics recycling program, under which food scraps and yard waste are composted, to the entire city by 2018; currently the Sanitation Department is running a pilot program only in certain neighborhoods.

"I think a lot of people, as they experience it, find it is a great thing. But we're going to figure out, if we're not getting where we need to go, what kind of other tools we need," de Blasio said.

He did not rule out compulsory composting if enough New Yorkers don't decide to compost on their own.

Maria Doulas, director of city studies at the business-backed Citizens Budget Commission, said the plan was a departure from the Bloomberg plan, which focused mainly on environmental sustainability.

"They (Bloomberg officials) were pretty specific in identifying where the funding would come from and what the agencies were that would be responsible," she said. "They included benchmarks and milestones that said, OK this is our long-term goal, to accomplish X, and here are the benchmarks are milestones."

She added: "This seems to be broader without the meat on the bones."


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