Adams creates new public realm chief position, taps Ya-Ting Liu to fill the role

side by side mayor and ya ting liu
Ya-Ting Liu (left) and Mayor Eric Adams (right).
(L) Via Twitter/Mayor Eric Adams, (r) Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Eric Adams has tapped Ya-Ting Liu to be the city’s new chief officer of the public realm, as he signed an executive order officially creating the new cabinet position that will oversee the creation of more “extraordinary public spaces” across the five boroughs to “drive” the city’s economic rebound from COVID, according to his office.

Adams first announced he would add the new role to the top ranks of City Hall during his State of the City address late last month, based on a recommendation from the New New York Panel convened last year, which issued a December report mapping out plans for the city to reinvent its economy post-pandemic.

“Our city’s public spaces are too important to fall through the cracks of bureaucracy, and now they won’t,” Adams said, in a statement. “New Yorkers need to know there is one person at City Hall whose number one goal is to improve their quality of life by creating incredible, new public spaces and ensuring the ones we have are clean, equitable, and safe. As someone who knows how to think big and ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers, Ya-Ting Liu is the right person to serve as the city’s first-ever chief public realm officer.”

In her new role, Liu will work to implement the mayor’s $375 million plan to improve and create several public spaces across the city, according to City Hall. Those projects include: the “Broadway Vision Plan” to reimagine Broadway in Manhattan, a “full reconstruction” of Jamaica Avenue in Queens and making certain open streets permanent in the Bronx and Staten Island.

She’ll also oversee the implementation of a permanent outdoor dining program in conjunction with the City Council.

“In New York City, the public realm is everyone’s living room. It’s where we eat, play, and gather. Having beautiful public spaces accessible to all people is one of our greatest assets — it is what makes New York City so special,” Liu said, in a statement.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the first-ever chief public realm officer for the City of New York, and I look forward to working with our businesses, community partners, and city agencies to build vibrant, attractive, and inclusive public spaces in all five boroughs,” she added.

Liu is currently Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi’s chief strategy officer, a role she’ll continue to serve in concurrently with her new charge. Before joining the Adams administration, she was director of government affairs and policy for rideshare company Via, a sustainability program director for the New York League of Conservation Voters and a director of transit advocacy for the group Transportation Alternatives.