The Candidates 2021: Tiffany Winbush for CD1

This is the third in a series of short interviews with candidates along with their responses to a very long questionnaire based on reader questions. As these roll out, I will link to the posts on other candidates at the bottom.

Tiffany Winbush joined Community Board 1 not long after she landed in the Financial District, a transplant from Shreveport, Louisiana. It was a way, she said, to do what she had learned growing up in a “family of helpers.”

“Everyone was stretched really thin but still helped everyone who needed it,” she said of her childhood in a single-parent household of five where her mother often worked three jobs. “She was always short on time, but if someone needed a ride to the market, she would make time. She would give her last.”

When she moved here she knew all of two people, but was able to land a communications gig with HeartShare, a non-profit in Brooklyn that works children and adults with developmental disabilities. That allowed her to find a family of sorts, folks who would answer her questions, show her around, help her get her feet wet. She went on to get her master’s at NYU and now works in marketing in the health care space; she will take a sabbatical for the last months of the campaign.

She and her husband live on Cliff Street; they have an 8-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, both at Peck Slip.

Winbush served on CB1 from 2008 to 2017, working largely on the affordable housing sub-committee, where, among other things, they made a list of buildings that received 421a tax abatement, making sure tenants knew and got the rent controls associated with that deal. That’s the kind of constituent work she plans to do as a council member. “I was really proud to be a part of that team. I got to know people who had lived here for 40-plus years, and I wanted to represent them when it mattered.”


1. Do you have any solutions for protecting small business from the pressures of rising real estate costs? (tax abatements for landlords who keep mom-and-pop stores?)
To support small businesses, I would immediately call for a vote on SBJSA. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act has been introduced to the City Council, but has not been put up for a vote. I would work to ensure that my peers on the City Council are aware of the importance of this bill that would give commercial tenants the right of: A 10-year lease with a renewal option. This will allow business owners to plan for their long-term success. SBJSA also ensures equal negotiation terms once a small businesses lease is up for renewal. And finally, it would make sure that landlords don’t pass along any property tax in-creases to tenants, which would hinder many businesses from making business profits.

2. What is your proposal or attitude towards the future of Open Restaurants post-pandemic?
Open Restaurants has allowed for small businesses to recoup some of their profits due to the historic closing of restaurants because of COVID-19. I fully support extending Open Restaurants moving forward. But there has to be a process to ensure that both restaurateurs and the foot traffic that occurs on our sidewalks do not conflict. Due to the need to begin outdoor operations as soon as possible, many of the structures were put together quickly, oftentimes not taking into consideration of how these structures might impact the community. I’m in support of outlining a minimum of three options that restaurant owners can choose from that can help ensure structures are streamlined and blend in well with the surrounding community. Additionally, I recommend that each business grow through the Sidewalk Cafe License process, so that records can be kept as to what restaurants are participating in the Open Restaurants program.

3. Do you have any ideas for addressing retail vacancies? (vacancy tax? Incentives?)
Far too often, we’ve seen landlords keep their properties vacant as they wait for a tenant who’ll agree to pay the highest rates. This is disheartening and does not encourage entrepreneurship. The city can use the approach of both implementing a vacancy tax for landlords who refuse to rent to tenants, but we can also incorporate incentives. Not every landlord is wealthy. We have a host of small property owners who may be in limbo finding tenants. The city can offer them access to financial incentives, mentoring resources and marketing services if they agree to the use of their space for short-term pop-ups for entrepreneurs.

1. Do you have any solutions to the helicopter traffic that often plagues the neighborhood and others?
As a mom of two, I frequent local parks throughout the district. These outings are often plagued by noise from helicopters. Noise is expected in a city such as New York, but the added noise of commercial helicopters adds an additional, unnecessary layer of noise. When I’m elected to City Council, I’m committed to calling for the ban of all non-essential helicopter traffic across Lower Manhattan. The frequent helicopter traffic and noise pollution are harmful to our district. We also can’t overlook the deaths that have occurred due to fatal helicopter crashes. We have to consider the community’s health as it relates to noise pollution and fatalities that could potentially occur due to an uptick in helicopter traffic. We must ban all non-essential helicopter traffic.

2. There is hardly a block in this neighborhood that does not have a sidewalk shed, some of which have been up for more than a decade. Do you have any solutions for requiring landlords to finish projects within a certain time frame so that they can be removed?
Sidewalk sheds are necessary to keep residents safe from building construction and repairs, but long-term sheds contribute to the decline of the quality of life. I do support implementing a requirement for landlords to complete projects within a certain timeframe. Not adhering to this requirement will result in fines that will continue to accumulate until the shed is dismantled. Laying out a de-tailed requirement on how long sidewalk sheds can remain in a com-munity will help ensure projects stay on time and not decrease the quality of life for residents. Additionally, we now have multiple types of sidewalk sheds that help with the aesthetics. Encouraging the use of these vs. traditional sheds, should result in incentives for landlords.

3. The NYPD has consistently used its power to close public spaces and amenities, especially during the pandemic. Do you have a proposal for this issue?
COVID-19 has reconfirmed the importance of outdoor space for so many New Yorkers who don’t have access to personal outdoor space. Many New Yorkers are housed in apartments that provide nothing more than intimate living conditions. Access to outdoor, public spaces are vital for the well-being and mental health of New Yorkers. The final decision to close public spaces should not lie with the NYPD. Instead, I would propose that the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation review and approve all request prior to any public space being closed. The NYPD would need to show cause as to why that space needs closing. Additionally, if the public space is an operated through a public-private partnership, the private organization should also play a role, along with the City Council committee, in determining if a space will be closed. As a practice, the city should strive to make available as much outdoor space as possible to residents. Restricting NYC residents from access to outdoor space is detrimental to our well-being and mental health.

We have the great advantage and privilege of being a walking community and therefore are often looking for ways to increase pedestrian safety. What are your thoughts on expanding pedestrian-only streets? Do you have other proposals that would address pedestrian safety?
One of the joys of living in New York City is its walkability and the option to not have to own a car. With more pedestrians than vehicles, we should make it a priority to ensure that District 1 is a district of walking communities. I support the plan developed in 2019 by the Financial District Neighborhood Association that calls for eliminating vehicle traffic in order to convert them into pedestrian walkways. While this plan was specifically developed with the Financial District community in mind, it could translate to other communities throughout the district such as TriBeCa. We know that the major street thoroughfares are vital and still needed, but we have an opportunity to close narrow, small streets that are so prevalent in our communities, and designate them for pedestrian and recreational use. I’m a mother of two and I’m always looking for more outdoor space to enjoy. Closing narrow streets, with a focus on making pedestrian walkability a prior, could be a boom for our district. We also don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but instead can repurpose the blueprint developed for Open Restaurants.

As you know, the city’s homeless population has increased in the past year, and this neighborhood has, along with many others, seen an increase in people living on the streets. The Financial District is also being asked to take on several new homeless shelters. What are your thoughts on residents’ opposition to this and their concerns?
I’ll begin by confirming that each resident’s feelings are valid as it relates to the increase of those who are unhoused throughout our community and their concern about the planned homeless shelters. When people decided to make their home downtown, there was a certain expectation about the quality of life they’d receive. To have that expectation upended, surely leads to discomfort of the unknown. I, like many of my fellow residents, was in disbelief when the Mayor announced the relocation of shelter residents to the Financial District. The news came out late on a Friday evening, headed into a holiday week-end, which is of no surprise. This was unacceptable and the city and Department of Homeless Services should always keep an open line of communication to inform of us major changes that will occur in our communities. The concerns of all residents have to be taken into consideration. We must also remember that NYC’s unhoused population will continue to grow. It was on the rise pre-COVID and the lost of in-come for so many means that there will be more unhoused people in need of shelter. As a community, we have to show grace and empathy for those who may be in need of a home. And that might look like un-housed people living in vacant hotels throughout the Financial District for a while longer. But we must also demand that the city and the Department of Homeless Services ensure that the community has a voice in any major changes that might occur throughout our communities.

Many readers feel there has been a rise in crime since the pandemic (and statistics support that) and not much has been done about it. What is your approach to community policing? This could include policies to address violent crime, muggings and burglary, as well as “minor” issues like graffiti and other vandalism, public urination, counterfeit sellers who take over areas of Canal Street.
An uptick in crime since the pandemic showcases how COVID-19 has had a major impact on our community and the NYC as a whole. Violent crimes that put the lives of residents in danger have to be addressed immediately and swiftly. A form of community policing, directing officers to walk the beat to learn about the community and its residents, will help officers identify patterns and people within the community. This is a great way to form bonds between Precinct 1 officers and residents. Regarding the “minor” issues, these often result in quality of life issues for residents and must also be addressed, but we have to consider how we address them. Probably one of the major “minor” concerns is public urination. I call on the city to immediately open up public restrooms in our community, as well as all over the city. Prior to COVID-19 small businesses were the de facto option for public restroom. We can not expect our small businesses to burden this need. The city must create access to more public restrooms now. Other minor issued can be addressed by developing a more visible community policing presence. There’s no need to increase the amount of law enforcement officials, instead the ones already assigned to our community should have a more visible presence in order to defer these “mi-nor” quality of life issues.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the status of affordable housing downtown and in our zip codes. What can be done to preserve it? What can you propose to create more below market housing?
It’s no secret that downtown has become more unaffordable year-over-year. As a renter, I know first-hand how in-creases in rent prices can add an extra layer of stress onto families that is un-necessary. In order to create more below market housing, I propose that the city purchase vacant hotels and renovate and convert them into housing. These structures are already built, therefore there’s no long wait-time, such as the time spent building a structure, and the city can more quickly convert the buildings to below market housing. Low market housing would also in-crease the diversity of our neighborhoods, allowing for people of all back-grounds to live alongside one another. To preserve affordable housing, I would increase our focus on New York City’s Mitchell-Lama Affordable Housing program. For years, the Mitchell-Lama program has allowed for middle class families to put a stake into NYC and continue to call it home as other housing options around them increased. I want to keep more middle income families and adults in NYC. The only way we’ll do that is if we don’t squeeze them out with unaffordable housing options.

As councilmember will you urge the MTA and the governor to put it in place? Would you include carve-outs for downtown residents or other groups?
While it will take some getting used to, congestion pricing is needed to help decrease the number of vehicles that come in and our our district. Once could argue that with the pandemic, traffic is already down and congestion pricing is no longer needed. But that won’t last always. We need to pre-pare now, when traffic is lighter. I’d urge the MTA and the governor to implement congestion pricing now.

What proposals do you have (or are you against) for increasing bike lanes?
Like many people, I took up biking during the pandemic. There was less traffic on the road and I felt as though I wouldn’t have to con-tend with drivers. I’ve continued biking, but I know not many people feel comfortable during the same since vehicle traffic has once again picked up. We can all agree that the increasing of bike lanes is necessary to protect more riders. Those bike lanes need to be extended as far south and north as possible, as well as east to west. The more options to provide to get to our community, means that we’ll increase visitors, ultimately helping small business owners. As I shared earlier in this questionnaire, I support closing more streets to vehicles and instead giving pedestrians more access to walkable, biking space.

What is your stance on the borough-based jail plan for White Street? If you are against it, what do you suggest instead, in order to accommodate the loss of Rikers?
Those who are detained at Rikers Island are oftentimes subjected to horrific conditions and they must be addressed to ensure the safety of those detained and the staff within the facility. But I do not support the borough based jails because they impede on the quality of residents. Building massive towers, that aren’t used to house NYC residents experiencing the affects of affordable housing, but instead using them to house those who are part of the criminal justice system, does nothing to address the major issues that communities are experiencing. Much of what occurs in Rikers is institutional and won’t be changed simply by moving people from place to another. While we know Rikers should be closed, we need a 360 review of how New York jails its residents. Full-stop, jails should be used to hold those who are accused of violet crimes that could potentially put more people in danger. Additionally, we should work on the decriminalization of low-level crimes and instead issue fines and summonses. We then have to direct these accused of low-level crimes to social services to ensure they are not repent offenders. Once NYC fully commits to using its criminal justice re-sources to combat violent crimes and not at low-level offenses, we should then be able to use our current facilities vs. building new jails. Additionally, the borough based jails come with a hefty price tag. I’d much rather that money is used to build affordable housing and providing access to needed services such as mental health help, job training and placement, and access to extra circular activities.

What is your opinion on school choice? What proposals do you have to address inequities? Or not?
We will not address the inequities in New York City’s educational system until all children have access to high-quality education. Limiting schools to those within the district, in particular at the middle and high school levels continues inequity and segregation. It’s beneficial for younger, elementary school students to attend school closer to their home, but we should make it a top priority to ensure middle and high schools within District 2 are accessible to those who apply, even if they live outside of the district. To increase equity and diversity on the elementary school level, offering more market rate/affordable housing will ultimately bring people of all backgrounds into our community, thus increasing diversity within the ranks of our schools.

What is your opinion on preserving historic districts?
The need for affordable housing is prevalent across New York City and District 1 is no exception. I absolutely support affordable and embrace whenever we can secure more for our community. But agreeing to massive towers within historic communities in exchange for a minor number of affordable apartments is not a reasonable trade-off. Our historic districts are just that, historic. We should use all of our power to maintain the historic nature of them. While I am not anti-development, height limits in historic districts are in place for a reason. Developers should have to follow those rules and regulations.


Denny Salas
Maud Maron
Christopher Marte



  1. I agree on community policing and Officers must be policing and Walking the beat. We need to get rid of bail reform. The reason we have such an uptake in crime is Homeless in downtown hotels with mental illness and sex offenders. No, we don’t need to accept this in our communities. We do not need toilets on the streets this will make a huge problem.

  2. I really appreciate Tiffany Winbush’s forthright, non-hedged viewpoints on pedestrian safety, walkability, bicycling and congestion pricing. It’s more than that her positions align with mine, I like how she expressed herself. Thoughtful and impressive.

  3. Great about congestion pricing.
    Although I think the time is now. Isn’t traffic already at pre-pandemic levels in NYC? I believe NYC is now most-congested city in the USA, and among the top (I mean “worst”) in the world. It’s only going to get much worse as the re-opening progresses, especially if people are avoiding public transit.

  4. Yes on all counts. But MTA still has to specify toll rates, design and install the E-ZPass readers and file the environmental report. Startup 2022 1Q if all goes well.

  5. Tiffany is exactly the type of thoughtful and clear headed leader we need during the recovery effort and beyond. I love that she is a longtime resident and she is choosing to raise her kids here. She takes public service to heart and spends time educating herself on all sides of issues. I am really excited to rank her as my #1!