City Council Primary 2023: Christopher Marte

We will have a primary on June 27 for our City Council District 1 seat, currently occupied by Christopher Marte. And since there are a few hot issues right now, I sent the candidates (those who had contact info on their sites) a short list of questions gleaned from comments. I will run the responses in the order they are returned.

Sidewalk sheds surrounding buildings dealing with Local Law 11 as well as sheds that take over sidewalks have plagued this neighborhood for decades. (In fact some sheds have been up for decades!) Do you have any plans or solutions?
I have introduced a comprehensive legislative package, in collaboration with other Council Members, aimed at expediting the inspection process mandated by Local Law 11 and requiring landlords to remove sidewalk sheds when no active work is taking place. The proposed bills encompass measures to streamline facade inspections, amend State law to facilitate necessary repairs by building owners, and impose fines on owners who fail to dismantle scaffolding after a period of 6 months. In addition, it will allow modern technology like cameras to inspect the building, so scaffolding wouldn’t be necessary. This legislation will create a more proactive system to keep buildings safe and sidewalks clear.

Cars with fake parking placards clog our local streets every day, blocking commercial parking and creating problems not just for residents but for businesses trying to get deliveries. There are times when entire streets are blocked as a result. Do you have a solution for this?
I have introduced legislation to tackle placard abuse by overhauling the current system for how placards are distributed. The bill would start by revoking 60,000 placards, most of which are being misused already, and create a stricter system for who gets placards. Elected officials would have greater ability to revoke abused placards, and fewer people would have access to them. In the meantime, we have built a cooperative relationship with the 1st and 5th precincts to promptly escalate any reports of placard abuse that we receive.

Congestion pricing is coming to the neighborhood soon. What is your take on how it should roll out?
While the New York City Council does not have jurisdiction over congestion pricing, it is my responsibility to be an advocate for my constituents and our environment. I will advocate for exemptions and deeper discounts for lower-income residents and individuals with disabilities. Particularly, exemptions should be provided for residents like those in Battery Park City and Tribeca, who highly rely on West Side Highway and FDR Drive to travel within the congestion Zone. Under the current system, they could be charged every time they enter or exit the highway even though they are only driving a few blocks. I strongly believe in reducing New Yorker’s reliance on cars, and support measures to expand public transportation and bike lanes. However while we wait for the proper public infrastructure to allow New Yorkers to easily commute without cars, we need carve outs for those who have no other option for transit.

The Chinatown jail is paused temporarily but is on a schedule for demolition nonetheless. What is your hope for this site? How should the city proceed?
I support the adaptive reuse of the Manhattan Detention Center as opposed to its demolition. It is crucial for the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Correction to repurpose, renovate, and convert the facility to align with the necessary standards for a Borough Based Jail. I have been working closely with other elected officials and community members to ensure the administration listens to the community and chooses the better plan.

Dining sheds are controversial as you know – neighbors want to support local business and like the lively streetscape, but also have issues with some structures, especially ones that have overstepped and take up more than their fair share of the sidewalk. What should the future of sidewalk seating look like?
I support the prompt removal of roadway restaurant sheds in a timely manner. Over the past 18 months, I have actively engaged in discussions with advocates, residents, and city agencies regarding this matter. It is my firm belief that the future of outdoor dining programs should be seasonal in nature, devoid of any permanent structures, and subject to thorough review by the Community Board and City Council. Presently, there is a City Council legislation under consideration, aiming to establish seasonal outdoor dining from April to November and eliminate the use of sheds. While this is a positive step, I am committed to advocate for the inclusion of a binding review process by the community board and an earlier closing time to further enhance the regulations.



  1. is is too late to ask him where he stands on bail reform?

    • He can reply here!

    • I think things have gone poorly for our neighborhood on Marte’s watch (see my comment below). However, bail reform isn’t his fault. The bail laws are set in Albany, not in City Council.

      Du to term limits it is now common for politicians like Marte to seek further office in Albany as state assemblymen or state senators when they can no longer serve in the City Council. So it is still worthwhile to hear if he has a point of view on the current bail laws.

  2. Knowing he is a bike advocate, I’d love to hear his thoughts on how we can reduce the misuse of sidewalks as bike lanes around the neighborhood (by both delivery workers and non-delivery workers alike)..

  3. Would also like to hear his views on:

    – Pedestrian safety: there seems to be enforcement of reckless driving within the neighborhood (or elsewhere in the city). Does he plan to advocate for meaningful enforcement, as well as modifications to street design (i.e., bulb outs, concrete planters, etc.) that mitigate reckless/dangerous driving and protect pedestrians.

    – Cleanliness: would be great to hear tonight re: hiring folks to keep the streets clean. There has been a noticeable increase in trash strewn about, in particular in southern TriBeCa. Perhaps the organization of a local BID to improve cleanliness and landscaping?

    – Homelessness / Vagrancy: also a noticeable increase over the past few months, w little being done by the city. Public spaces should not be co-opted as de facto homes, and the number of people walking around screaming and lunging at people appears to be increasing relative to prior years.

    • I want to second Readers’ post. Mr. Marte promised to do something about homeless in our area when he campaigned in person in our area. It has gotten worse. Nothing has been done to fix this.


    • in support of Reader’s comment. the one issue i wish Mr. Marte would focus on is the homeless/quality of life issues in our area. Things are going downhill. This is something he could really influence.

  4. Sounds promising. Some additional issues to ask about:

    – quality of life crimes: public urination, littering (including gum which makes our sidewalks just look filthy all the time), graffiti

    – finally clearing out the counterfeit sellers for good

    – street safety and laws: for all vehicles. Streets have become so chaotic and dangerous.

    – noise: vehicles blasting music (not just cars, but even motorcycles, and actually, occasionally even pedestrians walking around with mobile blasting speaker); vehicles with intentionally loud engines; horn honking (bring back the signs; enforce with the fines)

  5. “Residents in Battery Park City and Tribeca could be charged every time they enter or exit the highway even though they are only driving a few blocks.”

    False. No one simply driving river to river, or BPC to Tribeca, or FDR to Ave C, etc., will pay the congestion toll, unless they entered the zone by driving south of 60th St on the W Side Hwy or FDR Drive or entered from Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Congestion pricing is complex, I admit. But it’s surprising that someone who for a full year and a half has represented District 1 — the part of NYC that stands to benefit most from CP — doesn’t have the basics down.

    • You’re the expert on this, but is it not true that anyone entering the congestion zone from anywhere will be tolled? You don’t only get tolled at 60th Street or the Brooklyn Bridge.

      I thought Marte’s point was valid (though probably negligible in the grand scheme). Let’s say I live at Chambers/Greenwich inside the congestion zone and want to drive to a Knicks game. I exit the congestion zone at Chambers onto the WSH and then re-enter the congestion zone from the WSH onto 34th Street. I get tolled entering at 34th. But if I just took Hudson/8th Ave up to 34th Street—never exiting/re-entering the congestion zone—I wouldn’t get tolled even though it’s preferable from a congestion standpoint for me to take the WSH. The incentives are misaligned. (And I know I should just take the subway.)

      • @person: CM Marte was misinformed. Auto trips that begin, remain and end within the zone (Manh south of 60th St) won’t be subject to the congestion toll. Your hypothetical car trip from Tribeca to MSG won’t be tolled regardless of your route, so long as you don’t go north of 60th. (Glad you acknowledge the absurdity of doing that trip by car; btw, if you did drive the 3 miles and avg’d 7.5 mph, your 24-minute trip would impose $30 to $40 worth of delay costs on everyone else on the road.)

    • To Komanoff:
      How about this scenario?

      Person living below 60th Street needs to take a taxi to/from Memorial Sloan Kettering for cancer treatment? An additional surcharge?

      Teacher living in Penn South drives to school, not near a subway station, in a high-crime area of the Bronx. Must pay CP coming home? How much?

      Gig worker using personal car to deliver Hello Fresh to affluent residents in Manhattan. Will pay CP each time going into the zone?

      • @sam, in reverse order:

        3. That’s precisely the kind of auto trip CP is designed for. If valet service is so important, the “affluent res” can pay the toll and bring the MTA a little bit closer to covering its interest costs on the subway improvements CP will pay for. Otherwise, the residents can forego the service and do what most of us do: take themselves to Whole Foods, CTown or Trader Joe’s.

        2. Let’s cast this in terms of 100 teachers, okay? Some will take the subway, which is less perilous than you may think. Some will ride up with fellow teachers — as I did when I lived on W 16th St and taught in New Rochelle in the late 1960s and divvy the toll cost. (I also expect “carpool apps” to take off when CP hits.) Some may look for a post with an easier non-car commute and let their position be taken by someone from northern Manhattan or the Bronx. The hidden power of “pricing” is that human behavior tends to be more adaptable than we credit.

        1. The Sloan-Kettering patient already pays $2.50/$2.75 for any cab or Uber trip that touches any part of Manhattan south of 96th St. Not that it matters, but I personally oppose any added toll for taxis — the sector was plundered by Uber — while I do want to see some increase for Ubers to reset the competitive balance.

        I’ve been answering questions similar to these in other venues. What fascinates me is the questions I never hear, such as:
        * Will students at that Bronx school get a shot at reclaiming their playground from free teacher parking, if fewer faculty drive to work?
        * Will ambulatory patients and visitors and staff get a better commute to Sloan-Kettering if buses aren’t stuck in car gridlock and the trains run better?
        * Will toddlers and teens and seniors downtown enjoy safer streets with fewer easily-replaceable car trips like food delivery?

        Funny you picked Chambers and Greenwich. Just a few (long) blocks to the west lives Economics Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who, with the late Amos Tversky, invented the now-seminal paradigm of loss aversion. Daniel, a psychologist, would have a field day with public reaction to congestion pricing.

        • “The hidden power of ‘pricing’ is that human behavior tends to be more adaptable than we credit”. Yes, but unfortunately most politicians do not understand this. That is why we have rent stabilization instead of policies to increase housing supply; all manner of health “insurance” programs that serve to obscure prices; and free or underpriced street parking that motivates more driving.

        • To Mr. Komanoff.
          Thanks for the comments.
          A few other things….
          Please note: I did not mention Chambers & Greenwich – that was someone else’s comment.

          Regarding Example 3, my concern was the impact on the low-paid gig worker. I am unconcerned with delivery desire by affluent residents. (My family walks and buses for our food shopping and we rarely order ecommerce. We can be sanctimonious too :)

          As a lifelong New Yorker who takes the subway to work every day, don’t need to be “educated” on if the subway is safe or not. (Actually people who are bicycling seem fearful of the subway) But the teacher in Example 2 is an acquaintance who – aside from driving to the Bronx – rides the subway otherwise and the school is lucky to have her. (If your kid went to private school you may not be aware of current situation in many public schools)

          As for Example 1 my understanding is that the current plan is that there will be an additional fee for taxis?

          Here’s another scenario – in the building where I work, the contracted cleaning workers, mostly immigrant women, come in around 5:30. Some carpool in as their work ends late and there are significant safety issues going home by subway at night. For some, these are second jobs.

          Overall, seems to me that CP means hard-working low paid people have to pay more while the affluent people have the privilege of working at home or living close to work/short commutes.

          • “Regarding Example 3, my concern was the impact on the low-paid gig worker. I am unconcerned with delivery desire by affluent residents. ”

            This is such a joke of a concern. Of course, the “low-paid gig worker” is very sympathetic. But the whole goal of congestion pricing is to reduce traffic and this person’s job/gig creates traffic! We cannot stand in the way of making life better for everyone else simply because it reduces the employment prospects of a handful of sympathetic persons in industries that are being regulated.

            Should we avoid switching to renewable energy to protect coal miner jobs? Maybe we should be avoiding meat alternatives because of the poor meatpackers. Better not crack down on unlicensed, tax-cheating marijuana/smokeshops: won’t someone think of the smoke shop clerks!

          • @Sam –

            You thanked me for my responses but didn’t really engage with them. The less-trafficked and safer streets from congestion pricing, the better commutes for bus and subway riders (who far outnumber drivers in and to the zone), the kids at schools whose playgrounds might get reclaimed from teachers’ cars – no comment?

            It’s in the nature of CP to benefit the many. Appeals to the common good aren’t fashionable these days (though it’s been great to see many in the Susan Lee interview comments), but to ignore the broad, widespread benefits from CP is to have a one-armed debate. Not for me, sorry.

            I made the broad case for CP in a NYT op-ed earlier this month. Please give it a look before replying again. You can find it by googling komanoff wagner congestion (Gernot Wagner was my co-author). One of our many points: the venerable antipoverty organization Community Service Society is a strong CP backer, based on the fact that relatively few lower-wage workers drive to the zone.

            Since you asked: I was a public school parent and student. To your speculation that bicyclists are “fearful of the subway,” no, we’re fearful of being run over by drivers. The prospect of calmer, safer streets, along with our intimate view of traffic dysfunction, is a big reason cyclists as a group strongly support CP.

  6. I have a family of four and have never owned a car in Manhattan. Yes, sometimes it is inconveninet and we pay high fees for the use of a rental AND we are grateful for the many public transportation options. To your point, we have adapted.

    We live on a tiny island and it is a privilege to own a car here. The traffic, noise, pollution is horrible not to mention safety. If you want the privilege of a car here you should pay for it period.

  7. Quality of life stinks. Everyone is entitled to do whatever they want nowadays. Took a public bus, guy pulled out a crack pipe (not marijuana pipe) and started to smoke crack. What!!! Really?!?!?
    1. The many smoke shops inundating Tribeca. Did you know there are FOUR weed selling smoke shops on church between Chambers and Reade and you turn the corner on Chambers there are two more. Interested in knowing where Marte stand in this knowing of his family history.
    2. All types of bikes riding the sidewalk (man this is when I miss Guliani)
    3. Trash caused by the homeless digging in them and flipping them form their trash cans
    4. Building courtyards the new weed smoking hangout for people who don’t live in the neighborhood

    • How about the mass of sellers of fake Louis Vuitton handbags etc. which clog the corners of Church and Canal? One of them displays a giant glass jar full of canabis for sale. I mentioned it to the cops in a patrol car a few blocks away about that and they said “Yes, we are aware of that.” End of story.

      • It’s awful. Why this selective enforcement of the laws? It makes a mockery of the law, and makes those of us who are law-abiding seem like suckers.

  8. Every time I have reached out to Marte’s office, I get an immediate response, unlike his predecessor. He is a good, hardworking person who has the best intentions for our district and NYC. We are lucky to have him and I will be supporting him and I hope you do too.

    • Thanks to Marte for doing, literally, the bare minimum: answering the phones. Yay, I guess?

      However, by any other measure, the quality of life, safety and city services in his district have deteriorated on his watch and with his support. I’ll vote for somebody else; hard to see things being worse. I have higher performance standards than “A2” (commenter above). If things were going this badly at my job they’d definitely put somebody new in my seat.

      It’s a one party town. If you don’t send a message in the primaries there’s no second chance on election day in November.

  9. Marte is the best. His office has been so helpful with our blocks problems. Marte can be found everywhere in his district. The guy never takes a day off!