City Council Primary 2023: Ursila Jung

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?
We have over 8000 scaffolding sheds across the five boroughs extending more than 2 million feet in total with the average shed standing for 480 days – this is wholly unacceptable! I support legislation (H-0972) for accelerating inspections and enforcement of legislation introduced recently to prevent extended shed placement without ongoing work. Owners will be held accountable for lagging repairs as well. There is also a sidebar bill that I wholeheartedly support that will require replacement or rehabilitation of city owned trees damaged by the structures.

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?
NYC issues hundreds of thousands of placards every year and in many instances, these go to non-emergency agencies. These permits exist to give municipal access to curbside parking when they are on the job, but in fact, thousands of these placards are used to park illegally, i.e., even when the vehicle is not being used for official business. In addition to these ‘legal’ placards, many city employees use fake placards. Not only is this a gross abuse of power, it also creates a public hazard – obstructed pedestrian space, reduced meter collection, blocked loading docks and hydrants, loss of public parking, reducing sidewalks, inconveniencing wheelchairs and strollers and so on.

Public servants participating in fraud and collusion is never acceptable. We need a combination of: (i) reducing the number of placards by creating a standardized process to see whether the use of issued placards supports city work, (ii) strict supervision over use of these to ensure it is for city business, (iii) severe penalties for those using fake placards and (iv) required towing of any vehicle blocking a sidewalk, crosswalk, fire hydrant, bus lane or bike lane unless it is a true emergency.

Congestion pricing is coming to the neighborhood soon. What is your take on how it should roll out?
I believe the current proposed roll out of congestion pricing is extremely flawed. It is a double taxation on residents within the Central Business District, and will place an unfair burden on those who live in transit deserts, businesses, and taxi and ride hailing drivers. Congestion tolls are regressive taxation and often create equity problems.

The Environmental Assessment done by the MTA itself has identified areas along the Cross Bronx and RFK bridge where pollution and respiratory illnesses will see an uptick. However, no comparable study has been done in the downtown area where traffic will funnel to the West Side Highway, West Street, and the FDR, resulting in increased rates of pollution to the heavily residential communities along those corridors. The plan needs to be halted until a comprehensive study is done to include the environmental impact downtown.

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?
The local community has been against the placement of a Mega Jail in our area all along. Unfortunately, because of a dysfunctional relationship between our District leadership and City hall, the community was not even notified when demolition began. It might still be possible to work with the city and prevent this if we have a seat at the table.

However, if construction continues, we need to focus on mitigation efforts – environmental impacts, mobile testing labs, dust tamping, enforcing noise regulation, compensating the residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity, ensuring a tight timeline to ensure that work is not drawn out, advocating for increased security in the area once the complex is opened and most important, having a “live” point person that can be contacted at all times with questions and concerns rather than just a 311 call.

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?
Outdoor dining was a blessing for both the hospitality industry as well as all New Yorkers during the pandemic. Today, they need to be re-examined. We have abandoned sheds as well as functional sheds blocking streets, bike paths, and sidewalks. They are causing increased trash and noise and are impediments to access for emergency services. These are no longer open-air structures as intended but are close to becoming permanent structures. They have turned formerly residential blocks into frequent sources of noise complaints. Community residents shouldn’t have to exhaust themselves defending their neighborhoods. That is what zoning restrictions are for and outdoor dining needs to be restricted, licensed, and regulated. This will ensure additional income for the city and also require them to follow rules for trash and noise.



  1. “NYC issues hundreds of thousands of placards every year” It’s always a red flag when a candidate (with a graduate degree in public policy from Columbia!) doesn’t do basic fact checking before they send in their Q+A responses. Per Councilmember Restler’s 2022 op-ed in Streetsblog , the City issues roughly 60,000 placards annually. I’m adamantly against placards, but as a voter I also value facts.

    Though should we be surprised? Anyone who has read Ursula Jung’s website and tried to figure out whether Jung has any meaningful policy positions can realize that she’s an unserious candidate. Notice, for instance, no mention of this (bad) congestion pricing stance, which contradicts her vague statements on transit and street safety. I may have disagreements with both Marte and Lee, but at least I have a good sense for where they stand.

  2. Seriously another candidate against congestion pricing?