Gotham Gazette Sat, 17 Feb 2018 23:16:46 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) What’s The [Data] Point? 2.7%, with Alex Heil of the Port Authority whats the data point

What's The Data Point? Episode 24 -- 2.7%, with Alex Heil of the Port Authority [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

alex heil wtdp pic

Alex Heil, chief economist for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, joined the podcast to discuss his economic forecasts for the Port Authority region; key trends around use of Port Authority bridges, tunnels, ports, and airports; and infrastructure investments that are in motion or needed.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (@TweetBenMax), Maria Doulis of CBC (@MariaDoulisMariaDoulis), and guest Alex Heil of the Port Authority (@PANYNJ). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

What’s The [Data] Point? 2.7%, with Alex Heil of the Port Authority Wed, 20 Dec 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Airport Noise Footprint Exposed, Path to Mitigation Unclear laguardia map

Hope Marina regretted it as soon as she bought her house in northern Queens.

“When I moved here, I used to cry,” Marina said. “I said to my husband, ‘Oh no, we can’t stay here, we have to look for someplace else.’ So, he said, ‘Don’t worry, honey, you’ll get used to it.’ But he used to work on an aircraft carrier, he slept right on the landing deck and he didn’t hear anything.”

The Marinas’ home is 1,500 feet away from one of the two runways of LaGuardia Airport, where there are over 1,000 airplane take-offs and landings every day. When they fly over the Marinas’ home in East Elmhurst, they are so close Hope Marina says she can read the registration numbers displayed on the aircrafts. They pass every two minutes, creating a lingering thunder that lasts 15 seconds and makes it challenging, if not impossible, for residents to watch TV, talk on the phone, or sleep.

In July, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the area airports, published the first-ever noise map of LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy, New York City’s two main airports. In August, the Port Authority estimated that 47,843 people reside in the worst affected areas near the two airports, enduring a level of noise that is harmful to their health.

“I have lost some hearing from all the noise,” says Marina. “We have complained a lot, all the neighbors.”

In the coming months, the Port Authority will decide which measures to take to alleviate this noise problem. Possibilities include insulating affected households, buying land, or rerouting aircrafts. Funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But since 17,151 households are affected, federal officials warn there will be not enough money to reach all of them.

“We would like to do everybody at once, but we don’t have the money to pay for it,” said Andrew Brooks, FAA regional manager. “Nor are there people that can actually do construction work to insulate all houses at the same time.”

The FAA approved a similar program in Buffalo in 2003. It took eight years to soundproof 474 houses in a $60 million project funded by the FAA, Buffalo Niagara International Airport, and the New York State Department of Transportation.

In New York City, some houses will get soundproofed, others won’t. “The Port Authority will have to identify the area where they want to start,” Brooks said. “And, as you can understand, there will be politics involved there,” he added, referring to the competition among local officials who will want to deliver for their constituents.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that noise can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems. Sounds over 70 decibels can cause hearing impairment. And high levels of noise increase people’s risk of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction, according to a WHO study published in 2011.

A quiet residential neighborhood produces noises that average 40 decibels, while vacuum cleaners go up to 80. But when an airplane takes off, it produces 140 decibels of noise. The WHO considers this over the threshold of pain, and harmful.

New York City revamped its Noise Code in 2005 for the first time in 30 years. “The making of excessive and unreasonable and prohibited noises is a menace to public health, comfort, safety, welfare and prosperity,” states the code.

This local law regulates construction, animal noise, food vending vehicles, air conditioners, music from bars, motor vehicles, and more. Fines range from $50 for using cellphones in school to $3,200 for blasting excessively loud music from a commercial establishment.

But when it comes to aircraft noise, the noise code only requires the city to propose strategies to reduce sound levels associated with airports.

John F. Kennedy Airport, located in southern Queens, generates about 284,500 jobs and contributes $42 billion in economic activity, according to the Port Authority. LaGuardia Airport generates 129,100 jobs and contributes $17.1 billion in economic activity.

From the revamp of the Noise Code in 2005, it took 10 years for the Port Authority to start the first study to quantify aircraft noise exposure levels in the vicinity of those airports and to evaluate methods to minimize the effects.

In September, the Port Authority finished LaGuardia’s noise report and published an interactive map to allow people to find out if they live within the airport’s noise shadow. The noise contours spread over East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Flushing in Queens; and Clason Point and Hunts Point in the Bronx.

Around LaGuardia, 3,655 households and 9,787 people live within the 65-70 decibels noise area. Two households and six people live within the 70-75 decibels contour.

Rafique Tabassum is one of those six. He lives on 83rd Street in East Elmhurst. “The noise bothers me,” Tabassum said. “Sometimes the airplanes come every minute.”

John Scotti lives a few houses away, within the 65-70 decibels area. “The only thing that saves us is that they don’t come all the time,” Scotti says. “When they do, it’s boom! boom! boom! They wake you up. If it was steady, all day, there’s no way we could live here.”

planes noise graphTwo schools lie within the 65-70 decibels area, and one within the 70-75 decibels area. All three were insulated as part of previous soundproofing efforts conducted by the Port Authority, but that didn’t solve all the problems.

“The kids can’t play outside, it is unpleasant,” said Susan Carroll, who lives near a school right outside the 65 decibels area in Flushing.

Even though sound insulation is a key measure to mitigate airplane noise, it doesn’t always work.

“If you have a new house, most likely sound insulation would bring noise below federal levels even within the 70-75 decibels area,” said Peter Byrne, deputy director of the noise study commissioned by the Port Authority. “When you have a house that is 100 years old, probably not,” Byrne added.

The Port Authority hasn’t calculated yet how much money will be required. “In California, they gave money in the billions and it took 20 years to do it,” said Kelly Mitchell, Port Authority manager for this project, of the noise study and subsequent mitigation efforts.

“The other problem is that the maps are only good for five years,” said Brooks, of the FAA. “So what may happen is that in 2023 we would say, ‘OK, you need new maps before we can approve additional funds.’ And they will have to start all over.”

Some New Yorkers won’t even have the chance to fight for a shot at inclusion. Rikers Island, home to most of the city’s jails and jail population, is located within the 65-70 decibels area. It is just 500 feet away from LaGuardia’s runways. The entire island is classified as institutional land, used as the primary correctional facility in New York City. It currently has an average daily inmate population of about 7,500 individuals accused of crimes or sentenced to one year or less of jail time.

“Rikers is not included in the sound program, it is considered not residential,” said Brooks. “It is transient population, people come and go. There is always someone there, but it is like a motel.”

While there is some discussion in the city about closing the Rikers facilities, which are notorious for their dysfunction and violence, for the foreseeable future those held on Rikers will be subject to excessive airplane noise. (There has even been some discussion of turning Rikers into additional airport space.)

Already, LaGuardia is currently undergoing a $4 billion renovation that will be completed by 2022. According to Peter Byrne, deputy director of the noise program, it won’t change the noise contours.

Hope Marina has become accustomed to the noise and appears to love her neighborhood nonetheless. “I moved here about 50 years ago, it is a very nice area, you can stay outside, you can leave your door open at night,” Marina said from her front porch. “But I hear the planes all the time over the house. Either you get used to it, or you lose your mind.”

by Bruno Gallo for Gotham Gazette

Airport Noise Footprint Exposed, Path to Mitigation Unclear Mon, 05 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Sept. 28-Oct. 2 week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday October 2

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio does some road repaving on Staten Island, via the Mayor's Office; Gov. Cuomo checks out the beer at the Anheuser Busch brewery, via @NYGovCuomo; Public Advocate Tish James welcomes Ahmed Mohamed to City Hall, via @TishJames

de Blasio Staten Island repaving

Cuomo beer check

tish james ahmed


1. NYPD Use of Force: On Thursday, the NYPD announced a set of new guidelines and a tracking system to document officers' use of force. Officers will be required to detail every instance when force is employed, not only during arrests but brief detention-and-release incidents. The NYPD will also track use of force against officers. The announcement comes after City Council members have introduced legislation to require an "early warning system" be put in place to identify officers who use force inappropriately and on the same day as a new NYPD Inspector General report on use-of-force was released.

Read: Next Steps After Eye-Opener NYPD Inspector General Use-of-Force Report by Council Members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander

2. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion Under Federal Investigation: Federal investigators are looking into how contracts were awarded in Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo economic development program. The Buffalo Billion program is intended to infuse $1 billion into the upstate economy and create 14,000 jobs, but has become the focus of a corruption investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has issued subpoenas to major entities involved.

Read: Alain Kaloyeros, Powerful Centerpiece of Buffalo Billion, Could Become Household Name

3. Chief Judge Takes On Bail: On Thursday, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced a series of initiatives aimed at addressing what he called the “unsafe and unfair bail system,” including automatic review of bail for misdemeanor cases.

4. Debate Over Rezoning of Brooklyn Schools: The Department of Education came under fire on Wednesday at a hearing on the rezoning of two Brooklyn schools. The DOE’s proposal is intended to ease overcrowding one school, but the proposal has sparked debate over race, school equity, school quality, and school desegregation and integration. The de Blasio administration has done little to explicitly address school segregation, but the rezoning at play in Brooklyn is at least somewhat inadvertently moving the issue.

5. Movement on MTA Funding: The de Blasio administration appears to be moving toward meeting more of the funding requests made by the MTA, a state agency, even as the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations continue to spar publicly about responsibility, funding levels, and other aspects of the issue.


  • $1.8 billion is how much prosecutors are investigating Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials for diverting from the Hudson River rail tunnel. The funds were spent on state-owned roads instead.
  • 18% decrease in the number of incidents where New York police officers fired their weapons thus far in 2015 compared with the same period last year.


  • It was a good week for Staten Island commuters, as the city's ongoing repaving efforts continued, with some help from Mayor de Blasio, under the supervision of Borough President James Oddo; and the official start of expanded Staten Island ferry service, by which the ferry will run every half-hour all the time.
  • It was a bad week for gun control advocates, in New York and elsewhere, whose frustration continues to grow amid news of another mass school shooting, this one in Oregon. Governor Cuomo has had especially harsh words for federal officials who refuse to act on gun regulations such as expanded background checks.


  • Around this time last year, on September 30, 2014, Mayor de Blasio signed an executive order to expand New York City's living wage law to cover thousands of previously exempt workers and to raise the hourly wage itself for workers who do not receive benefits. The move was criticized by Comptroller Scott Stringer.


Report Shows Need for Elementary After-School Expansion, by John Spina

Cuomo Takes Additional Executive Action on Criminal Justice, by David King

Alain Kaloyeros, Powerful Centerpiece of Buffalo Billion, Could Become Household Name, by David King

Absent from Cuomo's New Education Task Force: A Student, by Ben Max

Do New York Elected Officials Deserve A Raise? by Meg O’Connor

Will New York Be Last to 'Raise the Age'? by David King

Amid Federal Brinkmanship, New York City Officials Redouble Support for Planned Parenthood, by Meg O’Connor

NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:

Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

The Week That Was in New York Politics, Sept. 28-Oct. 2 Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:59:23 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, June 15-19 week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday June 19

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the groundbreaking for the Cornel Technion campus on Roosevelt Island, praising former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced a $100 million donation to the school; via John M. Mantel for the New York Post

Bloomberg de Blasio Cornell Tech


1. Rent Regulations Expire...Then Extended: State lawmakers allowed rent regulations to expire this past Monday to the frustration of about two million New York City tenants who live in rent-regulated apartments, and many Democratic state legislators and City Council members. In a statement released on Monday, June 15, Governor Cuomo warned that “landlords should under no circumstances believe that their responsibility under the current rent stabilization program has expired.” With negotiations at an impasse, Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed on Thursday to sign a short extension of the regulations, applying retroactively and through Tuesday, June 23. Negotiations continue.

2. Some Important Albany Business Done: ‘Affirmative Consent’ on College Campuses, Nail Salon Regulations, and Port Authority Reform: No deals yet on rent regulations, 421-a, mayoral control of schools, the charter school cap, ‘raise the age,’ or a whole host of other high-profile issues, but, a few key items were dealth with this week. Legislators approved the campus sexual assault bill redefining consent on Tuesday, one of Gov. Cuomo’s top priorities. A bill allowing pregnant women to enroll in the New York State Health Exchange at any time was passed. A nail salon bill, which allows regulation of the industry that recently came under heightened scrutiny thanks to a New York Times series, was passed. And, Thursday evening a Port Authority reform bill passed, with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie saying the bill is important reform ”by increasing transparency, improving regulation and instituting more independent oversight.” The bill will still need approval from New Jersey’s state legislators.

3. NYC Office of Civil Justice Created: The bill creating an Office of Civil Justice and a Coordinator of Civil Justice was unanimously passed in committee in the last week of May before being voted on by full City Council, and then signed into law by Mayor de Blasio this past Tuesday. Civil court, unlike criminal court, does not have “the right to counsel” even though cases about eviction, child custody, and deportation are often life-changing. The new office will be geared toward consolidating many of the different efforts to bring legal aid and representation to low-income New Yorkers.

4. First Arrest By New Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force: On Wednesday, Attorney General Schneiderman, Mayor de Blasio and the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner James Rubin announced that the city/state Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force had arrested and indicted landlord Daniel Melamed. It was alleged that Melamed jeopardized the health and safety of his tenants, including a six-year-old child, and forced at least one rent regulation tenant to move out. In the press release on Wednesday Attorney General Schneiderman warned that the “charges send a strong message to landlords across New York City: if you harass, intimidate, or jeopardize the health and safety of your tenants, we will come after you with the full force of the law.”

5. Groundbreaking At Cornell Tech: Cornell and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology won the 2011 competition to build an applied sciences graduate school to “foster high-tech entrepreneurship in the city” and its groundbreaking ceremony just took place this past Tuesday at the Roosevelt Island site. The first stage of construction won’t be finished until 2017 but Mayor de Blasio noted at the ceremony that over the next 30 years this project is projected to create more than 48,000 jobs and bring $33 billion in economic impact. This past Monday, former Mayor Bloomberg also announced a donation of $100 million to the project. The groundbreaking as a rare joint appearance by the current mayor and his predeccessor. 


  • 13 days since Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6 (as of Friday, June 19, that is).
  • 42 percent of more than 1,400 criminal cases with defendants at Rikers for more than a year have been decided by New York City Courts over the past two months. This is part of “Justice Reboot,” an attempt to reduce the backlog of pending cases.
  • $100 million being donated by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to Cornell Technion to build a school building on Roosevelt Island. The campus will include “The Bloomberg Center,” and city officials are hopeful that it will position New York City as a major tech center. The school is part of an initiative Bloomberg launched for a new graduate school of applied sciences in the city.


  • It was a good week for Dante de Blasio, as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s son graduates Friday from Brooklyn Technical High School with plans to attend Yale University in the fall. Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray both set to attend and deliver remarks at the ceremony at Barclays Center.
  • It was bad week for Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, both Democrats, neither of whom appears able to convince Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to extend and stregthen rent regulations meant to keep about a million apartment units affordable for New York City residents. Many Democrats are questioning Cuomo's leadership and Heastie has not proven his mettle in his first post-budget legislative negotiations, with rent laws expiring on Monday night. Some are applauding Heastie for holding his ground, though, both on rent laws and in not giving in to the education investment tax credit favored by Cuomo and Senate Republicans.


  • One year ago, June 19, 2014, Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced an agreement to establish a medical marijuana program, known as the Compassionate Care Act, for New York State. The program rollout continues while there is much criticism of the rules as being too tight.
  • Exactly 150 years ago, June 19,1865, Major General Gordon Granger landed in Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were to be set free. The day would become known as Juneteenth and the pronouncement came two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, which had made very little impact in Texas.



NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:

Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

by Erika Wang and Ben Max

The Week That Was in New York Politics, June 15-19 Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:28:53 +0000