Vickie Paladino

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Congestion Pricing, Zoning, and the Fifteen-Minute City

By Councilwoman Vickie Paladino

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept of the ‘fifteen minute city’ — a component of the WEF plan for you to ‘own nothing and be happy’ in which you’ll be prohibited from owning a car based on the theory that if your entire world is within a fifteen minute walk of your home, you won’t need one and won’t want one.

Many people were outraged when these plans came to light a few years ago, many others laughed it off, and tellingly, the mainstream media assured us the whole thing was just a ‘conspiracy theory’ and no such plans were seriously in the works. Unfortunately, as with most so-called conspiracy theories these days, they tend to go from theory to mandatory very rapidly.

And so, it might be of interest for you to learn that New York City, the great metropolis of America, is taking concrete steps right now to become a fifteen minute city.

I’m sure you’re aware of the congestion pricing scheme the city is preparing to implement in Manhattan, in which drivers will be charged a tax to enter the city anywhere below 60th street. What you may not yet be aware of, however, is that congestion pricing will not be limited to Manhattan for very long. These so-called congestion zones will find their way to every borough and every neighborhood. The zones will get tighter, and the tolls will increase. Soon enough you will not be able to travel to very far from your home — say, fifteen minutes or so — without incurring an increasingly expensive toll, objectively to make travel by car too expensive for most people to afford.

This isn’t theoretical either, in England a very similar plan was implemented a few years ago called ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zones), which saw entire neighborhoods completely blocked off to vehicle traffic in or out for hours or even days at a time, and significant fees for entry/exit otherwise. Law-abiding people have been completely trapped in their homes, unable to go anywhere outside of walking distance. It’s gotten so bad that teams of vigilantes called ‘Blade Runners’ have organized to anonymously destroy the ULEZ cameras and barricades. To this day they claim to have destroyed almost 1,500 cameras.

We should not want it to come to that here.

The next component in the works for New Yorkers is the so-called ‘City of Yes’ plans for economic and housing development. You may have already heard it mentioned on the news or in official announcements.

These plans, to put it simply, would completely blow up zoning citywide. It would eliminate residential zoning, eliminate single-family home construction, and allow commercial development in residential neighborhoods. It’s impossible to overstate how destructive this will be to our neighborhoods. And what’s worse — it eliminates all local control over the process. No longer will your community boards and council member have a say in what gets built in your neighborhood — all decisions will be made by a panel of ‘experts’ with absolutely no oversight and no ties to the community. Homeless shelters, migrant hotels, bodegas, commercial buildings — all of it can be built anywhere and everywhere. And there’d be nothing you or I could do about it.

Why are they doing this? Well, the Democrats say it’s to spur economic activity and help fix the ‘housing crisis’ by increasing density citywide. None of this is true.

In reality it’s to get as many businesses as possible into as many neighborhoods as possible in order to facilitate the fifteen-minute city plan — they call it ‘walkability’ and it’s the predicate to locking down a neighborhood and pricing people out of their cars.

Now, of course there are plenty of areas of this city that are already totally walkable. And that’s great. But some people choose to live differently, and have invested heavily to live in a place like North Queens, where we can enjoy more open space and own a car — because that’s the lifestyle that works for us.

Unfortunately, the city is destroying that choice, and forcing every neighborhood to conform and face destruction. It’s unacceptable and I am proud to stand against it.

What are we doing about it? At the moment, I’ve joined multiple active lawsuits against congestion pricing. These are major suits involving powerful bipartisan interests from across the tri-state area. These suits are still pending, but we hope to achieve success in the courts.

As for City of Yes, it has not yet passed the City Council, and will be voted on in two parts. First the economic portion, which would allow commercial development in residential neighborhoods, and then the housing portion, which would eliminate single-family and residential zoning entirely, in favor of high-density housing projects.

As of right now, it looks like the economic portion has a better chance of passing than the housing portion, but Democrat leadership is pushing HARD for the package to pass entirely. I would urge everyone to GET INVOLVED — call your council member, call your state representatives, and tell your friends to do the same. Make it known that you don’t want your neighborhood destroyed and you refuse to live in a fifteen minute city.

I will be voting against both portions, and I will be conducting informational town halls soon. This is one of THE most consequential measures the Council has ever taken up. And we can’t afford to ignore it.

Councilwoman Vickie Paladino represents District 19 of Northeast Queens, which includes Whitestone, College Point, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, and parts of North Flushing

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