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Carlina Rivera answers more of the Sun’s Council District 2 candidates Q&A

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | In early June, The Village Sun published several responses to a Q&A with Councilmember Carlina Rivera and challenger Allie Ryan, who are running against each other in the June 27 Democratic primary election for Council District 2, which stretches from the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side, through the East Village and Gramercy and up to Kips Bay and over to Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. You can find their responses in this article.

The two candidates initially both answered five questions. We gave them an additional batch of questions, for a total of 21. Ryan responded to all of these additional questions first, and we already have posted her answers. Rivera has now responded, too, and here are the rest of her answers:

The Village Sun: Is enough being done about the water situation at Jacob Riis Houses? Residents are still complaining about “bubbly water” and “bacteria in the water,” “brown water,” chemicals in the water, etc. If more should be done, then what exactly?

Carlina Rivera: The water situation at Riis Houses is reflective of the New York City Housing Authority’s lack of commitment to transparency on a whole host of issues. For anyone who has laid their head down in a NYCHA home, we know it has been decades of neglect and abandonment. In my tenure, I have been able to coordinate city, state and federal elected officials to address issues that haven’t seen investment in decades — including water and soil attention and remediation. My team and I are in touch frequently with the development’s leadership and tenants and always ensure that NYCHA takes action on any questions about water quality, but also on repair and capital project coordination. I’ll continue to work with tenants to hold NYCHA accountable to its duty to provide safe housing conditions. We’ve been very hands-on here and at other developments when similar situations arise.

Sun: East River Park from Fourth St. to Houston St. is due to be demolished in the fall for phase two of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. If the area down to Montgomery Street isn’t opened back up by then, won’t this be a violation of the negotiated agreement that 42 percent of the park should remain open at any time during the construction? What should be done?

C.R.: Rebuilding and fortifying East River Park to protect families against future floods remains on time and on budget. The coalition that came together, including elected officials, tenant leaders, youth organizations, environmental activists, artists and transit advocates, looked to ensure that there was mitigation and alternatives as the park was closed in phases, and this commitment remains firmly in place. My team, along with members of the E.S.C.R. Community Advisory Group, are in constant communication with the agencies, holding them to all of the commitments we negotiated thus far, with at least 42 percent of the park remaining available.

Sun: Carlina, you supported the Soho/Noho rezoning. Do you feel the program is playing out well
so far?

C.R.: My area of Noho in the plan was a coordinated effort with multiple local groups and
tenant leaders, as well as Cooper Square Committee and Noho-Bowery Stakeholders. Currently, a housing development that will include affordable units is now under application on Canal Street in District 1 and will be going before Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission for appropriateness. It is moving through this necessary approval process as required and negotiated to ensure we create more housing and preserve what exists.

Sun: What is your position on congestion pricing?

C.R.: The M.T.A. recently disclosed the list of possible exemptions the review board will consider. My main concern is that local residents do not feel they are being unduly burdened and understand all regulations on the table. I have previously testified about considerations for residents within the congestion zone, especially those below certain income thresholds, and people with disabilities. Ultimately, congestion pricing is a tool that will fund the improvement of our transit system, in turn, reducing the need for personal car travel, lowering emissions and allowing for commercial/delivery traffic to move more quickly.

Sun: Do you support closing Rikers Island jail and building new borough-based jails, including one at the current site of The Tombs (Manhattan Detention Complex)? Why or why not? If there is a better plan, then what is it?

C.R.: As the chairperson of the the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, which has oversight over Rikers, I can assert that the complex is a physical and humanitarian disaster and is failing to serve its restorative role for the incarcerated. The transition to safer facilities closer to courthouses and communities will provide safer conditions for the incarcerated and staff alike and will include real, restorative services that reduce recidivism.

Sun: Should police and the Manhattan district attorney be doing more enforcement against shoplifting?

C.R.: I understand that there are organized shoplifting operations, and the D.A. has announced
his intention to tackle that particular issue. We are also working on legislation and initiatives to further support small business owners. We must be careful not to generalize culprits, since so many people that are shoplifting are in desperate situations and it’s imperative we identify individuals in need of better services, which is critical for prevention.

Sun: Do you oppose further New York University expansion in the Downtown area? Why or why not?

C.R.: There is no expansion planned. Furthermore, I ensured that the recent rezoning included
a dormitory restriction, as per the community’s concern — and that restriction was recently upheld in court.

Sun: Council District 2 includes two school districts. In recent years, a lot of students have been leaving the system. How do we bring students back into the public schools?

C.R.: At a time when the nation’s public school facilities, staff, families and even reading materials are under attack by right-wing extremists, like Ron DeSantis, we should be doing everything we can to uplift our city’s public school system, and be sure to reemphasize the importance of diversity in every facet of the system. Since Day 1, I have secured funding for capital repairs, tech equipment and supplemental and after-school programming at schools throughout the district, and I have worked closely with administrators, teachers and parents on issues unique to each school. Another important obstacle to families remaining in the system is the inability for them to remain in New York City. Tackling the housing crisis and affordability is key to getting families back into New York City and our schools.

Sun: Do you support City Council Intro 31-B to make Open Restaurants permanent? What about
the concerns of local Downtown residents who are fed up with the program?

C.R.: Open Restaurants were a lifeline to businesses and continue to bring an incredible amount of traffic to local restaurants. While I support a permanent program, I have been vocal about the fixes we need: safety and sanitation enforcement, and clearer, uniform guidelines with the ability to clear our streets of garbage and snow. My office worked with community boards last year on surveying sheds in the Lower East Side. We identified many that we deemed unsafe, which we had the city dismantle and remove. We’ve had to be very hands-on whenever there’s been inaction from the agencies.

Sun: Is enough being done to control the rat population?

C.R.: We’ll see what new initiatives the mayor’s rat czar implements, but among the action items we are looking to expand are trash containerization, composting and more sanitation services. Ensuring rats can’t get into trash while also reducing their food source is critical. For now, whenever there is a site with severe rodent issues, my team assembles the appropriate agency partners to conduct walk-throughs and intensive services to manage the problem. Since my first term, I’ve added sanitation services and litter baskets to our district and fought to successfully restore sanitation cuts that happened during the height of the pandemic.

Sun: Is Council District 2 doing enough to help address the migrant crisis?

C.R.: I am struck by the generosity of District 2 residents and all New Yorkers in the face of the migrant crisis. We host several sites in our district that house families and others that provide resources. In partnership with community members, we’ve held supply and toy drives for migrant families. I am so proud of how many people call and ask: “How can I help?” It’s one of the many reasons I love this community.

Sun: Should there be a rent freeze — or even a rollback — for rent-regulated apartments?

C.R.: Yes. I advocated and testified for this. I have passed legislation around tenant protections, and host events and workshops for tenant rights, including programs like SCRIE [Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption] and DRIE [Disability Rent Increase Exemption] which help families that qualify freeze their rent.

Sun: What should be done about illegal smoke shops, if anything, including those selling weed
but unlicensed to do so? Is the current level of enforcement against them effective?

C.R.: State marijuana licensing was designed to correct decades of harm done to Black and brown communities. Its rollout has been challenging but its framework is historic, and the state must ensure the city has the authority to enforce rules and protect the legal market. Anything that threatens the spirit of the law must be dealt with, including unlicensed smoke shops. I am supportive of the Manhattan D.A.’s strategy of acting against landlords who are leasing to noncompliant businesses. The City Council passed legislation that will prohibit property owners from knowingly renting space to a business that sells unlicensed cannabis or tobacco products. This legislation will give us more enforcement tools in closing unlicensed smoke shops and preventing new ones from opening. We will continue to explore legislative solutions that uphold the equity and revenue goals of the state legislation

Sun: Do you support commercial rent control or the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (S.B.J.S.A.)? Which one is the better program and why?

C.R.: I am the second co-sponsor of the commercial rent stabilization bill. I was a co-sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A. last term bill but it has not been reintroduced.

Sun: Is enough funding being allocated for public libraries, which are really local community
centers for all ages?

C.R.: I support seven-day library service! The budget team at the Council, which I’m on, is working hard to protect our libraries from the mayor’s cuts. I have secured funding to our local libraries and supported multiple updates, including renovations, tech upgrades and a new teen center in our East Village branch.

Sun: You and your opponent both have had children later in life than many women, though of course this is a trend in recent decades. Has this changed your perspective on issues, if at all?

C.R.: The opening of this question is unnecessary, and frankly, like other coverage of my personal life in The Village Sun, a bit misogynistic and ageist. To your actual question, motherhood has been an amazing experience — you view everything with renewed appreciation. However, I’ve been passing legislation, funding initiatives and holding hearings in support of families since well before I became a mother.


  1. Lisa Lisa June 27, 2023

    Unbelievable that Ms. Rivera prioritizes restaurants more than anything and seeking to allow permanent open restaurants street space. Trash, rats, blockage of buildings, noise all night, etc. And these restaurants are owned by wealthy groups — not mom and pops.

    Not everything can be a restaurant and there are already too many, cannibalizing each other.

    In the meantime there is no help for small shops and businesses which suffer from high rent, e-commerce competition and shoplifting. Like Ink on A in the East Village is being forced out, King’s in TriBeCa forced out and many others.

  2. David R. Marcus David R. Marcus June 26, 2023

    Makes not a difference. Carlina’s checkered history of putting self political interest over the wishes of her constituents on so many issues dictates that Carlina Rivera need be defeated at the polls so she can cash in sooner on all those favors she bestowed on the folks that care less about our community than she does.

    Send Carlina packing. Vote for Allie Ryan!

  3. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan June 26, 2023

    I had my children at 37 and 39 and I don’t find it misogynistic or ageist to be asked about my experiences. I know being an older and hopefully wiser mom affects my view on the issues. My children gave me wisdom and perspective that I did not have before, and I was at an age when I was ready to receive that wisdom. Being older I have life experience that my parents frankly didn’t have. If you are a hands-on mom like myself and unable to delegate the responsibilities of caring for your child to a nanny, or childcare, you’ll see how city services are crucial to helping parents of any age. Wisdom and insight are things you can’t buy.

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