OP-ED: Local Control Will Help Prevent Deadly Crashes

To save lives, Albany must act before the end of current session

By Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez

On a late Saturday evening at about 11:30pm in October, 2020, Earl Hall, a 48-year old resident of Jamaica, Queens tried to cross Linden Boulevard near Bedell Street, a residential part of the neighborhood, as he headed to the store. At that time, New York City had already been gripped by the pandemic for about seven months: access to movie theaters, night clubs and indoor dining were all still severely restricted. With so few recreational outlets, especially for the young, Queens had already seen a disturbing upturn in high-speed driving — especially overnight and on weekends.

And so it was to be this night. As Mr. Hall crossed Linden less than a block from his own home, a Ford Mustang GT came suddenly speeding down Linden — he was hit, and knocked unconscious, suffering severe head trauma. Despite the best efforts of neighbors who called 911 and EMTs who arrived quickly after the crash, he was declared dead at the scene, leaving behind a stunned and grieving family. Meanwhile, the driver of the Mustang fled the scene — another high-speed hit-and-run crash of the sort we have also seen too often under the pandemic.

Across the country, high-speed crashes have increased dramatically over the past two years. There can be no excuse for criminal reckless driving, and we are grateful that the NYPD investigation resulted in an arrest in this case. But we know we have the tools in New York City to help prevent deadly crashes like this one — because this fatality happened within one of the 750 school zones Citywide that are protected by school speed zone cameras.

However, because of a state law that limits cameras’ operation to 6am until 10pm on weekdays, the cameras nearest the crash were turned off that night. That is why we two – representing legislators concerned about traffic safety and the Administration of Mayor Eric Adams—have joined together to call on the state legislature to change that law, and allow cameras to operate 24/7. In fact, we are now pushing for Albany to grant New York City full local control of traffic laws governing automated enforcement.

We believe that to that to stop such senseless tragedies, changing the law is just common sense. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of deaths that happen when speed cameras are turned off has surged — and now represent 60 percent of all fatalities (prior to the pandemic, deaths in these hours represented fewer than half of fatalities). As New York City has started to recover and has opened up, the bad habits and worse consequences of overnight speeding have been very hard to break. We believe that New York City needs to be able to control its own destiny, so we can quickly make the changes that meet this current crisis – and local control will help us do that.

We know speed cameras save lives, as they reduce speeding by over 70 percent in school zones – where we have seen traffic injuries decline by 14 percent. While cameras cannot and do not prevent every fatal crash, they clearly create a culture of accountability for drivers that makes our streets measurably safer. In fact, while pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed nationwide during the pandemic, New York City’s pedestrian fatalities have remained relatively stable – we believe in large part due to the presence of speed cameras.

We need to expand that protection, including greater control of where these cameras can be located. Supporters of local control, including families of crash victims, have traveled to Albany this month, united around this legislation. As the Mayor has said, we need to be as focused on traffic violence as gun violence because “traffic safety is public safety.”

Under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Governor Kathy Hochul, we have an enormous opportunity to make our streets safer. Changing these state laws will not bring crash victims like Earl Hall back—but could prevent more lives like his being needlessly lost on our streets in the years ahead.

Jessica González-Rojas represents the 34th Assembly district in Queens. Ydanis Rodriguez is New York City’s Transportation Commissioner.

OP-ED: Ending 421-a today won’t free up $1.8B for decades

By Sean Campion

Senior Research Associate, Citizens Budget Committee

Debate in Albany and New York City on whether and how to create a successor to 421-a misses two important realities: most of the revenue would not exist absent the program; and ending the program now will not free up $1.8 billion to spend next year.

First, most development projects receiving 421-a benefits, particularly under the current version of the program, would not have been built without the incentive. Furthermore, CBC’s analysis shows that the foregone revenue will decrease by less than $100 million per year through fiscal year 2029, and it will take until fiscal year 2043 for $1 billion of the currently foregone revenue to be returned to the tax roll.

CBC analyzed the costs of seven different types of rental projects built under the current version of 421-a and found the vast majority would not be financially feasible without the 421-a tax exemption. For these projects and many others like them, there would be no incremental increase in property tax to collect absent development incentivized by the exemption.

Notably, nearly all 421-a properties pay some property taxes. The 421-a program exempts only the increase in assessed value attributable to new construction. Property owners continue to pay taxes on the assessed value of the site prior to development, a policy commonly referred to as the “mini tax.” For fiscal year 2023, CBC estimates that 421-a properties will pay $123 million in “mini tax” property taxes.

Second, ending the 421-a program will not free up $1.8 billion in tax revenue that the City could spend immediately. (See Figure 1.) Tax exemptions already granted will continue for the remainder of the term allowed at the time of the original exemption. Based on the tentative fiscal year 2023 property tax assessment roll, 60,149 tax lots are expected to receive 421-a exemptions worth over $1.7 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. These properties are at various stages in their exemption period. While some exemptions are near expiration, others, particularly those granted under the current version of 421-a, will not expire until the 2050s. (See Figure 2.)

As a result:Less than $100 million annually in foregone revenue becomes “available” over the next seven years, as foregone tax revenue decreases from $1.74 billion in fiscal year 2023 to $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2029. The “available” tax revenue averages $451 million annually from fiscal year 2030 to fiscal year 2036. The “available” annual tax revenue does not exceed $1 billion until fiscal year 2043, when the exemptions still in force decline to $700 million; and the longest exemption period is 35 years, resulting in foregone revenues through at least fiscal year 2057.

To improve affordability and catch up to past population and job growth, New York City needs to produce more housing of every kind, including both affordable and market-rate rental units. A successor to 421-a is a key component of a broader package of policies and programs needed to boost housing production, which should also include reducing construction and operating costs, increasing as-of-right zoning capacity, and reforming the property tax. Allowing 421-a to expire without a successor will result in less rental housing construction, significantly less affordable housing development (both overall and especially in high opportunity areas), and in the long run, less property tax revenue for the City.

This op-ed originally ran on the Citizen Budget Commission blog, “No Windfall,” on May 5. The CBC is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that pursues constructive change in the finances and services of New York City and State.


Carol Kochta passed away on Sunday, May 1, 2022 at the age of 69. Beloved Mother of Kanoa Young, Jasmin Nappi and Lani Young. Loving Grandmother of Skylar and Benjamin. Private Cremation held at Fresh Pond Crematory, Middle Village NY. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Ascension Church on Monday, May 9, 2022 at 10 AM. Interment of Cremains followed at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue Maspeth NY 11378.


Nicholas DiNatale passed away on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at the age of 92. Beloved Husband of Victoria DiNatale. Loving Father of Tom (Gail) DiNatale, Marie (Bill) Smith, Elizabeth (the late Rick) Smith and Paul (Charlene) DiNatale. Cherished Grandfather of Jennifer, Andrew, Joey, Samantha, Luca and Stella and Great-Grandfather of Aidean, Cordelia, Hazel and Elias. Dear Brother of John & Marilyn DiNatale and the late Gloria Cippola. Also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and friends. In Lieu of Flowers, memorial donations may be made to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Frances de Chantal Church (Wantagh) on Monday May 9, 2022 11:15 AM. Private Cremation followed at Fresh Pond Crematory, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Francisco A. Gomez passed away on Thursday, May 5, 2022 at the age of 83. Beloved Husband of Ana J. Gomez. Loving Father of Richard Gomez and Francisco Gomez. Cherished Grandfather of Delicia and Brayden. Dear Brother of Lorenza, Francisca, Maria, Nelson, Elpidio, Altagracia, Margarita and the late Dominica and Julian. Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Sebastian Church on Thursday, May 12, 2022 9:45 AM. Interment followed at St. Raymond Cemetery, Bronx, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing