(Bloomberg)—New York City Mayor Eric Adams has hired the city’s first-ever public spaces czar in an effort to help re-open streets and sidewalks that have become overcrowded with outdoor dining, scaffolding, bike lanes and other uses.
Formally known as the chief public realm officer, Ya-Ting Liu’s job will be to figure out how to make the city’s outdoor dining program permanent, make streets more pedestrian-friendly and keep business districts clean.
“Our city’s public spaces are too important to fall through the cracks of bureaucracy, and now they won’t,” Adams said.
Among her first projects will be the implementation of a new Fifth Avenue plan after a holiday season street closing experiment opened the avenue to pedestrians, and the Broadway Vision plan to better connect the business districts from Union Square to Columbus Circle.
But the mayor said the job would also involve similar projects in all five boroughs, including the spaces under the Brooklyn Bridge.
The position was one of the key recommendations of the “New New York” report that Adams commissioned with New York Governor Kathy Hochul with the help of the city’s business community.
Before coming to the mayor’s office last year as chief strategy officer to Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Liu worked at ride-share company Via.
The new position is one of several that Adams has invented going into the second year of his mayoralty as he attempts to manage some of the city’s more intractable challenges. He hired a police captain to run a new Office of Municipal Services Assessment last month, and created a Mayor’s Office for Child Care and Early Childhood Education last week.
And he’s still shopping for a Director of Rodent Mitigation — the “rat czar” — to help rid the city of vermin.
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.