Public advocate offers response plan if summer haze returns
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is offering an air quality plan if the hazy skies from earlier this year return to New York City.
This comes as Williams has been vocally critical of Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and their actions in the days leading up to the air quality event that brought heavy smoke and haze across the five boroughs and beyond.
“It’s one thing to have a plan that falls short, it’s another thing to not have a plan to begin with,” said Williams. “If you’re giving the first press conference at 10 a.m., an hour or two before the sky turns entirely orange, it’s safe to say things didn’t go the way you had wanted.”
Williams says that while the city couldn’t truly prepare for what occurred last month, they can going forward. The Public Advocate’s Office reached out to several West Coast cities for ideas and published a 12-page report entitled “Orange Sky, Red Alert,” with 17 recommendations on how the city can prepare better for another air quality crisis.
Some of the recommendations include better educating New Yorkers about the health risks of air quality, the creation of air quality centers during hazardous events, and allowing city employees to work remotely if air quality goes over 150.
The report also suggests a notification system, similar to Amber Alerts, that can be used. Williams added that he thinks not enough residents are signed up for Notify NYC.
A City Hall spokesperson responded to the public advocate’s report in a statement, that reads in part:
“The city mounted a whole-of-government response to keep New Yorkers informed and protected during last month's smoke event. While forecasting air quality is difficult to do and forecasts are available only 24 hours in advance, public messaging around potentially bad air quality began a week before the worst of the smoke."
The report will be further discussed among elected officials at an oversight hearing with the City Council.