By Bill Parry
Two key figures in the de Blasio administration are stepping down as commissioners after years of service at City Hall.
Meera Joshi, the CEO and chair of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, plans to step down from her role in March and Rick Chandler, the commissioner of the city Department of Buildings, will be retiring from city service after 31 years in February.
Joshi guided the TLC through a turbulent period between yellow taxi drivers and ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft.
“It has been an honor to serve New York City through the effective regulation of almost 200,000 drivers in over 130,000 vehicles moving over a million people each day,” Joshi said. “Thanks to the skilled and principled TLC staff, a Commission dedicated to doing the right thing and engaged industry members and advocates, through public debate and data we increased accountability, safety, access, modernized taxi regulation, protected drivers and increased consumer protections.”
Joshi’s tenure was marked by the protection and enhancement of driver earnings, city-wide access to For-Hire services for people with disabilities, a 50 percent reduction of fatalities involving taxis and For-Hire vehicles in the last year, significant advances in consumer protections, and a first-ever pathway to the effective management of congestion and environmental impact relating to TLC-licensed services — all of which was enabled by the collection of previously-unavailable data.
“In this unprecedented period of growth, Meera has brought about equally unprecedented and vital change that will serve as a role model for cities throughout the nation and the world,” de Blasio said. “Under her leadership New Yorkers who use wheelchairs can get service, passengers are assured that every driver and vehicle is safe, our city has detailed records of the one million daily trips and New York City is the only place where app drivers have pay protection. She will leave an unparalleled legacy and has raised the bar for good government.”
Her replacement will be announced in the coming months.
The mayor hailed Chandler for leading a sweeping modernization effort touching every part of the Buildings Department, including the launch of DOB NOW, which will allow New Yorkers to do all business with DOB online; hiring more than 230 new inspectors and 150 technical staff, resulting in significantly faster permit reviews and inspections of construction sites and 311 complaints; and regulating the city’s real estate and construction industries during the largest building boom in at least 50 years.
“When I took office, I called for a fundamental reform of the Buildings Department — and I am grateful to Commissioner Chandler for helping deliver on that promise,” de Blasio said. “As Buildings Commissioner, Rick presided over an unprecedented building boom while at the same time launching an aggressive modernization plan to give the public faster service and greater transparency about DOB’s operations.”
Chandler thanked the mayor for his investments in the Buildings Department.
“Our modernization is delivering quicker plan reviews and improved response times, bringing new clarity and consistency to agency operations, strengthening enforcement, and promoting the highest standards of integrity, both in the construction industry and within DOB,” Chandler said. “
He will be replaced by his First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello, who will serve as Acting Buildings Commissioner, effective Feb. 1.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr