De Blasio's new carriage horse ban target: sometime this year

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in the Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in the Great Hall at Cooper Union on April 10, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Mayor Bill de Blasio has once again extended his own target date to ban horse-drawn carriages from Central Park.

Answering questions posed largely by the mayor's supporters via a Google Hangouts video link Friday, he said he expects "action on it this year." During his campaign last year, he promised to implement the prohibition "first thing."

"I would ban the horse carriages in Central Park within the first week on the job," he also said in early 2013.

Yet, 14 weeks into the administration, no such bill has been introduced in the City Council, though he said Friday that the chamber is drafting one.

"It's just about as common sense as you could possibly think, that a horse in the middle of the streets of midtown, it doesn't belong, isn't going to be able to live the kind of life that it should and is going to create a dynamic for everyone that creates problems, and I think a humane society doesn't do that to animals," he said Friday.

A Quinnipiac University poll last month found that by a margin of 64 percent to 24 percent, voters oppose the ban. Shortly afterward, a Newsday survey of 42 City Council members or their representatives found that eight are against the ban, 15 are in favor and 19 are undecided. The rest of the 51 members did not respond to inquiries.

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A City Council source said the chamber was waiting on the mayor's office.

"We're sort of waiting for them to make the push," the source said. "It's pending their pushing it."

There are 220 horses, 300 workers and 68 medallions, meaning the law permits only 68 carriages out at a time.

De Blasio has proposed replacing the horses with vintage electric cars, though the carriage-horse owners say that would not appeal to customers.

Stephen Malone, a carriage operator and Horse and Carriage Association spokesman, said the industry hopes to win over de Blasio and hopes the ban never happens.

"We look forward to working with the mayor all year on any concerns he may have," he said. "We're continuing to educate the council."

Allie Feldman, head of the pro-ban group NYCLASS, said she doesn't see de Blasio's shifting timeline as a signal that the ban is in jeopardy.

"I think that was hyperbole," she said of the mayor's campaign promise. "It takes time to draft the legislation, to get it through the City Council."

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