Meet Rye City Council candidate Lisa Tannenbaum, up for election this fall on Tuesday, November 2nd. Tannenbaum will be running to fill one of three council seats for a four year term. Others running for the same three seats are Bill Henderson, Julie Souza and Ben Stacks. We are running interviews with all the candidates.
There will be a second race (also on November 2nd) to fill the remaining two years of Pam Tarlow’s council seat.
Your Name: Lisa Tannenbaum
Running for: Rye City Council
MyRye.com: Why are you running for Rye City Council?
Tannenbaum: Rye is a remarkable city, rich in history, culture, tradition and community. I want to preserve the character of our unique city while meeting the evolving needs of today and tomorrow. As a member of the City Council I hope to help lead Rye with fiscally responsible efforts to become an even better place to live and work; vibrant, welcoming, inclusive, sustainable and energy-forward.
Why are you running for Rye City Council now?
Tannenbaum: I am running now because I see an opportunity to increase Rye’s partnership with other levels of government, county, state and federal, and other organizations, such as unions, for the benefit of our community. Through my work for Congressman Eliot Engel I have created strong relationships with most of the elected officials representing our area.
What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?
- Reclaiming the character of the community, which in the past was much more economically diverse, and even slightly more racially diverse. With our heritage as a summer community Rye has homes that are much smaller than found elsewhere, which enabled middle earners to live in Rye. As these homes are torn down and larger homes-built Rye becomes increasingly less economically diverse, out of reach for middle earners.
- Streamlining and improving processes. I’ve heard from residents and businesses that it’s just too hard to get things done in Rye and that it takes too long. We can make changes, for example, adopting the New York State blanket solar permit, stop requiring an initiative that already has Historical Landmark Commission approval from going to the BAR and other refinements to manage our growth and evolution more efficiently.
- Rye property taxes are much lower than those in the surrounding communities and I want it to stay that way. It’s a huge challenge to both serve our community with excellence while keeping our city taxes stable.
What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?
Tannenbaum: I want to thank the Finance Committee for the outstanding job they have done examining the budget and working with the City Council to maintain Rye’s financial position through remarkably uncertain times.
- Update processes and procedures to streamline action, freeing City employees to work on other initiatives. This will reduce the need to hire additional staff. We would also save residents and businesses time and money by reducing their spending on expensive professionals such as attorneys and architects.
- The City is already incorporating solar initiatives into capital projects. I support expanding these initiatives, which typically have favorable payback periods, to reduce operational costs while protecting our planet.
- Rye is in the planning stages of a large capital improvement initiative. Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s), which partner with building trades unions, have demonstrated both cost containment and on-time delivery, I have already connected City staff with experts in the labor community.
Please Answer the following questions Yes or No:
|Question||Tannenbaum: Yes or No||Tannenbaum:|
|Do you believe the City has done a responsible and an effective job of navigating the Coronavirus pandemic?||Y||There was, of course, no perfect response to Covid, I believe Rye got more things right than wrong and has been remarkably effective in minimizing the long-term impacts to our community.|
|Have you been, or will you be in the next six weeks, fully vaccinated against COVID-19?||Y|
|Were you supportive of the various stages of Purchase Plaza during the pandemic?||Y||As a resident I loved Purchase Plaza, however in hindsight I wish there had been more responsiveness to the needs of the merchants when it was extended through November.|
|Would you be supportive of Purchase Plaza after the pandemic?||Y/N||If, and only if, it is done without impacting traffic flow on Purchase Street during daytime business hours.|
|Do you support the raising of the Pride flag on City flagpoles this June and every June?||Y|
|Do you believe there is an issue with racial bias and equality in our community and that the City has a role to play in addressing it?||Y||Whether conscious or unconscious, bias is with us all of the time, I believe our City and all of us as a community have to acknowledge it and take actions to mitigate the effects.|
|Rye City should have additional restrictions on residential development||Y||I believe Rye needs to relook at all of our development rules to eliminate outdated or unnecessary restrictions and add restrictions where warranted.|
|Are you supportive of the Wainwright House working with Row America Rye?||Y||Wainwright House is a treasure and the City must allow it to take steps to survive financially. If Row America is the preferred plan, or least objectionable, it should be pursued.|
|Do you agree the loss of Wainwright House and its property as a public resource would be a significant detriment to the City?||Y|
|Do you agree the closure of the Durland Scout Center on Milton Point in 2007, and its subsequent sale to a developer for private homes, was a real loss for the City?||Y|
|Rye City is prepared for the next “100 year” flood||Y/N||It’s impossible to say yes or no to this, I believe Rye has taken steps to mitigate flooding, but there is still more work to be done.|
|Leaf blowers are a health and quality of life nuisance and should be banned entirely from the City||Y||Gas leaf blowers should be banned, electric leaf blowers could be permitted.|
|Curbside food scrap recycling should be expanded across the City.||Y||I would like to see a business case, to see the unbiased financial impact, but Westchester County’s Residential Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal (RFSTAD) Program, adopted in the fall of 2020, should make this cost-effective for Rye.
|Rye City property taxes are too high||N||Property taxes in NY are too high, however the City property tax portion of our bill is one of the lowest among the cities, towns and villages in Westchester.|
|Rye Playland will be in good hands with Standard Amusements||Y/N||I oppose the Standard Amusement contract, but we have no choice but to work with them to make Playland a success and continued asset to Rye, while protecting our community’s interests.|
|Rye Town Park should be controlled (or owned) by Rye City||N||The Park is jointly owned with the Town of Rye, I do not support the City attempting to buy them out or exert undo control.|
|Rye City needs to reduce its deer population by active management including sharp shooters or bow hunting||N||While deer are a concern, there are more advanced, humane methods such as distributing deer birth control that are effective.|
|Rye City parking downtown is a serious mess and has a negative impact on local business and residents enjoying downtown||N||Parking downtown can be challenging sometimes and there is opportunity for improvement, but saying it’s a serious mess is an overstatement.|
|Rye City paid meter parking downtown has a negative impact on local business and on residents enjoying downtown||N||Parking costs in Rye are reasonable and metered parking is the norm in downtown areas, I would like to see a few additional 15 minute free spots for those just running in and out,|
|Rye City should be more pedestrian and bike friendly||Y||For both health and environmental reasons Rye should, when feasible and cost-effective, improve opportunities for safely walking and biking.|
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year concerning stories about bias in our schools and community came out. Do you acknowledge these stories and believe we should actively address issues of bias? Yes, or No? If Yes, what role should the City have?
Tannenbaum: Yes. A harsh spotlight was turned on racism and bias with the continuing, brutal, tragic murders of innocent people of color. That spotlight empowered people to speak up about their experiences of bias, whether it was conscious or unconscious. As an employer Rye must make sure we have training, policy, practices and reporting in place to track and eliminate bias in our workplace and interactions with our residents and visitors. It is also the duty of elected officials to denounce racism and bias, not to mention our moral responsibility.
Land use and the control of development has been raised as an issue in Rye, fueled by a variety of concerns including flood control and the development of flag lots. Should more be done to bring transparency and control to land use decisions in Rye? If so, what are three of the top recommendations you would make?
Tannenbaum: The amount of time and resources spent in Rye on land use decisions is staggering, hours upon hours of multiple commission meetings, public hearings and City Council meetings. Although these meetings are open to the public, thus should be transparent, residents are often not aware of projects in process until it’s too late.
- Rye needs a functioning Master Plan. If the current plan sufficed decisions would not be as time-consuming, cause so much vitriol, nor would they be impacted by who shouts louder or spends more money on attorneys. Based on the Master Plan, zoning should be relooked, updated and streamlined.
- Environmental impacts should not be assessed by experts hired by parties involved in decision making, such as developers and homeowners. I propose the City contract the experts, with cost passed on to those seeking to build/make changes, ensuring the assessments are not biased by special interests. This would include all tree plans, as trees save water and combat soil erosion.
- The following suggestion applies to all City commissions and initiatives, including the City Council. I’d propose an internship program in conjunction with our high schools. Students, just like professional reporters, would be assigned an area to cover, such as Planning, Architectural Review, Human Rights, Rye Rec, etc. and provide concise, easy-to-read summaries for a digital newsletter.
Further on land use, what benchmarks could the City publish annually or semi-annually that could help residents understand the state of land use in the City?
Tannenbaum: Rye should publish the numbers of each type of land use decisions made, zoning changes, residential expansion or new building plans, both approved and not approved. I believe it is also important to publish how many decisions are pending, and the length of time each of the pending approvals have been in process.
What are the current plans for the former United Hospital site just over the Rye City line in Port Chester? And what should the City be doing to represent its interests?
Tannenbaum: The new owners of the United Hospital site, Rose Associates and Bedrock Capital, have proposed a mixed-use development including 975 residential units (200 age restricted) 15,000 square feet of retail/dining space and a 120 room hotel. The plan mitigates some of the traffic concerns with the Starwood plan, dramatically reducing the amount of retail space, eliminating office/medical space and slightly reduces the size of the hotel. I am looking forward to the space finally being developed, getting rid of the dangerous eyesore United Hospital has become. I am also excited about the age restricted units, which will offer an additional option for Rye seniors who want to downsize but stay in the area. Rye should be a good neighbor in supporting Port Chester’s economic development efforts, however we must ensure impacts to Rye are fully vetted and addressed, plus secure funding from the developer for any improvements or changes Rye would need to make to facilitate the project.
The City’s Master Plan was written in 1985, over 35 years ago. Should the City update its Master Plan? If yes, describe the process, timeline, stakeholders, and a few of the issues and policies that might be addressed in this work.
Tannenbaum: Rye desperately needs a new Master Plan to provide a framework for policy decisions, more orderly and predictable development, protect our environment and more. The plan will enable us to update zoning, set appropriate planning parameters and allow for holistic, not patchwork, decision making. Although I would like to see it started immediately and completed within a year there are components for which we may need to move more slowly, as we understand the implications of a post-Covid environment on commuting, working at home, office space and more.
There are too many steps to outline here, so I will start with the first, which is seeking input from residents and businesses regarding their goals for the plan. This differs from the goal set out for the City in the plan, it’s aligning on what we as a community are trying to accomplish with the Master Plan. Community involvement is key, following the input period we would form a community taskforce representing a diverse cross-section of the community with people from all age and economic groups, businesses, non-profits and schools. to lead the process. As we proceed along the process there would be numerous opportunities for broad community sharing and input.
Tell us about you:
What is your day job?
Tannenbaum: I spent many years in marketing and general management with several companies, most notably AT&T and Citibank. In 2016 I transitioned my career to politics and government and have worked on the staff of political campaigns throughout Westchester. I served as the Director – Community Outreach for Congressman Eliot Engel in the District Office until he left office in January.
If you could travel anywhere in the world (post pandemic!), where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Tannenbaum: My daughter lives in Berlin, with Covid I have not seen her in way too long. She is coming here this summer, but if the pandemic causes a change in that plan I will take my other child with me to Germany as soon as possible.
What are you watching these days?
TV – For Life
National Geographic – Genius:Aretha
HBO Max – Mare of Easttown
Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you been in the City?
Tannenbaum: Four years, Roosevelt Ave.
What are three of your favorite food takeout / delivery restaurants in or around Rye?
- Piazza Pizza
- Rye Country Store
Please provide links to:
Your LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaktannenbaum/
Your Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaforRye
In 2016 I took a break from my long career in Marketing and General Management to help elect the first woman President of the United States
I became a Fellow on the Clinton campaign, co-managing the Hilary for America regional office in White Plains. While I lived in New Jersey at the time, I grew up in White Plains and jumped at the opportunity to return home to where my interest in politics had begun. (The Hillary office was around the block from the campaign office where I’d volunteered for the first time in middle school!).
While working on Hillary’s campaign I realized two things, I wanted to transition my career to government and politics and I wanted to move back to Westchester. After the shocking events of November, 2016 I focused on making these moves.
By 2017 I was working as a Regional Field Director on George Latimer’s campaign for County Executive and bought my home in Rye.
Following George’s successful race I worked and volunteered on many campaigns throughout Westchester before managing voter interaction for Congressman Eliot Engel, helping him win his Congressional race in 2018. After the election I joined the Congressional staff, becoming Director of Community Outreach.
Through my work for Congressman Engel and various campaigns, I’ve seen how tireless efforts help constituents, families and small businesses. I’ve seen up close the impact hard work and good policy can have on a community.
I am running for City Council to bring this experience to benefit all of Rye. I hope you will give me the opportunity to work on your behalf.
- BA, Carnegie Mellon University
- MBA, The Kellogg School, Northwestern University
- AT&T, Marketing Manager, General Manager
- Citigroup, Marketing Director
- Two children, one married and living in Germany, the other lives with me in Rye
Note: this interview was completed in May 2021.