There are six bills before me for consideration today. The first bill is Intro # 806-A sponsored by Council Members Deer, McCaffrey, Eisland, Malave-Dilan and Warden.

This bill would amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York with respect to regulations governing the operation of horse drawn carriages. I say “would amend” because I cannot sign this bill into law.

There are few issues that create the kind of passion that this issue has generated over the years. To the carriage industry, it represents their livelihood. To many New Yorkers and visitors, horse-drawn carriages represent a romantic and long-standing tradition and symbol of our City. But to many people, the issue is about providing support and comfort to those who are unable to speak or act on their own behalf: the horses.

In 1989, the City Council crafted legislation designed to strike a balance among the competing needs of the drivers, the horses, mid-town businesses, and motorists. That law worked effectively, and in my view, could have been extended by the Council this month. Instead, the Council has chosen to amend the law in several unacceptable ways. This proposed legislation would water down licensing requirements, would cause the horses to work additional hours in the congestion and emissions of midtown traffic, and would dramatically expand both hours and areas in the central business district for horse carriages to travel. These changes were made despite strong testimony by the Department of Health and by business leaders who testified about the negative impact of the horse-drawn carriages in business districts.

The Council had the option of extending the current law, as was proposed in Intro # 810. I was fully prepared to support such action. However, my opposition to this measure should not surprise anyone. I expressed many of these concerns when I vetoed Intro #410-A last year.

I am aware of the concerns advanced by the horse carriage industry. I am not insensitive to their claims of hardship, although to my knowledge no concrete evidence of economic hardship has been presented. Yet it seems penny-wise and pound foolish to promote the economic interests of a tiny industry against the needs of the midtown business community as a whole.

The current law is due to expire on December 31 of this year. Should I veto this bill the horse carriage industry will be left virtually without regulation but only until a sound new proposal is advanced. Should I sign this bill into law a false impression that these issues have been satisfactorily resolved will be created.

I am convinced that to sign this bill into law would do a severe disservice to the City. By vetoing this bill, it is my clear intention to send a message to the City Council and to the incoming administration that this issue is not resolved and that restoration of the current program or an alternate compromise which rationally balances the interests of all the parties should be sought.

I will turn first to the bill’s sponsors and then to any other elected official who wish to speak. Is there anyone in the general audience to be heard in opposition? Is there anyone in the general audience to be heard in support? There being no one else to be heard, and for reasons previously stated, I will veto this bill.

Return to