Mayor Adams taps former transit advocate to oversee NYC’s public spaces


Mayor Eric Adam has appointed the city’s first chief public realm officer, a newly created role that will oversee a $375 million investment in the city’s public spaces.

Ya-Ting Liu was named to the role on the same day Adams signed an executive order to codify the creation of the position to ensure “New Yorkers continue to have a one-stop shop for all issues related to public space,” a press release said.

As chief public realm officer, Liu said she will focus on improving and expanding public spaces in the five boroughs, and oversee permanent upgrades to the city’s Open Streets program.

During an appearance on “Mornings On 1” Friday, she said she hopes to bridge divides within local government and ensure that projects can progress smoothly in New York.

“My job as the public realm officer is to really play a centralized, quarterbacking role, to break down all of the silos in government and make sure that our agencies are really coordinating in a very responsive and intentional way to deliver vibrant, attractive public spaces throughout the entire city,” Liu said.

Liu said the investment in public spaces is also an investment in the city’s economic recovery, which is why Adams was prompted to create the role.

“Part of what we learned from the pandemic is that having vibrant, beautiful spaces is really vital to the quality of life for New Yorkers,” Liu said. “And it’s also really essential for economic recovery. And that is why the mayor has empowered and created this position to, again, make sure and wrangle all the city agencies together, to be responsive, to be intentional, to be proactive – so that when businesses and residents or community groups are coming to us with ideas or issues, that we’re really responding in a very quick way.”

Among some of her first priorities will be focusing on two components of Adams’ “Working People’s Agenda” that he announced at his State of the City address earlier this year.

In a press release, the mayor’s office said the $375 million will be applied to projects like the Broadway Vision plan, a full reconstruction of Jamaica Avenue, and upgrades to Open Streets in the Bronx and Staten Island. She’ll also work to lead the Adams administration in delivering a permanent outdoor dining program.

“Our city’s public spaces are too important to fall through the cracks of bureaucracy, and now they won’t,” Adams said in a statement.

“New Yorkers need to know there is one person at City Hall whose number one goal is to improve their quality of life by creating incredible, new public spaces and ensuring the ones we have are clean, equitable, and safe,” the mayor added. “As someone who knows how to think big and ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers, Ya-Ting Liu is the right person to serve as the city’s first-ever chief public realm officer.”

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