Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered his final State of the City address today he said 2013 will be his administration's "busiest and most important year yet", and will include efforts to increase jobs and reduce the Big Apple's carbon footprint.
Speaking to a large crowd at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, Mayor Bloomberg touted a number of initiatives from building on the city's growing technology presence to ensuring further capital investment in public housing.
The mayor also touched on several hot button issues, including the ongoing school bus strike, where he urged drivers to return to work.
"If you notice, we haven't had a lot of political support in taking this issue on. But that's exactly why we’re doing it: because it's the right thing to do. And if we don't do it now it may never get done," Bloomberg said.
The mayor also called for tougher stances on gun violence and reiterated his support for the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisks as a way to get illegal guns off the street.
"I understand that innocent people don't like to be stopped," he said. "But innocent people don't like to be shot and killed, either."
He announced a change in the city's policy on marijuana arrests.
He said that starting next month, people arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana won't have to spend the night in jail. Instead, he will allow them to be released from police precincts if they have identification and clear a warrant check. They would still have to appear in court.
He also said this year's "top priority" in Albany will be to pass the DREAM Act.
As recovery efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy continue, Bloomberg said the city will build back stronger, adding, "We will build back safer. We will build back more sustainably. But we'll build back here."
Bloomberg also pledged to open all of the city's beaches on Memorial Day weekend.
On education, the mayor reiterated his support for charter schools - an often controversial issue in the city - announcing plans for new schools this year and next.
"This September, we'll open 26 charters, and we'll work to approve more in 2014. Some of them will be located in public school buildings even though there are special interests that want to prevent that from happening," the mayor added.
On the environmental front, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to ban Styrofoam containers from stores and restaurants, a move that would require City Council approval.
An estimated 20,000 tons of Styrofoam, which never biodegrades, is thrown out in New York City each year.
If the legislation goes through, New York would join several West Coast cities that already have similar bans in place.
Bloomberg also wants to make it easier to recycle.
He plans to add 1,000 new recycling containers throughout the city.
New Yorkers will be able to recycle more types of plastic, like yogurt cups and takeout containers, when a new recycling plant opens in Sunset Park this spring.
That will help the city move closer to reaching its goal of doubling the recycling rate by 2017.
Bloomberg also proposed wiring one-fifth of all new city parking spaces for electric cars, creating 10,000 spots over the next seven years.
Web Extra: Mayor's Full State Of The City Address
NY1: Mayor Goes "Green" In Final State Of The City Address
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