Monday, January 15, 2007

"Smart Growth" Comes To New York

Governor Spitzer To Incorporate "Smart Growth" Strategies In Plan For One New York

New York, a State which has, over the past 12 years, significantly "dumbed down" in areas of zoning, land preservation, affordable housing, and downtown redevelopment, now becomes the focus if "smart growth" ideas and ideals as envisioned by the new Governor, Eliot Spitzer.

On Long Island, where "smart growth" too often translates to a sidewalk of brick pavers and some Victorian-style street lamps, under the euphamistic guise of "facade improvement," the call by the Governor form reforms and initiatives is most welcome.

Clearly, change is in order with respect to local Ordinances, which often deter and hinder beneficial redevelopment, and the application and enforcement of local codes which, at best, is haphazard, and at worst, nonexistent.

The Governor has his work cut out for him, what with all the "entrenched special intersts" (not to mention entrenched special districts) at play, and the resistance to change not only bt government, but by the governed as well.

The time has come to look anew at "smart growth," and to approach the problems of an aging infrastructure, a maturing suburbia, and stagnant economic growth with a fresh and positive perspective.

We at The Community Alliance support Governor Spitzer in his lofty endeavors, and look forward to moving ahead to a better New York as One New York.
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Smart Growth Planning Part of Gov. Spitzer's Goal for Cleaner, Greener New York

New Yorkers voted for change last November and the legislative stalemate in Albany must end, said newly-elected Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer in his first State of the State speech, ready for multi-prong state and local reforms, property tax relief, revitalization of distressed municipalities and neighborhoods, and investment in needy school districts, affordable housing, transportation and other infrastructure, but also in the environment, clean energy and land protection. The transportation investments, the governor emphasized, must be ''accompanied by smart-growth planning, which will alleviate environmental degradation, instead of contributing to it, and will make our communities more vibrant places to live, work and raise a family.''

Aware that the new path of ''pragmatic politics instead of partisan politics, results instead of empty press releases, action instead of gridlock'' won't be easy, as many ''entrenched interests'' will try to keep the status quo, Governor Spitzer pledged efforts to transform the state government ''from one that is designed to resist change to one that is designed to embrace it.'' He also promised to appoint a Commission on Local Government Efficiency, which will find ways to consolidate the state's 4,200 taxing jurisdictions ''that cost taxpayers millions each year in duplicative services,'' and to present a budget, with ''the first installment of a three-year, $6 billion property tax cut -- cuts that are focused on those middle class homeowners whose property taxes are rising too fast for their incomes to catch up.''

Stressing the need to ''reverse the decline of our Upstate economy; sustain the economic expansion Downstate; and develop new ways for communities which have been left behind to share in prosperity,'' the governor focused on the knowledge-based economy -- or the Innovation Economy -- as the ''driving force of job creation'' in this century, on urban revitalization, and on targeted investments.

''In New York, we face the twin challenges of high home prices Downstate and deteriorating housing stock Upstate,'' he said. ''On Long Island, our young workforce has little choice but to move away from their older communities. And in many of our Upstate cities and towns, once-vibrant neighborhoods are declining as their housing stock decays.''

To change the situation, he continued, we must use ''every tool at our disposal: land -- by calling for an inventory of our significant public land holdings to determine which parcels can be used for housing; capital -- by exploring ways to partner with business on employer-assisted housing programs; zoning -- by rewarding localities that reform zoning laws to allow for increased construction of affordable homes.'' Turning to energy and the environment, he said the state ''must implement an aggressive conservation strategy'' and expand its ''clean generation capacity,'' with Lieutenant Governor David Paterson leading efforts to make renewable energy production cover 25 percent of state needs and the governor continuing talks with his counterparts in nearby states to follow their regional compact on climate change with other such joint initiatives.

And elaborating on his key themes of cooperation and unity, Governor Spitzer told lawmakers, ''One New York means a state where a child can breathe our air without triggering asthma, and swim and fish in our waters without getting sick. That is why we must expand the Environmental Protection Fund and revive our Department of Environmental Conservation.'' He also said, ''One New York means a state that preserves its land, while allowing for growth. That is why our policy in the Adirondack and Catskills must recognize that these two goals are not mutually exclusive.''

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