Monday, May 3, 2010

Major flaws in PlaNYC2030

From the Gotham Gazette:

PlaNYC2030 left out any role for the city's hundreds of neighborhoods, 59 community boards, and the countless civic, community and environmental groups that care about the future of the city. It was a top-down plan, conceived at City Hall with minimal input, and it was never approved as an official plan. In the long term this will only undermine the ability to sustain the plan itself, and both implement and improve it.

The plan now stands at a critical juncture, Rohit Aggarwala, director of the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, recently announced his resignation, and the city's budget situation and the overall economic situation have delayed and even derailed some of its initiatives. With Aggarwala's departure and the convening of a commission to review the City Charter, now is the time to fill the gap that excluded neighborhoods. An updated PlaNYC2030 could then be reviewed and voted on by community boards, borough presidents, the City Planning Commission, and City Council, as required in the City Charter.

While the rezonings have opened up opportunities for new development -- also a major goal of PlaNYC2030 -- and protected many other areas, they hardly pass muster as "plans." Rezoning for new development is often done without planning for new schools, transit and other services, nor does it entail measures to deal with existing service deficits or the myriad problems that face communities. In some neighborhoods that have undergone massive rezoning, such as Williamsburg, residents are now up in arms because new high-rise luxury development has overtaxed the capacity of local schools and transit.

While City Planning often echoes PlaNYC's call for "transit-oriented development" by promoting higher density development around subway stops, it does not insure that transit capacity will grow to meet increased needs. Trains and buses are even more overcrowded than they were before the rezoning, and with more service cutbacks planned, the situation promises to get worse. If that's planning it's surely not good planning.

New Yorkers are most familiar with the neighborhoods where they live and work. In this sense they are specialists, and neighborhood leaders and activists are usually a great source of knowledge. Surely they can be parochial and narrow-minded, but so too can people in government agencies. PlaNYC did not look at the city from the perspective of its hundreds of neighborhoods or incorporate the vast experiences and histories of its neighborhoods. Only after the giant spreadsheet was made were the citywide programs and projects broken down, but mostly for reporting purposes.


Anonymous said...

The MTA is controlled by The STATE of New York-- not the City. Always was. Still is. The City has no say in the palnning for transit and railroads. That's the bottom line.

Queens Crapper said...

Really? So you meant to tell me that the city has no dialogue with the state? No influence over state legislature and the governor? No one with vision in this city to sit down with the big shots in Albany and make a game plan and together request funding from the feds?

I mean wow, if this is what the public actually thinks, then no wonder we're in such trouble.

kwyjibo said...

Assuming this mayor is no longer in office in 2030, is it likely that the next mayor will continue this program?

Anonymous said...

I'm just praying that Turtle Face isn't around in 2030. Hopefully, the next mayor will be intelligent and will dump this 2030 plan and start from scratch. We need planning in this city. We need infrastructure to sustain all the people in this town. He doesn't get it. All he wants to do is make his developer friends rich. After he destroys our city, he'll retire to his home in Tuckertown, Bermuda. We'll be left behind in this overcrowded, overdeveloped mess.

Anonymous said...

Impeach Bloomturd NOW!!!

Anonymous said...

what's the best way for a young person to learn first hand how local governments operate?

D. Truth said...

what's the best way for a young person to learn first hand how local governments operate?

Read the rap sheets of your favorite elected officials. You have a lot to learn, grasshopper.

Erik Baard said...

In many cases, it's more effective to set somewhat modest goals with broad community buy-in than extremely ambitious goals with no street-level support. To not recognize this fact is the chief technocratic error, committed over and over again. I saw it at the UN, and we see this in governments with institutionalized, though excellently educated, bureaucratic elites like France and Japan.

That said, sometimes a leader must get out ahead of the culture. That's the essence of leadership. The trick is to make your case, communicate it, excite people about the cause, and show the benefits.

It's all messy and inexact, and I think Rit has done a great job with limited resources. Now is a chance to build on his success by taking stock and bridging those gaps.

Of course, there will always be resistance to change. One can be very cynical about it (tongue in cheek) and recall Max Planck's observation about even his supposedly dry and logical field: "Science advances one funeral at a time."