From PlaNYC to OneNYC: New York’s Evolving Sustainability Policy

Steven Cohen | The Huffington Post

The Miller South Shore commuter rail station is being targeted for improvements by railroad operator Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and the city of Gary. Both want the station to become the center for a vibrant neighborhood.One of the signature accomplishments of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years as mayor was the development and implementation of New York City’s first sustainability plan: PlaNYC 2030. Mayor Bloomberg saw projections of New York’s population growth and realized that environmental goals needed to be integrated into the city’s economic development goals. The plan’s focus on measurable accomplishments and frequent performance reporting mirrored the highly successful anti-crime techniques pioneered by the NYPD’s CompStat system. Key to the success of PlaNYC was its clear status as a mayoral priority.

PlaNYC joined environment to the mayor’s top priority of economic development. Last week, we may have seen a similar moment in policy development as Mayor de Blasio linked sustainability to his top goal of poverty reduction. The fact that he is attempting to integrate sustainability with his highest priority is a strong indication that sustainability goals will continue to advance in New York City.

The different goals of our very distinct mayors reflect the different conditions they inherited when they assumed office. Mayor Bloomberg took office less than one hundred days after the horror of the World Trade Center’s destruction. Our confidence was low and the city’s economic viability was under threat. Bloomberg’s steady, business-like approach and his focus on management and economic development reassured New Yorkers and led to a decade of renewal. In 2008 and 2009, the shock of the Great Recession further reinforced the need to create a city attractive to businesses that would bring energy, creativity, money and employment to the City. Read more

 

Trains do more than transport people

John Luke | The Times Editorial Board

The Miller South Shore commuter rail station is being targeted for improvements by railroad operator Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and the city of Gary. Both want the station to become the center for a vibrant neighborhood.

The Miller South Shore commuter rail station is being targeted for improvements by railroad operator Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and the city of Gary. Both want the station to become the center for a vibrant neighborhood.

Much has been written about the simple rationale for extending commuter rail service in Northwest Indiana. Everyone knows it’s about bringing Northwest Indiana residents to high-paying jobs in Chicago. But that’s far from the whole story.

Keith Benman’s series on commuter rail last week shows that expansion of South Shore service in Northwest Indiana, coupled with improvements along the existing line, has the power to bring improvements to host communities, and those benefits spread far beyond those communities.

Benman’s stories looked at how Metra stations have influenced Chicago’s Illinois suburbs.

Orland Park, for example, is seeing the benefits of transit-oriented development around the station at LaGrange Road and 143rd Street.

“This station is important to us because we are building a downtown around it,” Karie Friling, Orland Park’s director of development services, said. Read more 

 

America’s 10 greenest cities

Silvia Ascarelli | MarketWatch

Terrence Horan/MarketWatch

Terrence Horan/MarketWatch

10. Jersey City

Score: 55

“Maybe it’s a surprise to some people,” Mayor Fulop says about being his city being on the list. “But it’s not a surprise to us. Our goal is to move up the list.” It seems to be on the right track.

Jersey City has changed dramatically since the days of that burning landfill, now being cleaned up to become the site of at least 4,000 residential units and an extension of the city’s light-rail system. Another contaminated site, next to then PPG Superfund site in the heart of the city, is expected to reopen as a 17-acre park by the end of this year, increasing the city’s green space by 10% in one stroke.

Gentrification has turned parts of the city into what some call New York’s sixth borough. The city has aggressively changed zoning rules to allow for greater density and require fewer parking spaces; a 70-story tower is now going up in Journal Square, above a transit line. Among Jersey City’s many other environmental initiatives is a planned bike-share system of 350-400 bikes that would be linked to New York’s Citibike program. Read more

 

PA lawmakers set to approve changes to law supporting transit oriented districts

Jim Saksa | NewsWorks

One Transit Revitalization Investment District, located around a light rail station in the Pittsburgh suburb of Dormont, has made it from planning to implementation. (Ryan Loew/WESA)

One Transit Revitalization Investment District, located around a light rail station in the Pittsburgh suburb of Dormont, has made it from planning to implementation. (Ryan Loew/WESA)

A bill aiming to revamp a barely used state law promoting transit oriented development passed the state Senate unanimously Monday.

The bill, SB 385, overhauls the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) Act of 2004.

Transit oriented development refers to clustering high-density, mixed-use buildings around transit hubs like train stations. Proponents argue that TOD helps limit urban sprawl, improves mobility and leads to higher property values.

Former Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi introduced the bill back in February, and expects it to move through the state House of Representatives without delay. The bill addresses one of the TRID Act’s fundamental flaws: they don’t raise enough money initially to fund investment. The bill allows proposed TRIDs to use a “tax capture” funding mechanism for infrastructure improvement funds. Read more

Density is the key to sustainable cities

Alisha Newton | Vanderbilt Orbis

Macau (Flickr Creative Commons)

Macau (Flickr Creative Commons)

Macau, China is one of the world’s densest cities, with 44,183 people per square mile. Nearly half of the families in Macau live in dwellings that have an average of 180 square feet per person, which is about the size of a large bedroom. Because of their space-efficient lifestyles and their use of public transit, each resident of Macau citizen is responsible for roughly 3 metric tons of carbon emissions per year — one sixth of the carbon footprint of the average American.

True, it’s not fair to compare the city of Macau to the entire expanse of the United States. But even our densest city, New York, is half as dense as Macau, with 27,000 people per square mile, and we have dozens of other cities that are low-density and high-carbon. Take Nashville, Tennessee, one of the highest carbon-producing cities in the U.S.

Of course, Nashville is part of the southeastern United States, which suffers from the same set of carbon challenges, like historical dependency on coal for electricity. But Nashville looks bad even compared to other cities in the South. For example, Charlotte, North Carolina, is a peer city to Nashville based on the two cities’ population sizes and growth rates, but Charlotte is still much more energy-efficient.

The key difference lies in density: Music City has 1319 people per square mile, compared to Charlotte’s 2663 people per square mile. Fewer people per area means sprawl, and sprawl makes the city necessarily car-dependent. When people have to drive from home to workplace, the city consumes much more fuel. Read more

 

Report highlights positive growth in Center City Philadelphia

Ayana Jones | The Philadelphia Tribune

The Center City District has released the “State of Center City, 2015” report, which provides a detailed look at the diverse sectors that make Center City Philadelphia the largest employment center in the region. — AP Photo/Matt SlocumThe Center City District has released the “State of Center City, 2015” report, which provides a detailed look at the diverse sectors that make Center City Philadelphia the largest employment center in the region.

The report documents how Center City provides jobs, education, medical, cultural and retail services for residents across the city and the region, while supporting the second largest residential downtown in the United States. According to the report, 293,700 jobs are concentrated in Greater Center City and 52 percent of those jobs are held by Philadelphia residents. An average of 25 percent of employed residents from every neighborhood outside of downtown work in Center City.

CCD President and CEO Paul Levy said while downtown growth is strong in the education, healthcare and hospitality sectors, the district is under performing in the areas of business and professional services and that is impacting the ability to raise rents for office space. Center City’s 40.3 million square feet of office space contain 38.8 percent of all salaried jobs downtown. Read more

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers