The New York city council’s proposed comprehensive long-term planning bill, write Danny Pearlstein and David Tipson in the Gotham Gazette, “has the potential to foster a more equitable and rational planning process to guide land-use changes in New York City.” However, the authors caution that “comprehensive planning is about much more than land use” and involved decisions that affect “education, transportation, public health and safety, sustainability,” and all aspects of city life. Comprehensive planning could end the “piecemeal” decision-making that has crippled the city’s development policies.
The authors argue that the lack of meaningful, comprehensive design guidelines lead to a host of urban problems such as overcrowded schools, excessive traffic and damage to local roads, and dead streetscapes. A “formal process that provide[s] meaningful opportunities for the community to engage in planning” can address these issues and bring forward important community concerns early on. Comprehensive planning promises a pathway to adherence to “clear and immovable guiding principles such as racial justice, reduction of segregation in schools and neighborhoods, net creation of affordable housing, and prioritization of public transit and pedestrian safety and accessibility” through multi-agency coordination and collaboration.
“New York City’s exceptional size, complexity, and competing needs only increase the necessity of a formal and predictable planning process.” The proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan would “enshrine better public transit,” “give local communities a real opportunity to plan proactively without being allowed to override the public good of the city as a whole,” and “ensure that the plan will actually guide official decision-making.”