Planyc For Smart Growth In New York Essay

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Transportation Type: Essay Paper: #72399611 Related Topics: New York City, Flooding, Public Transportation, Flat Tax
Excerpt from Essay :

NYC Smart Growth

In 2007, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated PlaNYC. Based on the principles of Smart Growth, the PlaNYC aims to prepare for and balance New York City's population growth, economy development, and environmental issues. By the year 2010, the city of New York received the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with an overall excellence. Taking the direction of a greener and more efficient development means that it is time for the city that never sleeps to rest.

One of the main concerns of American urban governments today is to limit urban sprawl, to expand revenue sharing, to increase affordable housing, and Smart Growth fits in with these objectives. Bloomberg's approach for New York's development is an example of American metropolitan governments have returned to regionalism, yet with a newer perspective and strategies. A city with a long history and great economy, such as the city of New York, shifting toward and focusing on a greener and greater plan, sets a good model for many developing cities in the U.S.; or even around the world. PlaNYC is set for success, as it is being updated every four years.

This paper will examine the efforts of PlaNYC with respect to instituting the principles of Smart Growth. The progress than the city has made thus far will be analyzed critically for its successes and for the areas of improvement that are needed. Furthermore, there have been critics of the plan, and some of what they have to say will be taken into account in this paper as well. The conclusion of the paper will effectively point out the state of Smart Growth in New York and highlight potential areas for improvement.

Methodology and Variables

The paper is research intensive, first to understand what Smart Growth is, and how PlaNYC fits within that framework. Then, the successes that New York has enjoyed will be examined, based on Smart Growth measures. A variety of sources will be used, including sources specific to Smart Growth and to PlaNYC, as well as academic journals, media articles and other publications that can provide some background and insight into this topic. Academic journals are entirely inadequate -- for some reason they do not think this is something important to study. As a result, government sites and .org sites were the most commonly used sources for this information.

The Smart Growth website (2015) highlights the areas that are taken into consideration in Smart Growth. These include "health, schools, taxes, traffic, the environment, economic growth, fairness, opportunity" as key categories where success can be measured. The underlying principle is that these are the ideas that citizens care about the most -- they reflect what goes into building happier lives in a civic environment. These concepts are adapted from the ICMA/EPA circular first published in 2006. Growth is considered "smart" when it improves communities in a wide variety of categories, allowing not just for better communities but the ability to sustain those better communities.

Some of the key tenets of Smart Growth are mixed land uses, compact building design, a range of housing types, walkable neighborhoods, and fostering distinct communities with a strong sense of place. Increased density allows for better transportation options, for better efficiency in development, and to reduce the impact of growth on farmland, open space and areas of natural beauty (EPA, 2014). The EPA created the idea of Smart Growth, and supports it through research, the production of reports, benchmarking and facilitating partnerships -- in essence the EPA is a thought leader in this area, but it remains incumbent on communities to be the producers of the real work in Smart Growth, through their powers of taxation, land use zoning, public transportation and the creation of a centralized vision for its communities, rather than allowing development to become haphazard and unplanned, something more associated with the


As Feuer (2010) notes, in 2005 New York had 1% of total national carbon emissions despite having 2.7% of its population, highlighting the inherent efficiency that large cities enjoy. In that respect, New York was always going to be a good model for Smart Growth -- the potential is built in with its transportation networks, its dense neighborhoods, but in a sense there are also many challenges for New York as well. One tenet of Smart Growth is to improve green space, and this would be difficult in a city so built-up, to find ways to reclaim green space. One of the things that New York was able to do is contribute to the East Coast Greenway, with a 44-mile stretch that winds its way through all the Bronx and Manhattan, but which will eventually encompass parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island as well (, 2015). This pathway links New York with the rest of the Eastern Seaboard on the greenway, but it also increases recreational opportunities and the ability for residents to access greenspace throughout the city.

Another project has been the conversion of a disused rail line in the New York High Line. By repurposing this industrial wasteland into greenspace, the city is reclaiming green space where it would otherwise be impossible due to the many buildings. This is innovative land use, and because it is a city park, was driven specifically by the City, work beginning prior to the PlaNYC as a showcase of what could be done.

All of this is part of the city's 400-mile greenway plan. There are now 72 miles greenway routes throughout the city, off of the roads. This not only is a great use of public land in keeping with Smart Growth objectives, but it also pulls more people out of vehicles. While New Yorkers have always been users of public transportation, they have been hesitant to embrace cycling as a means of transport, in part because of the inherent dangers of cycling in traffic. These cycling routes will encourage more people to cycle, rather than drive, because they are safe, pleasant, and represent an efficient alternative to driving in a traffic-choked city. The city has built these corridors through a mix of revenue sources at the city, state and federal level (, 2000).

The new pedestrianized area of Times Square is another example of Smart Growth, which encourages pedestrian areas where possible. These areas highlight the vehicle traffic is not always given primacy is public planning. In the case of Times Square, tourists love it, but pedestrianized areas can be implemented in other areas of the city as well, so that they may benefit residents who prefer a quieter experience, and where there is sufficient density of businesses to support going car-free. This idea is not revolutionary -- it is common throughout Europe -- but it remains an important element in Smart Growth in America, and New York is looking for ways to embrace it.

The above elements are smart, but New York's growth must also be discussed. Where many cities throughout the East Coast are struggling to maintain their populations, and may have issues with urban blight, New York was at the fore of dealing with these issues. New York was not immune to such blight, in particular in the 1970s and 1980s, but has embarked on a long-term strategy to restore the city. Areas that were once no-go zones are now hipster zones, and the result is that the city has remained vibrant and growing. The population of New York in 2010 was estimated at 19.378 million, and this has grown to 19.746 million in 2014, a 1.9% growth rate. This may not seem like much, but New York is already a highly-dense city with no room for outward growth, only growth through increased density.

This highlights one of the key tenets of Smart Growth. If the city needs to accommodate more people and it wants to increase greenspace and alternative transportation corridors, then something has to give. This is where smart building design comes into play. The City has the ability to influence building design, because it has the power of taxation, and because it has the power over zoning. The City can create incentives -- financial or otherwise -- to encourage smart building design. New York's existing building stock has always relied on small flats as a means of achieving high density and efficiency, so the next step is to encourage new buildings to maintain these principles, but with better designs for liveability, for greenspace and for things like energy efficiency. Rooftop gardens, for example, or solar panels, are means by which a building can be smarter. Green building materials are another area, and again…

Sources Used in Documents:


EPA (2014). This is Smart Growth. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved May 13, 2015 from

Feuer, W. (2010). Overall excellent in Smart Growth. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved May 13, 2015 from (2015). The East Coast Greenway in New York Retrieved May 13, 2015 from (2015). Stronger buildings. NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability. Retrieved May 13, 2015 from
PlaNYC (2015).NYC Mayor's Office for Sustainability Retrieved May 13, 2015 from
Smart Growth (2015). Why Smart Growth? Retrieved May 13, 2015 from (2000). New York's quiet greenway explosion. Retrieved May 13, 2015 from
US Census Bureau (2014). New York. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 13, 2015 from

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