Regional Plan Association announced on April 19 the launch of a multiyear effort to create the first regional plan in more than a generation for the New York-New-Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area.
This research effort will develop a blueprint for growth and sustainability in the New York region for the generation to come, just as prior plans created by RPA have done for earlier eras. As part of the launch of this effort, RPA unveiled results of a major poll of the region's residents addressing quality of life, economic issues and environmental concerns.
The Fourth Regional Plan for the greater New York region will examine our most pressing challenges, including climate change, fiscal uncertainty and declining economic opportunity for too many residents of the region. The plan will propose policies and investments to ensure our prosperity and quality of life for the coming decades.
RPA has produced three previous regional plans, in 1929, 1968 and 1996. Each came at a critical time in the region’s development and led to major changes in transportation, community development, environmental protection and social welfare.
RPA believes that the metropolitan region has reached another critical juncture. On the one hand, we have made tremendous advances in the last 20 years. Instead of fleeing our urban areas, residents and businesses are flocking to city centers. Crime has dropped dramatically throughout the region, and we are making key investments in infrastructure after decades of neglect. Abandoned industrial waterfronts have been turned into thriving parks, and threatened open spaces have been preserved.
Yet there is much that threatens our progress. Despite our efforts to curb pollution, we haven’t done nearly enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and address the risk posed by climate change. A growing number of the region’s residents can’t find housing they can afford, and many are struggling under growing financial pressure. Much of our infrastructure is deteriorating, and increasingly we lag behind our global peers in implementing new ideas and technology. Our public institutions, plagued by high levels of debt and outdated structures, often fail to address our most pressing long-term needs.
Recognizing that our environment, our travel patterns and commercial activity span city and state boundaries, it is vital that we address these issues from a regional perspective. The plan will offer a vision for our future that will look beyond election cycles and economic trends, anticipating growth and needs a generation or more from now.
“A strong economic future requires us to make smart decisions now — to connect transportation, commerce, and housing with an eye on affordability, sustainability and livability,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. “Growing our economy, improving the business climate, and creating jobs is priority one, but must happen in balance with strengthening our quality of life and protecting the environment. I applaud RPA and their partners for the work they do to advance this strategic planning and encourage regional collaboration.”
“Developing a blueprint for the future of New York will help answer fundamental questions about the health and sustainability of our region’s economy and infrastructure,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “RPA’s vision and this important conference will help to improve New York’s long-term growth and sustainability while emboldening our resolve to act as responsible stewards of the environment for our children.”
“RPA’s research has made a tremendous contribution to our understanding of the region,” said Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor of New York and former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “As a board member who has worked closely with RPA for decades, I believe that failing to anticipate the region’s long-term needs will jeopardize the prosperity and quality of life of future generations.”
To help lead this effort, RPA has asked Rohit Aggarwala, the special advisor to the chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and Anthony Shorris, vice dean and chief of staff of the NYU Langone Medical Center, to co-chair RPA’s Committee on the Fourth Regional Plan.
Planning for the future must involve input from community organizations, civic groups, businesses and citizens that together make our region vibrant and successful. Through collaboration with regional and community leaders, interactive workshops, issue forums, interviews and online conversations incorporating social media, RPA plans to engage and learn from expert and non-expert voices from across the region.
To learn more about what is important to the region’s 22 million inhabitants, RPA this winter commissioned a poll of residents. The survey found that residents of the tri-state area are more optimistic about their quality of life than they were two decades ago, but problems including unemployment, the cost of housing, property taxes and the threat of natural disasters are casting a significant shadow on their hopes for progress in the coming years.