Enviros Lay Out Smart Growth Agenda For Cuomo Administration

The Buffalo area has sprawled out to three times its former size despite its population remaining static. Thats hurting both the environment and the state budget. Image: Joe the Planner.
The Buffalo area has sprawled out to three times its former size despite its population remaining static. That's hurting both the environment and the state budget. Image: ##http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_payZfX5rZ08/S5RDcIOl1YI/AAAAAAAAADo/QYa2Yb8_JI8/s1600/Map1_large.gif##Joe the Planner.##

A coalition of environmental groups has lined up behind a smart growth agenda for New York State. Released by 12 organizations, the new memo lays out how Governor Cuomo and the state legislature can help New York use scarce public dollars more efficiently and sustainably when it comes to development.

The coalition’s smart growth recommendations are part of a larger set of memos outlining top environmental priorities for the state [PDF]. As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (one of the signatories) notes, the smart growth section earned the most endorsements of them all. Moving away from sprawl would not only reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, notes the memo, but would also preserve open space, protect drinking water, and improve air quality. It could also save the state millions of dollars.

To help New York grow green, the enviros recommend that Cuomo work hard to enforce the smart growth law that passed last year, which requires the state’s infrastructure spending to go towards projects in line with certain smart growth principles. Cuomo should also appoint a reformer to head the state DOT and direct him or her to boost the agency’s much-lauded GreenLITES program, which links transportation, land use, and environmental sustainability.

The memo also warns Cuomo not to raid dedicated transit funds in his budget, to consider congestion pricing or other ways of funding transit, and to support complete streets legislation.

These recommendations earned the support of the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, American Lung Association in New York, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, Empire State Future, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Public Interest Research Group, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter and Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

  • Larry Littlefield

    These groups should ask people living in metro Buffalo who are well off enough to afford the cost of a new housing unit if they would be willing to live in the City of Buffalo, and why or why not. I don’t think they want to deal with the answers.

    1) Taxes and services: current residents of the City of Buffalo are burdened by the costs left behind by former residents who moved to the suburbs, and the deteriorated infrastructure they left behind. In some cases, the suburbanites still control government jobs.

    2) Crime.

    3) Schools.

    NYC has the same problems, but has other assets to offset them, at least for some people.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Just to follow up, public policy has left decisions as to preferred urban form comingled with other issues. There is nothing inherent in more compact living arrangments that require it be associated with drastically higher taxes, inferior schools, deteriorating streets, etc. All that is the result of government policies OTHER THAN permitted suburban development and providing suburban infrastructure.

  • Larry, if the government hadn’t encouraged anyone with means to leave the cities, the cities would have retained their tax base and paid for good schools, and the police forces would have had similar demographics to the people they were supposed to protect.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Larry, if the government hadn’t encouraged anyone with means to leave the cities.”

    Such is history. Europe is, of course, much different.

    The question is, what now?

  • fdr

    Cuomo announced today that he has appointed Joan McDonald as DOT Commissioner. She was a Deputy Commissioner at NYC DOT and also a VP for Transportation at the Economic Development Corp. in the Giuliani Administration.

  • tom

    Just looked through the Green Memos and #5 caught my eye because I go to Ireland regularly. I always remember to bring along my American shopping bags to avoid the ‘plastax’.

    Ireland’s a great little country that missed out on the Industrial Revolution and as a result lacks the pollution of the land and water. They like it to remain so and did not want to clean up all those plastic bags by the roadside so they instituted the tax. Once up and running demand for them fell to only 10%. That was OK, since they were interested in ‘tidy towns’, not revenues. Similarly the demand dropped by half in DC.

    Of course, a lesson for us here is don’t count your revenues before the cash is collected. This is how we here in the City and, again, in the State got into trouble.

    In other words, don’t go writing any checks for $330,000,000; and stop dreaming about it.

    I hope the other memos are better thought out.

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