Last month, New York City’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability released an update (“Update”) to PlaNYC, a plan for a “Greener, Greater New York.” The Update is the first full report since the main report was released at the project’s inception in 2007.  It provides information regarding the project’s progress, obstacles and shortfalls, and current near and long-term goals.

The 2007 plan presented 127 initiatives. While 97% of these initiatives have already been launched, some have been delayed by a reduction in the City’s capital budget, and others hindered by a lack of federal or state permission, action or funding.

Key Topics of Interest: Neighborhood Development and Brownfields

According to the Update, over 87% of new housing starts since 2007 have been within a half-mile of transit. In addition, the City has created or preserved 110,000 units of affordable housing since 2004, with plans for 165,000 units by 2014. Over 30,000 of these units financed by the City will meet Enterprise Green Communities guidelines for energy efficiency and sustainability. In addition, the City continues to explore underutilized areas as potential new sites for development, including areas of Staten Island and the Bronx.

Progress on brownfields is also reported. In 2008, the City created its Office of Environmental Remediation, which facilitates the nation’s first municipally-run cleanup program (The NYC Brownfield Cleanup Program, or “NYC BCP”).  It has also created the Searchable Property Environmental Electronic Database (“SPEED”), an online search engine containing environmental and historic land use information on thousands of sites throughout NYC. The City plans to establish the NYC Community Brownfield Planning District (“CBPD”) Program, under which it will create 25 new NYC Community Brownfield Planning Districts and link these grassroots efforts into larger networks. The City will continue to collaborate with the state and federal governments to improve incentives for brownfield cleanup and development; advocate at the state level for a full liability release for parties who remediate under the NYC BCP; collaborate with local entities to establish low-interest loan programs to fund cleanups; and establish an online document repository for NYC BCP project information. As noted previously on this  blog, the City is continuing to encourage participation in this program.

Other Initiatives

The Update discusses the City’s progress in other environmentally-related areas, including:

  • reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (the goal remains to reduce them 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2050);
  • using federal stimulus money to install more than 200 electric vehicle (EV) chargers throughout the metropolitan area (including in commercial parking garages);
  • retrofitting over 100 City-owned buildings to be more energy efficient;
  • implementing regulations to phase out dirty heating fuels;
  • planting one million trees;
  • preparing for what may be inevitable results of climate change (rising temperatures and sea levels); and
  • approximately 400 very specific short-term goals in a variety of areas to be completed by the end of 2013. 

For more information on PlaNYC, and to view the many reports that have been published in conjunction with the program, visit New York City’s PlaNYC website.

Laura Friend is a paralegal at Sive, Paget & Riesel.