NYC Planning Head Defends Growth-Oriented Policies

Acknowledging anti-development sentiments currently simmering at an "all-time high," New York's planning director Marisa Lago defended de Blasio administration policies like mandatory inclusionary housing.
June 12, 2019, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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"We're seeing, at least for me, since the '70s, an all-time high in anti-development sentiment," said Marisa Lago, director of New York City's Department of City Planning and head of its City Planning Commission, quoted by Daniel Geiger speaking at a recent event. "A portion of it is the fact that we have had sustained growth for such a long period. Despite the Great Recession, the city has seen steady prosperity," Lago went on. 

While that prosperity has spurred the construction of plentiful new housing since 2008, much of it is unaffordable to lower- and middle-income households. But Geiger reports that Lago "took issue with the notion that gleaming new apartment projects amount to gentrification."

Lago defended policies like Mayor de Blasio's mandatory inclusionary housing initiative, passed to combat the gentrification specter. "In recent years the Department of City Planning has pushed through several neighborhood rezonings, which have granted residential projects greater density in return for including permanently affordable units," Geiger writes.

Those upzonings have also come under fire for allegedly targeting lower-income neighborhoods, to which Lago responded that since 2015, 36 percent of new housing was built in the 25 percent of neighborhoods with the highest median incomes.

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Published on Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Crain's Business New York
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