Opinion: Upzone Now to Improve Commutes in the Post-Lockdown Future

Building more housing where people work is a simple way to come out of the pandemic with a stronger sense of community and shorter commutes, according to this article.

2 minute read

August 11, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery

New York Manhattan Chinatown

mandritoiu / Shutterstock

Pandemic lockdown has changed the way people relate to the cities in which they live, shop, and work. Increasingly, say Michael Hendrix and John Ketcham, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way residents of the New York City region commute and shed light on the fact that under 'normal' circumstances, hordes of people commute into cities on a daily basis to get to work. 

Hedrix and Ketcham opine that instead of allowing the commute to continue, planners and lawmakers should increase housing supply in commercial areas. Upzoning commercial areas, they say, will minimize commute times while improving neighborhood quality and individuals' quality of life. 

The article urges for the transformation of New York City neighborhoods, its authors arguing that density controls and regulation opposing adaptive reuse are ultimately damaging to community vitality in the Big Apple. Not enough housing has been built in areas where jobs are growing. "An October 2019 report by the New York City Department of City Planning found that from 2009 to 2018, 700,000 new jobs were added in the city, compared with only 197,000 new housing units permitted," write Hedrix and Ketcham. 

Given the decreasing demand for urban retail and office space, planners and politicians should begin to build housing in those areas where demand will ultimately crop up again. According to Hedrix and Ketcham. "With the right policies, this time of crisis can give way to more neighborhoods where we live, work, and play."

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