New York Times: Upzone the Suburbs

While the affordable housing discussion focuses on New York City among the many cities with public transit service on Long Island, the city's suburbs need to build more too, according to an argument by The New York Times Editorial Board.

June 29, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A train conductor waves at an empty platform on the Long island Rail Road system.

Scott Heaney / Shutterstock

The New York Times Editorial Board argues passionately in favor of the state acting to force local governments to zone new capacity for multi-family development around transit stations on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) system. The example of Garden City, New York opens the editorial:

Garden City, a leafy chunk of suburban Long Island, is served by four train stations on the Hempstead Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Residents can reach New York’s Penn Station in less than 45 minutes. Next year, thanks to billions of dollars in public spending, L.I.R.R. trains will start running to Grand Central Terminal, too.

That’s great news for people who can afford single-family homes in Garden City, where the average price is approaching $1 million.

But the state is squandering its investment in the expansion of the commuter railroad by allowing Garden City and other Long Island communities to maintain strict limits on multifamily housing construction.

The Editorial Board ties the situation in Garden City to the kind of development opposition that "has become the norm" around the country, "especially in the wealthy metropolitan areas along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts where housing is needed most."

According to the Editorial Board, the state of New York should follow the lead other states that have forced local governments to upzone single-family neighborhoods to make room for more housing. The editorial even suggests leapfrogging most states by passing a law similar to statewide upzoning law, SB 50, which failed in California in January 2020.

Saturday, June 26, 2021 in The New York Times

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