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Zone Defense: Streetsblog on Greening NYC Zoning

Noah Kazis does a pretty tremendous job limning the gordian knot of issues surrounding New York’s zoning policies and politics, but he paints a favorable picture of the Bloomberg administration’s ultra-ambitious zoning work overall — nearly one-fifth of New York City has been re-zoned since 2002, and generally it has been re-zoned fairly thoughtfully. In the instance of Hudson Yards (pictured), for example, the city’s decision to essentially create a new neighborhood was predicated on the extension of the 7 train. Not all the development has been that wise, of course. “Even while the Bloomberg Administration has zoned for growth to be centered around transit, it has also closed off the possibility of more intensive transit-oriented development,” Kazis writes in part one. “The overall effect is positive, but it could be even better.” It’s a story gbNYC readers already know: this is a very green city, but it’s also one in which some very real green accomplishments are tempered by agencies that sometimes seem to be operating at cross purposes and the hugely powerful (and hugely regressive) influence of Real Estate Mega-Developers.

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Go Downtown: Long Island Index Suggests Denser, Greener Lawn-Gilan

Urban density is a guarantor of efficiency. It doesn’t necessarily feel like Manhattan is a terribly green place — not when you’ve got buses belching in your face, not when the air smells like garbage and bad Chinese food — but those facts of life in New York ensure that no one drives, everyone takes mass transit and walks, and that our living spaces are (generally) small and thus inexpensively heated and cooled. That unconscious efficiency is what makes New York City’s per-capita carbon footprint so stunningly small, but the discomforts described above are also the sort of things that send people sprawling towards notably less efficient suburbs and exurbs. Sure, there are lawns there, but by just about every measurable metric, places like Long Island are hugely un-green. The newly released Long Island Index, funded by the Rauch Foundation, has what looks like a counterintuitive suggestion on how to ameliorate that. Which is that Long Island needs to get denser.

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