One-party control in D.C. can be bad for stocks, but we hope it will be good for the tri-state region. Democrats have an opportunity to kick-start the recovery with big, bold investments in social and physical infrastructure, and tri-state leaders are now well-positioned in D.C. to ensure these investments benefit our region.
Regional Roundup
Infrastructure for Recovery
Not since the New Deal has Washington faced such a combined obligation and opportunity - to get the economy going, address long standing inequities, and rebuild infrastructure. Our new Infrastructure for Recovery and Renewal report outlines how a national infrastructure program for transportation, housing, and climate resilience - if designed properly - can address these three glaring needs at once. In our region, investments should begin with our public agencies’ capital plans. If fully funded and implemented, the projects in these plans, 80% of which are “shovel-ready,” would create more than 250,000 jobs annually.
West Side Story
Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out several completed or planned infrastructure improvements on Manhattan’s west side this month, including his plan to expand Penn Station to the south and to renovate and expand the Port Authority Bus Terminal. These plans build on the momentum from the completion of the marvelous Moynihan Train Hall and ladder up to the Gateway Program which would add a new tunnel beneath the Hudson River to improve system redundancy and reliability. This closely aligns with recommendations from RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan and reports like Crossing the Hudson and The Case for Penn South.
Coming Up
February 10, 12:00-1:30pm EST

RPA, Citizens Housing and Planning Council, New Yorkers for Parks, and community advocates will brief candidates for office in New York City on policy around three intersecting priorities critical to creating a more equitable city: housing, parks and open space, transit and infrastructure.
Celebrate the Tri-State
Thank you to all our supporters and friends who joined us to Celebrate the Tri-State! RPA had the great privilege of honoring Moynihan Train Hall & Governor Andrew Cuomo, Polly Trottenberg and Peggy Shepard. If you missed Monday night’s celebration you can watch a recording of the program on, and learn more about our fabulous honorees!
The Details
Design for Resilience
As a dense waterfront city with 520 miles of shoreline, New York City is in the crosshairs of the climate crisis. Vice President for Energy and Environment Rob Freudenberg implored the City Council’s Committee on Resilience and Waterfront to codify the City’s Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines.
Rezoning and Race
New legislation in New York City would require the city to formally consider the racial impacts of land use decisions like rezonings. Senior Planner Marcel Negret testified in support of the legislation, which aligns with RPA recommendations for preventing displacement and would inform future decisions that support equitable growth.
Home, Office
New York State lawmakers will move this year to convert some unused commercial and office space in New York City into affordable and supportive housing. Senior Planner Marcel Negret outlined how state lawmakers can best approach this complex process.
Looking Back
When the region’s suburban population doubled after World War II, RPA identified land that should not be built on — steep slopes, marshes, good agricultural soils — and land best suited for development, based on proximity to public transportation and Manhattan. RPA discouraged speculative housing development and "wasteful zoning," and preferred what it considered more organized communities, with more open space, safer traffic patterns, and garden apartment-style housing zones. 

RPA was cognizant of some of the housing concerns of BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) residents and conducted surveys in the region's urban areas, noting that only 23% of Black residents in New York City were happy with the condition of their neighborhoods. However, early RPA reports didn't connect this to the much larger issue of Black residents being systematically excluded from the ongoing suburban housing boom.

Learn more about our history through the RPA Timeline.
What are you paying attention to as the Biden Administration takes over in Washington?
It’s heartening to see the Administration staff all the federal agencies from top to bottom with officials who understand climate change. I saw a recent headline that said “every agency is a climate agency now,” and that’s truly the case. We’ve always worked on climate on the side. Now, climate is at the top of the agenda for virtually all the agencies. It’s a profound shift.

Tell me about this new report you’re working on about right-of-way.
We’re seeing new and expanded uses in the right-of-way amid the pandemic like outdoor dining and more bike lanes. People are seeing changes and asking what else is possible. There’s lots of emotion about it right now so we want to match the emotion with an analysis of the laws and policies governing right-of-way. We’re also keen to see how we can use the right-of-way to mitigate the impacts of climate change and maybe even bring a little nature back into the city.

RPA is turning 100 years old in 2022 and you’ve been with the organization for almost 15 of them. What’s noteworthy to you about our upcoming centennial? 
As someone who specializes in adaptation, it’s been really interesting to see how RPA adapts. For example, while climate change was on our radar during the Third Plan in the nineties, we used the run-up to the Fourth Plan to transform our Energy and Environment program into more of a climate program, breaking new ground in adaptation and decarbonization while bringing climate to the forefront of our open space and conservation efforts. So I’m eager to consider how the organization may adapt over the next 100 years.
In the News