New York City, as the most populous city in the US, has a remarkably long history of strategic planning. Dynamics of urban growth and development in NYC, which implemented its First Zoning Law in 1916, were largely shaped under the influence of redistributive social policies of the New Deal (1933-1939). Although the New Deal reforms had sowed the seeds of a welfarist regime, they nevertheless failed to tackle racism, social and economic inequalities, income disparity, increasing vulnerability and insecurity in the city. These issues had long been, and are still today, the major challenges that strategic planning in NYC is facing.
The legal backbone of the strategic plan is the Local Law 83, which was revised in 2013, and defines the requirements of sustainable planning in NYC. Those requirements consist of, but are not limited to, the implementation of the action plans, policies and programs proposed in the Plan, extensive participation of stakeholders, evaluation of the local initiatives, commitments and target milestones in designated areas, as well as the overview of the implementation processes for the main objectives. Update of the plan every four years and annual progress reports for evaluating the key performance indicators are among those legal requirements as well.
Foundations of the Plan were laid during the former Mayor, Michael Bloomberg’s terms in 2007, 2011 and later in 2013, during Hurricane Sandy recovery. While sustainability was the center of these previous plans, the Green New Deal and equality are the focus of long-term strategic planning during the current Mayor, Bill de Blasio’s term.
At the Vision 2050 Office, we listened to Lolita Jackson and Tasfia Nayem, respectively the Special Advisor of Climate Partnerships and the Senior Policy Advisor from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs, about the “OneNYC 2050” plan prepared in 2019. Jackson and Nayem made a presentation which was followed by Q&A and discussion. Here are some highlights from our meeting held on September 6, 2020:
- OneNYC 2050 Plan has three goals: Tackling the climate crisis, achieving equity, and strengthening democracy.
- In order to attain these goals, the Plan has eight focuses: Vibrant democracy; inclusive economy; thriving neighborhoods; healthy lives; equity and excellence in education; a livable climate; efficient mobility; modern infrastructure.
- In OneNYC 2050, it is crucial to include all forms of civic participation processes throughout the city, civil society and neighborhoods. The stakeholder participation process proceeds with the coordination of the expert team and extensive participation of executive and civic participants who serve on an Advisory Board. Robust public participation is one of the key performance indicators.
- In the realization of the Plan’s long-term objectives, current situation analysis and annual “milestone” progress reports play major roles. Evaluation of the Plan’s key performance indicators also sheds light on the possible challenges and obstacles along the way of its realization.
- Among those challenges that are faced with annual updates and current situation analysis, income disparity despite growing economy; economic injustices; living expenses; insufficient infrastructural services and the climate emergency are particularly important. These issues that were identified by means of civic participation constitutes the foundation of analyses and evaluations at every stage of the Plan.