Why the New York Region Needs to Change Course

What should the New York metropolitan region aspire to over the next 25 years? RPA has unveiled a comprehensive vision for the region, outlining in a new web-based report more than a dozen major milestones the tri-state area will need to achieve in order to fulfill the promise of economic opportunity, meet the challenge of climate change and successfully compete against the region’s global peers.

The vision for the region, which sets ambitious yet attainable goals for the coming decades, warns against staying the current course. Without transformative actions and unprecedented collaboration, the New York region’s ascendance in the global economy will be threatened, the report says. Some 20% of the region’s children will grow up poor, and two million people will live in places vulnerable to destruction from storms and flooding.

Charting a New Course: A Vision for a Successful Region, is the second major publication of the Fourth Regional Plan, a multiyear research and public engagement effort to create a blueprint for the region’s prosperity, livability and resiliency for the next generation. The full plan, A Region Transformed, featuring dozens of detailed, deeply researched recommendations for how to tackle the region’s biggest challenges, will be released in 2017. The first major publication, Fragile Success: Taking Stock of the New York Metropolitan Region, was published in 2014.

The findings presented in the report are based on three years of research and analysis, as well as sustained engagement with policy experts, civic groups and community members throughout the tri-state area. Charts and maps identify discouraging signs in areas including job growth, housing affordability, commuting, broadband access, greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise. Accompanying data demonstrate how a brighter future can be achieved if the region makes smart decisions about where and how to grow and transformative investments in infrastructure, economic development, housing and environmental sustainability.

“The vision that we have laid out is founded on our optimism for the region’s potential to sustain its success, but it also is rooted in our concern that there are long-term challenges that we are not adequately addressing,” said RPA President Tom Wright. “If we don’t start taking aggressive steps to invest in our infrastructure, housing and in our environment, we will fall behind our peers around the world and deny opportunity to those who haven’t benefited from the region’s growth.”

Among the report’s conclusions:

  • Expanded infrastructure and housing capacity would generate 1.9 million jobs, more than twice as many as under existing trends. The region’s older cities such as Bridgeport, Newark and Newburgh could reverse decades of job loss and add as many as 360,000 jobs combined.
  • The amount of multifamily housing in high-income communities could increase by more than twice the rate expected under current trends, decreasing segregation and improving access to quality schools and healthy environments for all incomes, races and ethnicities.
  • The trend toward worsening affordability would be reversed, with more than two-thirds of rental homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households by 2040.
  • Transit investments and land-use policies could sharply increase transportation choices, reducing automobile use and the cost of travel. People taking transit to work would rise to a third of all workers, and those who bike, walk or work at home would rise from 10% to 16%.
  • Smarter land use policies would reduce the number of people expected to be living in areas vulnerable to flooding by 100,000, and both engineered and natural flood protection would reduce the vulnerability of two million people expected to live in the widening flood plain.
  • Preserving wetlands, agricultural land and other landscapes would cut the expected development of open space in half. 

Charting a New Course can be viewed here. Additional analysis can be found here.