So are you sick of what the neighborhood looks like yet? Blame Mayor Bloomberg. Because he wants 1 million more people to come to our city by the year 2030, rezoning efforts have been put on hold. Not in all neighborhoods, though. Those areas that are not slated to bear the brunt of the encouraged deluge of new residents have already been downzoned. Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale now know where we stand in the grand scheme of things.
To recap: We collected the data needed by the Department of City Planning to complete our downzoning study in 2005. We were assured that it would happen in 2006. After a litany of excuses, it is now 2008 and we are no closer to seeing this become a reality.
Downzoning would have prevented much of the overdevelopment that has taken place over the last 2 1/2 years, where large lots and one-family homes were replaced with ugly, out-of-character multi-unit housing.
But the consequences of overdevelopment go far beyond neighborhood aesthetics. Parking is nearly impossible to find. Schools are being stretched far beyond their intended capacity, as is mass transit. Blackouts are already occurring again this year due to the strain on the electrical grid, and we can certainly expect more flooding because of our over-utilized and poorly maintained sewer system. Many of our neighborhoods are underserved by parks, but the Parks Department automatically bypasses opportunities to acquire potential parkland, such as the St. Saviour’s site. Worse yet, the mayor had the audacity to cut fire and police services while actively encouraging population growth. This is quite possibly some of the worst planning in the history of the city. This, along with the recent crane accidents and Department of Buildings scandals, will be the Bloomberg legacy.
We need to reverse this with smart planning. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded before building takes place, not after. Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale mostly lack subway service. Intelligent planners would realize that these are the last areas you would want to expand the housing stock. Unfortunately, intelligent planners seem to be lacking on the city's payroll.