Long Island faces an affordability crisis that could dim its future by strangling the economy and undermining schools, according to a new study by the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
The study is the first phase of the “Long Island 2035 Regional Comprehensive Sustainability Plan,” on which work got under way in 2009. The LIRPC is funded by Nassau and Suffolk counties to provide regional planning guidance.
The 119-page study, released online this month, is introduced by an “open letter to the people of Long Island” from LIRPC executive director Michael White and board chairman John D. Cameron Jr.
The goal of the study’s first phase, they wrote, was to identify the region’s challenges, and its findings are based on meetings with “hundreds of stakeholders.”
“Throughout the process, we repeatedly heard the cry of high taxes, lack of affordable workforce housing, unfriendly business climate and too many layers of government,” they wrote.
The region faces “tremendous challenges in the education of our children and the inequities in the K-12 public school system,” the letter said. “Our educational system is expensive and some of our public schools simply do not provide the opportunity for all students to realize their potential.”
Among topics covered in the study’s first phase are taxes and governance, the economy, the environment, and the region’s infrastructure. The second phase calls for creating a task force to prioritize the issues and conduct meetings with public officials, business leaders, stakeholders and residents. The goal will be “to first secure recognition that the region is challenged and then to participate in bringing about solutions,” according to the open letter.
“Tax and governance” strategies in the study include reducing costs, improving efficiency and streamlining governance and service delivery.
Specific recommendations include:
• Sharing services among local governments and school districts.
• Streamlining the approval processes for significant projects.
• Stimulating the development of permanent mixed-income workforce housing.
• Developing a “Buy Long Island First” strategy for promoting Long Island products, goods and services and establishing a framework for networking among local producers and consumers.
• Creating land overlay zones to coordinate land use rules among towns and villages.
The council plans to schedule public forums beginning after the holidays. To view the document, visit www.lirpc.org and click on the icon to the report at the right of the screen.