While continued growth in our city is healthy and positive in many ways, it must be the product of smart urban planning. One cannot simply promote massive new development without providing for the infrastructure and services that will be needed for additional residents and workers. Lower Manhattan has seen unprecedented development in the past few years. However, this development has been piecemeal and the City has failed to engage in any comprehensive planning for the community. Lower Manhattan already has among the highest class sizes of any district in New York City- yet the City has approved thousands of additional housing units for Lower Manhattan without consideration of how our already-overburdened schools will absorb these additional students.
Smart urban planning also requires that large-scale rezonings and development projects not clash with one another. For example, I have long expressed the concern that the commercial redevelopment of Lower Manhattan following September 11th has been greatly slowed by the Bloomberg administration's focus on developing massive new commercial districts in the Hudson Yards and other neighborhoods. Creating a number of commercial areas simultaneously pits one district against another, greatly disadvantaging areas like Lower Manhattan.
Furthermore, the City has squandered an enormous amount of resources on building or improving sports stadiums for sports teams that pay their players millions of dollars each year. The City administration's ill-fated West Side stadium proposal was one of the most misguided and unpopular City plans of all and would have come at tremendous public expense and resulted in massive gridlock throughout the City. The City's public subsidy of Yankee Stadium, clearly an organization that is not lacking for resources, was another such infuriating decision. We need classroom seats, not stadium seats- and it is unconscionable that the City has proposed more of the latter than the former.
The City must also engage communities as problem-solvers. For example, all City residents benefit from our municipal facilities, which perform important functions like handling our waste or generating our power. While no community is excited about locating these facilities within its borders, we must all share the burden of these facilities.
A "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) stance when such facilities are proposed is inappropriate. However, I have advocated for a "where in my backyard" (WIMBY) approach. A community may strongly believe that a location in one part of their neighborhood will be much less disruptive than another. The City must engage and listen to the community in siting these facilities and should explore the feasibility of alternate locations. Too often, siting decisions are made from behind the closed doors of city agencies which are not intimately familiar with neighborhoods. In Lower Manhattan, we have engaged in a fight to move a waste transfer facility proposed to be located in the midst of scarce park space to a more appropriate location several blocks North in the same neighborhood. The City rejected these responsible efforts, holding steadfastly to its original proposal without full consideration of the community's alternative.
Finally, economic development does not mean simply attracting and retaining large corporations and businesses to the City. Our often-overlooked small businesses play a crucial economic and social role in the City, yet they are often viewed as an afterthought. When government has addressed small businesses, its efforts have mainly resulted in low-interest loan or technical assistance programs. If the revenue of a long-time business fails to cover its escalating rent and business expenses, a loan will only put the company further in debt. The result of our failure to appropriately support our neighborhood-based small businesses is reflected in the sense that, everywhere you look there is a bank branch, chain store or restaurants, or high-end boutique where a cherished neighborhood establishment was located.
As our city and Lower Manhattan continue to grow, we must engage in smart planning that addresses the concerns of and engages community members. I will continue to be a voice for those interests of my constituents, since they are too-often overlooked by the City administration in its zest to promote its own high-growth development agenda.