To what extent could planning save NYC from its ‘death’?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City is facing its biggest economic and fiscal crisis since the mid-1970s. The Big Apple’s recovery prospects are uncertain and hotly debated, but it is already clear that: with tax revenues cratering, the trends of spending of the city government’s pre-pandemic are simply unsustainable. This post will discuss the current economic issues that are facing NYC, the living condition of the local and how could improve the planning in NYC.


On the one hand, the influence of economic downturn and pandemic is too severe to be diminished from planning. In the economic side, it could be argued that how prosper the economic situation depends on various factors including political, cultural and social factors, and it’s considerably hard to change these factors in terms of urban planning. “Planning had long been criticized for its grand visions and its slow, complicated decision-making process.” ( the collaborative planner?) From this aspect, there’s little planning that could have an impact on the economy in a short period of time.


In the pandemic side, the past year of pandemic had significantly changed the life pattern for the majority of people. Since more and more companies asked for their workers to work remotely, people moved away from New York City. Now people were used to the new way of working. In addition to this, they might have moved away because of the high cost of living in such a grand city. As a result, the city is losing residences, with an increasing number of people embracing the way of working remotely.


In brief, the habit of remote working had been quickly formed in people’s lives, while planning could hardly have impact on either the economic side or the pandemic side. It would take years for planning to come true. By that time the idea of remote working would already lay deep in people’s hearts.


On the other hand, it could also be argued that planning, as a government intervention, could save NYC in the post pandemic period through an increase in government spending. This would in turn strengthen NYC to go into an economic recovery.


Although some people would argue the fact these specific features of urban life such as education and work are changing for a post-pandemic world, COVID-19 could also be seen as the opportunity that has offered to change urban centers for the better. More specifically saying, it is an opportunity to accelerate the shift towards the ‘green new deal’ (Milhahn, 2021). NYC could be saved from ‘death’ through post pandemic planning, which can be understood in four essential avenues as Mr. Tant said, they are new housing standards to make people safer and healthier, promoting active travel through non-motorized transport, improving green spaces and reshaping city centres (Milhahn, 2021). While improving housing standards, it is essential in the future to incorporate informal settlements, and planning for the increasing majority of urban poor that have been impacted by the pandemic.


In addition, it could be expected that this prolonged period of social starvation might lead cities to develop more community-oriented spaces, such as parks or promenades in meeting people’s social needs. By then, it encourages the vitality of city life.


In conclusion, challenges always bring opportunities. By addressing these challenges through planning, a more resilient and sustainable NYC can be expected to see in the future. Although COVID-19 already wreaked havoc on both the economy and living conditions of NYC, in some respects, it promotes the evolution of planning in the aspects of improving house standards and the development of community-based livings. And the writers of this blog believe that death is not the end of the city, as long as there is a hope, the bright future will be nearing.

References:

Clifford, B. and Tewdwr-Jones, M. (2013). The Collaborative Planner? Practitioners in the Neoliberal Age. Policy Press, Bristol.

Milhahn, K., 2021. Experts Discuss The Central Role Of Urban Planning In The Post Pandemic Recovery | UN-Habitat. [online] Unhabitat.org. Available at: <https://unhabitat.org/experts-discuss-the-central-role-of-urban-planning-in-the-post-pandemic-recovery> [Accessed 12 January 2021].


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