Visioning Initiative: Principles and Evaluation Benchmarks
This statement of Principles and Benchmarks is intended to generate dialogue among elected officials and private stakeholders
concerning the goals of the LI 2035Visioning Initiative. The statement will be revised following input from these participants,
and used to guide project activities during the public outreach phase of the project.
Project Summary The Municipal Committee will consist of town, village
and city officials. The Stakeholders Committee will
The Long Island 2035 Visioning Initiative is an include representatives of business, labor, environmental,
intergovernmental effort funded by the New York not-for-profit, community and other civic constituencies.
Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) and Anticipated results will come to fruition over
is an integral component of the Long Island Regional several years, some in the immediate future and others
Planning Council’s (LIRPC) Long Island 2035 after additional planning, consensus-building and
Sustainability Plan. The goal of the visioning initiative implementation efforts at the local and regional level.
is to develop a regional public consensus for where the Based on the outcomes of similar efforts in other regions,
next generation of Long Islanders could live and work, Long Island 2035 looks to achieve the following:
the transportation systems needed to support these • Accelerated implementation of existing community
settlements, and the institutional actions required to and regional plans and visions.
ensure a prosperous, equitable and environmentally • The full benefits of infrastructure projects that are
sustainable Long Island. The project will incorporate the currently underway, such as Long Island Rail Road’s
results of numerous community visioning and multi- East Side Access.
jurisdictional projects, such as the Sustainable East End • Multi-municipal visioning efforts that encourage
Development Strategies, to encourage cooperative efforts cooperative action.
throughout the Island. • Additional workforce housing and jobs in transit-
The initiative is tailored for Long Island and based accessible locations.
on successful regional visioning initiatives that have • Transportation investments, including a “next
been implemented in several regions around the United generation” of potential improvements.
States. Through an interactive process of research and • Enhanced open space, recreation and other quality-of-
public dialogue, citizens join public officials and business, life improvements.
labor, environmental, not-for- profit and civic leaders to • On-going planning and implementation at regional,
evaluate alternative futures and develop an action strategy county and local levels.
that reflects the consensus achieved through planning
workshops, web-based communication and other forms of Guiding Principles
public input and discussion.
Long Island 2035 Visioning Initiative is guided by For generations, Long Island has been a highly successful
an Executive Committee working with both Municipal place that has allowed residents to enjoy upward mobility
and Stakeholder Committees. The Executive Committee and a high quality of life. It retains assets that would
includes representatives of the LIRPC, Nassau and Suffolk be the envy of many regions, and public opinion polls
Counties, the Federal Highway Administration, New York confirm that residents, while nervous about the future, like
State Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan their communities and all that the Island has to offer.
Transportation Authority, the Long Island Rail Road and However, like other mature suburbs across the
the chairs of the Municipal and Stakeholders Committees. United States, Long Island is challenged by several cross-
currents that will profoundly affect its future. Open for all current and future residents of Nassau and Suffolk:
space is dwindling. Housing is too expensive for young
families, many seniors and the workers that are essential • Enhance economic prosperity by retaining and creating
to the economy. The economy is not providing enough well-paying jobs that provide upward mobility
well-paying jobs. The gulf between rich and poor keeps to residents, attracting and maintaining a highly
getting wider. Skyrocketing energy costs are making it productive workforce, nurturing and rewarding
increasingly difficult for many Long Islanders to drive to innovation, and offering a competitive rate of return
work and heat their homes. Highway congestion keeps for private investors.
getting worse. Climate change could alter coastlines
and the economy. On top of these long term trends, the • Expand social equity through access to economic
unfolding global financial crisis is creating uncertainty opportunity across race, ethnicity, class and age, fairly
about the fundamentals of the economy. allocating public goods and services, and reducing
In response to these challenges, a growing number geographic segregation by race and income.
of regional and community initiatives are underway.
Municipal projects and plans are looking at new ways to • Ensure a healthy environment by attaining clean air
provide workforce housing and create vibrant downtowns, and water, high quality ecosystems and attractive open
the Long Island Regional Planning Council has embraced spaces and recreational areas that are accessible to
a broader mission along with its expanded membership, residents throughout Nassau and Suffolk.
and both Nassau and Suffolk counties are promoting
These principals are consistent with the goals expressed
greater collaboration along with plans for more sustainable
in numerous town and county planning initiatives,
growth. The Long Island 2035 Visioning Initiative will
community visioning projects, and benchmarking
build on these efforts to develop a public consensus for
projects such as the Long Island Index. These efforts have
actions that will preserve and enhance what residents
articulated goals that include promoting energy efficiency,
love about Long Island—its sense of community, its
energy conservation, and renewable energy sources,
suburban scale and natural resources, its economic
mitigating and adapting to climate change, and locating
opportunities—while embracing and adapting to this new
homes close to jobs, services and transportation. Since the
set of challenges.
LI 2035 visioning initiative focuses primarily on land use
Most regional visioning or sustainability initiatives
and transportation, its activities will emphasize some of
are guided by principles that incorporate goals of
these more than others. Housing, economic development,
prosperity, fairness and environmental protection.
transportation and open space goals are the most obvious,
Sometimes described as the “3 Es” or “triple bottom
but energy, water and air quality and other issues are also
line” of Economy, Equity and Environment, these goals
impacted by physical development choices. The initiative
recognize universal aspirations that are too often seen
will evaluate the impact of these choices with specific
as competing with each other. In reality, it is difficult to
benchmarks that reflect the three guiding principles
achieve any one without the others. Without a strong
economy, it is nearly impossible to raise living standards
for the poor and middle class, or to adequately fund
open space protection and clean air and water programs. Benchmarks for Evaluating Alternative Futures
A healthy and attractive environment is an economic
imperative for attracting a quality workforce as well as a Long Island’s future will be shaped by the interaction of
public health priority, especially for those most vulnerable global forces with the collective decisions of the region’s
to illnesses caused by poor air and water quality. And governments, businesses and citizens. Where and how
until everyone has equitable access to career opportunities, people and businesses are encouraged to locate and
quality schools, parks and other resources, the region will the types of transportation and other infrastructure
not make full use of workforce capacity and will have investments that are made will play a large part in
greater difficulty in achieving the consensus needed to determining success in the global economy. If success is to
protect its natural resources. be judged by improvements to economic prosperity, social
The Long Island 2035 Visioning Initiative will be equity and environmental health, then benchmarks are
guided by these basic principles, meaning that its activities needed to measure the outcomes of different choices.
and products will all be designed to achieve the following The heart of the LI 2035 process will be a facilitated
public dialogue that uses scenario planning to evaluate following benchmarks that estimate the impacts of each
policy choices. Rather than focusing on a single forecast, alternative.
scenario planning explores a range of possible futures,
using data and analytic models to develop strategies for Housing Mix and Supply
each possible future. Scenarios are really stories about Each alternative scenario will estimate the number, type
what might be. They are not forecasts and they are not and location of new housing in Nassau and Suffolk.
predictions. They are possible futures that are based on Specific measurements will include the number of new
what already exists, on trends that are evident, and on the units, the mix of single-family and multi-family housing,
values and preferences of the participants. The purpose the types of neighborhoods where most new housing will
of the scenario development will be to enable decision be built, and the proximity of housing to transportation
making – providing stakeholders with a way to visualize and jobs.
and better understand the tradeoffs inherent in different
policy and program decisions. What will this tell us?
The scenarios themselves will be developed by How much and where Long Island expands its housing
citizens and decision-makers through workshops that supply will be a major factor in determining the number
translate the priorities and ideas of participants into maps, and type of jobs that the region will be able to support.
data and visualizations. The project’s principles represent Businesses tend to locate and expand where they have
the broadest reflection of the public values that these access to a large workforce with the skills that they require.
alternatives will try to achieve. The benchmarks, which With much of the large baby boom generation retiring
will be calculated with methods based on those used over the next two decades, the size and characteristics
in other visioning and scenario planning projects, will of Long Island’s workforce will be determined in large
provide decision-makers with a means for evaluating these measure by the availability of suitable housing.
alternatives. The type and location of housing will also help
In addition to the different development patterns determine who can afford to live here and the kinds of
that will be modeled in the scenarios, other forces will neighborhoods they have. Multi-family housing tends
affect these benchmarks. Changes in technology, the to have more rental units and lower costs, and generally
global economy and other factors will also affect how support smaller households. These qualities can make
these indicators change. The scenarios, therefore, are not them more appealing to both young adults and retirees
forecasts but a way of testing how different these outcomes whose children have moved elsewhere. The location
would be under different development assumptions. It is and cost of housing can also make a difference in where
the relative differences between the different scenarios that households of different incomes, races and ethnicities
will be most important, rather than the absolute numbers live, and in the diversity and segregation of Long Island’s
for each one. These differences will be evaluated with the communities.
Where and how to build will also have a large Population growth also provides a base for
impact on how we use scarce natural resources, including determining how we use energy, water and other natural
agricultural land and other open space and underground resources. Many other factors, from where people live to
water supplies. Sewers and other infrastructure will help the types of buildings they live in, will also have a major
determine how much housing can be built in different impact on how efficiently the region uses these resources.
areas, and how new housing will affect water quality. The
distance between housing and jobs and other services will Job Growth and Distribution
also affect commuting times and travel distances, which Job projections will also be based on NYMTC forecasts,
impact air quality as well as overall quality of life. and each scenario will estimate both the type and location
of new employment. Specific measurements will include
Population Growth and Diversity whether the new jobs are retail, office or industrial, and
Using the long-range regional forecasts developed by whether they are located in downtowns, office parks or
NYMTC as a base, population will be projected to the commercial strips.
2035 horizon year by age, gender, race and ethnicity,
and allocated to different locations throughout Nassau What will this tell us?
and Suffolk. Each scenario will also estimate household Job growth is the main indicator for how well Long Island
income levels to differentiate between low-income, is producing the economic opportunities, income growth
moderate-income and affluent households. and tax base necessary to maintain and enhance quality
of life. The type of job will help determine wage levels
What will this tell us? and the overall level of affluence in the region, while the
The level and distribution of population growth will location will help determine how efficiently the region can
indicate both the human resources and human needs that provide the transportation and other services needed to
business and government need to anticipate. A growth in support it.
working age population will support economic growth, The type and location of jobs also helps determine
and many economists believe that a population that is the career opportunities available to people with different
diverse in age, race and ethnicity is an advantage in the levels of education and access to the job market. For low-
global economy. However, people of different ages and paying jobs in particular, the location will determine who
with different incomes also require different types of is likely to be hired. Because of transportation costs and
services, from education to medical care, that need to be how these jobs are advertised, they tend to be filled by
provided by either the public or private sectors. people who live nearby.
By showing where income gains are concentrated, Different types of jobs also make different demands
the change in incomes will also tell us how well and contributions to the environment. Typically, many
the economy is serving people in different types of kinds of industrial jobs have historically placed more
households, and whether we are likely to become more stress on water and air quality than office or retail jobs.
or less segmented economically. In addition, the location However, new technologies and regulations are constantly
of different income, race and ethnic groups will help changing how different industries use energy, land and
determine their access to jobs, schools and other services. other resources, and many industries are now focused on
how to reduce, rather than increase, carbon emissions neighborhoods. In addition, it can be of greatest benefit
and other pollutants. Locating new jobs near existing to those least able to afford the costs of owning and using
infrastructure can also reduce any negative impacts on the a car. The location of transit and highways, as well the
environment. costs of travel, including transit fares, auto insurance
and parking, will also affect who benefits most from the
Travel Characteristics transportation system.
Transportation benchmarks will include the number of The mix of auto and transit use has a major impact
automobiles owned by residents of Nassau and Suffolk, on air quality. An increase in the amount of auto use will
the number of miles traveled per vehicle (vehicle miles result in a far greater increase in the amount of carbon
traveled), the volume of freight transported in the region emissions than a similar increase in public transit use. The
and the number of people using trains, buses, ridesharing energy efficiency of trains, buses, cars and trucks will also
and using other public transportation, as well as non- help determine how much their use contributes to air
motorized modes such as walking and bicycling. pollution.
What will this tell us? Land Use and Open Space
The number of cars and trucks Long Islanders own, Each scenario will indicate how much land will be used
and how often they are used, are the biggest factors that for residential, commercial, transportation and other uses.
determine congestion on roads and highways. Congestion It will also project how much land will be developed, and
has a number of economic costs. Time spent in traffic for how much open space will be preserved.
workers, customers or delivery trucks can raise the cost
of doing business and make local firms less competitive. What will this tell us?
It can also make Long Island a less attractive place to live How Long Island develops and redevelops land is
and make it more difficult to attract and retain a quality important to both its economy and quality of life. Used
workforce. Public transit and non-motorized travel modes productively and efficiently for housing or commercial
can help reduce congestion by providing an alternative activity, it contributes to job growth and wealth creation.
to auto use. The configuration of our network of roads, It also has a major impact on how attractive and livable
highways, rail lines and bus routes also plays a major communities are, from rural villages to downtown
role in where people choose to live and where businesses centers. With most of Long Island’s land now largely
choose to locate. developed, the challenge of how to use both developed
Travel characteristics are also closely associated with and undeveloped land takes on a different context. The
household income. The more affluent the household, debates over whether to develop or protect remaining
the more cars they are likely to own. The less affluent, open space could become even more intense, and
the more likely they are to be dependent on public most new growth on the Island is likely to come from
transportation. Making public transit more widely redevelopment rather than the large-scale expansion of
available and reliable helps people at all income levels by suburban neighborhoods that took place in previous
allowing them greater access to a much wider employer decades.
shed and to high paying jobs outside their immediate Land use and open space also have important ties
to social equity. It helps determine which neighborhoods that are of particular concern to a region surrounded by
and communities benefit from, or are hurt by, new water.
development. Which parks and open space are protected,
and how we provide access to them, will also determine
if the enjoyment of these places is broadly shared or
restricted to a limited number.
In addition to the direct benefits of open space for
recreation and visual beauty, it also plays a major role in
protecting drinking water. Unpaved land helps absorb
storm water runoff and prevent sewage from seeping into
the water supply. Vegetation also helps improve air quality
by absorbing carbon dioxide. Since some areas are more
environmentally sensitive than others, the location of
different kinds of development can also affect both water
and air quality by affecting everything from solid waste
disposal to auto use.
Energy Consumption and Pollution
Each scenario will estimate its impact on a number of
other environmental indicators. Specific benchmarks will
include energy consumption, carbon dioxide and other
emissions, surface temperatures and storm water runoff.
What will this tell us?
Energy consumption and efficiency are key components
to economic competitiveness. The availability and cost
of energy will affect different kinds of businesses in
different ways, but for many industries energy is a prime
consideration for where they locate their business, and
how much they can expand. The environmental impacts
of energy consumption also affect the economy by making
the Island more or less desirable as a place to live or visit.
This will affect all businesses, but will have a particular
impact on industries like tourism or retail.
The impacts of carbon emissions, surface
temperatures and other forms of pollution are not
distributed equally, nor are the location of power plants,
sewage treatment plants and other facilities that provide
or regulate the generation of energy or waste. This often
results poor and minority communities having to bear a
disproportionate share of polluting activities, which can
affect both public health and property values.
These benchmarks not only measure immediate
environmental impacts. They also indicate the Island’s
contribution to the long-term effects of climate change.
Both carbon emissions and the amount of paved surfaces
can raise temperatures that contribute to climate change
and cause localized “heat island effects,” in which some
places become hotter than others. Over the long run,
these will affect sea levels, agriculture and other conditions