Urban Planners Agree: New York in 2030 Will Suck

Planning to stick around town for the next 23 years? You might want to reconsider. Apparently the New York of 2030 — the major American city at the second-greatest risk of catastrophic hurricane damage after Miami, by the way — will be facing a homelessness epidemic, more Miss Brooklyn–esque way-out-of-scale enormous buildings over rail yards, a major shortage of engineers qualified to construct such things, and a war between the union and nonunion laborers who build them. These were the lessons of last night’s NYC 2030 planning meeting, which opened with a cheery presentation by Bloomberg’s sustainability czar, Rohit Aggarwala, who has the task of preparing a 2030 blueprint by March, and had come to urban-planning experts for volunteer brainstorming. It turned out to be presumably not the brainstorming he was hoping for.

Jerilyn Perrine, a former city housing commissioner, said the expiration of federal public-housing funding will combine with recent city zoning changes to create the major homelessness problem. Architect Mark Ginsburg pointed out that building over rail yards (see Hudson, Atlantic, Sunnyside) involves such expensive engineering that only very tall towers make economic sense, meaning fights about “scale” well beyond brownstone Brooklyn. And structural engineer Robert Tortorella bemoaned the engineer shortage and impending labor war. Too many engineers, he said, wandered astray in “the Internet craze.” And then there’s that study showing the tremendous risk of hurricane damage here. This might actually be a bit of good news: Perhaps the catastrophe will bring the engineers back? —Alec Appelbaum