Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed housing compact has caused concern for many Long Islanders, with fears ranging from government overreach to environmental threats. Area elected officials have spoken up about their worries, and are working to raise awareness of the governor’s plan in their communities and to figure out a way to address the state’s housing crisis without compromising the safety, property and environment of their constituents.
The housing compact is part of Hochul’s 2024 Executive Budget, and is an attempt to address the shortage of places to live by building 800,000 housing units in the state this decade. The plan would “encourage growth by removing barriers to housing production, incentivizing new construction, and setting local housing targets across every New York community,” according to Hochul’s website.
Long Island politicians on both sides of the political aisle have argued that the compact doesn’t take into account many of the infrastructure challenges residents face, particularly on the North Shore. Jake Blumencranz, a Republican assemblyman, said that his constituents in Oyster Bay are particularly concerned that the compact would prioritize the construction of housing near Long Island Rail Road stations.
Blumencranz argued that this ignores the numerous issues that commuters on the LIRR’s Oyster Bay line deal with, and shows a disregard for people already living in the community.
“It is definitely the largest outcry I’ve had since being in office, as people are really concerned with what this might do to the community,” Blumencranz said. “It’s a clear neglect of our community and its needs when it comes to the governor’s agenda.”
The compact’s apparent dismissal of Long Island’s environmental concerns has also contributed to the public opposition. Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Democrat, said that although she appreciates and understands the need for affordable housing in New York, the compact doesn’t take into consideration the environmental impact of adding tens of thousands of new housing units to the area.
DeRiggi-Whitton emphasized that the compact would seriously increase greenhouse emissions due to the rise in the use of cars. She also pointed out that Nassau County’s schools would have no way to accommodate a rapid influx of new students.
“I believe their intention to try to get more housing was good, but the way they did it was completely wrong,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “It’s just unconscionable to me, mainly because of our environmental, school and traffic issues.”
State Sen. Jack Martins, a Republican, described the compact as nothing less than “an attack on our suburban communities.” Martins argued that Hochul’s plan shows a lack of respect and appreciation for the desires and needs of Long Island residents.
As the compact stands, a municipality like the hamlet of Oyster Bay could see as many as 25,000 housing units built within a half-mile of the train station, changing the face of the community and increasing the demand on the area’s infrastructure. The plan would allow the state to bypass local environmental regulations.
It is unlikely that the compact will be approved by the State Legislature, even with its Democratic majority. Democratic Assemblyman Chuck Lavine explained that he and his fellow legislators are working on an alternative plan that would be separate from the governor’s spending plan. That proposal, Lavine said, would be less of a headlong rush into housing development than a plan to provide economic incentives to municipalities to add housing units without bypassing local authority and ignoring environmental concerns.
“A one-size-fits-all approach is not going to lend itself appropriately to our Long Island, and so we have opposed that,” Lavine said. “So the battle lines have been drawn, and now we’re discussing with the governor the way to move forward.”