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Lieutenant Governor Announces New State Office of Planning Advocacy

July 23rd, 2010 by

NJ Future released the following statement today in response to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s announcement of the creation of the Office of Planning Advocacy. The office will take over the responsibility of the current Office of Smart Growth, and be housed in the Lt. Governor’s Office.

STATE LEADERS SPEAK OUT FOR SMART GROWTH AND STRENGTHED STATE LAND-USE PLANNING

Lieutenant Governor announces new state Office of Planning Advocacy

At an event today at Princeton University, leaders from the business community, Christie Administration, State Legislature and the grassroots social equity movement voiced their support for state land-use planning as a means to improve New Jersey’s quality of life, strengthen the economy, promote social equity and preserve New Jersey’s remaining open spaces.

For more than 20 years New Jersey Future has championed this cause, advancing state planning and the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as the best way to guide where and how New Jersey adds new residents and businesses in the future.  Recent economic conditions and the continued loss of open space combined with a new gubernatorial administration and strong education and advocacy efforts have worked together to put state planning back into the center of public policy debate.

One of the primary recommendations championed by New Jersey Future has been the need to relocate the Office of Smart Growth from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to a neutral state department.  This move would allow the office to facilitate coordination between key state departments.  Today, Lieutenant Governor Guadagno announced this important change.  She said, “What you are going to see over the next couple of days is the Office of Smart Growth coming over from the DCA and being set in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.  We are creating the Office of Planning Advocacy.”

In addition to this attention from state government, many forward-thinking business interests recognize that more carefully coordinated land-use decision-making can enhance economic development potential.  To that point, Dennis Bone, President of Verizon NJ said, “We need a sustainable state plan that focuses on economic growth and sustainability”.

Similarly, organizations with a social justice focus are beginning to view land-use planning as an important factor in determining whether New Jersey truly offers equal opportunities for all.  Nationally renowned speaker David Rusk spoke on these points, calling on federal and state government to reduce economic and racial segregation through a variety of policies, including land use reform and strengthening state planning.

This renewed interest in state planning puts New Jersey on the forefront of a national shift in policy that emphasizes coordination between transportation, housing and environmental protection with the end goal of building truly sustainable communities. It also comes at a critical time for the state, when studies show that New Jersey continues to lose open space to development at an alarming rate.  (New Jersey Future will be co-releasing a report next week that shows this trend.)

As New Jersey Future executive director Peter Kasabach summarized, “We are encouraged by the Lieutenant Governor’s announcement today and now turn our collective attention in the coming months to take state planning off the shelf and put it into action”.  New Jersey Future will continue to expand the coalition of supporters behind a re-energized and strengthened State Plan and to work with the Lt. Governor and State Legislature to build a system that integrates state planning into the missions of state agencies and shapes the long-term future of New Jersey.


2 Responses to “Lieutenant Governor Announces New State Office of Planning Advocacy”

  1. […] 7/23/10- Lieutenant Governor Announces New State Office of Planning Advocacy (Garden State Smart Growth) from → This Week in Land Use ← Walkable, Transit-Rich Neighborhoods Poised […]

  2. James Ariac says:

    While NJ Future is “encouraged by the Lieutenant Governor’s announcement”, the Lieutenant Governor also trashed all previous State Plan efforts and pretty much suggested that the state should not be interfering with how local decisions are made.

    The Lieutenant Governor’s comments also demonstrated a lack of commitment from the administration to provide the leadership that is needed. Stepping away from the problem under the guise that people don’t want the state to interfere with local decisions is an avoidance of responsibility. It is critical that we have state policies ensuring that all of the “little box” thinking associated with home rule becomes integrated into the “big box” thinking that is necessary to coordinate land use policies with the regional dynamics that are critical to the central theme of creating sustainable economic growth.

    Replacing a solid planning function with an advocacy function suggests reacting to individual circumstances as they present themselves rather than developing a strategic initiative that is based in sound principles and clearly defined direction. Before providing advocacy, the state must formalize a framework under which that advocacy will be provided. Of course, the State Planning function as it now stands must be reformed to make this a possibility and that is where the Lieutenant Governor should focus. State planning has been thwarted over the years not by inability within the Office of State Planning, which became the Office of Smart Growth, but rather by political obstacles. The real problem lies with the lack of political will to embrace coordinated land use planning, a fear of even questioning the sanctity of home rule and a general lack of understanding among local decision makes and the general populace.

    In addition to moving the State Planning function out of DCA, the administration must recognize the need for enhanced education on the issues, starting with itself and the legislature, and moving on to NJPO, local elected officials and all New Jerseyans. Ultimately, this must lead to a policy of what is good for the state as whole and away from the current system of benefiting individual interests.

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