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Analysis: New Jersey Is Losing Its Millennials

September 28th, 2017 by Tim Evans

A new report finds that the younger generation flocks to neighborhoods in New Jersey where they can live, work, and play, but there might not be enough of those places in our state to keep them here.

New Jersey Future’s new analysis of Census data shows two significant shifts in the state’s demographic patterns. First, Millennials are gravitating to walkable, more urbanized locations with jobs, housing, entertainment and amenities all within easy reach, as Generation X did before them. And second, unlike the rest of the country, the Millennial population is shrinking in New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

Newark–Philadelphia Study Visit Focuses on Implementing Green Infrastructure at Scale

September 27th, 2017 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future Managing Director for Policy and Water Chris Sturm and Planning and Policy Associate Kandyce Perry.

Newark and Philadelphia staff represented the many departments and functions involved with green infrastructure, including water and sewer, engineering, roads, public works including parks and recycling, economic development, workforce development, public affairs, finance, legal and sustainability.

The City of Newark recently capitalized on the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD)’s considerable experience managing stormwater. Both cities face major regulatory requirements to upgrade old combined sewer systems that overflow raw sewage into waterways. But Philadelphia is about 10 years ahead, having responded to a federal consent decree by submitting its Green City Clean Waters plan in 2009. The ensuing program has earned national recognition for the use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) techniques like rain gardens, green roofs and green streets. In order to take advantage of PWD’s head start, 11 staff members from Newark traveled to the city in mid-September for a busy day-and-a-half exchange. Read the rest of this entry »

Gubernatorial Candidates on Key Issues Facing New Jersey

September 19th, 2017 by Allison Kopicki

Phil Murphy

Kim Guadagno

New Jersey Future asked the Democrat and Republican\two gubernatorial candidates how they plan to address some of the critical issues the new governor of New Jersey will face. The questions focused on the crisis in our transportation system; the need for modernization of our water infrastructure; how best to help cities and towns revitalize and grow; how to prepare the state for the effects of climate change and sea-level rise; and how to streamline and coordinate state priorities, investments and incentives across departments. Read their responses. Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed Rule Change Would Allow Development on Piers

September 18th, 2017 by David Kutner

New Jersey Future comments urge DEP not to relax existing restrictions.

Ocean pier in Atlantic City. Proposed rule amendments would allow more development in such high-hazard areas. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

New Jersey Future has submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Protection urging the department to reverse its determination that development in high-hazard areas is acceptable and should be permitted. Our comments relate specifically to the proposed revisions to sections 7:7-9.18 of various rules that govern development in coastal high-hazard areas – that is, V or VE FEMA flood zones, and over existing ocean piers and/or pilings in the Hudson River Waterfront area and Atlantic City. The proposed amendments would permit residential and commercial development in these coastal high-hazard areas. Read the rest of this entry »

Lead in Drinking Water Results Ready for ‘Back to School’ Season

August 31st, 2017 by Allison Kopicki

Report shows positive results from more than 300 schools in districts in all areas of the state, but data incomplete

New Jersey Future has released the first compilation done at the statewide level of the results of school districts’ tests for lead in their facilities’ drinking water. The preliminary analysis shows that lead was found in drinking water in school districts of all types and sizes, and in all geographic areas of the state.

School districts were required to test for lead in their drinking water and to post results on their websites.Those that found positive results of lead were also required to notify parents and the Department of Education, and to describe measures taken to switch off any outlet with elevated lead levels and provide alternate sources of water. Read the rest of this entry »

Joint Environment Committee Dives in on Climate Change, Coastal Resilience

August 14th, 2017 by New Jersey Future staff

The following article was written by New Jersey Future intern Chris Gough.

Planning Manager David Kutner delivering testimony at the hearing.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee met jointly Thursday morning to discuss climate change and its impact on New Jersey’s coastal communities. The two-and-a-half hour session included testimony from expert witnesses and the general public. Committee Co-chairs Sen. Bob Smith and Asm. Tim Eustace led the hearing, which took place in the coastal community of Lavallette.

The expert witnesses delivered their testimonies with a palpable sense of urgency, to legislators who appeared genuinely committed to addressing the problems associated with New Jersey’s changing climate. Among the experts who testified was New Jersey Future Planning Manager David Kutner. (Testimony) Read the rest of this entry »

Good News, Bad News in New Monmouth Poll

August 2nd, 2017 by Tim Evans

The latest edition of the Monmouth University Poll’s Garden State Quality of Life Index contains some good news — a record high percentage of people rating their town as good or excellent — but also some bad news: The overall quality of life index actually declined for people age 18 to 34, even as it went up among other age groups.

On the good-news side, redevelopment of older, built-out areas may be making more people happy with their quality of life, especially in historically distressed urban areas that are now on the rebound. In fact, the largest single increase in the index came from Essex and Hudson counties, which saw a jump from +4 to +18. The index in what the poll calls the Urban community type also rose, from -2 to +7.

However, on the bad-news side, Millennials will probably keep leaving the state if they can’t afford to buy into the walkable-urbanism renaissance. New Jersey has the highest percentage among the 50 states of young adults still living with their parents, an indication that many cannot afford to live on their own here. New Jersey’s high housing costs — the product of a chronic undersupply of housing brought on by the practice of “fiscal zoning” — are certainly part of the problem. (A recent study by the New York branch of the Federal Reserve finds that mounting student loan debt is also a major factor in preventing young adults from being able to afford to move out.)

According to Monmouth Pollster Patrick Murray, the Millennial index numbers should serve as a warning sign for state officials. This group is more able to move to where they can find good jobs, affordable rents, and “18-hour communities.” It is also the group that drives household formation and major associated purchases, and a large-scale outmigration of this group from New Jersey would act as a drag on future economic growth.

The Monmouth University Poll’s Garden State Quality of Life Index is calculated based on five questions regarding residents’ opinion of the state as a place to live, and can range from -100 to +100.

Sound Management, Transparency Key to Ensuring Reliable, Reasonably Priced Drinking Water

July 24th, 2017 by New Jersey Future staff

Below is New Jersey Future’s statement on the July 21, 2017, signing of the Water Quality Accountability Act.

New Jersey Future applauds the efforts of all those involved in the July 21 passage of the Water Quality Accountability Act (S2834/A4569). Among the law’s key provisions, it will require drinking-water utilities to develop comprehensive plans for managing their infrastructure, and to dedicate sufficient funds for the highest-priority improvement projects identified in those plans.

“This law is an important step in the process of upgrading New Jersey’s aging, inadequate water infrastructure,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “It will help ensure that residents and businesses alike have reliable access to drinking water at a reasonable cost.

“Too many of our utility companies have avoided the rate increases necessary to support cost-effective long-term maintenance and investment, and as a result have been forced to focus their resources on more costly emergency repairs,” Kasabach continued. “A good asset management plan is the first step toward realigning spending priorities and bringing down the long-term costs of running our water systems.”

The legislation requires utilities to provide the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities or Department of Community Affairs a report on its asset management plan, identifying improvements to be undertaken in the coming year along with their associated costs, and listing improvements made in the year immediately past, along with those associated costs.

New Jersey Future has urged the administration to  enhance transparency and accountability: It has recommended that the NJDEP, as part of its rulemaking process, define simple, standardized metrics of water system condition to be included in utilities’ asset management plans, and that the status of asset management plan submissions, the key metrics of system condition, and a summary of improvements planned and made, including their costs, be made publicly available.

“The transparency and accountability recommendations, if implemented, will ensure that municipal officials and ratepayers will be able to understand clearly the condition of the systems that provide their drinking water, the steps being taken to keep those systems in good working order, how their ratepayer dollars are being used to maintain those systems, and the metrics being used to evaluate progress,” explained New Jersey Future Managing Director Chris Sturm.

The legislation addresses one of the key goals of Jersey Water Works, a 300-plus-member collaborative that promotes water infrastructure upgrades. The collaborative has prioritized the use of asset management programs as key to achieving sustainable, cost-effective water services.  

McKinsey’s Smart Economic Vision for New Jersey

July 20th, 2017 by Elaine Clisham

It was heartening to see the McKinsey & Company report on what it will take to “re-seed” New Jersey’s economy, because it shared many of the same priorities highlighted in New Jersey Future’s gubernatorial platform, Smart Growth Is Economic Growth.

Specifically, the McKinsey report notes that New Jersey has been under-investing in what it sees as the key drivers of economic growth: people, infrastructure, and what it calls “young, mid-sized businesses.” In doing so, the report concludes, the state has been ignoring the potential for as much as $60 billion in gross domestic product and 250,000 jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Future Testifies at U.S. Senate Roundtable on Lead in Drinking Water

July 14th, 2017 by Elaine Clisham

New Jersey Future Managing Director for Policy and Water Chris Sturm joined a panel of national experts who delivered remarks July 13 at a U.S. Senate roundtable organized by Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Ms. Sturm was invited by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s staff to testify about the extent of the problem of lead in drinking water in New Jersey, and to discuss a range of proposed solutions. Both New Jersey Future and members of the Jersey Water Works collaborative have researched and provided testimony at the state level on problems caused by aging water infrastructure.  Read the rest of this entry »

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