In November of last year, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer held a conference at Columbia Univeristy called “The Politics of Food: A Conference on New York’s Next Policy Challenge.”  This month, Stringer’s office followed up on that conference with a report, Food in the Public Interest (PDF).  In addition to addressing hunger, the availability of healthy food in schools, and the need for nutrition education, the report also has many implications for planning.

Among his recommendations dealing specifically with planning issues are:

  • Explore options to discourage the number of unhealthy fast food options in certain areas by eliminating their eligibility for certain funding, placing a cap on the number of outlets, and restricting the development by new fast food establishments.
  • Identify land in the five boroughs and in the foodshed (an area surrounding NYC where food is produced) that can be used for agriculture, including suitable public properties (e.g. right of ways, easements, parks), private land (e.g. rooftops, backyard gardens), and underused land. Create policies to streamline the process for agricultural land use that benefits the public.
  • Promote local agriculture in neighborhoods with limited access to fresh foods through new farmers markets, food cooperatives, CSA’s and local building clubs, as well as community gardens in parks, schools, NYCHA, and other city-owned land.
  • Designate “food enterprise zones” in areas that the Department of City Planning has identified as “food deserts” for their lack of healthy food retailers.
  • Explore new land use and zoning incentives for developers who include food markets in new developments, such as a floor area bonus or exemption for projects which contribute to healthy food outlets.
  • Explore revisions to City and State Environmental Quality Review (CEQR and SEQR, respectively) standards that would require studying the potential impact that development proposals and other discretionary actions may have on the food system.

Check out a full summary of the report here.

Also of note, tonight is Stringer’s State of the Borough Address.