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Letters: Housing options for Long Island

While it's notable that Long Island is moving forward on some of its larger-scale, transformative projects, caution should still be taken in celebrating the recent multifamily housing trends ["Finally, we're on the move," Editorial, Jan. 2].

Among Long Island's urban planners, there is no consensus on the theory that young adults are leaving -- which has justified the increase in density. The "brain drain" is a weak foundation on which to stake the Island's economic future. Policymaking should be driven by scientific data.

When there is a cohesive, unified regional effort driven by professional planning, instead of the patchwork of municipality and vested stakeholder interests driving our narrative that we've seen in the last decade, then we should celebrate our accomplishments.

Rich Murdocco, Syosset

Editor's note: The writer blogs about Long Island development at

Newsday's Jan. 2 editorial and the Jan. 4 business story "Rentals reshaping downtowns" had some good news for Long Islanders hoping to see more diverse housing that might keep people and businesses from moving away.

At long last, there appears to be growing public recognition that the single-family home that "served Long Island for decades can no longer sustain us," as the editorial said. Smart-growth developments are actually underway in key places like Hempstead, Wyandanch and Huntington Station, and they will provide multifamily housing, more rental apartments, downtown revitalization and proximity to transit.

Our supply of rental housing has finally increased, from 17 percent of housing stock in 2008 to 21 percent in 2013. But our share is still behind Westchester, at 39 percent. And, as Newsday pointed out, we still need a significant increase in affordable housing, particularly rentals, as these new projects go forward.

The available rentals are mostly market rate, ranging from $2,000 to $3,500 a month. Using the standard that one-third of a family's income should go toward housing, this means that a family would have to earn $72,000 to $126,000 a year. That's way beyond the incomes of most young people.

Richard Koubek, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition.

Police safety must include equipment

I was glad to read that the New York State Senate will hold public hearings on police safety ["NY Senate plans cop safety hearings," News, Dec. 30].

I hope the Senate allows New York City Police Department officers to testify with immunity so the senators can hear the truth. Every city police officer I know tells me the same thing: Equipment installed in the vehicles doesn't work. This unnecessarily places the officers in danger when they are trying to ascertain a suspect's status.

Also, some police departments have Kevlar built into the doors of police sedans. How about placing this bullet-resistant material into the vehicles of the NYPD? If the state really has a $5 billion settlement from banks, this would be a perfect time.

Thomas Duignan, West Islip

Editor's note: The writer is a retired state park police officer.

Terrorism insurance renewal essential

The world is still a dangerous place, which makes the recent inaction of Congress in regard to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act so surprising. Jan. 1 dawned without a program to provide a federal backstop to protect against catastrophic attacks on our nation's critical infrastructure and iconic buildings.

The terrorism insurance act was passed in 2002 and reauthorized several times. It's designed to make terrorism insurance available and affordable. Several major developers have stated that if it were not for this program, some of New York City's buildings at Ground Zero might not have been built.

One senator has objected and said that the program should be redesigned to shift some of the risk from the American taxpayer to the insurance industry. Though normally a valid point, this does not apply to terrorist acts because of the nationwide impact and unforeseeable nature of an attack.

Hopefully Congress will enact an extension and expand the program to cover cyber-attacks. Many industries are recognizing the risk from cyber-attacks, but finding insurance is hard, particularly in energy, health care and transportation. If Uncle Sam were to provide a federal backstop, it might incentivize the private sector to work more closely with these critical industries and drive cyber awareness and responsibility in return for affordable insurance.

Michael Balboni, East Williston

Editor's note: The writer, a former state senator, is managing partner for RedLand Strategies, a management consulting agency specializing in homeland security.