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NY pols working toward change

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney is the majority leader

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney is the majority leader of the Hempstead Town Board. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Daily Point

Chain reaction

What you’re about to read is not fiction.

When Newsday’s nextLI initiative emerged last week with research showing that young Long Islanders plan to leave Long Island for more affordable locations, it only confirmed what Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney said she already had been thinking about.

The data led King Sweeney, a Republican, to write on her Facebook page on Friday that local leaders should “focus on more affordable housing opportunities and creating the climate to establish those residences.”

“This means a broad based look at the Town Zoning code to make sure that mixed use, apartments and other types of housing units aren’t being ‘zoned out’ due to antiquated, 1970s-style zoning ordinances,” King Sweeney wrote.

King Sweeney told The Point Monday she plans to start with a panel of experts, community members and others involved in the issues, including those in the 18- to 34-year-old range, to “have a public conversation about how we can ... update our zoning code that was drafted decades ago to attract and retain business and bring in the millennials.”

She said she expects to get the commission up and running within a month, and wants to look at the creation of walkable downtowns, mixed-use development, and different housing types, with the goal of creating more jobs and adding tax revenue to the town’s coffers.

“It was in the works for five years in my head,” King Sweeney said. But the nextLI report was “a perfect excuse to light it on fire and move forward.”

“I know it’s like the third rail,” King Sweeney said. “But we can’t be afraid of it.”

This, from a Republican in the Town of Hempstead, just a week after the town also approved new transit-oriented development zoning in Inwood and Lawrence.

No, you’re not dreaming.

 - Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Getting greener

Democratic control of both legislative chambers in Albany has opened the floodgates on a slew of measures long bottled up by Senate Republicans. With the end of the legislative session approaching next month, environmentalists are working overtime to make sure that a strong climate change bill is among the top priorities.

“Legislators are hearing so many causes that have been waiting for their turns. The biggest issue we’re pushing on is the urgency,” Jessica Ottney Mahar of The Nature Conservancy told The Point in a conference call Tuesday with environmentalists. “This is one of those top-tier issues that they can’t leave Albany without addressing.”

The advocates — including members from the New York League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Audubon NY and Riverkeeper — are working with Assembly and Senate lawmakers to combine the best aspects of the Community and Climate Protection Act, which the Assembly has passed several times, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed Climate Leadership Act.

The goals include getting 70 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, and getting to carbon-neutral emissions economy-wide by 2050.

Some progressives would prefer a carbon-free economy by 2050, but Jackson Morris of the NRDC told The Point that going carbon-neutral is a more “viable framework” for reducing emissions in sectors other than electricity — like transportation, agriculture, buildings and manufacturing. A carbon-neutral approach would, for example, allow forestry practices that sequester more carbon or the extraction of biogas from agricultural waste to offset emissions, said Miles Farmer of the NRDC.

Two Long Islanders will be important players in the process — Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemb. Steve Englebright, the chairs of the chambers' respective environmental conservation committees. Kaminsky convened hearings on the bill earlier this year; Englebright has one Friday in New York City.

With five weeks left in the session, there are many details still to be negotiated but environmentalists say the potential victory is clear.

“The bill we’re talking about creating, a carbon-neutral New York by 2050, is an extraordinarily progressive bill,” Ottney Mahar said. “It would be the most progressive climate bill in the country.”

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

Game of tariffs

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Final Point

Your questions, answered

NextLI received more than 170 text-message questions from the audience at a Long Island Association event last Friday about the findings of our survey of Long Island’s young adults – excluding a few funny ones about Taylor Swift and “Star Wars.”

That is a lot of questions. So, we want to share with you what to expect from us in the coming days and weeks.

We will combine some of the questions in three categories – methodology, data and policy. This means there won’t be 176 questions, or posts, but no question will be left unanswered.

We’ll be able to answer the methodology questions fairly quickly, and then we’ll start answering the data questions in our daily posts. These will be available on next.newsday.com.

That approach will give us time to dig into the questions more thoughtfully and allow us some time to do more research.

The policy questions are the most fascinating ones. Many people want to know what’s the next step they can take now that they’re armed with some data – and we love that.

We plan on posting those questions and encouraging conversation about what the next steps could be.

We will also reach out to groups and officials with track records of answering these policy questions and will invite them to write essays about them. And if any of you are interested in writing essays on these questions after we post them, we would love to hear from you: nextLI@newsday.com.

- Kai Teoh @jkteoh

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