Edward Glaeser has an excellent column arguing that New Yorkers should foot the bill for an extensive network of sea walls to protect the region from storm surges. It is a great complement to Matthew Kahn’s recent work on the subject (see our discussion here), which Glaeser cites approvingly. The one thing I’d add is that there is a perfect way to pay for a sea wall, namely Vishaan Chakraborti’s brilliant LoLo concept, a new landfill neighborhood built in the narrow channel separating the Battery from Governor’s Island. The value of this real estate could defray the cost of a sea wall, and more ambitious landfill development could generate more dividends still. The best and lowest-cost way to facilitate economic and population growth in New York city is probably to embrace upzoning, to deregulate rental markets, and to focus historical preservation efforts more narrowly, but landfill development can also be an important tool for breaking the bottleneck on construction in the region.
by Reihan Salam