Long Island as the Sixth Borough


Governor Kathy Hochul has a vision for Long Island: high density high-rises, never-ending traffic and overcrowded schools. After all, why wouldn’t suburban homeowners want their neighborhoods to be more like New York City?

In her mind, New York State has a “housing crisis.” However, as outlined in her 2024 Executive Budget, it seems her sights are aimed primarily at Long Island. She’s creating the New York Housing Compact, a statewide promise to build 800,000 homes over the next ten years, but she is also seeking to rezone every area surrounding a Long Island Rail Road station, in a half-mile radius, into “higher density multifamily development” that will allow up to fifty units per acre. The worst part is, she has included legislation in her budget that will allow the state government to override local zoning laws, thereby removing the right of residents to do anything about it. She’s forcibly changing the single-family identity of our home; attempting to turn Seaford into Sunnyside and Wantagh into Woodside.

The resources of our communities would be stretched too thin to accommodate the population increase. Our police departments are already dealing with rising crime due to her failed bail reform policies, and they will now have to deal with an increasing population. Our volunteer fire departments – who are already contending with a recruitment problem – will have to upgrade their equipment to combat high-rise fires and more. Our EMS resources will be pressured around the clock, and they will need to bolster their ranks. 

As a retired NYPD, MTA and Port Authority Police Officer, I’ve seen the crowded cityscape firsthand for over 20 years – it’s not Long Island. The Town of Hempstead is the best place to live, work and raise a family, but it’s the suburban quality-of-life that keeps people coming here. The Hempstead Town Board is not opposed to more housing, but it needs to be done in smart way that does not jeopardize our suburban identity. A prime example includes the recently approved Breslin project in Baldwin, a mixed-use transit-oriented development project that will include 215 residential units. It’s located right across the street from the Baldwin train station and – most importantly – it was passed with the approval from area residents. 

What the Governor is proposing is nothing short of a power grab that will transform our community into the sixth borough of New York City. It’s not wrong to want more housing, but it is wrong to override the power of local municipalities to push an agenda. Local municipalities are the cornerstone for good government because they are most in tune with the concerns of the community. Ignoring the input of locals will only create pitfalls and problems for years to come.

We’ve seen this power grab before. Last year, the Governor proposed a mandate that would allow all homes in New York State to add an accessory dwelling unit to their property, effectively eliminating single-family housing. Local officials from all over New York State – both Republican and Democrat – banded together to stand against her outrageous proposal, and due to it being an election year, Governor Hochul backed down from her plan. Right now, there is no upcoming election to hold the Governor accountable. Despite the pleas from residents and the calls to action from elected officials, she has not buckled in the slightest.

Governor Hochul does not understand Long Island and ignorantly pushes forward with plugged ears.

Christopher Carini is a former police officer and currently represents the fifth district on the Town of Hempstead Council. Comments about this guest column? Reach out to casesam@hempsteadny.gov.