The New York waterfront is still a great place to live, says Bloomberg

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Bloomberg in Staten Island. (via NYC.gov)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said he doesn't think the prospect of soaring flood insurance rates will cause New Yorkers to flee low-lying neighborhoods.

"I do not agree with those people that say everybody's gonna move out of the low-lying areas of Staten Island, Coney Island, Breezy Point, the Rockaways," he told reporters in Staten Island. "These places are still great places to live."

One of of the most difficult issues to emerge after Hurricane Sandy is the question of retreat: whether the city should play a role in discouraging development and homeownership in lower-lying neighborhoods.

A report in today's New York Times indicates that some homeowners, particularly those without substantial means, may have no choice, thanks to new requirements that more homeowners carry flood insurance and new rules that will ramp up federal flood insurance premiums by up to 25 percent. 

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"The higher premiums, coupled with expensive requirements for homes being rebuilt within newly mapped flood hazard zones, which will take into account the storm’s vast reach, pose a serious threat to middle-class and lower-income enclaves," according to the Times.

As to the more proximate question of whether legislators in Washingon will support the mayor's request for nearly $10 billion in aid for New York City, the mayor was similarly upbeat, telling reporters that during his lobbying excursion yesterday he got "good vibes."

The city's request is part of a more than $40 billion package requested by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, unlike the mayor, has yet to travel to D.C.

The mayor, who following the Hurricane sought to portray a united front with the governor, downplayed the importance of in-person meetings.

"This is just the beginning of a process, and I plan to be there a number of other times and so will the governors, or they'll send their staffs or they'll have the people up here or they'll be working the phones," he said. "But all of us are gonna have to work. This is not a one person thing at all."

The mayor made his remarks at a press conference announcing two new proposals to lessen the tax burden on homeowners in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

First, the mayor and City Council are planning to postpone the property tax payments of more than 3,000 homeowners until April, interest-free. And the mayor and City Council will also urge the state legislature to allow the city to provide property tax-rebates.