Who is in charge of the waterfront? Everybody and nobody. The scramble of commissions and task forces in the wake of Superstorm Sandy brought the challenge of waterfront governance into sharp relief. With literally dozens of city, state, and federal agencies regulating and protecting New York Harbor and the regional waterfront, it is high time to construct a new regime that will manage our waterways and shorelines holistically, efficiently, and with dedicated foresight. We are developing a 21st century waterfront, with great opportunities and grave challenges for our coastal city. We need governance to match.
As in New York, cities from around the world are reinventing their waterfronts. From Seattle to Sydney, other waterfront cities can provide valuable examples and innovative models for New York. This paper distills some of these examples into case studies meant to inform the discussion on how to improve waterfront governance in New York City. It concludes with the recommendation that a Department of the Waterfront is necessary to realize the economic benefi ts of a revitalized waterfront, to capture the cost savings from better coordination and planning, and to implement the city's critical goals for protecting its waterfront.