“City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” Amendment Enters Public Review

Director of City Planning Dan Garodnick speaking about the City of Yes proposals at the 189th CityLaw Breakfast last month. Image Credit: CityLand.

On October 30, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams and Director of City Planning Dan Garodnick announced the launch of the public review process for the “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” zoning amendment. The amendment is the second of three “City of Yes” proposals that aim to modernize or remove outdated provisions of the zoning text that limit the growth of housing, the development of small businesses, and the implementation of green technology, energy and infrastructure.

The “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” proposal consists of 18 changes to support various industries and revitalize commercial corridors. Some of the changes include simplifying rules on types of businesses that can be located on commercial streets, enabling commercial activity on upper floors, and changing loading dock rules to better adapt to changing business needs. The proposal also changes restrictions on dancing to be tied to venue capacity instead of zoning districts. For more information about the proposal, click here.

The City Planning Commission discussed the proposal at Monday’s review session. The proposal was referred to local community boards, borough boards and borough presidents, which have 60 days to review the proposal. After the 60 days, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and a vote. If approved, the proposal will then move to the City Council for review and approval.

The proposal is the second of the three City of Yes proposals to enter public review. The “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” proposal was approved by the City Planning Commission on September 11th, and the City Council will vote on that proposal later this fall. The third proposal, the “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” is currently under environmental review and is expected to enter public review next spring.

DCP Director Garodnick stated, “For too long, small business owners have had to navigate a byzantine mix of outdated zoning rules that have stymied their growth and led to vacant storefronts in our neighborhoods. ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will cut the red tape and provide the flexibility needed for our mom-and-pops, and our neighborhoods, to succeed. To have a modern economy that works, we need our zoning to meet the moment, and that’s what this proposal will do. We look forward to a robust public review process as we move towards a more prosperous city.”

Lisa Sorin, President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Mayor Eric Adams’ ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is set to empower and uplift our small businesses. This comprehensive initiative aims to address various obstacles faced by our local businesses, such as exorbitant commercial rents and the surging trend of online shopping. Through measures like simplifying zoning regulations, eliminating deadlines for filling vacant storefronts, and implementing crucial reforms, this plan unlocks opportunities for growth and stability within our small business community. As a chamber leader, I have waited for a strategic plan such as this one that not only fosters economic and workforce development but also recognizes and confronts the unique challenges of small businesses. The prospects that lie ahead following the implementation of this plan are truly promising, and I eagerly anticipate the positive outcomes it will bring.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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