City Planning Commission Votes to Approve City of Yes for Economic Opportunity Amendment

Director of City Planning Dan Garodnick speaking about the City of Yes proposals at the 189th CityLaw Breakfast last October. Click the image to see the video. Image Credit: CityLand.

On March 6, 2024, the City Planning Commission voted to approve the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity zoning text amendment. The amendment, the second of Mayor Eric Adams’ three City of Yes proposals, is a collection of eighteen changes to the zoning text designed to remove obstacles for small businesses looking to expand and create more vibrant streetscapes. 

Some of the changes include doubling the space available for clean manufacturing, and allowing small producers like ceramic shops, microbreweries and apparel makers to operate in commercial corridors; to expand the number of businesses that can operate in ground-floor and upper-floor spaces; and to make zoning tools to enable over 17,000 businesses in industrial areas to have more space to grow their businesses. Other changes include removing outdated cabaret rules that prohibited dancing, comedy and open mic nights in restaurants and venues in commercial areas and to update rules that limited where amusements are allowed to enable more family-friendly activities. 

The life sciences industry will also receive a boost through new regulations for laboratories to operate in offices and near hospitals and universities. Outdated restrictions on indoor urban agriculture were also removed. The new amendment will also allow a wider range of businesses like barbers and interior designers to be based out of homes.

Through the public review process, the amendment received positive recommendations from 21 community boards and the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Borough Presidents. The Department of City Planning and the City Planning Commission addressed several common concerns raised including clarifying that businesses ran out of residences would not be allowed in residential common areas like building hallways and be limited to a cap of 1,000 square feet for home businesses. Other modifications included clarifications regarding the environmental protection standards that life science research facilities will need to maintain. 

The amendment will now be reviewed by the City Council. Last year, the City Council voted to approve the City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality Amendment, which helps implement sustainability measures and green technology. The last City of Yes Amendment, the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, is expected to enter public review this spring. To hear City Planning Commission Chair and Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick discuss each of the City of Yes amendments at last October’s CityLaw Breakfast, click here

Mayor Adams stated, “To continue driving New York City’s economic recovery forward, we must look to the future and not be bound by the past. So many of our old zoning rules simply made no sense, but ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will deliver long-overdue, sensible zoning changes that will unlock family-sustaining jobs for our neighbors, inclusive growth in our communities, and a vibrant future for our city. New York City isn’t coming back — we are back, and ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will help take us to new heights.”

City Planning Commission Chair Garodnick stated, “New York City’s entrepreneurs, small businesses, and commercial corridors have been held back for too long by outdated zoning rules. With ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’ we’re bringing these rules into the 21st century so they reflect how people and businesses work today. Thanks to today’s vote by the City Planning Commission, we’re one step closer towards setting New York City’s economy on a more vibrant and prosperous path.” 

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




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