The ‘City of Yes – Housing Opportunity’ citywide zoning and land use proposal will not just create “a little more housing in every neighborhood” as Mayor Adams has stated, or “gentle density” in low-density neighborhoods as the Department of City Planning (DCP) has suggested.
Rather, it will thoroughly gut the entire system of land use that has allowed neighborhoods around the city to grow in logical and predictable ways for over six decades, as per the longstanding goal of the DCP. Apparently, the new leadership at City Hall has had both collective amnesia of past actions and a new agenda that is a direct existential threat to the basic survival of our collective communities.
This proposal does not consider the carefully negotiated rezonings of the past 20 years that have occurred throughout the city – rezonings that encouraged significantly more development in some places while contextualizing new development in others to protect neighborhood character while promoting orderly growth.
The ‘City of Yes – Housing Opportunity’ proposal would throw all of that away in order to:
1) Create massive and unsustainable increases in density across the board in every lower-density (R1 through R5) neighborhood;
2) Utterly ignore transportation needs and trends, particularly in lower-density neighborhoods far from transit linking to Manhattan;
3) Exponentially increase the stress on infrastructure and public resources, of which it makes no mention;
4) Deny actual housing affordability of any kind, despite constant buzz words and meaningless rhetoric sprinkled throughout the document;
5) Purposefully replace communities with high levels of owner-occupied housing in order to “free up” land for developers to build market-rate, high- density rental units for their profit.
6) Severely compromise the democratic process in future land use decisions by communities and their elected officials through the massive expansion of as-of-right development and limiting of ULURP.
While this brief study focused solely on the five main points of the ‘City of Yes – Housing Opportunity’ – Accessory Dwelling Units; Transit-Oriented Development; “Town Center” Zoning; the Rewriting of Basic Zoning Regulations; and elimination of parking requirements – there are dozens of other proposed zoning changes that, collectively, will also cause extensive damage to our communities. The best solution is for ‘City of Yes – Housing Opportunity’ to be withdrawn by DCP prior to certification.
The ‘City of Yes – Economic Opportunity’ citywide zoning and land use proposal was certified on October 30, 2023. This portion of the “City of Yes” has not been discussed at length in the public realm.
There are deeply concerning changes that are being proposed that will have wide-ranging negative impacts should they be adopted. In addition, much of the framework for “Housing Opportunity” will be put into place if “Economic Opportunity” is made into law.
Here are just a few of the proposed changes to our zoning:
1) Allow (by CPC authorization) retail and office commercial development up to 2500 sf within 100’ of a corner in all residential zones;
2) Allow (by BSA authorization) commercial development to routinely double in size;
3) Change “home offices” from occupying a maximum of 25% or 500 sf (whichever is less) of a primary residence to 49% with no maximum – and up to 3 employees;
4) Reorganizing Use Groups from 18 categories to 10, allowing more noxious uses within our communities;
5) Reorganizing Commercial Zoning to essentially allow much broader uses in all neighborhood commercial strips.
These changes – and many more – will not foster positive change in our neighborhoods. Instead, it will deregulate our entire land use process and allow commercial development everywhere, which is not appropriate or welcome.
For our communities to truly survive and thrive, the ‘City of Yes – Economic Opportunity’ must be voted down in total.