Mayor Adams Outlines Vision for "City of Yes"

Cozen O'Connor
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Cozen O'Connor

On June 1, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced his “City of Yes” plan to amend the city’s zoning tools to support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability. His plan includes three major citywide amendments to the NYC Zoning Resolution (Zoning for Economic Opportunity, Zoning for Housing Opportunity, and Zoning for Zero Carbon), creating a task force to streamline building and land use approvals, and continued investment in emerging job hubs.

“We are going to turn New York into a ‘City of Yes’ — yes in my backyard, yes on my block, yes in my neighborhood,” said Mayor Adams in a press release. “These proposals focused on economic recovery, affordable housing, and sustainability will remove red tape for small businesses, expand housing opportunities in every neighborhood, and accelerate the transition to our energy future.”

Zoning for Economic Opportunity will look to create flexibility for small businesses, including removing geographic limitations on certain businesses such as life sciences, custom manufacturing, and nightlife.

Zoning for Housing Opportunity will look to increase opportunities for affordable housing, including through increased floor area and reduced parking requirements.

Zoning for Zero Carbon will look to promote the use of energy-efficient building systems and sustainable building retrofits, including allowing more rooftop coverage for solar panels and making it easier to create charging stations for electric vehicles.

The plan calls for the creation of the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Taskforce (BLAST), tasked with reducing bureaucratic quagmires for private applicants. “We need to speed up city review of private applicants for new investments in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Adams. “We want to accelerate economic development by reducing administrative burdens.”

The administration is also looking to deliver on its commitment to invest in job centers, including the ongoing work in the Bronx in the areas surrounding four new Metro-North stations slated to open in the East Bronx in 2027.

“We are committed to making our land use process work faster and better as we deliver results,” said New York City Department of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick in the press release. “With these changes, we’re setting the stage for a more adaptable New York City that moves with the times.”

No accompanying set of applications or proposed text was released with the announcement, nor was the Department of City Planning’s website updated to include more than a link to the Mayor’s press release, meaning that the proposed amendments are at the early stages of preparation. Each text amendment, once prepared, will go through the environmental review process and then go before each of the city’s 59 community boards, the City Planning Commission, and will ultimately need approval by the City Council.

First, the city will have to say “yes,” before becoming the “City of Yes.”

We will continue to monitor developments as the Adams administration prepares to begin this process.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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