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February 3, 2011

Rachaele Raynoff (DCP)  (212) 720-3471


Zoning Toolbox for a Livable City

February 3, 2011 – City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden today announced the release of the new edition of the Zoning Handbook, the ultimate guide to understanding zoning in New York City. With zoning and land use at the forefront of Mayor Bloomberg’s agenda for sustainable growth, the Handbook is a must-read for all to understand how City Planning is using zoning to shape the City’s future by building on the unique qualities of its neighborhoods. The Handbook describes City Planning’s expanded toolbox of new zoning designations and regulations tailored to individual communities, including changes that have been used to promote development in areas well served by mass transit, biking, improved streetscape, public space and waterfront public park design, cleaner air and water, and better access to fresh food for underserved areas. This edition of the Zoning Handbook contains more than 20 new zoning designations and Special Districts with annotated diagrams, photographs and easily understandable charts to help demystify New York City’s Zoning Resolution, which City Planning continues to fine-tune to make it more versatile and responsive to community concerns. The Zoning Handbook furthers the Bloomberg Administration’s commitment to increasing transparency, streamlining and simplifying government processes, and improving customer service.

Commissioner Burden said, “Zoning is the language of the city, it is a three-dimensional blueprint for what any area of the city can become. After City Planning released the Zoning Handbook in 2005, I was thrilled to see so many New Yorkers at community meetings with dog-eared copies of the trademark bright orange Handbook. The Handbook is designed to be readable, entertaining and informative. It empowers communities by helping them understand zoning and making them better advocates for their neighborhoods. Cities never stand still, nor should zoning. I am proud to release this new edition of the Handbook which will be a tool for all New Yorkers.”

In the last nine years, zoning has been reinvented to embody smart growth and sustainable principles while addressing a range of goals as diverse as New York City’s neighborhoods. Increases in density have been directed to transit-oriented locations to create walkable communities that offer a variety of retail, service, community facility and employment opportunities. This comprehensive approach is focused on using zoning to help provide all New Yorkers with choices, facilitate healthier lifestyles, green our city with cleaner land, water and air, and advance PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a greener, greater New York.

During the Bloomberg Administration, more than 9,400 blocks – equal to one-fifth of the city – have been rezoned. City Planning has continued to fine-tune the Zoning Resolution to better address issues of neighborhood character and social equity as well as to help promote investment in the city’s future. City Planning has added new zoning designations tailored to the unique character of individual communities and new design guidelines intended to improve the public realm with waterfront parks and public plazas that will be inviting and well used. Under¬lying all of City Planning’s efforts has been a focus on the human scale of the city through the integration of urban design with zoning.

With new color photos and graphics to illustrate which building types are permitted under the city’s different zoning designations, a new chapter on the many zoning tools now available, an updated glossary and other useful information, the Handbook reflects the complexities of and recent refinements to the city’s Zoning Resolution. Everyone connected with land use issues in the city -- architects, attorneys, real estate brokers, contractors, students, homeowners and the general public – can benefit from the Handbook. The new Handbook is being distributed to elected officials and all 59 community boards to assist them in their role in the land use review process. It will be available in public libraries and is for sale for $35 through the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) bookstore at 22 Reade Street in Manhattan. Alternately, visit the DCP website at for information on how to order the 2011 Handbook. The book is discounted to $25 for students and bulk orders. What’s new in this edition of the Handbook:

  • A Zoning Tools chapter that focuses on new and revised zoning initiatives, such as Waterfront Design Guidelines to foster inviting public spaces at the water’s edge. It also outlines the unique FRESH Food Stores initiative to promote new neighborhood grocery stores in under-served areas, explains regulations in the new Lower Density Growth Management areas and provides information about the Inclusionary Housing Program, an incentive which is a key component of the City’s efforts to create and preserve affordable housing.

  • Details about requirements for landscaping parking lots and providing secure bicycle parking in new buildings.

  • A chart that explains the public land use review process.

  • Details about six new zoning designations developed since the last Handbook to manage growth and preserve the character of neighborhoods.

  • Information on 16 new Special Districts, including the St. George District on Staten Island, the Harlem River Waterfront Special District in the Lower Concourse and the Coney Island Mixed-Use District, as well as the Special West Chelsea District which facilitated the preservation of the High Line, New York’s most exciting new park, and development of a new residential neighborhood.

  • Updates for all zoning designations regarding new parking and streetscape requirements.

  • A signs chapter with a simple chart that clearly indicates what size and type sign can be erected where.

  • An expanded glossary with more illustrations now located at the end of the book for easy reference.
For more information about the Zoning Resolution, to view zoning maps, information on the land use review process, or to mail-order a copy of the Handbook, please visit  DCP plans to incorporate elements of the new Zoning Handbook on its web site in coming months.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable communities in the City, in part by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts, as well as establishing policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, waterfront and public space.

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