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Mayor Adams Celebrates City Planning Commission's Approval of "City of Yes for Economic Opportunity" Proposal

March 6, 2024

Proposal to Support Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs, Economic Growth Will Deliver  Largest Overhaul of City’s Commercial and Manufacturing Zoning in 60 Years 

Proposal Now Goes to City Council for Hearing and Final Vote 

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director and City Planning Commission (CPC) Chair Dan Garodnick today celebrated the CPC’s vote in favor of “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,” a set of citywide zoning changes that will further fuel New York City’s economic recovery and pave the way for a more inclusive future. Together, the 18 proposed changes will help businesses find space and grow, support entrepreneurs and freelancers, boost growing industries, and enable more vibrant streetscapes and commercial corridors. City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is the second of the Adams administration’s three “City of Yes” initiatives — the first being “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality,” and the third being “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity.” 

“To continue driving New York City’s economic recovery forward, we must look to the future and not be bound by the past,” said Mayor Adams. “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.” 

“Today's City Planning Commission vote in favor of ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is an important step towards creating a more dynamic and prosperous future for New York City,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “The zoning of 1961 is not serving the needs of 2024, and replacing outdated regulations with clear and sensible rules will help boost small businesses, growing industries and commercial corridors. We look forward to working with our partners in the City Council to advance this important proposal and help sustain our economic recovery into the years ahead.” 

 “New York City’s entrepreneurs, small businesses, and commercial corridors have been held back for too long by outdated zoning rules,” said CPC Chair and DCP Director Garodnick. “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.”  

“We are proud to support the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ by redesigning our streets to not only support critical housing needs, but also small businesses with elements like outdoor dining, Open Streets, new plazas, and bike and bus lanes  all of which have shown to help businesses thrive,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.When we build welcoming streets that people want to visit, spend time on, and shop through, everybody wins.”  

“As the agency charged with enforcing the city’s Zoning Resolution, we are glad to see the City Planning Commission agrees that the status quo can be overhauled to support small businesses without negatively impacting the quality of life for New Yorkers,” said New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo. 

“‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ greatly enhances this administration’s ability to ensure all New Yorkers have multiple ways to access healthy, affordable, and culturally-appropriate food,” said Mayor's Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “These zoning changes will open opportunity for many food businesses to operate in commercial corridors and update rules to enable current businesses to thrive. ‘City of Yes’ will result in a stronger food system that’s sustainable now and into the future.” 

“CPC’s approval of the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is a win for New York City-based urban agriculture and food entrepreneurs,” said Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture Executive Director Qiana Mickie. “These zoning changes will open pathways for small-scale producers and clean manufacturers who process value-added food products in commercial districts. Increasing healthy food access production is good for small businesses and New Yorkers.” 

“The Office of Nightlife at the New York City Department of Small Business Services celebrates the City Planning Commission advancing the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ plan, and finally repealing the city’s antiquated Cabaret Law,” said Office of Nightlife Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia. “These are commonsense, long-overdue changes that will support small businesses and the thousands of jobs they provide across the city. These changes fulfill a key priority from the Office of Nightlife’s 2021 recommendations and will go a long way towards helping our world-class nightlife scene in its continued recovery following the pandemic. We are grateful to the commission and countless advocates across the nightlife community who continue to push for equal access to dancing for all New Yorkers. This process is the culmination of a true collective effort.” 

"NYCHA is delighted that the City Planning Commission has voted in favor of ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’" said New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt. "These zoning changes are a marked improvement that will go a long way toward helping small businesses flourish and fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship that is inherent in many NYCHA residents. Furthermore, ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will allow the authority to work closely with residents in identifying potential space on NYCHA property that could be repurposed to suit the unique needs of a development for local retail and amenities, such as grocery stores and pharmacies." 

“‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is a huge opportunity for the Adams administration to take a major step forward to drive economic growth across New York City, while enabling more vibrant public spaces and revitalizing some of our commercial corridors,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “These important zoning changes are critical to supporting key industries — like clean manufacturing — growing small businesses, and helping create a more vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers.” 

"Today’s City Planning Commission vote is another leap forward for the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’” said “New” New York Executive Director B.J. Jones. “These proposed changes have the potential to dismantle outdated barriers and unlock unprecedented opportunities for businesses to flourish, paving the way for a more dynamic and inclusive commercial landscape.” 

“At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, our legacy is built on having a can-do attitude. No idea has ever been too ambitious for us to take on, and that spirit is still alive and well today,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation President and CEO Lindsay Greene. “With an approved ‘City of Yes’ plan in place, we can create new avenues of economic opportunity and growth that would benefit New Yorkers of all backgrounds. It’s a win-win for government, sustainability, urban manufacturing across the city, and economic mobility. Congratulations to DCP on reaching this important milestone.”  

“The City Planning Commission supporting the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is an important step in updating the zoning regulations that impact development across the Bronx and New York City,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.  “I want to commend the Department of City Planning and Chair Dan Garodnick in finding ways of streamlining the current zoning regulations while ensuring the intent of zoning, which is to promote and protect public health, safety, and general welfare. I encourage the City Council to support these regulations by voting to incorporate the proposed changes into the zoning resolution.” 

“We must move with the urgency of now to address the generational, intersectional crises facing our families. By creating jobs, enhancing our manufacturing capabilities and supporting our small businesses — the lifeblood of our communities — we can economically uplift countless families and put our city on track to continue our healthy post-COVID recovery,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “As the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity moves through the review process, I will continue to work with our city partners and Queens residents to ensure this proposal is as successful as possible.” 

“The City Planning Commission’s vote on the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ text amendment brings us one step closer to clearing the hurdles that keep our city’s businesses from growing, adapting to changes, and thriving,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.” I applaud the Department of City Planning for crafting this extensive proposal, and the City Planning Commission for its thoughtful consideration of this application and look forward to seeing its enactment.” 

The proposal includes 18 sensible policy changes that would expand options for businesses to locate near their customers, support growing industries and sectors, foster vibrant neighborhoods and commercial corridors, and provide businesses with clear zoning rules. Among these changes are policies to:  

  • More than double the space available for clean manufacturing, allowing small producers, such as microbreweries, apparel makers, and ceramic shops, to open and grow in commercial corridors in all five boroughs for the first time; 
  • Create new zoning tools to allow more than 17,000 businesses in industrial areas that are currently prevented from adding space to grow their businesses; 
  • Expand the number of businesses able to open in ground- and upper-floor spaces; 
  • Eliminate outdated rules that prohibit dancing, comedy, and open mic nights in restaurants and venues in commercial areas, and instead govern venues by size and volume; 
  • Create a process to allow new corner stores in residential areas, as approximately 265,000 New Yorkers currently live in areas where a new corner store could not be located within a quarter mile of their home; 
  • Update 1960s-era rules that limit where amusements are allowed, so experiential retail and family-friendly activities can be located closer to where New Yorkers live; 
  • Modernize how zoning regulates laboratories so life sciences research can flourish in offices and near universities and hospitals; 
  • Remove outdated restrictions on indoor urban agriculture; 
  • Fill empty storefronts by fixing decades-old rules that ban businesses from setting up in certain long-term vacant facilities; 
  • Allow a wider range of businesses, including barbers and interior designers, to be based in homes; 
  • Jumpstart local small businesses by helping them expand local delivery capacity; and 
  • Facilitate adaptive reuse of commercial buildings by modernizing loading dock rules, among other critical updates.  

In the lead-up to the CPC’s approval, City of Yes for Economic Opportunity received positive recommendations from 21 community boards, as well as from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens borough presidents. It will now go to the New York City Council for a public hearing and a final vote in the coming months. Of the community boards that offered component-by-component recommendations, 16 of the 18 proposals received at least 50 percent approval with conditions.  To be responsive to community concerns heard throughout the process, several changes were made to the initiative during the CPC’s review. For example, to address worries that allowing commercial uses on the upper floors of mixed-use buildings could create conflict with existing apartments, the plan was modified to ensure that spaces occupied by existing homes could not be converted to upper floor commercial uses.   In response to concerns that home business expansion might create quality-of-life issues, the CPC made modifications to clarify that such businesses must be limited to an individual’s dwelling unit and cannot occupy residential common areas, such as hallways or lobbies. A 1,000-square-foot cap for home businesses was also reinstated to deter the combination of residential units for business activities.   Other modifications include clarifications about which types of businesses qualify to newly locate in commercial zones and the required environmental protection standards for life sciences facilities. Several other small modifications were made to clarify parts of the zoning text for practitioners, developers, and enforcement by the New York City Department of Buildings.   City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is the second of Mayor Adams’s three “City of Yes” initiatives to foster a greener, more affordable, and more prosperous city by updating outdated zoning rules. The first — City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality — was adopted by the City Council in December. The third — City of Yes for Housing Opportunity — will be referred for public review by community boards and borough presidents this spring and be put to a vote by the City Council before the end of the year. 

“I support Proposal 9 because, simply put, zoning should not control people's freedom of expression. Removing this barrier gives small businesses and residents more opportunity to be entrepreneurial, share culture, and build community in a creative and social way,” said Lauren Goshinski, Brooklyn resident, and board member, Resident Advisor. “Small spaces, in particular, can help create connected and considerate communities. NYC embodies a world of cultures. Every neighborhood deserves the opportunity to create gathering places that represent them.” 

“Downtown Brooklyn is home to a bustling commercial corridor and ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ presents a framework to ensure our businesses, both large and small, will always have the flexibility they need to adapt and succeed,” said Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “These much-needed zoning changes will modernize and streamline regulations for businesses, support growing sectors and keep our streetscapes vibrant — all of which are critical to the city's economic success. We applaud the City Planning Commission's decision to support this plan.” 

“Congratulations to the Adams administration and City Planning for getting ‘City of Yes’ passed,” said Justin Rodgers, president and CEO, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “This citywide policy initiative has the potential to directly impact all New Yorkers across the socio-economic spectrum and be realized on every street in every neighborhood. ‘City of Yes’ will be a tremendous boost to the revitalization work we’ve been doing in Jamaica and Southeast Queens.” 

“Today's vote was a huge win for unlocking the economic potential of neighborhoods citywide,” said Jesse Lazar, executive director, American Institute of Architects New York. “By making commonsense steps to modernize NYC's zoning regulations, ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will support small businesses, create thriving commercial corridors, and bolster NYC's economic recovery. AIANY is particularly excited about the steps to develop a commercial streetscape framework that is pedestrian friendly and prioritizes mixed-use neighborhoods. 

“Since Atlantic Avenue was laid out as a street, business has followed. With over two centuries of commerce here, ‘City of Yes’ will allow our district to continue in its tradition of ingenuity, growth, and progress,” said Kelly Carroll, executive director, Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District. “Because of our distinctive history, we count four NYC historic districts within our BID. Several storefronts located in these historic districts are empty because of an outmoded zoning technicality which ‘City of Yes’ will remove, and we especially welcome.” 

“I fully endorse the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ initiative. The zoning updates proposed by the mayor are set to be a game changer for the Bronx,” said Rob Walsh, president, Bronx Economic Development Corporation. “They will modernize our outdated regulations and encourage a new wave of economic diversity. By making more retail and commercial spaces available to entrepreneurs, we are igniting innovation and driving economic growth. Moreover, the allowance for more flexibility in mixed-use developments will catalyze the creation of affordable housing. These zoning updates are not just about buildings and land uses; they are about fostering vibrant communities and expanding opportunities for all Bronx residents.” 

“We've consistently stated that the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is a no-brainer for New York,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., president and CEO, New York Building Congress. “It's adaptive, it's dynamic, and it simplifies and streamlines zoning, making it easier for businesses to secure and utilize space. Having maximum zoning flexibility will help the city and its residents and small business owners continue our steady economic recovery and then thrive for years to come.” 

“‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will help unlock our city’s full economic potential by enabling local business growth, entrepreneurial innovation, and business-friendly streetscape improvements,” said James Mettham, president, Flatiron NoMad Partnership. “In our mixed-used Flatiron and NoMad neighborhoods, these long overdue zoning amendments will create exciting opportunities in life sciences, experiential retail, and other fast-growing sectors, further diversifying our district's economy and enhancing street-level vibrancy.”  

“The Freelancers Union wholeheartedly supports the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ initiative, recognizing it as a transformative step forward for New York's vibrant freelance community, nightlife sector, and micro-manufacturers,” said Rafael Espinal, president, Freelancers Union. “By modernizing zoning laws to reflect the dynamic nature of our city's economy and the needs of its most innovative workers, this proposal not only promises to catalyze small business growth and foster more vibrant commercial corridors but also ensures that our city remains a beacon of opportunity for the diverse array of independent workers who call New York home. This vote marks a significant milestone in building a more inclusive, adaptable, and flourishing New York City economy,” 

“The Garment District Alliance is proud to support the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’” said Barbara A. Blair, president, Garment District Alliance. “In addition to encouraging new growth in New York City’s economic sector, this initiative also eliminates long-standing hurdles for local businesses – ultimately enabling them to not just survive but thrive. We applaud the Department of City Planning for their forward-thinking approach.” 

“The ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ plan will provide an essential boost for businesses and neighborhoods – Hudson Square has benefitted from our flexible zoning for many years,” said Samara Karasyk, CEO, Hudson Square Business Improvement District. “These new regulations will keep New York City on the cutting edge of investment and innovation for years to come and allow companies in thriving sectors like tech and the life sciences to keep growing right here.” 

“The ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ program’s ambitious 18 zoning changes signal a significant step forward in fostering economic growth, supporting entrepreneurs, and rejuvenating commercial corridors across New York City,” said Laura Rothrock, president, Long Island City Partnership. “These proposed changes seamlessly align with our vision for cultivating a thriving, inclusive, and interconnected neighborhood. We applaud Mayor Eric Adams and leadership at the Department of City Planning for their commitment to breaking down barriers for businesses and entrepreneurs, promoting dynamic neighborhoods, and modernizing land use regulations.” 

“Being at the center of a growing life-sciences and healthcare hub in East Bronx, the Morris Park BID applauds the City Planning Commission vote moving forward the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ proposal,” said Dr. Camelia Tepelus, executive director, Morris Park Business Improvement District (MPBID). “It complements the significant infrastructure developments forthcoming in the East Bronx, while maximizing creation of clean and green jobs, boost entrepreneurship and open new vibrant public spaces. MPBID congratulates DCP for undertaking the extensive community outreach and consultation efforts leading to this achievement.” 

“As we continue to navigate our city’s post-pandemic recovery, acknowledge the potential growth of industries and sectors that put can New Yorkers on new career paths, and observe responsible businesses focused on quality jobs and living wages, it is absolutely essential that we have every tool in our arsenal available to us to facilitate an equitable and inclusive economic transformation,” said Gregory J. Morris, CEO, New York City Employment and Training Coalition. “The vote in favor of ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ isn’t a panacea, but it brings us closer to achieving the vision of ‘New’ New York through the modernization of our zoning and the reduction of impediments that keep us from finding footing in the work, live, and play spaces that every community and neighborhood needs to thrive.” 

“It is long past time that the city of New York got out of the dance police business,” said Robert Bookman, counsel to the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “We applaud the mayor and the City Planning Commission for reforming the laws related to dancing so that people can finally express themselves by dancing at their favorite local bar throughout the five boroughs without fear that the bar will get closed down.” 

“Once enacted, the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will remove barriers that make it unnecessarily difficult and expensive to build a business in New York,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City. “We urge the City Council to adopt these proposals.” 

“Regional Plan Association applauds the City Planning Commission for voting in favor of the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’” said Tom Wright, president and CEO, Regional Plan Association. “We must adapt our zoning regulations to address the changes we’re seeing since Covid. Office districts must transform into 24/7 communities; clean manufacturing and small businesses must be able to find affordable spaces they need in locations where they can thrive; and we need to do away with arbitrary limitations on nightlife and mixed-uses that no longer reflect the dynamism of our neighborhoods. We thank Mayor Adams, Chair Dan Garodnick, and all the members of the commission for taking this important step to move the proposal forward.” 

“As one of New York City’s largest film and television studio facilities, the zoning changes approved in today’s City Planning Commission’s vote will make it easier for businesses like ours to further grow our footprints in industrial and commercial areas, adding to local job growth and revitalizing neighborhoods,” said Alan Suna, chairman, Silvercup Studios. “Thanks to Mayor Adams’ and CPC Chair Dan Garodnick’s leadership, the second ‘City of Yes Economic Opportunity’ zoning framework will modernize decades old restrictions and outdated zoning laws to enable new economy industries, like ours, to grow. Today’s updates will help the city’s film and production industry to expand its sound stages and support spaces as streaming and TV content demand continues to increase. These changes will undoubtedly help provide more economic opportunity to local businesses and entrepreneurs.” 

“The business community is the lifeblood of our local economy. Evolving our current zoning regulations will help adapt to today's marketplace needs and further secure our industrial sector supply chains," said Mike Cusick, president and CEO, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC). "SIEDC supports the Department of City Planning's efforts to move us toward sustaining the borough's industrial firms.” 

"’City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will provide a clearer road map for business owners to open and expand across New York City neighborhoods. By allowing for a more diverse mix of ground floor and upper story retail opportunities, New Yorkers will see enhanced street vibrancy and retail vacancies diminish in our mixed-use districts," said Julie Stein, executive director, Union Square Partnership. "As we move to the next milestone for ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’ Union Square Partnership is proud to support the city's efforts to modernize our commercial corridors, support business owners with transparent, updated guidelines and draw in visitors to communities like Union Square.” 

“The New York State Latino Restaurant Bar & Lounge Association is thrilled by the city Planning Commission's vote approving the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,’ which will allow our businesses to expand and build a broader customer base by responding to customer preferences for dancing in bars, restaurants, and nightclubs,” said Sandra Jaquez, president, New York State Latino Restaurant Bar & Lounge Association. “The zoning amendments included in this plan will strengthen our minority-owned businesses and champion the culture of many establishments where dancing and music is a focal point. We look forward to continuing our work with stakeholders to bring about these exciting changes for small businesses in the hospitality industry.”  

“In this uncertain environment, entrepreneurs and property owners need the regulatory flexibility to find creative, attractive and viable uses for ground floor retail space,” said Jessica Lappin, president, Alliance for Downtown New York. “‘City of Yes’ will go a long way toward allowing and indeed encouraging the sort of creativity that is needed to develop the retail corridors of the future.” 

“‘City of Yes’ will not only help to reduce retail vacancies but will support entrepreneurship and infuse flexibility in where businesses may locate,” said Jessica Walker, President and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “This common-sense policy is vital for the city’s continued economic growth and for the health of neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. It should be implemented as soon as possible.” 


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