For over eighty years, CHPC has analyzed, commented, and testified on proposed changes to the text and maps of the New York City Zoning Resolution, according our mission statement: “to conduct analysis on urban planning and housing policy to promote a more prosperous and livable city for all New Yorkers”.
The CHPC Zoning Committee, comprising some of the most influential and knowledgeable industry professionals in New York City, is responsible for evaluating proposed changes to the Zoning Resolution for their impact on the long-term planning and housing needs of the City on behalf of our organization.
The CHPC Zoning Principles have been put together to ensure the Zoning Committee’s consistent voice at public hearings in the land use review process. These principles are used when assessing and commenting on text amendments to the New York City Zoning Resolution and re-zonings.
1. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should reflect long-term, City-wide planning objectives.
Zoning is a tool used to implement long-term, city-wide planning objectives. In the absence of a legal comprehensive plan in New York City, changes to the Zoning Resolution should support the overall goals of “PlaNYC 2030” – a sustainability plan for the City which sets out long-term objectives for our land, air, water, energy and transportation.
2. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should be accompanied by clear objectives, and then evaluated for their effectiveness.
Modifications or additions to the zoning text should be accompanied by clearly stated public policy objectives, so that the reasoning for changes is justified and transparent. After a set period of time, the impacts of the text change or rezoning should be evaluated to determine if the objectives were accomplished. If the objectives were not met or only partially met, zoning can then be amended accordingly.
3. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should be based on analyses
Every text change and rezoning should be based on studies that can justify the need for the amendment, describe the benefits of the changes, and support the effectiveness of the chosen approach.
4. There should be publicly available standards for the assessment of changes to the Zoning Resolution.
The standards by which the effectiveness of zoning changes is judged should be made public to ensure transparency.
5. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should focus on allowing, and then encouraging its objectives.
Re-zonings and text amendments should maximize flexibility by first permitting and then incentivizingdevelopment that can satisfy the objectives of zoning. Mandating certain forms of development, and forbidding others, should be the last option of the Zoning Resolution.
6. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should anticipate and accommodate substantial shifts in technology, economics, and lifestyles.
Text amendments and re-zonings must allow the built environment to legally accommodate, support, and facilitate rapidly evolving new environmental priorities, demographic trends, and technology. Requirements that are no longer relevant to contemporary circumstances should be removed from the zoning text in order to facilitate change.
7. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should provide a broad framework for land use.
Zoning should focus on providing an outline for land use without over-determining the details of the development. Excessive prescription of detail makes it difficult for architects and developers to respond to the unique conditions of each site and to emerging market conditions.
8. Changes to the Zoning Resolution should be clear and reasonably accessible to practitioners and the general public.
Re-zonings and text amendments should be written in plain English, clarify what parts of the Resolution apply to what building types at a given site, and include explanatory diagrams and tables to accompany text. Clarity also eases the cost of housing production by reducing the involvement of consultants to interpret the provisions and the delays associated with obtaining interpretations from the Department of Buildings.
9. The Zoning Resolution should be consistent with existing regulations.
Changes should be carefully compared with other laws and codes such as the Multiple Dwelling Law, the Building Code and the Housing Maintenance Code, to avoid conflicts and inconsistencies.
10. The Zoning Resolution should be enforceable.
Enforceability requires: clarity, a workable set of criteria to be assessed, the ability to punish non-compliance, and adequate resources within the City agencies responsible for enforcement. Each application for a rezoning and text amendment should require a formal assessment of the ability of those agencies responsible to monitor and enforce a new requirement. The additional staffing for all agencies that would be required should be calculated and presented as part of the text amendment or re-zoning.