Zoning Work

Part of our founding missing, following and advising the changes to NYC’s Zoning Resolution is still at the core of what CHPC does. Our Zoning Committee is made up of some of the city’s most knowledgeable and influential practitioners.

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.

Publications ×+

Building Envelope Conundrum

A case-study examination of the hurdles in NYC’s zoning and housing regulations that prevent buildings from reaching their full potential as prescribed.


Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment

CHPC has been committed to collaboratively working with the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the CHPC Board has provided advice and recommendations concerning the regulatory changes needed to facilitate flood-resilient post-disaster reconstruction and planning. One important part of this work has been assisting the Department of City Planning’s efforts to revise the zoning provisions applicable within flood zones so as to both streamline repair and rebuild efforts and improve the flood resilience of new and existing buildings.


Policy ×+

CHPC testimony on ZQA

Long lines formed yesterday at Bowling Green for a public hearing by the City Planning Commission on two proposed zoning text amendments: Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH). The two proposals are key elements of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing Plan.


Steering the New Course: policy ideas for the new administration

With so much political change in New York this year, we felt that it was important to set out our suggestions and priorities for housing and land use policy based on all of CHPC’s work over recent years. We always aim to be a resource for decision-makers inside and outside of government – to help them to understand NYC’s most pressing housing and neighborhood issues, think through the real impact of policy on the three-dimensional built environment, and map out realistic policy steps for housing and land use that can result in positive change for our city and all New Yorkers.


CHPC Testifies in Favor of Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment

CHPC supported the text changes made by the Department of City Planning to introduce measures for flood prevention methods pre-dating Hurricane Sandy.


CHPC Testifies In Favor of HPD adAPT Application

On Wednesday, October 2nd, we testified in favor of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s application for the adAPT RFP at the hearing of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises of the City Council’s Land Use Committee.


Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment Testimony

The Zoning Committee of CHPC reviewed the proposed text submitted by the Department of City Planning & offered suggestions that were subsequently adopted.


Manhattan Core Parking Testimony

This morning, we testified in the Council Chambers favor of the Department of City Planning’s proposed text changes on Manhattan Core parking policies.


CHPC Testifies at Public Hearing on Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Area

In July 2012, CHPC testified at a public hearing before the City Planning Commission regarding the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project.


Car Share Zoning Text Amendment

The Department of City Planning recently proposed a zoning text amendment to define car sharing in the Zoning Resolution and establish clear rules to allow car sharing vehicles to park in public parking facilities, as well as in parking facilities accessory to residential, commercial, and other uses.


‘Key Terms’ Clarification Text Amendment

In 2007, the Department of City Planning rejected the application of an owner of an Upper East Side townhouse to convert his basement into a garage with a curb cut. The applicant sued, contesting the usage of the term “development” when his townhouse was, in fact, an existing building. The State Supreme Court agreed and this decision prompted City Planning to rethink the definition and the usage of both of these incredibly important terms.


Residential Streetscape Preservation Text Amendment

The Department of City Planning recently put forward a citywide zoning text amendment to preserve and enhance the streetscape character of residential neighborhoods. The text amendment closes loopholes in front yard planting requirements, responds to concerns of Community Boards and elected officials related to inappropriate curb cuts and front yard parking pads, and clarifies parking requirements for new dwelling units created in existing homes and for older residential buildings developed before there were parking requirements.


Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program

The Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program is designed to facilitate the development of stores selling a full range of food products with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and other perishable goods. It provides zoning incentives for neighborhood grocery stores to locate in some of the most underserved neighborhoods in the City with primarily pedestrian-oriented, local shopping districts.


Broadway Triangle Rezoning

In September 2009, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the rezoning of Broadway Triangle, a tract of land at the intersection of Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The rezoning, an initiative of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, has garnered considerable attention in the press. CHPC’s Zoning Committee submitted comments on the proposed text amendment, focusing on density issues, the role of the Pfizer site in the rezoning, and the likely impact on local small businesses.


Bicycle Parking

The Department of City Planning proposed a Zoning Resolution text amendment to mandate bicycle storage in all new construction. In January 2009, CHPC submitted a full Policy Brief and testified in opposition to this proposal. Our testimony centered on the unprecedented cost burden that this would place on developers and the lack of demonstrated benefit for such a significant amendment.


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