Community Op-Ed: Building a City of Opportunity

As I often say, we live in a city of 8.3 million people — and 35 million opinions. But one thing all New Yorkers can agree on is that people come to our city to make it.  They come here to work, build lives, and fulfill the American Dream. And the Adams administration is committed to creating the conditions for that dream to flourish. This means doing everything we can to protect public safety, rebuild our economy, and make all five boroughs more livable for all New Yorkers. 

As part of our ongoing efforts, we have developed “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” — a set of 18 zoning changes that will help businesses find space and grow, support entrepreneurs and freelancers, boost growing industries, and make our streetscapes more vibrant.

For far too long, outdated regulations have made it difficult for small businesses in our city to flourish. These regulations, enacted in 1961, no longer make sense for the modern city in which we live. They include zoning laws that prevent certain kinds of businesses in specific neighborhoods — for example banning hardware stores or repair shops on Madison Avenue; or being allowed to have music and DJs at some bars, but not being allowed to set aside space for customers to dance to the music. Worse still, these outdated rules prevent businesses owners and entrepreneurs from meeting real needs.

With the City Council’s support, we can sweep aside these senseless restrictions and create more opportunities for New Yorkers and their businesses to flourish.  We have successfully partnered with the Council on “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality,” which makes it easier for New Yorkers to go green with clean energy, solar panels, composting, electric vehicles, and more. Now, we can do the same with City of Yes for Economic Opportunity.

Along the same lines, we have made outdoor dining permanent. The temporary outdoor dining program saved 100,000 jobs during COVID and showed us a bright future for our streets — but it also led to abandoned sheds and sanitation issues. Our permanent program works for locals, tourists, and restaurant owners and keeps our streets attractive, safe, and trash-free. And we’re making it easier for restaurants to create clean and safe outdoor dining setups through our new Dining Out NYC portal, which will allow more New Yorkers across the five boroughs to enjoy outdoor dining. The portal offers restaurant owners a wide range of free resources and ideas for how to design their space, and the new rules ensure that the areas around outdoor dining spaces are kept clean, so they look good and don’t attract rodents and other pests.

Running a city like New York is never easy, and for all New Yorkers to flourish, we must continue to adapt to new realities. Whether it’s responding to climate change, getting rid of outdated zoning rules, creating new economic opportunities, or implementing new commonsense rules to keep us all safe and healthy, the Adams administration puts the health and prosperity of New Yorkers front and center every day.

Mayor Eric Adams

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