Community Op-Ed: Saying “Yes” to New Zoning, New Businesses, and New Opportunities

Last month, New York City hit an economic milestone, with more total jobs than ever before in our city’s history. Our administration is proud of the work we have done to ensure our economy has made a full recovery — and we are determined to keep working to create jobs and opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Our “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” proposal is one of the many ways we are aiming to create new pathways to prosperity. We are seeing transformative changes in how we live and work, and our city’s rules and regulations must adapt to these new realities — especially when it comes to antiquated zoning laws from decades ago. Rules that made sense in the days of the rotary telephone are getting in the way of doing business in the age of the smartphone.

We recently kicked off the public review process for this ambitious proposal to advance 18 essential changes to our citywide zoning code that will boost our economic recovery, help New Yorkers access goods and services in their neighborhood, and make it easier to expand or start new businesses. Over the next several months, all New Yorkers will have the chance to learn about this proposal and make their voices heard.

The “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” initiative includes plans to foster vibrant neighborhoods with more kinds of businesses in more kinds of places. For example, our plan would allow a successful bakery to expand closer to your neighborhood, rather than having to move to a different area zoned for heavy manufacturing and away from customers who would benefit most from having that business nearby.

The plan is also the largest initiative to support industrial jobs and businesses in the history of New York’s zoning, including by making more space available for small-scale clean manufacturing — including designers, retailers, artists, craftspeople, and makers of all kinds — and creating new zoning tools for industrial businesses.

The current zoning was crafted for the industrial businesses that existed 60 years ago, and our proposal will update these rules to allow businesses to grow in New York, providing good-paying jobs for New Yorkers. Our plan will modernize regulations for New Yorkers who want to run a business from their home and set new standards for using existing buildings in new ways, something that is clearly a priority with the rise of remote work.

This plan will also address the ongoing issue of vacant storefronts in our city, getting more of them re-rented and re-activated by loosening rules about which types of businesses can locate where, and by modifying a counterproductive regulation that prevents some storefronts from being reoccupied if they are vacant for more than two years.

We are also upgrading and reforming zoning to support our café and nightlife sector, the life sciences, film production, urban agriculture, and more.

From food to fashion to tech and art, these small and specific changes will have an outsized impact on our economy. This new way of doing things will create a new and more collaborative culture going forward — one where city government is a partner working to streamline solutions, not an obstacle to be overcome.

That is what being a City of Yes is all about. Yes, to new businesses, new industries, and new ideas. Yes, to new housing and opportunity. Yes, to change and creativity. And yes, to ensuring that New York remains a place where you can put your ideas into action and succeed.

Mayor Eric Adams

 

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