Mayor Adams’ “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” May Harm Housing and Residential Neighborhoods

Mayor Adams’ “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” is a massive, citywide rezoning plan that would change scores of rules and regulations to allow businesses to grow in New York City. How would it do that? Largely by making it easier for them to expand in residential neighborhoods, in ways and places previously not allowed. The proposal would let many types of businesses not currently allowed in residential neighborhoods to locate there, allow many types to grow larger than currently allowed, and allow many to locate in parts of residential neighborhoods and buildings where they currently cannot. This can and likely will result in businesses taking over housing and pushing out residences; commercial development replacing residential development in predominantly residential neighborhoods; and commercial and other nonresidential uses conflicting with and impacting upon neighboring residential uses, making life harder for residents.

But paradoxically, the Mayor also says we have a “housing crisis” that requires also changing zoning rules to allow construction of 500,000 units of housing, most of which would be unaffordable to the vast majority of New Yorkers (we believe there is an affordable housing crisis, which won’t be helped by building more unaffordable housing). So on the one hand, the Mayor is calling for stripping away critical zoning regulations to allow larger-scale (largely unaffordable) housing development, but at the same time wants to strip away other critical zoning regulations that will result in pushing out and making less livable existing housing. What gives?

Is the Mayor really trying to address our city’s housing needs, or is he catering to real estate and business interests that want a freer hand in how to develop our city? His “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” plan will be heard next Wednesday at the City Planning Commission, in the first major step in its public review and approval process, after which it goes to the City Council for its final hearing, review, and vote. If approved as is, it will change our neighborhoods forever. 


January 19, 2024