How NYC Is Trying To Grow Smarter With Better Zoning Laws

How NYC Is Trying To Grow Smarter With Better Zoning Laws

According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the population of New York City grew by 315,900 people between 2010 and 2014. That is a growth rate of nearly four percent that is projected to continue on through to 2016 and beyond. More people and businesses are moving into the boroughs of New York City than are leaving, and that is causing the city to take an active role in altering the zoning laws.

What Are Zoning Laws?

How NYC Is Trying To Grow Smarter With Better Zoning Laws

Zoning laws are the guidelines used to determine what types of structures can be built in each part of the city. They are also used to determine how existing buildings can be used as well, to accommodate growth.

For example, a building that was formerly a warehouse can get rezoned into a residential structure and remodeled to accommodate tenants. As New York City changes, the need to alter the zoning laws become more pronounced.

Why Do The Laws Need To Change?


There are many reasons why zoning laws must change, and a good example is provided by Crains New York in a recent article regarding Mayor de Blasio’s zoning changes. Over the past several years, residential development within the city has favored building expensive apartments over creating affordable housing. The result has been that people have been forced to leave their own neighborhoods and the city itself just to find a place to live that they can afford.

Mayor de Blasio wants to change the zoning laws to make it mandatory that developers build affordable housing along with high-priced luxury housing to accommodate the needs of everyone. High-priced housing is good for the positive growth of the city, but the middle class need affordable housing in order to survive.

What Types Of Zoning Laws Are Used To Help Grow The City?

The Department of City Planning identifies several types of zoning laws the city can use to help spur growth of affordable housing. An incentive zoning law can offer financial incentives such as low interest loans and tax breaks to developers who build affordable housing in certain parts of the city.

Mixed use zoning laws are also used to help turn abandoned warehouses into affordable housing, as well as retail space that developers can rent or sell for a large profit.

How Does Zoning Fit Into Growth Plans?

As noted earlier with incentive zoning laws, the city can utilize zoning laws to move population centers away from industrial areas, and create areas where commercial and residential properties mix to make commuting easier on workers.

New zoning can also be used to entice more businesses to move into a particular part of the city, or convince developers to create much needed housing in the city itself. With the city’s population growing by an average of 80,000 people per year or more, the need for housing becomes critical. By developing new zoning laws, the city can encourage residential development that helps the city to grow properly.

Changes Ensure City Growth

In a city like New York, the zoning laws tend to change frequently to help the city grow. Sometimes the zoning laws are used to revitalize dilapidated areas, and sometimes zoning laws are used to entice certain types of businesses to set up shop within the city.

Every so often, the city will reevaluate its zoning needs and announce zoning law changes that affect large portions of the city. In some cases, residents feel that they are being pushed out of their neighborhoods to make way for commercial development, and that could very well be the case. However,  whenever the city announces changes for its zoning laws, the underlying inspiration is always the desire to make sure that the city grows in a way that makes sense for everyone, especially the long-time residents.

Leave a Reply