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November 22, 2023

New York City Mayor Adams’ Zoning Change Proposal to Boost Housing Supply

New York City Mayor Adams’ Zoning Change Proposal to Boost Housing Supply

New York City has long struggled with a housing crisis characterized by escalating rents, housing shortages and an increasing demand for affordable housing. Additionally, the city’s rapid population growth, limited available space and recent issues resulting from COVID-19 have exacerbated this crisis.

Accordingly, New York Mayor, Eric Adams, unveiled a proposal called “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” to address the escalating housing crisis in New York City. Specifically, the proposal aims to create 100,000 homes throughout the next 10 years by focusing on several key aspects:

1. Density Zoning Reforms

One of the primary components of Mayor Adams’ proposal involves revising density zoning regulations to permit higher-density housing in targeted areas, which would maximize land use and accommodate more residents within limited spaces. Potential changes include:

  • Providing zoning relief to homeowners by legalizing accessory dwelling units of up to 800 square feet on their property in either their backyard or basement
  • Allowing three- to five-story buildings in lower-density parts of the city near subways
  • Allowing single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings, which contain smaller units and shared kitchens and bathrooms
  • Allowing two to four stories of residential development in areas with commercial overlays, which often have rows of ground-level-only retail buildings
  • Eliminating parking mandates for new housing
  • Allowing campuses with large parking or vacant lots to build new housing, even if their current zoning doesn’t allow for such expansion
  • Allowing citywide office-to-residential conversions, instead of restricting such conversions to limited areas and year-of construction
  • Easing the restrictions on the sale of transferable development rights on landmarked properties
  • Ending the Sliver Law, which limits development based on the size of the property for height-limited developments

2. Incentivizing Affordable Housing

Mayor Adams’ proposal also incentivizes and expands affordable housing by using programs such as AIRS (Affordable Independent Residence for Seniors) as a model, thereby allowing affordable housing projects to be approximately 20% larger than other types of housing.

3. Streamlined Approval Process

Furthermore, to expedite housing development overall, the proposal suggests streamlining the approval process for housing projects, reducing bureaucratic red tape and improving efficiency in permitting procedures. These changes would also ease the process of office-to-residential conversions, which has been a hot topic.

The result of the proposals is expected when the New York City Planning Commission and City Council vote in the fall of 2024.

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