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The New York City Council voted to approve a modified version of the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity (“COYEO”) text amendment, the second in a trio of City of Yes initiatives which aim to: (1) promote sustainability (the City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality, which passed on December 6, 2023); (2) update the City’s zoning tools to support economic growth and resiliency (City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, which passed on June 6, 2024); and (3) spur the development of affordable housing (the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, which entered public review on April 29, 2024).

As discussed in our previous blog post, community boards voiced a variety of concerns related to corner store regulations and urban agriculture regulations, the changes to nightlife regulations, home occupation regulations, and regulations that propose to allow commercial uses on the same floor as, or above, residential uses of mixed-use buildings. In response to these concerns, the City Planning Commission (“CPC”) made several modifications when voting to approve COYEO that addressed these concerns and reined in some of the proposals. Now, in an attempt to address constituents’ concerns, City Council has whittled the COYEO proposals down further, modifying 14 of the 18 proposals, and eliminating one proposal altogether.

City Council’s modifications to the COYEO proposals are as follows:

  • Proposal 1: In response to concerns regarding the unpredictability as to the types of businesses that could move into vacant space, this modification permits vacant non-conforming commercial storefronts in specified residential and Historic districts to be reactivated only with uses allowed in C1 districts.
  • Proposal 2: In response to concerns around the ability to preserve C1 districts as local retail commercial corridors that fit with residential neighborhoods, this modification restores the distinction between C1 and C2 overlays by excluding certain business types from C1 districts (e.g., laboratories, auto repair, gas stations) and by establishing a 3,000-square-foot limit for certain businesses in C1-1 through C1-4 overlays (e.g., light manufacturing, indoor agriculture, banquet halls and amusements).
  • Proposal 3: In response to concerns around potential nuisances created by, and the proliferation of, small-scale clean production uses, this modification imposes a 3,000- square-foot size limit in C1-1 through C1-4 overlays, and excludes certain types of manufacturing uses, including chemicals, machinery, metal and paper in C1 districts.
  • Proposal 5: In response to concerns about displacement of existing apartments by businesses, potential nuisances and enforcement issues related to enabling commercial uses on upper floors of mixed-use buildings, this modification prohibits rooftop bars above residential apartments (except in central business districts), requires that amusement uses be located below residential units, and enhances performance standards with respect to noise, vibrations and exhaust.
  • Proposal 7: In response to concerns about cannabis growth and industrial size farms, this modification prohibits indoor cultivation of cannabis in C1 and C2 districts and establishes a 3,000-square-foot limit on indoor agriculture uses in C1-1 through C1-4 overlays, and a 10,000-square-foot limit in C2-1 though C2-4 overlays.
  • Proposal 8: In response to concerns regarding the appropriate placement of life science research and product development facilities in outer boroughs, this modification prohibits laboratories in C1-1 through C1-4 overlays outside of Manhattan.
  • Proposal 10: In response to concerns about the size of, and potential nuisances from, amusement uses, this modification establishes a 3,000-square-foot limit in C1-1 through C1-4 overlays, a 5,000-square-foot limit in C1-5, C2-1 though C2-3 districts (except for existing permitted uses in C2 districts (e.g., 16 lane bowling alleys, pool halls and billiard parlors), and a 10,000-square-foot limit in C2-4 and C2-5 districts.
  • Proposal 11: In response to concerns about noise, exhaust and non-residents access related to home-based businesses, this modification restores the 1 employee allowance and maintains the current prohibition on animal-related businesses.
  • Proposal 13: In response to concerns about allowing light auto repair uses in C1 districts, concentration and enforcement concerns, this modification prohibits all auto repair uses in C1 districts, and strengthens the BSA special permit for light auto uses in C2 through C7 districts.
  • Proposal 14: To limit as-of-right development of micro-distribution facilities in outer boroughs,, this modification imposes a BSA special permit requirement for micro-distribution facilities in C1 and C2 districts outside of Manhattan.
  • Proposal 15: In response to concerns about maintaining residential participation in planning decisions related to campus commercial applications, this modification replaces the CPC authorization with a CPC special permit, (i.e., requiring a full ULURP).
  • Proposal 16: In response to concerns about maintaining the resident character of quiet residential blocks, this corner store proposal was eliminated entirely.
  • Proposal 17: In response to concerns about the scope of relief available for changes to height and bulk rules for unique businesses, this modification provides reasonable limitations to such height and bulk waivers.
  • Proposal 18: In order to better protect and support industrial jobs in the new job-intensive manufacturing districts, this modification establishes a 10,000-square-foot limit on commercial uses in core industrial districts (M3A districts), strengthens the bonus for industrial space in transition districts (M2A districts), and prohibits big box retail in new M districts (except for supermarkets in M1A and M2A districts), among other things.

In addition to these modifications, the City Council also secured certain non-zoning commitments, including budget commitments to hire new Department of Buildings staff and an after-hours team for the Office of Nightlife to boost compliance with and enforcement of laws, advancing a zoning application to require a special permit for last mile warehouses, and securing support for legislation to regulate related emissions and the continued development of the Blue Highways program (these initiatives are discussed in more detail in our previous blog post).

We will continue to monitor the advancement of these related non-zoning commitments, and the final City of Yes initiative (Housing Opportunity) as it makes its way through the public review process.