Zoning is a key tool for carrying out the city’s planning and land use policies. Zoning regulates land use and development, including what can be built, how large it can be built, and where it can be built.
You can learn more about existing zoning tools and terminology by visiting the Zoning Tools chapter and the DCP Glossary in the Zoning Handbook. You can also learn about any active land use initiatives.
The Zoning Help Desk is a resource available to the public to answer zoning questions Monday through Friday, 9:00am-12:00pm and 1:30-4:30pm: (212) 720-3291. Please leave a message with your inquiry, and Help Desk staff will return your call.
DCP’s website provides multiple resources for property owners to understand what they can develop on their property.
As-of-right development complies with the regulations found in the Zoning Resolution and does not require any review by the Department of City Planning or any approval by the City Planning Commission and the City Council. The Department of Buildings reviews the building plans to confirm compliance with the Zoning Resolution and the Building Code and issues building permits accordingly.
“Grandfathered” is the common term for a pre-existing building or use on a property that is exempt from complying with or conforming to a new zoning regulation.
The FAR is a factor used to calculate how much floor area can be built in a development relative to the size of the lot. You can learn more about FAR here: DCP Glossary.
First, use ZoLa to determine the specific zoning district of the address you are concerned about. Once you know the specific zoning district, you can find what uses are permitted in Residential, Commercial or Manufacturing districts by looking in our online use groups chart, or in the Use Sections of the Zoning Resolution: Residence Districts in Section 22-10, et seq., Commercial Districts in Section 32-10, et seq., and Manufacturing Districts in Section 42-10, et seq.
The estimated date of construction (found in ZoLa) will help in determining whether the building pre-dates the zoning regulations and may reflect a “grandfathered” building or use.
Additionally, a block or lot could be divided into two or more zoning districts wherein different uses or building forms are permitted. It is also possible that the building was the subject of a discretionary approval by the City Planning Commission for a waiver of the applicable zoning regulations. You can check whether this is the case by visiting LUCATS (Land Use and CEQR Application Tracking System), which is DCP’s online land use application records.
Some land use changes are not permitted as-of-right and require action by the City Planning Commission and, in some cases, the City Council. These actions are categorized as Special Permits or Authorizations. Some more limited special permits are reviewed by another agency, the Board of Standards and Appeals.
Zoning district changes, or rezonings, can be proposed by private citizens, city agencies, or elected officials. The proposed changes need to have a rational land use basis and make sense in the context of the surrounding uses and the built environment. Zoning changes must follow the Uniform Land Use Review Process Procedure (ULURP). This process includes review by and input from the affected community board(s), the Borough President, and the general public. The City Planning Commission and, ultimately, the City Council decide whether to approve the zoning change. The community boards and the City Planning Commission are required to hold public hearings, and the Borough President and the City Council have the option to do so.
Check ZoLa to see if your property is in a residence, commercial or manufacturing district. To determine if signs are allowed in your zoning district, as well as the permitted location and size of signs and if they can be illuminated or flashing, refer to the following sections of the Zoning Resolution, as applicable:
Residence Districts: 22-30
Commercial Districts: 32-60
Manufacturing Districts: 42-50
For information on ULURP approvals (including special permits and rezonings) by the City Planning Commission since 1977, visit our online Land Use and CEQR Application Tracking System (LUCATS). LUCATS will also indicate whether and how the City Council ultimately voted on the action. You can search by entering known Land Use Application information, or by entering geographical information such as the Tax Block number (which you can find by entering the address in ZoLa). If a building was constructed prior to 1977 and may have received a special permit prior to this date, contact the Zoning Help Desk at (212) 720-3291.
A list of City Planning Commission reports from 1938 to the present is also available in a database, searchable by community district, vote date, project name and ULURP number.
An E-designation means that the property was the subject of a zoning action or zoning change and that there are environmental requirements related to possible impacts from air, noise or hazardous materials. These potential environmental conditions would need to be addressed before the property could be redeveloped. The E-designation program exists to safeguard the new users of properties that are near potentially harmful sources of noise or air pollution or that had a history of heavy commercial or industrial use and could potentially contain hazardous materials. For example, the redevelopment of former gas stations would require the removal of the underground gasoline storage tanks and the removal of contaminated soil. Other E-designations may involve requirements to mitigate ambient noise conditions from nearby elevated trains or industrial sources. For more information, visit our E-Designation ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page.
NYC Dept. of City Planning
ATTN: Nicole Vargas
120 Broadway, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10271
Requests must also include the address, borough, and tax block and lot numbers (such numbers can be found by entering the address in ZoLa). Please allow 10 business days from the time the fee submission is received for the issuance of the zoning verification letter.
Contact Yvette Gruel in DCP’s Land Use Review division, at (212) 720-3370.
Consult the Department of Building’s Buildings Information System webpage .
You can learn more about the transfer of development rights by visiting the DCP Glossary.
Visit the Retrofit Accelerator, a one-stop resource from the City of New York that helps building owners and operators make energy and water efficiency upgrades that can reduce operating costs and increase sustainability.
Renovations that do not involve enlarging your house or adding a dwelling unit can usually proceed by consulting an architect or a contractor, who may need to file plans for extensive renovations with the Department of Buildings.
If you are considering enlarging your house or adding a dwelling unit, first visit ZoLa to determine what the zoning district is for your property. Then, check the Zoning Handbook for the permitted floor area ratio of your relevant zoning district and compare that with the floor area ratio of your building to check if there is any room for an enlargement. You should consult a licensed professional, such as an architect, engineer, land use attorney or contractor to develop plans for the renovation or the enlargement of your house. A licensed professional will need to submit plans to the Department of Buildings on your behalf before any necessary construction permits could be issued.
Generally, you do not need permission from the City to remove a tree on your property. However, if your property is in the Special Hillsides Preservation District (Staten Island), the Special Natural Area District (portions of Staten Island and the Bronx), or the Special South Richmond Development District (Staten Island) then removing trees and other natural features may require discretionary approval. Call the City Planning Borough Office in Staten Island or the Bronx to find out. You can also visit the Department of Parks and Recreation for information on street trees and plantings on sidewalks.
In residence districts, the maximum height of a fence constructed along a front lot line is four feet above ground level. The maximum height of a fence along the side or rear lot line is six feet. In most instances, fences are considered permitted obstructions within yards.
This information is available on ZoLa under the “Landmark” option in “Show Zoning & Related Data on Map.” Any further information regarding landmarks and historic districts can be obtained from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission at (212) 669-7700.
To determine if you are eligible to apply for a sidewalk café permit, visit ZoLa and click on “Show Zoning & Related Data on Map.” Select the option “Sidewalk Café Zoning Regulations” under “Other Zoning Designations.”
If you need further assistance, call the Zoning Help Desk at (212) 720-3291. To obtain an actual permit, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at (212) 504-4115.
Community facilities are allowed as-of-right in most residence and commercial districts and by special permit in others. Learn the specific zoning district of your block by visiting ZoLa. Once you know the zoning district, you can find the use regulations for Residence Districts in Section 22-10, Commercial Districts in Section 32-10, and Manufacturing Districts in Section 42-10.
ZoLa is a useful online application, developed in collaboration by DCP and the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), that provides various property information, including the basic zoning district designation as well as special district designation, lot dimensions and area, building dimensions and floor area, community district, city council district, state assembly and state senate districts, as well as links to census data, and additional information from the Department of Buildings and Department of Finance.
More specifically, ZoLa can provide you with more information on the following:
To find out more information on New York City demographic, social, economic and housing data, visit the New York City Census FactFinder (NYC CFF). This online tool, developed by DCP and DoITT, provides easy access to U. S. Census Bureau population information for New York City.
Community boards are local representative bodies in New York City. There are 59 community boards throughout the City, and each one consists of up to 50 unsalaried members, half of whom are nominated by their district's City Council members. Board members are selected and appointed by the Borough Presidents from among active, involved people of each community and must reside, work, or have some other significant interest in the community.
Each community board is led by a District Manager who establishes an office, hires staff, and implements procedures to improve the delivery of City services to the district. While the main responsibility of the board office is to receive complaints from community residents, they also maintain other duties, such as processing permits for block parties and street fairs. Many boards choose to provide additional services and manage special projects that cater to specific community needs, including organizing tenants associations, coordinating neighborhood cleanup programs, and more.
Community boards have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to:
It is important to note that while community boards serve as advocates for their neighborhood, they do not have the ability to order any City agency or official to perform any task. Despite this limitation, boards are usually successful in resolving the problems they address.
DCP has offices in all five boroughs of New York City, with a planner covering each community district and working closely with the community board on various land use issues. Borough offices formulate borough-wide and local area plans, review and process land use applications, and provide technical assistance and planning data to community boards and civic and business groups.
Flood elevations are established on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). FEMA provides an online tool for finding the flood elevation of your property. Another useful website is floodhelpny.org.
If a property is located within the Coastal Zone (which is the boundary encompassing all land and water of direct and significant impact on coastal waters) and is subject to a discretionary action, such as a rezoning, environmental permit, or city, state or federal capital project, it must be assessed for consistency with the NYC Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP). To learn more about WRP consistency review, please visit www.nyc.gov/wrp.
The Zoning Resolution contains regulations governing development on and near the waterfront, including the provision of visual corridors and public access, under certain circumstances. Such developments may, at minimum, require a certification by the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission for verification of compliance with the applicable regulations. You can learn more about the application requirements for waterfront certifications from DCP’s Applicant Portal, and you may contact the relevant Borough Office to schedule an informational meeting to obtain specific guidance.
Waterfront public access areas are required to be maintained by the property owner pursuant to an agreement with the Department of Parks and Recreation. You may call 311 to file a complaint with the Parks Department, or you may contact the Parks Department, directly, at the appropriate borough office.
For information on the Build it Back program, visit nyc.gov/recovery or contact the Housing Recovery Office at (212) 615-8329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebuilt homes within the FEMA 1% annual chance floodplain must comply with new standards for flood resistant construction to reduce risks to future storms. See this overview from NYC Building Department of applicable building code and zoning requirements. If you are located in certain neighborhoods that were highly impacted by Sandy, additional zoning provisions to accelerate rebuilding may apply. For more info, visit DCP’s website.
The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) has primary responsibility for enforcing the Zoning Resolution and for interpreting its provisions so as to ensure the safe and lawful use of buildings and properties. Consult the Department of Building’s Buildings Information System webpage
A clear path of at least eight (8) feet must be maintained between the outer edge of the sidewalk café and any obstructions such as fire hydrants on the sidewalk near the curb that would prevent your ability to walk. However, the clear path may include traffic signs, parking meters, and trees with flat gratings protecting the tree pit. Sidewalk cafés must maintain a nine (9) foot clear path to an intersection, with no exceptions. When a sidewalk is wider than 16 feet, the amount of clear path must be 50 percent of the distance from the building to the curb line. Contact 311 for enforcement-related concerns.
Frequently, this is not a zoning issue. The common situation is that two neighbors entered an informal agreement to share a driveway between their two properties. Unless this agreement was recorded in the deed to your property by designating an easement, your neighbor has a right to erect a fence on their property line. You can contact an attorney to review the deed, or, if you still suspect the fence is illegal, you can contact the Department of Buildings to request an inspector’s visit.
Generally, a commercial or manufacturing district supports business use. However, there are many exceptions. Contact the Zoning Help Desk to find out specifics.
Contact the New York City Business Express.
Contact the New York City Business Express.
Check ZoLa to see if your property is in a residence, commercial or manufacturing district. To determine what signs are allowed in your zoning district, and the proper location and size of signs and if they can be illuminated or flashing, refer to the following sections of the Zoning Resolution in:
Residence Districts: 22-30
Commercial Districts: 32-60
Manufacturing Districts: 42-50
Parking and Loading requirements generally apply to new buildings or enlargements. A business renting existing commercial space would not generate any new parking requirements and, in most cases, any new loading requirements. You can find the applicable parking and loading regulations for Commercial and Manufacturing zoning districts in Section 36-00 and Section 44-00 of the Zoning Resolution, respectively.
Parking requirements vary depending on the use and zoning district. Off-street parking is generally required for new developments in lower- and medium-density residential and commercial areas that are more auto dependent. Parking is not generally required in higher-density commercial districts or commercial overlay districts that are usually well served by mass transit.
Contact the New York City Business Express.
NYCEDC offers information about a variety of New York City equity, financing, and incentives programs designed to help businesses thrive.
Additional information is available at NYC Small Business Services website.