The City Council approved with modifications the Zoning for Quality and Affordability text amendment, also known as ZQA, on March 22, 2016. This represents one of the most significant updates to the Zoning Resolution in decades.
For your reference, City Planning has produced a detailed overview of all the zoning changes included in the approved version for practitioners and the general public.
Our city is growing. Our population is at an all-time high, having just, according to Census Bureau mid-decade estimates, passed the 8.5 million level for the first time. In addition to our four-century tradition of welcoming people from all over the globe, we have an obligation to meet the needs of our growing and increasingly diverse population of seniors, which is projected to increase by 400,000 over the next 25 years. The gap between the demand for and supply of housing is vast, and housing in New York City is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
As part of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year housing plan, the City has committed $8.2 billion to subsidize affordable housing for New Yorkers, including housing for people making as little as $18,150. This is double what was deployed on affordable housing in the previous decade, and will produce more than quadruple the amount of housing at the very lowest incomes. The City is also beefing up its anti-displacement efforts to protect tenants in existing housing. The crisis we face demands that we use every tool at our disposal.
A key issue identified in Housing New York is the need to modernize obscure and outdated zoning rules that have not kept pace with best practices for residential design and construction . These rules impede the production of new affordable housing, and contribute to the years-long waitlists faced by some 200,000 seniors in need of affordable apartments.
Following the release of Housing New York, the Department of City Planning, working with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, communities, nonprofit housing groups, architects, developers, and other practitioners, identified a set of zoning barriers that constrain new housing creation and add unnecessary costs, and strategies to address them.
The goals of Housing New York include making the city more affordable to a wide range of New Yorkers and fostering diverse, livable communities with buildings that contribute to the character and quality of neighborhoods. We do not see these goals as in conflict – it is essential that we achieve both.
Zoning establishes limits on the use, size, and shape of buildings, with numerous zoning districts mapped in the city’s diverse neighborhoods to reflect their varying density and character. These limits help give shape to neighborhoods and predictability to their future. But sometimes they also have unintended consequences, discouraging the very types of outcomes they were intended to encourage. ZQA addresses several ways in which these regulations, drafted a generation ago, have in practice discouraged the affordability and quality of recent buildings.
ZQA is tailored to address issues specific to different neighborhood contexts:
In medium-and high-density zoning districts, key changes :
In low-density districts that allow multifamily housing, key changes :
In neighborhoods zoned for multifamily housing, that are proximate to public transportation and where car ownership rates are low, designate a Transit Zone. Within the Transit Zone:
The ZQA changes are part of a set of coordinated initiatives under Housing New York:
The zoning changes are carefully targeted:
For More Information
Additional information on New York City’s zoning districts is available on the DCP website in the following pages: