On September 17, a leaderless (or, alternatively, leader-full) group of people began a demonstration aimed at highlighting the vast income inequality that exists in this country today. Named ‘Occupy Wall Street’, they gathered to express their outrage at the collusion between the country’s largest financial institutions and the government – a relationship which led to the 2008 financial collapse and one that has greatly increased the already vast wealth gap.
Among the many early decisions made by this group that allowed the movement to be so successful (catchy name, lack of hierarchy, open decision making process, etc.), one additional decision stands out as particularly wise – the location of the demonstration. (more…)
Next Thursday, the New York City Zoning Resolution turns 50 years old. As zoning nerds the world over take a minute to acknowledge this milestone, we must not forget to turn our attention to the next 50 years and start considering specific actions that will encourage the progress of this great city and preserve its competitive advantage. It is time to think big…literally.
While planning (and zoning, for that matter) doesn’t happen in a vacuum, as we look at the next 50 years, architects of the City’s planning and zoning policies should take three words into consideration – no, not location location location. Urban planning technocrats, elected officials, neighborhood groups, and all other stakeholders should be guided by the following three words: (more…)
Last week, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) held the first of what will likely be many 50th anniversary “celebrations” of the City’s thousand-plus page Zoning Resolution.
Alas, like President Obama and the Zoning Resolution, I too was born in 1961. I don’t have my long form birth certificate – but trust me – I am as aged as the City’s zoning. (more…)
There’s been quite a bit of talk in New York recently about Wal-Mart – the big box retailer is resurrecting its bid to open its first New York City store. Wal-Mart’s earlier attempts to open a Brooklyn or Queens location failed when the store came up against the city’s strong unions – who oppose Wal-Mart’s non-union approach – and a general concern about the effects of the retailer on wages and small businesses. This time around, the City Council’s Committees on Community Development, Small Business and Economic Development plan to hold a joint oversight hearing on Wal-Mart (scheduled for this Wednesday), and Christine Quinn, the Council’s Speaker, has been quoted as saying, “Wal-Mart is something I am not supportive of.” But can the City Council, unions, or small businesses actually block the store from opening anywhere within the five boroughs?
Unlike some other cities in the US, NYC doesn’t have regulations that prohibit chains. So why hasn’t Wal-Mart just opened here already, like Home Depot, Costco, Target and several other large chain retailers have before it? Although these other stores have also faced barriers to entry, particular attention is paid to Wal-Mart, as they seem to rally opposition like no other store. What’s the source of the legal barriers and the regulatory constraints – and can Wal-Mart be stopped? The answers to these questions, like so many others, lie partially within the Zoning Resolution. (more…)
Every NYC health club or any business or establishment offering physical exercise, massage or use of steam/saunas (the Zoning Resolution calls them Physical Culture Establishments – or PCEs) is required to obtain a Special Permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals – before opening. Even when they fall within a commercial zoning district. An onerous rule, perhaps, but at least it seems relatively simple. (more…)
Freeman Alley on the Lower East Side
Lower Manhattan has several small – and sometimes forgotten – narrow alley-ways. Often rubble-strewn, dormant and seemingly neglected, these urban paths appear to be worthless byways of a time long ago. They also have names that hearken back to a bygone era: Stable Court; Great Jones Alley; Franklin Place.
Who plows these “streets?” Who owns them? Can they be gated and made exclusive? What lies beneath them? Why were they created? And, how are they taxed?
These are not mundane questions. Alas, they are not easily answered either. (more…)
As was reported in Crain’s, on Wednesday the City Council approved two new rezonings in Manhattan – one in the West Village, and the other in the East. Both rezonings are contextual, putting height limits in place in areas where none existed previously. (more…)
Yesterday, the New York City Council approved City Planning’s timely car share zoning text amendment. As we discussed in our previous post, the new zoning text permits car sharing vehicles – like Zipcar – in both accessory and public parking garages throughout the city. Although such services existed in the past, they are now officially sanctioned and regulated by the Zoning Resolution.
Car Sharing Zoning Text Amendment – Approved!
The SoHo Grand Hotel, located on West Broadway, has a relatively unique design. The hotel’s main lobby is on the building’s second level. The set-up lends the hotel an air of exclusivity. However, this design wasn’t just an architectural choice or a way to give visitors to the hotel more privacy when checking in – it was mandated by zoning. (more…)
image via brownstoner.com
Streetsblog reported last week that the Department of City Planning is re-analyzing its minimum parking requirements in certain neighborhoods with good transit access, such as Downtown Brooklyn, Harlem and western Queens. Currently, the Zoning Resolution requires that parking be provided for almost all new developments throughout all areas of NYC, with the exception of Manhattan below 110th Street and in a limited area in Queens. (more…)