Council secures robust commitments to address impacts of “Last Mile” facilities, increase resources for compliance and enforcement, and promote industrial development

City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Committee on Land Use will vote on modifications to the City of Yes: Zoning for Economic Opportunity (ZEO), a citywide text amendment proposed by the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) that would update the city’s outdated commercial zoning regulations with the goal of supporting economic growth by creating new opportunities for small businesses and bolstering growing industries. The proposal also includes the Council’s priority to preserve manufacturing districts and bolster the development of the industrial sector, which often provides mid-to-high wage jobs to people in communities of color and can boost the City’s clean energy economy and future. The changes to the proposal are paired with significant commitments the Council secured from the mayor’s administration to address the impacts of “last mile” facilities on communities and address gaps in enforcement to resolve quality of life issues in neighborhoods.

The Council’s modifications to 14 of the text amendment’s 18 individual policy proposals address concerns raised by communities, balancing important quality-of-life issues with the citywide policy goal of updating commercial zoning to support local businesses and jobs. Among the Council’s priorities is to protect and enhance the industrial sector that provides good-paying jobs and prepares our city for a clean energy future, which were included in the Council’s modifications. The modifications include protections for local neighborhood retail corridors, the establishment of size limits and regulations on new types of business in certain commercial districts to prevent their impeding on residents’ quality of life, and restricting the location of noisy businesses to minimize disruptions to residential areas and buildings. The Council also eliminated a proposal that would have provided the City Planning Commission with authority to approve new individual stores on corner lots in residential districts. The modifications also ensure residents on campuses where new commercial development is permitted, such as NYCHA and Mitchell Lama developments, maintain the ability to participate in planning decisions. While permitting new businesses focused on indoor agriculture, life sciences, amusement, clean light manufacturing, and those on upper floors of buildings, the Council’s modifications include reasonable safeguards for these previously prohibited operations.

The commitments secured by the Council from the Mayor’s administration as part of discussions on the text amendment include the advancement of a zoning application to require a CPC special permit for last mile facilities and initiation of environmental review scoping for that application by the end of March 2025, support for legislation to regulate emissions associated with the facilities’ operations, and continued development of the “Blue Highway” program to support waterborne freight as an alternative to truck traffic. The Council also secured a budget commitment for the baselining of $4.7 million for 60 new Department of Buildings staff positions to launch proactive enforcement and conduct follow-up inspections for compliance. Additionally, the Office of Nightlife will receive more resources, consisting of four new full-time employees, to establish an after-hours team that ensures nightlife businesses operate in compliance with all laws and regulations during evening and nighttime hours. The Administration will also explore the use of new financial incentives to promote the growth of industrial businesses in the new manufacturing districts that Council’s modifications will create.

A full summary of the Council’s modifications to the citywide zoning text amendment and accompanying commitments from the Administration can be found here.

Most of New York City’s commercial zoning regulations have not changed since 1961, with outdated rules regulating where certain types of businesses can be built and limits on their uses. ZEO’s 18 individual policy proposals change zoning rules for permitted business uses, commercial uses on the upper floors of some buildings, archaic dancing regulations for nightlife establishments, growing food indoors, and life science uses in commercial areas, among other updates. The proposed zoning text amendment would apply to all 59 of the city’s Community Districts.

“As Chair of the Land Use Committee, I am proud to have worked alongside Speaker Adams, my colleagues in City Council, and community advocates to ensure the Zoning for Economic Opportunity text amendment works in favor of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr, Chair of the Committee on Land Use. “During this process, we negotiated a commitment for a special permit to address the issue of last-mile facilities that have swarmed our neighborhoods, and protections for local communities against micro-distribution sites in residential areas. While it is important to protect our business communities, we cannot overlook the historic environmental justice issues that have plagued our City for far too long.”

“I remain committed to ensuring that our city’s zoning regulations evolve with the times, reflecting the needs and realities of our communities,” said Council Member Kevin C. Riley, Chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. “Today’s vote on Zoning for Economic Opportunity marks a crucial step forward in modernizing our zoning resolution to better serve the diverse economic landscape of New York City. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, we, at the Council, are working collaboratively to address key concerns raised by residents, community boards, and civic organizations. Our goal is to ensure that pedestrian-friendly corridors are preserved, residential areas are thoughtfully protected, and community input remains integral to the process. We recognize the necessity of robust enforcement mechanisms to uphold these regulations effectively. Moving forward, we are actively addressing emerging challenges such as last-mile warehouses, with a focus on prioritizing environmental justice and the equitable distribution of resources. Together, with a clear commitment to inclusivity and progress, we are paving the way for a more vibrant and resilient city for all.”

“Over a year ago, I joined the Speaker, a group of council members, advocates, and other elected officials, and started organizing to bring manufacturing into the conversation about the Zoning for Economic Opportunity text amendment,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, Member of the M-Zone Coalition. “We knew that we cannot talk about the city’s economic future without highlighting the indispensable role of manufacturing and industrial jobs – and that this was a critical moment to leverage to protect them. We are thankful to the Department of City Planning for working closely with our coalition to do what none have been able to do for decades: protect our industrial business zones for a century to come.”