“Fix our zoning rules,” say Manhattan Borough President and City Council Speaker

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (center) speaking at a July 2018 press conference held by Council Member Ben Kallos (left) regarding the doctored zoning lot at 180 East 88th Street

Last week, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson wrote a letter, supported by the entire Manhattan delegation of the City Council, to Department of City Planning Chair Marisa Lago to encourage the agency to address and prevent the suite of loopholes being exploited by developers.

From their letter:
We are writing to follow up on some tremendous work done by our community stakeholders and advocacy groups in the effort to curb excessive, illogical development. All across our borough, developers have found numerous novel workarounds to circumvent the limitations we commonly understood to apply to them under zoning. The resulting out-of-context buildings have spurred community organizing like never before, as everyday residents have committed significant time and resources to highlighting arcane but deeply impactful issues in our zoning rules.” To read the full text of the letter, click here.

They go on to acknowledge the huge need for clarity on the loophole issues like excessive void spaces, mechanical space, floor-to-floor heights, and basic principles such as the definition of a zoning lot that are all being exploited to build out-of-scale megatowers that defy predictability, do nothing to alleviate our city’s housing pressures, and flout the regulations laid out in New York City’s Zoning Resolution.

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side is a leader in this battle as we continually challenge out-of-scale developments in our neighborhood that do not adhere to zoning laws, and fight for the livability of the Upper East Side and all residential neighborhoods. This letter shows that our advocacy is working!

We thank Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson for taking up the mantle on these pressing issues and the entire Manhattan delegation of the City Council, especially our East Side representatives Ben Kallos and Keith Powers, for their support. This progress would not occur without the continual partnership of our elected officials, colleagues across the city, and of course our supporters.

With continued advocacy, education, and thoughtful collaboration with our elected officials, common sense zoning reform can be achieved now, before it’s too late.