Our Advocacy

HDC’s City of Yes Advocacy

HDC is proud to be one of many civic organizations offering feedback on the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed City of Yes zoning text amendments. Our Advocacy Committee reviewed DCP’s initial proposals at the end of 2022, and gave preliminary feedback in January 2023. As the City’s plan developed, HDC has offered more specific feedback on each facet of the proposal. We will continue to provide testimony as the actual text of each of the amendments is released for public comment. 

HDC believes in the broad goals City of Yes aims to address, and our testimony has focused on how these goals can support preservation, and how preservation can support these goals. That being said, it remains to be seen how these amendments will be implemented in detail. We look forward to commenting in more detail on the substance of each of the amendments and sharing our findings with our neighborhood partners across the city. 

Find all of our City of Yes commentary below:

HDC City of Yes, Initial Comments January 2023

HDC Updated City of Yes Comments August 2023

HDC Commentary on City of Yes for Economic Opportunity January 2024


Suggested language to oppose the proposed City of Yes changes to Special District design regulations:

Given that DCP seems eager to allow vast changes to the size, shape and usage of New York’s building stock, we are concerned about where COYEO privileges uniformity, namely in its provisions to “create consistent ground floor design requirements” at the expense of Special District design regulations. While the stated goal of this consistency is to “foster vibrant neighborhoods” by activating commercial corridors, we fear that these changes will instead lead to less vibrant streets, because by zoning for “consistent design” the city will lose the regulatory power to leverage a given neighborhood’s unique characteristics to help promote its social and economical vibrancy.

Indeed, leveraging specificity for economic and social vibrancy is exactly what Special Purpose District regulations are designed to do. Consider the vastly different special zoning districts of Lower Manhattan, 125th Street, Parkchester and the Central Wetlands of Staten Island: In Lower Manhattan, Special District Zoning allows for the conversion of older commercial buildings to residential use, while protecting the iconic setback skyline and guiding development along landmarked portions of the street grid; Meanwhile, Special District Zoning along the 125th Street Corridor in Harlem recognizes 125th St. as an extraordinary hub not only for commerce, but also for arts and entertainment, and thereby specially zones for active use of commercial storefronts while also requiring inclusion of arts and entertainment uses for developments over a certain size, and offering the city’s first zoning incentive for the creation of nonprofit visual or performing arts spaces; In Parkchester, Special District Zoning recognizes that the complex was developed as a unit, and offers tools to safeguard that cohesion by mapping the area as a Preservation District; Finally, Special District Zoning in the Central Wetlands of Staten Island helps guide development to maximize the protection of the area’s sensitive natural features.

To run roughshod over these Special Districts in the name of consistency is to disregard ecological circumstances of waterfront or wetland districts, which is unconscionable in a climate crisis, and out of step with City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality; it is also to disregard the cultural and historic experience of communities. Zoning that treats the wetlands of Staten Island exactly as it treats the shopping corridors of Madison Avenue is a detriment to both, and also a missed opportunity to leverage what’s already there as we create something new. Special District zoning helps maintain that special city while allowing for growth. If our streetscapes look like they could be anywhere, they could also be nowhere.