City of Yes for Economic Opportunity earns split support from Bronx community boards

Borough President Vanessa Gibson voted with conditional support for the City of Yes economic plan, which would overhaul the city’s zoning rules for the first time since 1961.
Photo courtesy Arlene Mukoko

The set of 18 rezoning policies known as City of Yes for Economic Opportunity passed a vote this week by the City Planning Commission and will now head to the City Council after receiving mixed support from community boards in the Bronx.

Now that all Bronx boards have voted, boards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9, along with Borough President Vanessa Gibson, voted to support the initiative with conditions. Boards 8, 10, 11 and 12 voted “no.”

CB1 voted but did not formally submit their recommendation, according to a DCP spokesperson.

Reflecting the diversity of experience and opinion in the Bronx, some boards voted unanimously in favor of the changes while others expressed unanimous opposition. 

For instance, according to minutes from the January full board meeting of CB10, nine representatives from neighborhood civic organizations showed up to voice their opposition. It was put to a vote and unanimously rejected. 

And while support was far from unanimous among the city’s 59 community boards, DCP said in a statement that most of the 18 proposals received majority support and some ideas were adjusted based on public concerns. 

Among the boards that offered input on a proposal-by-proposal basis, 16 of the 18 received at least 50 percent support with conditions, the agency said in a statement. 

And although the input of community boards is advisory only, Garodnick said in a Tuesday press briefing that several proposals were modified based on concerns heard by the agency.

For instance, the proposal to expand commercial use of upper floors now specifies that existing apartments cannot be converted to commercial, given the city’s housing crunch. 

Also, the proposal to allow more types of in-home businesses was amended with a cap of 1,000 square feet and a prohibition against using common spaces for business purposes.

DCP said the new rules are desperately needed. 

The city’s rezoning rules have “barely changed” since 1961, and the changes, if enacted, will “[bring] these rules into the 21st century so they reflect how people and businesses work today,” said CPC Chair and DCP Director Dan Garodnick in a statement announcing the vote. 

Mayor Eric Adams was also quick to applaud the vote. 

“So many of our old zoning rules simply made no sense, but ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will deliver long-overdue, sensible zoning changes that will unlock family-sustaining jobs for our neighbors, inclusive growth in our communities, and a vibrant future for our city,” Adams said in a statement.

If the policy is enacted, it would significantly expand the types of businesses allowed in the city and where they can be located. 

For instance, current zoning law in certain neighborhoods says that if a storefront is vacant for over two years, it cannot be reoccupied. The new initiative would remove this deadline and allow new businesses to take these spaces. 

And while it can seem that bodegas are a dime a dozen, DCP said that 265,000 residents live in areas where a corner store cannot be located within a quarter mile. The new rules would allow more corner stores and bodegas to exist in more neighborhoods. 

“New Yokers are tired of walking past empty storefronts, and it is a bad look when the city’s own rules are preventing us from filling them,” Garodnick said in the press briefing.

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is part of a trio of city initiatives aimed at adding more housing, promoting business and economic growth and improving environmental outcomes throughout the city. 

City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality was adopted by the City Council in December. City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will soon head to review by community boards and borough presidents and should get a City Council vote by the end of the year, according to DCP.

The economic policy is now headed to City Council for a public hearing and vote in the months ahead.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes