To anyone who has ever spent a torturous afternoon interacting with an outdated and poorly-designed government database, it comes as a sweet surprise that New York City’s new Zoning and Land Use Map is actually clear, intuitive, and easy to use.
Beyond the detailed information on New York’s zoning districts, this map provides a bunch of useful and up-to-date city data for all to take advantage of.
Here are a few specific things you can do with it:
1. Look at who owns every city lot in your neighborhood, as well as what they’re using the land for.
Once you have the map open, click on the “Zoning and Land Use” tab, toggle “Tax Lots,” and zoom in. This is how you see the boundaries for every single lot of land in New York City. Better yet, check the “Show Land Use Colors” box under “Tax Lots” and your neighborhood turns into a colorful mosaic of apartments, commercial areas, parks, and vacant space.
Besides helping you gain a general understanding of how land is used, you can find specific information about each lot, such as who owns it, how big it is, and when the current structure there was built. This data can be crucial when trying to spot vacant space to repurpose for community use (this tool from 596 Acres also works for this). [Disclosure: the author of this piece is also an intern for 596 Acres.]
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty here, click on ‘View ACRIS’ inside the list of data for a specific lot. This link will direct you to all of the property records pertaining to this lot number, such as deeds, mortgage agreements, and rezoning measures.
2. Find out which NYC Council District, State Senate District, and State Assembly District you live in to contact your local city and state officials.
Under the “Administrative Boundaries” tab, you’ll see toggles for NYC Council Districts, State Senate Districts, and State Assembly Districts. Enabling these layers, along with locating your address in the search bar at the top of the page, allows you to find out which districts you live in, and a quick Google search will find your representatives.
These three governing bodies make laws that affect you as a New Yorker, so it’s important to keep track of who represents you and what they are up to. City Council passes city legislation, negotiates budgeting, and keeps track of city agencies, and the State Senate and State Assembly operate as a two-house body conducting similar legislative duties on a statewide level.
3. Access site-specific reports on all pending rezoning projects to see what the city plans on changing.
Rezoning is a process where the city changes the designated use of properties and land, often for commercial and real estate development purposes. If you click on the “Zoning and Land Use” tab, and then toggle on “Pending Zoning Map Amendments,” you can look through every rezoning plan that the city is currently processing. (You can find the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment and the East Harlem rezoning boundaries, for example.)
This tool offers the public a chance to get educated on what the city intends to do through these zoning amendments, and how local communities will be affected. For any of the pending projects you find on the map, click on the link next to ‘Land Use Application / CPC Report’ on the pop up window to the right and you can actually see what exact stage or “Milestone” the plan is currently at.