It’s a harrowing task to have a comprehensive understanding of New York City’s intricate zoning code, but zoning is crucial to how the five borough’s function—dictating where certain buildings are erected, what sorts of uses they can have, and how high those structures can rise.
An understanding of the city’s zoning isn’t just a tool in the arsenal of an urban planner or an architect, but is crucial for locals to have a hand in shaping their communities. Now, in an effort to increase transparency, the Department of City Planning (DCP)—the steward of that zoning code—has launched a free, digital platform the makes the city’s zoning accessible to New Yorkers.
“Because it shapes the city in which we live, the Zoning Resolution affects every New Yorker,” Marisa Lago said in a statement. “By putting an interactive Zoning Resolution online for the first time, New Yorkers—be they neighborhood residents, elected officials, or community leaders—as well as planners, students, lawyers, and industry professionals, can easily search the Zoning Resolution.”
Until now, the city’s 1,570-page paper zoning resolution could be purchased for a whopping $750 or viewed on DCP’s website—but only in static PDFs for each chapter. The new digital platform serves as a green replacement to the physical copy, but also makes the code far more user friendly by offering updates and keyword searches, according to DCP.
The city will no longer print the zoning code in an effort to curb costs and be more environmentally friendly. Complex zoning resolutions are now easier to navigate with a mobile-friendly interface that allows users to search by keyword, which shows chapters and context. By searching “waterfront” for instance, New Yorkers can peruse info about districts, definitions and more.
New Yorkers can also resize the text for easier reading, print or download from the digital edition, and subscribe for updates as new land use actions are approved to the continuously evolving zoning resolution, which was adopted in 1961.
In the future, DCP plans to update the edition with a legislative history of each section of the zoning code.