Eric Adams Wants to Legalize Bar Dancing, All-Studio Apartment Buildings in NYC

America’s largest cities have been left behind by the success of zoning reforms. It seems that it is no longer the case.

Eric Adams, the Mayor, released Wednesday’s “City of Yes,” initiative, which aims to reduce city regulations on small business, new housing and infrastructure that is “zero-carbon”.

“We’re going to transform New York City into a city full of yeses. In my yard, yes. Yes in my neighborhood. “Yes in my borough,” declared the mayor. In the age of the smartphones, rules that worked in days past are not relevant anymore.

The mayor’s plan is not revolutionary, but it was light on details. Adams’s initiative nevertheless has as its guiding principle the view that too many regulations are placed on homebuilders and entrepreneurs by the city.

For businesses, Adams has proposed a Zoning for Economic Opportunity amendment that would allow certain businesses—his plan specifically mentions life sciences, custom manufacturing, maker-retail, and nightlife—to open up in more areas of the city and give other businesses an easier time expanding.

Adams spoke Tuesday about how a bakery located in a residential area would need to relocate to a manufacturing location if the company wanted to grow and offer wholesale delivery. Adams wants them to have the freedom to grow in their current location.

He also demanded that the city lift its ban on bar dancing. The city’s law prohibiting bars from allowing dancing was repealed in 2017. The reform also repealed the law requiring cabaret licenses for bars that wanted to allow dancing.

Adams wants to end that incomplete work. He says, “We are going to change the no to a ye, and let them dance.”

Similar reforms are included in the Zoning for Housing Opportunity Amendment by the mayor. It’s a package of reforms that aims to increase housing supply for a city which has been struggling for over a decade.

Adams proposed density bonuses for projects with affordable units. He also suggested removing restrictions regarding how many studio apartment buildings could contain. This would make it more easy to convert commercial space into new homes.

He also suggested reducing the amount of parking required for new developments, much to the delight and amusement of Zoning Reformers.

Logan Phares (political director of Open New York’s zoning reform group), says that the current policy is outdated. He also comments on the city’s parking regulations. “We have the ability to let the market determine if we need parking. There are many places that don’t need new parking. The best mass transit system is in place.

Open New York urged Adams in a statement to end the city’s parking regulations. It stated that this policy makes developers use up floor space and forces them to accommodate cars.

Some cities with lower parking restrictions have experienced a surge in development. Minneapolis abolished its parking requirements in 2021 after years of battling them. This led to an increase in construction of smaller apartments.

Eric Kober is a New York City Planner and a Manhattan Institute scholar. He says the planks in Adams’ plan are all good, but it doesn’t address the biggest obstacles to housing development.

He says, “The good things that they do are not the most important things they could make,” There are reasons.

Adams says Adams missed an opportunity to demand reforms of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, (MIH), that was established by Bill de Blasio in 2016.

MIH demands that affordable housing units be included in all projects that are built within rezoned areas. A set number of units must be included in individual rezonings for developers who want to build larger buildings.

These programs are available in nearly 1,000 localities across the nation. Research generally shows that these programs act as an income tax for new housing. They can increase rents and/or reduce new supply.

The MIH’s strict requirements mean that developers have to offer 25-40% of their units for below-market prices. He says the program “effectively precludes construction of new housing upon Rezoning” except in some of the most prosperous parts of the city.

Kober’s 2020 study found that MIH had produced only 2,065 units during its initial four-year period. The majority of the production was in projects that were heavily subsidised by the government.

Kober also says this month will see the end of an existing state tax credit, which builders of MIH project could use to offset the cost of affordable units.

He states that the city is unable to rezone its area and obtain privately-financed housing if it doesn’t have deep public subsidies.

Fixing this program would be a major political boost. Kober was skeptical that the New York City Council, which Kober describes as being hostile to market-rate private housing, would make necessary reforms.

Phares was more positive and telling There are reasons Although many council members are able to successfully resist housing within their respective districts, this is becoming increasingly political.

Adams had just announced his “City of Yes” initiative. However, it was reported that One45, the Harlem-based developers of a 1,000-unit Harlem project, had pulled their application for development. Councilmember Kristin Jordan Jordan had fiercely opposed the project, claiming it did not include enough units of low income.

The project was canceled by Jordan’s protest. However, it attracted heated Twitter comments from Erik Bottcher of Council. Bottcher stated that the “fiasco” illustrated the need to rezonize the entire city for housing.

He stated, “I don’t want to waste my time on Council (and the Zoning Subcommittee), hopping from one project to the next in an effort to produce only a fraction” saidOn Twitter

Phares says that people are realizing there is a shortage of housing and are facing a crisis. They also realize that the system giving individual politicians such power to stop new housing development is responsible.

Adams’s “City of Yes”, however, doesn’t address the worst aspects of this system. However, it’s a start towards eliminating regulations that make the nation’s most populous city one of the most expensive.