Adams’ ‘City of Yes’ plan to boost NYC economy under fire

Mayor Eric Adams wants the Big Apple to become the “City of Yes” but he’s facing plenty of No’s.

Many left- and right-wing members of the City Council expressed serious concerns this week over Adams’ “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” proposal aimed at boosting business and job growth by overhauling more than 60-year-old zoning regulations.

The sticking points among council members include Adams’ push to allow bodegas and other businesses to open on residential corners, and a bid to allow barber shops, pharmacies, ad agencies and other lines of work on the upper floors of mixed-use buildings above apartments – provided they have separate entrances.

Queens Councilwoman Joann Ariola said she’s ready to vote against the “City of Yes” plan unless Mayor Adams makes key modifications.

Council members also fear the city doesn’t have enough staff to enforce the new rules, and that the changes would let more illegal marijuana businesses and other rogue shops pop up. However, Planning Director Dan Garodnick and officials pushing the plan say it would ease workloads by clarifying “outdated” rules.

Some council members — including Queens Democrat Robert Holden and Bronx Republican Kristy Marmorato — have publicly said they plan to reject the plan as-is. However, the consensus among more than a dozen members informally polled by The Post is the Council will likely approve it by the end of May — provided the Adams administration agrees to significantly modify, and in some places gut, parts of the proposal.

During a hearing on the proposal Monday, Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Queens) said New Yorkers who purchased homes in quiet residential neighborhoods weren’t banking on the additional traffic and other bustling activity the plan could bring.

“We cannot see our residential areas transformed into commercial strips,” said Ariola, adding she’ll vote against the plan unless “significant” revisions are made.

“Allowing commercial” businesses above residences “is just going to completely devolve [people’s] quality of life . . . There’s going to be extra movement, extra waste, an extra influx of people in and out,” she said.

City Planning Director Dan Garodnick insists revisions proposed under the City of Yes plan will make it easier for city inspectors to enforce zoning rules. Andrew Schwartz /

Councilwoman Linda Lee (D-Queens) told Planning Commissioner Dan Garodnick she’s worried a “City of Yes” could spur illegal drug operations in residential communities.

“The first thought I had was, ‘Oh, my God! Breaking Bad!’” said Lee, referring to the classic TV show about a meth business. “I don’t think it’s going to go to that extent, but . . . there’s a lot of unregulated or illegal businesses that do open — and we have to answer to that.”

The “City of Yes” plan would neuter much of the existing power and influence council members – and to a lesser extent, community boards and civic groups – have over which new venues come to their neighborhoods. It would leave final say on zoning issues with the city’s Planning Commission, whose members are predominantly appointed by the mayor, rather than the City Council.

Under the City of Yes, the city’s Planning Commission would replace the City Council as having final say on key zoning issues.

Thirty of the city’s community boards oppose the plan, while eight failed to take a position. Four of the Big Apple’s five borough presidents, except Staten Island’s Vito Fossella, support it.

Fossella, a Republican, and Democratic Staten Island Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks said the one-size-fits-all plan won’t work.

“As forward thinking as the City of Yes is, it’s clear there wasn’t a consideration for neighborhoods that are more suburban, like Staten Island,” Hanks told The Post. “If we’re not sensitive to the importance of preserving those neighborhoods, it might be the ‘City of No.’”

Garodnick (second from left) and Adams (third from right) are joined by other pols who support Adams’ trio of “City of Yes” initiatives. Andrew Schwartz /

Parts of the 18-point plan that appear to have key support from the progressive Democratic-controlled Council include:

  • supporting NYC’s nightlife by eliminating rules now prohibiting live music, dancing and comedy acts in restaurants and other commercial venues that serve less than 200 people.
  • allowing “clean manufacturing” businesses – like breweries and 3-D printers – to operate in commercial districts. 
  • clearing red tape for life-science labs to open and expand on university and hospital campuses.

“We are long overdue to modernize our zoning laws and remove bureaucratic hurdles for small businesses, but we have to get it right and make sure each proposal makes sense for our communities,” said Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan), who supports the City of Yes plan.

“Economic Opportunity” is the second of Adams’ trio of “City of Yes” initiatives.

The Council in December approved the first leg, called “Carbon Neutrality,” which aims to help New York City meet climate goals to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

The final installment, “Housing Opportunity,” would lift zoning regulations to help ease New York housing crisis — including controversial plans allowing for taller residential complexes and legalizing many garage and basement apartments.

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