Absurd zoning rules are failing residents, workers and businesses.
Our zoning rules for SoHo/NoHo are broken and are in desperate need of reform. Because the area remains zoned for manufacturing, the most common uses today like retail and residential, are largely illegal as-of-right. This hurts residential homeowners by depressing home values and deterring potential buyers. It drives businesses away that cannot wait for a three-year special permitting process to unfold. We’re stuck with this patchwork of special permits, variances and handshake deals that make it impossible to accurately plan for the future of our community and do business here. These failed policies hurt New Yorkers living and earning their livelihoods in SoHo/NoHo—and it’s time to fix them.
The majority of our neighbors are living here illegally.
Despite paying their rent, mortgages and property taxes like all other New Yorkers, the majority of the over 25,000 residents in SoHo/NoHo today are living illegally and with uncertainty because they are not certified artists. Legacy rules exclusively targeting artists are severely outdated. Most artists have already left this community. There’s a win-win scenario where we can legalize all residential occupancy and support our remaining artists in SoHo/NoHo. Anything short of legalizing all residential occupancy is unfair to residents who’ve contributed to this community for more than four decades. We must make occupancy legal.
We need to bring more businesses here—not turn them away.
The businesses that call SoHo/NoHo home today are crucial employment drivers. This is the second largest shopping district in the City and 10th largest nationwide, generating more than 65,000 jobs and $3.1B in annual sales. These businesses pay taxes, create jobs and sustain the residential properties located throughout SoHo/NoHo. When businesses move, commercial rents plummet and co-op and condominium associations are left covering larger and larger bills that can force residents, including artists, out of their homes.