New York: Mayor Bill de Blasio suspends zoning regulations, expands spaces for social distancing

New York: Mayor Bill de Blasio suspends zoning regulations, expands spaces for social distancing
Mayor Blasio

The Mayor of New York city, Bill de Blasio, has ordered the suspension of zoning regulations that govern Privately Owned Public Spaces and Waterfront Public Access Areas. 

While disclosing this on Monday June 29, 2020, Director Marisa Lago, stated that the executive order means that hundreds of gracious open spaces in the busy commercial districts and waterfront will be made available to help New Yorkers physically distance as they get back to work. 

"The order also means that our local eating, drinking and retail establishments can temporarily expand into these spaces – all of which were created for the public’s enjoyment by our zoning rules,” Director Lago said.

Following the Mayor’s Executive Order, Director Lago said temporary uses that will be allowed include dining areas, health screening stations, bikeshare docks, kiosks, retail stands and space for New Yorkers to line up safely to enter adjacent buildings.

He added that the outdoor and open-air POPS would remain open to the public during their approved hours of access. 

"While indoor POPS can be closed, access to subway stations, through-block connections and sole connection to a lawfully operating business must be maintained. 

"Outdoor POPS will be able to separate or close off some seating to promote distancing," Lago stated. 

He further stated that once the Executive Order is lifted, all uses that it temporarily allowed must be removed from the POPS.

"Once the Executive Order is lifted, all uses and modifications that it temporarily allowed must be removed from WPAAs," he added.

POPS are public spaces that are owned and maintained by private property owners pursuant to various zoning regulations. 

First introduced in the 1960s, the nearly 600 POPS that exist today provide opportunities to sit, relax, people watch, eat, meet others – in other words, to partake in and enjoy urban life.

Coming in all shapes and sizes, these spaces are aimed at ensuring that the busiest areas of New York City offer indoor and outdoor atriums, plazas and walkways to the public.