NYC Zoning Handbook:

Chapter 7

Parking and loading regulations in the Zoning Resolution are based on the premise that buildings should be required to include off-street parking facilities in direct proportion to the degree of car and truck use generated by the buildings. Generally, all buildings are required to provide off-street parking space. However, in almost all new developments in Community Districts 1 to 8 in Manhattan and in Downtown Brooklyn, commercial, manufacturing, and most community facility uses are exempt from parking requirements because public transit is easily available. Experience has shown that if such parking were available it would increase traffic congestion by attracting more cars into the heart of the city.

To improve air quality in the borough of Manhattan south of 110th Street, the city and state prepared a 1973 Transportation Control Plan (TCP) in response to the federal Clean Air Act of 1970. One feature of the plan sought to modify the regulations for required and permitted off-street parking spaces. Consequently, parking regulations have been adopted to control accessory off-street parking spaces, public parking lots and public parking garages in Manhattan Community Districts 1 to 8. These may be found in Article I, Chapter 3, of the Zoning Resolution.

Parking provisions differ according to the type of district and the use and size of the development. The Zoning Resolution controls the minimum number of spaces required, the maximum number of spaces permitted, and the distance of the parking facility from the use to which it is accessory. There are also controls on the size and operation of parking spaces, the location of curb cuts, the use of required open space for parking and requirements for surfacing and screening.

Residential Parking

The parking regulations for residential use reflect varying automobile ownership and utilization patterns and different levels of dependence on mass transportation in districts with different densities throughout the city. The requirements are also related to the type of parking facility provided -- an individual space, lot, or a garage with or without a parking attendant.

In lower density R1 to R4 districts, 100 percent of the dwelling units must be provided with at least one parking space. In R5 to R 10 districts, the required parking is generally provided in a group parking facility (where two or more parking spaces have common access to the street). The minimum number of spaces required is a percentage of the total dwelling units based on the characteristics of the specific district. For example, in an R5 district, 85 percent of the dwelling units must have a parking space; in R5B districts and infill developments, 66 percent must have a parking space.

In higher density districts (R6 to R10) where mass transit is more accessible, parking requirements decrease as permitted bulk and density increase: parking spaces are required for 70 percent of the dwelling units in R6 districts; 60 percent in R7-1; 50 percent in R7-2; and 40 percent in R8, R9 and R10 districts. In these districts, because of their higher densities, some or all of the parking must be provided in garages.

For Quality Housing developments the parking requirement is set at 50 percent in R6, R6A, R6B, R7A, R7B, R7X, R7-1 districts and at 40 percent in ROB districts in Brooklyn. R8B districts in Queens have a 50 percent parking requirement.

In R1 to R5 districts, it is usually possible to satisfy parking requirements with open parking on the lot. Construction costs for open lot parking are not high and room can be left on the lot for landscaped areas and recreation space. In R1 to R3 districts, 50 percent of the required open space may be used for parking; in R4 to R5 districts, 66 percent of the required open space may be used for parking. In R6 to R10 districts, 50 percent of the required open space may be used for parking.

The cost of constructing garages is high and the requirement may impose disproportionate costs on the developers of smaller lots in the higher density districts. It may also be difficult to lay out parking spaces on a small lot. Therefore, the requirements are waived on lots under 10,000 square feet in R7-2 to R10 districts. The requirements are lowered for lots of 10,000 square feet or less in R6 or R7 districts and for lots of 15,000 square feet or less in R7-2 to R10 districts. The parking requirements may be waived on any size lot in the higher density districts (R6 to R10) if fewer than five spaces are required in R6 and R7 districts and fewer than 15 in R8 to R10 districts.

Parking requirements are reduced for public housing, publicly assisted housing and non-profit housing for the elderly because fewer residents of such housing own cars.

Commercial and Community Facility Uses

Accessory off-street parking is permitted for all commercial and community facility uses. Parking is required for most permitted commercial and community facility uses in all commercial districts except those located in Lower and Mid-Manhattan and in Downtown Brooklyn.

The commercial and community facility parking requirements are highly complex and are based on the fact that different establishments have different needs, and that the density of development and the availability of transportation facilities differ in various parts of the city.

The amount of parking required for new commercial development varies with the district within which it is located, the size of the establishment, and the types of use.

In areas of the city characterized by low density and high automobile ownership, there are high parking requirements. In congested central areas, there are low requirements or exemptions.

The size of an establishment also affects the parking requirements. For most uses, parking is required only for establishments of a certain size. In low-density districts only very small establishments are exempted from the parking requirements. In high density districts only very large establishments are required to provide parking.

Requirements also vary with the type of use. Commercial uses have been divided into nine categories on the basis of these traffic-generating characteristics and are designated by letters. Each commercial use falls into one of these designated categories. Thus, the parking requirements reflect the traffic- generating qualities of various commercial uses, their size, and the districts in which they are located.

Manufacturing Uses

Parking requirements for manufacturing uses vary according to size and use, but not according to location (except for those districts exempt from parking requirements -- M1-4 to M1-6, M2-3, M2-4 and M3-2 -- which are manufacturing districts located in areas where parking for employees is not needed).

For all new manufacturing establishments or enlargements, one space is required for every three employees or for every 1,000 square feet of floor area, whichever will require the larger number of spaces. These regulations attempt to relate the number of parking spaces to the number of cars the establishment is likely to generate. If the number of people who will be employed is unknown, the amount of floor area of the industrial building provides an adequate measure for determining the number of spaces needed.

For warehouses and other storage establishments which have different traffic-generating characteristics from manufacturing establishments, one space is required for every three employees or every 2,000 square feet of floor area, whichever will require fewer spaces. This requirement is designed to provide adequate parking, and to avoid penalizing a very large storage establishment with few employees.

Additional Regulations

In all districts, controls are imposed which specify the maximum number of spaces permitted. Other controls regulate: whether, and how, off-site, off-street parking may be provided; the size of parking spaces; the location of exits and entrances; the use of required open space for parking; and requirements for surfacing and screening of parking spaces.

Maximum Number of Spaces Permitted

A group parking facility contains two or more spaces and serves more than one dwelling unit when accessory to a residence. All vehicles using the facility are served by common entrances and exits. In all districts, group parking facilities are limited to 150 spaces, except where accessory to residences when a maximum of 200 spaces is allowed.

In residence districts, there is another control which varies by district. In such districts the maximum permitted number of spaces for residences is determined by the number of dwelling units on the lot or by the lot size; for non-residential uses, maximums are determined by lot size alone.

These maximum limits are designed to prevent traffic congestion resulting from large and poorly located parking facilities. However, these maximum standards may be relaxed through modifications, exceptions and waivers. For group parking facilities, the maximum size specified may be increased up to 50 percent by the Commissioner of Buildings and, in certain cases, an even greater increase may be permitted by the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Location of Parking Facilities

The Zoning Resolution recognizes that sometimes it is not possible to provide parking on the same site as a building. Therefore, in certain instances, the Zoning Resolution allows a parking facility to be located on a zoning lot other than the lot of the building served. For residential uses, except for residences in single-family districts (R1 and R2), parking facilities may be 600 feet from the zoning lot of the residential building in low-density districts, and 1000 feet away in the higher-density districts.

The regulations for commercial, community facility and manufacturing uses are more liberal. Off-site parking facilities for these uses may be permitted in the same zoning district, or, in certain cases, in an adjoining district. These regulations offer flexibility, while still requiring some proximity between a use and its parking facility.

Loading Requirements

The Zoning Resolution requires loading berths for most commercial, manufacturing and storage uses, and certain other uses such as hospitals, prisons, and funeral parlors, where loading berths are necessary. Like commercial and community facility parking requirements, loading berth requirements vary according to the district in which they are located, the size of the establishment and the type of use.

For commercial, manufacturing, and storage uses, more berths are required in low-bulk districts than in high-bulk districts for the same amount of floor area. In high-bulk districts, only large buildings are required to provide berths. These standards take into account both the size of the establishment and the type of traffic found in different parts of the city.

In addition to requirements regarding the number of berths, there are regulations pertaining to the size of berths, surfacing, screening, access, and waiver of requirements where access is forbidden. These controls on the size, design and location of loading berths are meant to prevent parking on sidewalk areas and to prevent streets and sidewalks from becoming clogged when trucks are being loaded and unloaded.

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