NYC Zoning Handbook:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.