Zoning Laws Permit Leeway for Wall Street Protesters

Friday, 14 Oct 2011 12:10 PM

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The New York park filled with Occupy Wall Street protesters is private property covered by an odd set of city regulations that make it the perfect place for long-term protests.

Zuccotti Park was born out of city zoning laws in the early 1960s designed to create public space, The New York Times reported.

Typically, real estate developers were given various zoning concessions to create parks, arcades and plazas, which now number about 520. The spaces developed under the original rules were to be open 24 hours a day.
Image of Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Wall Steet Protesters


More recent rules allow the spaces to be closed from sunset to sunrise but about half of the exiting spaces are required to be open 24 hours, the Times reported.

City parks, however, all have various curfews ranging from nightfall to about 1 a.m. and permits are required to pitch a tent. “The city had a policy for encouraging commercial developers to create open space in exchange for more height,” Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, told the Times. “But until now, no one has thought about the issue of what the rules are. This has highlighted one of the gaps in New York’s planning system.”

Zuccotti is also one of the city’s largest private parks and it located in the center of the financial district. It is also not next to a building but is an island surrounded by Broadway, Trinity Place, Cedar Street and Liberty Street.

The owner of the park, Brookfield Office Properties, recently posted new usage rules, a step that is allowed under the city regulations. The new rules, which bar camping, lying on the ground or benches, and using sleeping bags, have yet to be enforced.

Jerold Kayden, a lawyer and professor of urban planning and design at Harvard University, told the Times that it is up to the owners to enforce the rules but they could call the police for help.

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