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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Proposed Text Amendment to Provide Access to Public Bathrooms in Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS).

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, February 09, 2023, the following resolution passed with a vote of 33 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, Manhattan Community Board Five (CB5) seeks a zoning text amendment to provide access to public bathrooms for certain size and type of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS); and

WHEREAS, The zoning resolution currently has no requirements for public bathrooms for public plazas; and

WHEREAS, There are only 14 POPS out of 550 total POPS in NYC with 6 of these located in CB5 that provide access to public bathrooms making the rest of these Privately Owned Public Spaces difficult to access for certain populations; and

WHEREAS, Public bathrooms are a basic need, a public health and quality of life concern for our district, as well as the rest of the city; and

WHEREAS, CB5 experiences a population density of up to 980,000 people per square mile a day pre-pandemic; and

WHEREAS, CB5 currently has 24 public bathrooms opened to the public located in  our libraries, subway stations, transportation hubs, parks, NYPD stations and existing POPS bathrooms; and

WHEREAS, only 2 of these locations provide 24/7 bathroom access; and

WHEREAS, Midtown has one of the highest concentration of public urination in the city per number of reported 311 complaints for public urination; and

WHEREAS, We applaud the city’s study to site a public bathroom in each zip code with Intro 0258; and

WHEREAS, We will need a lot more public bathrooms in Midtown to make our public realm cleaner and more functional and attractive to residents, workers and tourists; and

WHEREAS, The public realm is becoming more privatized through initiatives such as the Permanent Open Restaurants Zoning Text Amendment and less room on our sidewalks is available to site/locate automated public toilets; and

WHEREAS, We are proposing public-private partnerships as one way to create more public bathrooms for the public realm; and

WHEREAS, Currently the zoning resolution require food amenities for POPS over 10,000 SF in ZR Section 37-748 Additional Amenities; and

WHEREAS, We recommend that POPS over 10,000 SF also provide access to public bathrooms whether associated with the food kiosk, the open air cafe, the commercial building or the public plaza; and

WHEREAS, We recommend that POPS smaller than 10,000 SF that are providing food amenities also be required to provide access to public bathrooms; and

WHEREAS, We recommend that access to public bathrooms be provided at covered pedestrian spaces, enclosed public spaces, covered plazas and arcades as some of these POPS are within a building envelope and should trigger occupant loads and plumbing fixture requirements; and

WHEREAS, We have documentation of certain POPS that are currently providing bathroom access requiring ID and security guard for access and are concerned that this prevents the unhoused from accessing these public bathrooms; and

WHEREAS, We recommend signage of public bathrooms within POPS to have a POPS logo and be labeled open to the public with hours of operation and that no ID be required to use the bathrooms; and

WHEREAS, We recommend that public bathrooms be listed in the required POPS information plaque if the amenity is provided; therefore be it

RESOLVED, CB5 recommends a Zoning Text Amendment to the Zoning Resolution to mandate public bathrooms in POPS according to criteria of POPS size, other existing amenities as described in this resolution, and be it further,

RESOLVED, CB5 seeks the help of Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, our city council members Carlina Rivera (CD2), Keith Powers (CD4), and Erik Bottcher (CD3),  the Department of City Planning (DCP)  as well as the City Planning Commission to amend the Zoning Resolution for Public Plazas (ZR 37-70) to include access to public bathrooms so that our public realm can be more equitable, clean, functional and attractive.

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