The Universal Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for the Gowanus Rezoning is in its final stages. The City Council Vote will take place on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, then to the Mayor’s Office for final approval. Learn more about what to expect in this helpful guide from our neighbors, The Center for Urban Pedagogy and stay up to date with the final stages of the ULURP process with the City’s Zoning Application Portal.

On November 10, 2021, GCC and our partners in the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) celebrated commitments the City has made as a part of the Gowanus Rezoning, which was approved by the City Council Land Use Committee. The committee vote was made after a community consensus on the Points of Agreement, which delivers on numerous demands that GCC and GNCJ have been fighting for for years. 

We will continue to work closely with our GNCJ partners to fight for a Gowanus that is thriving, inclusive, and resilient, along the waterfront and beyond.


In 2016, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) initiated a Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study to determine strategies for the future development of the land around the Gowanus Canal. This study is built on community priorities identified in the Bridging Gowanus process, including supporting a mix of uses, affordable housing, investment in the public realm, sustainability, resiliency, arts, and culture.

In June 2018, DCP released the Gowanus: A Framework for a Sustainable, Inclusive, Mixed-use Neighborhood, which includes recommendations for open space, infrastructure, transportation, and increased density that prioritizes a mix of uses.

In January 2019, DCP released the Draft Zoning Proposal. This release included details on the Waterfront Access Plan, which will promote resilient and publicly accessible esplanades that support programming, soft edges, and water access. Our response to this proposal is here.

In March 2019, DCP released the Draft Scope of Work, which lays out proposed methodologies and assumptions for the rezoning’s environmental analysis. This is a critical point of the process to ensure that the City accurately measures environmental impacts of rezoning and plans for needed infrastructure. A summary of our comments on the scope are here, and the longer formal comments here.

On April 19, 2021, DCP released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). We assessed the document for its effectiveness at accounting for and mitigating key environmental concerns such as combined sewer overflow, sewer system capacity, parks and open space, and impacts to natural resources. Read our comments on the DEIS here.

On Wednesday, June 3, 2021 GCC and our partners in the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) delivered testimony at the Gowanus Rezoning Public Hearing hosted by Community Board 6, Community Board 2, and the Department of City Planning (DCP).

On October 12, 2021, GCC and our partners in the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) delivered testimony at the City Council Hearing, the final opportunity for public comment in this ULURP process. (See GCC’s and GNCJ’s written comments.) 

On November 10, 2021, City Council unanimously approved the Gowanus Rezoning in Land Use Committee following community consensus on the Point of Agreement, which includes the following commitments to ensure an inclusive, resilient plan for the Gowanus neighborhood, waterfront , and beyond: 

Upfront Funding for Comprehensive Repairs Public Housing with Resident Oversight

The City will fund comprehensive in-unit renovations at all apartments at Gowanus Houses (1,134 units) and Wyckoff Houses (528 units), estimated to be $200m, with commitments to oversight by public housing residents.

Mandate and Track Net Zero CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow)
The Unified Stormwater Rule, a new Citywide mandate that will pose more stringent stormwater management requirements on new development sites, will apply to all new properties within the Gowanus rezoning area and ensure that new development does not increase pollution.  Progress on this will be tracked by the City and the Task Force to ensure successful implementation and long-term water quality improvements in the Gowanus Canal.

Invest in Long-Term Resiliency and Infrastructure for Flood Mitigation

The City will include Gowanus, Red Hook, and the Gowanus IBZ as one of 10 neighborhoods across the City for Cloudburst Studies, that will assess stormwater flow paths, drainage patterns, and social vulnerability to identify infrastructure priorities and capital projects for flood mitigation. The City will further invest $174 million to upgrade sewer infrastructure that will eliminate flooding around 4th Avenue and Carroll Street during a 5-year storm, a critical intersection that has historically faced a great deal of flooding damage. 

Invest in Parks and Public Space Supported by Long-term Stewardship  

The City has committed to funding, timelines and public engagement for building new public spaces at Gowanus Green, the Transit Plaza at Smith/9th St, the Head End tank and the Salt Lot, along with renovation at Thomas Greene Park, Old Stone House and the Pacific Library.   The City will also support community efforts to create a Gowanus Waterfront Business Improvement District focused on stewardship, access, and public programming of open spaces, including new and existing waterfront esplanades, public parks and streetscapes.

Improve Waterfront Access and Ecology with Community Input
The City will identify locations for in-water access and tidal wetlands along the Canal as public spaces are designed, and will study pedestrian bridges as the cleanup progresses. The City will also share design concepts for waterfront esplanades with the community before certification, a critical step to improving community input on design.

Ensure Long-Term Open Space, Ecosystem Restoration, and Community Stewardship at the Salt Lot

The City has committed to ensuring that GCC has a temporary location during construction and a long-term home at the Gowanus Salt Lot, as well as committed to creating open space, ecosystem restoration and potential boat access on site, informed by a community engagement process. 

And in order to make sure that the community can hold the City accountable for all of these commitments:

Fund and Report to a Task Force

The City has committed to securing funding for and regular reporting to a Gowanus Implementation and Commitments Task Force to ensure accountability for all commitments made under the rezoning. 

Read more about our advocacy below.

Our Position on the Gowanus Rezoning

Updated October 14, 2020

We are living through an unprecedented crisis that has brought to light the systemic inequalities in our city and country while calling attention to the urgent need for robust social and physical infrastructure. This need is as pressing as ever in Gowanus, where decades of contamination, neglect of basic infrastructure, and gentrification have disproportionately affected low-income BIPOC community members, especially those who live in public housing. As the neighborhood changes, it is essential that we work together as a community to adapt to a changing climate, invest in essential infrastructure, and support a resilient and equitable Gowanus.

We believe that, if done right, a district-wide Gowanus rezoning offers an opportunity to make progress towards a more just and green neighborhood. After more than a decade of real estate speculation and property acquisitions throughout the Gowanus neighborhood, new development is likely to occur with or without a district-wide rezoning. If we move forward without a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and rezoning, individual owners will apply for land use changes through private applications, limiting opportunity for community input and benefits. We believe that the City should restart the rezoning process, address the community’s priorities, and hold developers accountable in planning for a future Gowanus.

The City still has significant work to do to incorporate community needs into its proposal. And we need to continue to fight, as a neighborhood united, through the land use process to address the needs and priorities across the neighborhood, including advocates for the environment, public and affordable housing, industry, and the arts. We stand with our partners in the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ), to fight for a Gowanus that is thriving, inclusive, and resilient for all – read more in our joint op-ed and sign the petition to support our priorities.

The following priorities are specific to our expertise and vision for a Gowanus Canal and surrounding urban environment that is clean, resilient, diverse and alive:

We need Net Zero CSO in the Gowanus Canal

Ongoing combined sewer overflow (CSO) pollutes the Canal with raw sewage and stormwater runoff nearly every time it rains. To ensure that new development does not further contribute to pollution, we are calling for a Net Zero CSO rezoning. To realistically achieve this, we need to see a multi-pronged approach that includes new developer requirements for storm and wastewater management, along with planned City capital investment in grey and green infrastructure. 

We are encouraged by the City’s work to date on the 2021 Unified Stormwater Rule, which will improve citywide stormwater controls on new development sites in combined sewer areas. In August 2020 City Council passed legislative Intro Bill 1851, which authorized DEP to begin the rulemaking process for a new Unified Stormwater Rule. The new rule is on track to be in place by the time the Gowanus Rezoning is complete, and will require developers to manage on-site stormwater using green infrastructure infiltration practices, and ensure that runoff is either detained during wet weather events or completely retained or re-used on site. 

These proposed regulations could result in Net Zero CSO in Gowanus, but we need to see proof of this in DEP’s hydrologic model of the sewer system as well as the forthcoming Gowanus Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  Additionally, for the citywide rule to be effective in Gowanus, it must acknowledge the system impacts of stormwater runoff in streets and other publicly-owned land. The new rule should encourage private development practices that take on stormwater management in the adjacent right-of-way and adaptive green infrastructure practices for maximum performance where the groundwater table is high. See our recent letter to DEP with outstanding questions that need to answered in order to evaluate whether the Unified Stormwater Rule will ensure that new development does not further pollute the Gowanus Canal. 

We need a Waterfront Access Plan

The Gowanus Canal’s shoreline is changing dramatically under the Superfund clean-up. While a clean up of industrial waste will result in a cleaner Canal, new bulkheads, dredging and capping the bottom will also eliminate most of the current intertidal zone, which currently supports habitat for mussels, crabs, fish, and shorebirds. At the same time, rising sea levels and flooding threaten waterfront use and public access to the shoreline. It is critical that a Waterfront Access Plan (WAP), is put in place to guide waterfront design that allows critical habitat to be rebuilt, ensures equitable access, and provides permeability to manage stormwater and buffer storms. If done right, a WAP in tandem with the Gowanus Lowlands Master Plan will provide a path forward for a resilient, biodiverse, publicly-accessible shoreline with bilevel esplanades, soft edges, stormwater management, and sustainable programming and maintenance.

We are encouraged by the outline of the WAP included in the May 2019 Draft Zoning Proposal. Through the proposed zoning text, the Waterfront Access Plan (WAP) will promote resilient and publicly accessible esplanades that support programming, soft edges, and water access. See our detailed analysis of what is included in the City’s proposed Waterfront Access Plan, how it measures up to our previous recommendations in the Gowanus Lowlands Master Plan (page 32), and our 2019 comments to the Department of City Planning from November 2019. 

We need a Parks Improvement District

With major cuts in the city budget, including a 14% decrease for the Department of Parks & Recreation, funding and coordination is needed to ensure that our public realm is maintained, programmed, and accessible to the community. Maintenance for much of the existing and future public realm in Gowanus is underfunded, including streetscapes, parks, and proposed City-owned public spaces at Gowanus Green and on top of DEP CSO tanks. While waterfront landowners will be required to build and maintain public waterfront esplanades, coordinated maintenance and programming are needed to ensure that publicly owned spaces are resilient and meet the needs of diverse users. A Parks Improvement District (PID) should be established in concert with the Gowanus rezoning to coordinate maintenance across property lines.  A PID would leverage a tax assessment on new development to fund public space and streetscape maintenance, programming, sanitation services, capital improvements, technical assistance, and workforce development. Without a funding and coordination mechanism in place we will see deterioration of our public realm in the years to come.

We need capital investment

A fair and successful rezoning will require capital investment in essential infrastructure and community assets. This should include investment in public realm improvements as outlined in the Gowanus Lowlands Master Plan, including parks, streets, streets ends, NYCHA campuses, and other City-owned properties. In a district-wide rezoning this infrastructure investment would typically be funded through the City’s Neighborhood Development Fund (NDF). In a time of strained finances, the City will need to be creative in ensuring essential improvements do not fall by the wayside and that commitments are tracked publicly through the NYC Rezoning Commitments Tracker.

Read More

October 15, 2021: Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning & Gowanus Canal CSO Facility Comments

October 8, 2021: City Commitments Needed to Ensure Net Zero CSO Rezoning Comments

September 17, 2021: GCC Comments on Gowanus Canal CSO Facility – Owls Head

August 9, 2021: Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning and Related Actions & Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comments

June 11, 2021: GCC Gowanus Neighborhood Plan Comments

July 15, 2020: Our Position on the Gowanus Rezoning

November 15, 2019: GCC Gowanus WAP Recommendations

May 23, 2019:

GCC Comments on Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning and Related Actions Draft Scope of Work CEQR No.19DCP157K

GCC SUMMARY OF POSITION on Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning and Related Actions Draft Scope of Work

GCC Testimony on Draft Scope of Work

February 6, 2019: GCC Response to Draft Zoning Proposal

Learn more

Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice

Draft Zoning Proposal

Gowanus: A Framework for a Sustainable, Inclusive, Mixed-use Neighborhood

Gowanus Places Study

Bridging Gowanus

Gowanus Canal Brownfield Opportunity Area Nomination Study