Recently, CIVITAS has seen new out-of-context buildings being developed in both C1-9 and C1-9A districts due to a variety of loopholes and interpretations that do not protect residents and their neighborhoods. Many of these loopholes are the result of judgement or interpretations of the code that may vary from the original intent. The only solution that will permanently control the maximum height of buildings is a height cap.

In 2016, CIVITAS retained Buckhurst Fish Jacquemart (BFJ) Planning to develop zoning recommendations that would modify current laws by limiting overall building heights while protecting developers rights to build C1-9 (R-10 equivalent) density. BFJ analyzed the existing zoning code and new buildings that are being developed out of context. They concluded that a new modified C1-9 zoning district (C1-9X) would be the best way to limit overall building heights and therefore protect the character of adjacent mid-block residential neighborhoods.

A C1-9X designation would restrict all new buildings to a maximum 400-foot height limit inclusive of all bonuses, mechanical equipment, and other features. This new zoning designation is being proposed to replace all C1-9 zoning districts in the Upper East Side north of 65th St. This new zoning designation would also be available to other communities across the city that desire to limit overall building heights.

CIVITAS continues to advocate for predictable contextual zoning that supports mixed uses along the avenues and protects the mid-block streets from over-development. This differentiation between zoning districts along the avenues vs streets protects the neighborhood’s historic residential characteristics while allowing neighborhood retail to be located nearby. The proposed C1-9X zoning designation would preserve the neighborhood’s building character and allow for new re-development. A 400-foot height cap in our C1-9X proposal will allow all current development rights to be utilized while placing a limit on the total height of new buildings.

CIVITAS interviewed Sam Schwartz (Gridlock Sam) who explained the concerns presented by the current proposal to construct a ramp at East 91st Street for the Marine Transfer Station. Approximately 150 sanitation trucks per day will make right turns at the proposed 91st Street entrance. Locating this ramp between Asphalt Green and its playing field is dangerous for the thousands of children, seniors and other pedestrians who will cross this street every day. CIVITAS supports moving the MTS entrance ramp to a safer location.

Click here to watch the trailer. Stay tuned for the FULL interview.

Please sign the petition asking Mayor de Blasio to move the ramp:


In May 2010, CIVITAS and Manhattan Community Board 11’s zoning committee organized a tour of East Harlem blocks that were rezoned in 2003.  This multi-year, community-led effort encompassed East 99thth to 122nd Streets, Third Avenue to Pleasant Avenue.

The 2010 tour was led by land use planner Richard Bass, who volunteered his time to explain how the zoning resolution is interpreted in new construction.  He also advised participants and community leaders on urban design concerns and details to address in future rezoning efforts.  Conceived as an educational tool, the tour was videotaped and produced as a seven-minute film.

Read more about CIVITAS’ rezoning initiatives in East Harlem!

CIVITAS celebrates the life and legacy of Paul Newman (1925-2008), the late iconic American actor and advisory board member. A passionate advocate and philanthropist, one of his greatest contributions to CIVITAS and the East Side was the 1985 filming of “No More Tall Stories.” This seven-minute advocacy piece was screened and
circulated to illustrate the need for contextual rezoning on East Side Avenues.

Read more about No More Tall Stories!

30th Anniversary Benefit Slideshow from Civitas Citizen on Vimeo.

In honor of CIVITAS’ 30th Anniversary celebration we put together a slideshow of our friends, events, and accomplishments throughout the years.  To see photos of our 2011 Benefit, visit