Zuccotti Park is Full of Zoning Violations, Says the NYCLU


It’s been nearly two months since the city evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, ostensibly over concerns about health and safety violations. But some of the movement’s allies claim the new regime at the park violates New York City zoning laws.

In a letter sent yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild call on the city’s Department of Buildings to enforce ongoing zoning violations perpetrated not by the occupiers, but by the city itself and the park’s owners, Brookfield Properties.

“Metal barricades, preemptive searches, and selectively enforcing ever-changing unwritten rules have become established features of Liberty Plaza,” the letter states.

These practices infringe on clearly established constitutional rights, and theyalso violate zoning laws, Brookfield’s legal obligations under the 1968 special zoning premit, and City policy. As the Mayor has noted with regard to Liberty Plaza, “we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.”

Specifically, the lawyers claim, the metal barricades that completely surround the plaza, restricting access to two entrance points, violate section 37-72 of the zoning code, which reads in part:

The Department of Buildings isn’t taking the bait. Asked about the letter today, department spokesman responded with a single terse sentence: “Our inspectors determined that no violation is warranted due to adequate public access to the park.”