The Waterfront Access Plan (WAP) is a part of the waterfront bulk regulations and public access requirements of NYC’s Zoning Resolution, especially focused on the specific conditions of the waterfront areas. WAPs are area-specific and follow the unique needs and conditions of the shoreline and adjacent neighborhoods.
All WAPs include a block or four acres with 600 feet or more of shoreline. To offer and improve physical, recreational, and economic benefits to the area, zoning regulations on setback and height are in place for existing and future constructions. Another important reason for the zoning regulations is to ensure the continuation of public walkways and connecting neighborhoods. (ArcGIS)
Over the past years, New York City and New Jersey Harbor have enlarged access to water and ability for people to not just see, but interact with the so-called ‘sixth borough’. 37% of the waterfronts are publicly accessible (as shown in the city’s digital Waterfront Access Map), but only 9% of this waterfront is located in the 12 neighborhoods with the highest density and needs. These neighborhoods are mainly inhabited by underserved communities from lower- and moderate-income people of color. For this reason, equity became one of the pillars of the NYCComprehensive Waterfront Plan.
Another important factor in the creation of the WAPs are the rising challenges of climate change and future rising sea levels. Waterfront developments need to ensure safety and climate resilience, made equitable without further enlarging displacement. (Waterfront Alliances)