Heard Around Town
Outdoor dining proposal would ban roadway dining for half the year
An updated New York City Council bill to make Open Restaurants permanent could advance thanks to the dismissal of a recent lawsuit against the program.
A New York City Council bill to create a permanent outdoor dining program would allow for roadway cafés after all – but only for half the year. An updated version of the outdoor dining bill that was introduced by Council Member Marjorie Velázquez in February specifies that roadway dining – not enclosed dining sheds, but open-air spaces with “readily removable” chairs and tables set up in the curb or parking lane – will not be allowed to operate between Nov. 1 and March 31.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams hinted that the long-awaited bill could include some limits on roadway dining last week, after expressing her personal distaste for the so-called “streeteries.” Advocates for making the temporary Open Restaurants program currently in effect permanent – including Mayor Eric Adams’ office – have been adamant that roadway dining should be a part of the program going forward. Shortly after the speaker’s remarks, her office confirmed that roadway dining would be allowed, but only “at certain times.” Streetsblog first reported on the outline of the bill last month, but the specific text hadn’t been published yet.
Asked about the seasonal limits on roadway dining in the updated bill, New York City Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie suggested the legislation could use some refining. “The outdoor dining legislation is still a work in progress as it needs more amendments to cut the red tape, reduce bureaucracy, and limit the fees for restaurants to participate, while recognizing that if it does not permit roadway dining year-round the cost to assemble it, remove it, store it, and then reassemble it every year, may be cost prohibitive particularly for small restaurants which the city has indicated they want to support with the program,” Rigie wrote in an email. Velázquez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The bill would also task the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection with – rather than the Department of Transportation, as the mayor’s office wanted – with running the permanent outdoor dining program.
Earlier this week, a court dismissed a lawsuit against the city over the outdoor dining program, which Eric Adams’ administration had pointed to as the primary hurdle in getting a permanent program off the ground.
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