NYC is taking a big step toward making outdoor dining permanent

Despite some ongoing lawsuits, New York City this week took a big step toward making outdoor dining a permanent part of the city’s infrastructure. On Monday, the city planning commission voted unanimously for a change in the zone text that will create a clean slate for the city to develop and regulate a permanent program, and ultimately allow more restaurants to establish outdoor dining structures throughout the city.

The change – which was proposed by the city – removes restrictions on the location of the outdoor space used by restaurants. This helps wipe the board clean for the upcoming Adams administration to set new specifications and standardize how outdoor dining will work in the future. As the city puts it, this will “cut bureaucracy for restaurant owners” and make the application process for sidewalk and roadside eateries much simpler.

“The need to relocate outdoor dining during an emergency gave New York City the rare opportunity to pilot a significant land use change on an urban scale, and by doing so to recognize the incredible liveliness outdoor dining can bring,” he said. Planning Commissioner Anita Laremont. during the vote.

The city council and the mayor must approve the text change now that it has been given the green light by the City Planning Commission, but given that the city council last fall voted to make the program permanent and both current mayor Bill de Blasio and future mayor Eric Adams have promised support for the initiative, proponents feel convinced that this is a concluded agreement.

“Since its inception, Open Restaurants has saved more than 100,000 industrial jobs and countless small businesses from financial collapse, and this yes vote is a critically important first step toward developing a sustainable future for this very popular program,” said the NYC Hospitality Alliance CEO. Andrew Rigie.

After the mayor signs it, the city will begin developing the specifications for the permanent outdoor dining program. It will include public hearings and other forms of community outreach – the Department of Transportation has already announced that they are launching a public engagement process to improve the design and rules regarding the setups.

The DOT says public input will help determine how best to “integrate these new setups into the complex environment of NYC streets.” This input will come via personal and external roundtables over the next six months – the schedule for these events will be listed on the DOT website and on NYC Engage – culminating in the release of new design guidelines in 2022.

As it stands, the current temporary emergency program for Open Restaurants will run until the end of 2022, so the city has until the beginning of 2023 to get the details ready for implementation.

The current set of rules for outdoor dining requires a free path for pedestrians to walk past; in addition, no structures may be bolted down or drilled into the pavement, no structure may cover or touch a tree, and no fire hydrants or street signs may be blocked.

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