Top photo from Washington Square Park Saturday by Jeremiah Moss
Per the Post: Julie Schipper, head of the city Department of Transportation's Open Restaurants Program, told City Council yesterday that the dining structures that popped up in the summer of 2020 won't be allowed to remain standing after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
"We don't envision sheds in the permanent program. We are not planning for that," she said. "What would be in the roadway [are] barriers and tents or umbrellas, but not these full houses that you're seeing in the street."
City Council will hold its lone (remote) public hearing today on the city's Open Restaurants program.
City officials are looking to make then-Mayor Blasio's no-fee emergency measure launched in June 2020 when indoor dining was prohibited a permanent part of the dining landscape. The Department of Transportation (DOT) would oversee the new program with updated policies and procedures for sidewalk and curbside service. (The Open Restaurants text amendment entered a public review last June.)
Per an article on the hearing via the Post:
Under the current proposal, eateries seeking licenses to operate outdoor dining would have to shell out $1,050 each and then pay a $525 renewal fee following a yet-to-be-determined time period. It also sets up various safety measures and other restrictions for the pop-up, al fresco dining spots to follow, including prohibiting use of advertising signage.
A permanent outdoor dining program drafted by the de Blasio administration was approved by the Planning Commission last November, but it never reached the Council for a vote before the term-limited mayor left office at year's end.
Streetsblog has a comprehensive preview of the hearing at this link.
According to various estimates in media accounts, the city claims about 100,000 jobs were saved through outdoor dining allowances during the pandemic.
City Council will hold a final vote on the measure at an unspecified date later this year.
Meanwhile, there is opposition to these plans. This past Saturday, the Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy (CUEUP) — an alliance of neighborhood and block associations, including several in the East Village — held a march and rally called "Chuck the Sheds" in the West Village to speak out against making the Open Restaurants program permanent.
In the invite for Saturday's rally, the group noted:
Open Restaurants ... serves us noise, mounds of trash, rats, fire hazards, blocked sidewalks. Ambulances and fire trucks can't access our homes from these narrow and cluttered, impassable streets. The problems were there from the beginning for all to see, yet the Mayor and the City Council chose not to look or listen.
And from the group's website:
CUEUP supports our neighborhood restaurants, and wants them to not only survive, but thrive. However, we oppose making permanent the Open Restaurants and Bars program. Policies regarding the future of restaurants also directly impact the lives of residents and small shops, who must be part of the decision-making process. The top-down process that created the permanent program was unjust and undemocratic.Nearly 100 people, including several local elected officials, such as District 1 City Councilmember Christopher Marte, attended the rally. You can find coverage at the Post ... Village Sun... and Bowery Boogie.
As part of the public review process, the DOT presented its proposed plan to all 59 Community Boards last year. (Find reaction from CB3's meeting from July here.) As Streetsblog pointed out: "The city's zoning dashboard makes it clear that there’s a lot of controversy. About 30 community boards rejected the city’s proposal; about 22 supported it or at least did not oppose it."
Meanwhile, we continue to hear complaints about the abandoned dining structure on Sixth Street at Avenue A. (Previously here and here.) This structure belonged to August Laura, which officially closed in mid-December. Neighbors say the space has become "a 24-hour shooting gallery."
We've had discussions with other residents about the street eateries that belonged to restaurants that either closed or moved away, such as Ahimsa Garden on 10th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue. The Indian restaurant decamped for Midtown East in November. Their former outdoor space remains boarded up on the street... a for rent sign is on the empty storefront...
Previously on EV Grieve: