The summer of 2020 on Seventh Street
Today, the proposal to remake outdoor dining in NYC heads to a full City Council vote.
Last Thursday, the Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Committee on Land Use voted to recommend the approval of a zoning proposal, which is a first step in creating a permanent outdoor dining program.
City Council will be voting on this same resolution today.
All this follows the Council's lone public hearing on the proposal, a contentious 9-hour marathon featuring 250 people testifying for or against the program on Feb. 8.
One takeaway from that, per published reports: Julie Schipper, head of the Department of Transportation's Open Restaurants Program, told City Council that the dining structures erected in the summer of 2020 won't be allowed to remain standing under the new guidelines.
"We don't envision sheds in the permanent program. We are not planning for that," Schipper 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."
This CityLand post outlines what needs to happen...
To establish a permanent open restaurants program, several legislative and administrative changes would need to occur. First, a zoning text amendment that eliminates certain restrictions on where sidewalk cafes can be located needs to be approved. Last November, the City Planning Commission voted to approve this text amendment, and now the amendment needs the approval of the City Council.Next, the City Council would need to pass legislation that would repeal the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection’s authority over sidewalk cafes and authorize the Department of Transportation to establish a permanent program.
Once the City Council approves the program, the Department of Transportation and other relevant agencies would need to establish administrative rules about the program, which would also be subject to a public comment process.
But, as The Village Sun reported last Friday, the Land Use Committee "voted to 'modify' the bill ... by removing the DOT as the lead agency."
However, this does not necessarily mean the DOT is out of the picture for good. Basically, moving forward, as part of the process of creating the new law, Velazquez and fellow councilmembers will now be deciding whether D.O.T. should continue to run the program or whether the job should be handed off to another agency.
This Gothamist piece from Feb. 15 has more on the design of future outdoor spaces.
City officials have said they hope to have a permanent program to begin in 2023.
As The Sun pointed out: "Basically, a lot is currently in the works and still unsettled."