Big changes to the Big Apple’s outdoor dining scene are on the table — including a plan to get rid of its popular, but controversial, outdoor dining sheds.
The head of the city’s transportation department’s open restaurant program told a city council committee on Tuesday that makeshift structures will not be allowed to remain standing after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. — New York Post
The makeshift structures will be allowed to remain in place until July, according to the director of the Department of Transportation’s Open Restaurants program, Julie Schipper, who said a more thorough application process would be put in place to weed out “those homes full… in the street”.
The sheds have been hailed by some as a potential route to an Open Streets initiative proposed by the previous mayor’s administration that would turn much of Manhattan’s grid-like layout into a car-free pedestrian zone. Others have vehemently opposed their existence, complaining that their presence in neighborhoods like the Lower East Side has led to increased rodent infestation, street crime and a lack of accessibility.
“While we created a program for the restaurants, we didn’t create a program for the shoe store next door, for the bookstore next door, for the hardware store which all lost space on the sidewalk, all of which have lost parking spaces, all of which have lost the appeal of a block for people to shop there because it is now chaotic and anarchist,” Councilman Kalman Yeger said during from a hearing held last week, adding that their landlords “were able to increase the size of their space, not pay property taxes on it, not pay rent, and had the opportunity to get free space through the city from New York.
A vote on a new permanent bill is expected before the end of the year.