New rules go into effect as outdoor dining becomes permanent in NYC

Wednesday, August 16, 2023
New rules go into effect as outdoor dining becomes permanent in NYC
Outdoor dining officially became a permanent fixture in New York City on Wednesday - along with a number of new rules. Anthony Carlo has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Outdoor dining officially became a permanent fixture in New York City on Wednesday.

Some new rules went into effect when Mayor Eric Adams signed the outdoor dining bill at a noon ceremony in the Bronx.

The main difference is that, starting next year, those roadway sheds will eventually become seasonal. Dining establishments will only be allowed to keep them up from April to November.

However, sidewalk cafes can stay up year-round.

In addition, officials say permits will be less expensive and easier to obtain, but the Department of Transportation will now have the final say over what outdoor dining will really look like.

Outdoor dining was celebrated at the start of the pandemic, but has since become incredibly controversial. Derick Waller has details.

"Outdoor dining is here to stay, New York," Adams said. "New Yorkers were hungry for a cleaner, safer, healthier outdoor dining program, and we are delivering for them with Dining Out NYC. The temporary open restaurants program saved 100,000 jobs and kept our neighborhoods vibrant - but too many abandoned sheds attracted rats and detracted from the beauty of our city. Dining Out NYC locks in the best parts of outdoor dining and gets rid of the worst - for restaurants, for communities, and for diners alike. We're going to bring New Yorkers the largest, best outdoor dining program in the country."

As New York City moved out from under its pandemic-era regulations, how to handle the new landscape of outdoor dining structures became a growing question.

While many still like the sheds and restaurants have wanted to keep them, others said there is no longer a need for them.

Some have raised concerns like increased noise and congestion, loss of street space, and argued that some are dilapidated, abandoned structures that are eyesores.

"They litter up the street so badly. They take away from the aesthetic of the street. They're claustrophobic, they're trash-magnets. They're just awful," resident Valarie Marrs said.

Many restaurants would have preferred to see street dining allowed permanently, but are glad to see it will still be possible for most of the year, said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group for the city's restaurants and nightlife venues.

"Of all the doom and gloom in the pandemic, one of the bright spots was outdoor dining," he said. "By utilizing a little area in the roadway, you're able to create a whole new experience for people that are going to dine out, people that are walking around."

"I think it creates, when done properly, a much more livable, much more vibrant streetscape than simply keeping or using it just for parking," Rigie said.

Restaurants will need to be in compliance with the new rules now in effect by November of 2024.

"We're OK with the ruling and we're happy that New York is moving in a direction to be more European, where we have people sitting outside and it makes us feel a bit more lively than normally," Mathias Van Leyden, owner of LouLou bistro in Chelsea said. "For residents, it's less curb space, less sidewalk space, less roadbed space, less space to get up and down the block, less quiet, less emergency access. It's just less. It's more for one industry, less for everybody else."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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