City could nix some outdoor dining spots, inspecting al fresco structures

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NEW YORK — Sidewalk and curbside dining has become popular during the pandemic. It has been a lifeline for the industry. 

As the city creates a permanent program, current structures are being looked at by the city. Regular inspections have been a part of the plan since it began last year. More than 56,000 have been done. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked crews with the department of transportation, which oversees the program, to make sure structures are still being used and have not been abandoned.

“Go and review each one and talk to the owners of any place where they’re not using it for outdoor dining. Tell them they have some days to get right, or it should be pulled back and opened up again for parking,” he said this week. 

He emphasized his support for permanent program. 

Currently, city planning is beginning a process for new rules and regulations especially regarding design and location.  

Charlotta Janssen is the owner and artist at Chez Oskar in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 

She designed a new structure and is ready to share it with other businesses as everyone collaborates on a plan. 

“Fight this ugly time with beauty. This socializes us, and it will make us want to come out and breathe again, be friends again and be with the community,” she said. 

According to the city, the permanent outdoor dining program would include the following:

  • Available throughout the city
  • Allow for removable tables and chairs
  • Subject to clear path and other siting criteria
  • Both sidewalk and roadway seating require license agreement
  • Both sidewalk and roadway seating administered and enforced by NYC DOT

Read more here about the process and proposals.

Current structures in use for outdoor dining are set to remain in place through the end of 2022. 

The new program is going through a public review process and that will continue next year.

At least one lawsuit has been filed by some neighbors challenging the city’s authority and asking for an environmental review. 

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