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Glick urges locals to testify at hearing on ‘sidewalk cafes everywhere’ zoning change

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The review process to make Mayor de Blasio’s Open Restaurants program permanent is moving forward, with a hearing on the issue planned for Wed., Oct. 6, starting at 10 a.m. at the City Planning Commission.

According to Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who put out a community notice about the hearing, it will largely be a virtual meeting via Zoom and those interested in speaking need to register in advance that morning.

The text amendment in question specifically applies to sidewalk cafes. City Hall intends to strip away the existing prohibitions on where sidewalk cafes can exist — including, for example, connected to grandfathered commercial storefronts on residential side streets.

As for Open Restaurants, with its dining sheds in the public roadways — which the mayor and City Council have unilaterally decreed will be a permanent program — agency officials have been evasive about whether local community boards would have any input on approving operators’ applications for sheds in the future.

In June, the Department of City Planning began what is basically a ULURP (public review) process for a text amendment that would overhaul the decades-old regulations on sidewalk cafes.

The Open Restaurants program, with its roadway “yurts,” as some dubbed them, was an emergency measure launched in spring 2020 to help out bars and restaurants that had been forced to close in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Currently, this administration is seeking to permanently change the street cafe provisions that have long existed in New York City to make a sidewalk cafe an as-of-right option for restaurants and bars, effectively ceding public space to one industry with no compensation to taxpayers,” Glick said. “This would also mean that local review through the community boards will no longer happen, and area residents would not have the same input into a restaurant’s operations on the street right below their windows.

“There are many provisions in the Permanent Open Restaurants text amendment which are concerning,” she said, “and while some parts of the city have more of a separation between commercial and residential streets, the current proposal does not work as well on the mixed-use streets of Lower Manhattan.

“Outdoor dining has resulted in a substantial increase in noise complaints, overflowing trash and rats, and unfettered amplified sound and televisions outdoors,” the assemblymember said, “and there is no confidence that the Department of Transportation will provide appropriate enforcement to address these egregious conditions.”

Glick urged locals to testify at the City Planning hearing, saying, “I encourage everyone who will be affected by the Open Restaurants text amendment to let their voice be heard.”

5 Comments

  1. redbike redbike October 5, 2021

    Private Crap Shacks are not Open Streets. Private Crap Shacks are bad public policy.

    “YES!” to Open Streets. Open Streets for everyone. Not private Crap Shacks on public streets.

    Crap Shacks provided interim short-term emergency help to restaurants. Good! Short-term — for the duration of the emergency. When the emergency is over, get rid of the Crap Shacks.

  2. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan October 6, 2021

    Yes, please testify today! Be mindful Councilmember Carlina Rivera supported the legislation to make Open Restaurants permanent without any public discourse. She did not attend the CB3 July meeting to witness her constituents express the decreased quality of life issues (increased rats, trash, noise, difficulty walking down sidewalks, difficulty navigating streets, loss of parking spots to name a few) based on her legislation.

    We need meaningful public engagement and discourse about how we, the residents, want our public space to be.

    #voteAllieRyan because I will put residents first. We all see and experience many of the same problems and doing nothing is not solving the problems.

    • Jan Jan October 6, 2021

      Carlina Rivera’s then-legislative aide, Jeremy Tillunger, attended that CB3 meeting. Do you want to rephrase that post.

  3. JS JS October 6, 2021

    The conditions of the Open Restaurants program are definitely not reasonable. It is outrageous that there is no Environmental Impact Statement for this program because these sheds will totally change the environment of the city as we know it. New York City’s emergency outdoor dining program was meant to help restaurants survive the pandemic. It was never meant to be permanent.

    In my community, which is the East Village, there is an oversaturation of bars and restaurants. As a result, day and night, Open Restaurants has delivered numerous sheds, constant noise, mounds of trash, rats, fire hazards, blocked sidewalks and impassable streets. Fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency services can’t access homes on our narrow neighborhood streets. These problems have been there from the beginning for all to see. Yet, the Mayor and the City Council chose not to look or listen. And agencies, like the Department of Transportation, testified that there was no increase in noise or any other quality of life or safety issues related to open dining sheds. This is demonstrably false!

    The residents in New York City neighborhoods deserve a decent quality of life; consequently, the outdoor dining program should only be a temporary initiative to survive the pandemic and not be a permanent fixture in our communities.

    • laura rubin laura rubin October 7, 2021

      the owners of the restaurant/sheds are paying off the politicans.

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