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Shed foes call for end to roadway use, urge ‘equitable’ plan in ‘Community Blueprint for Outdoor Dining’

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | As the City Council works obscurely behind closed doors on a plan to make outdoor dining permanent, community residents have publicly unveiled their own plan. The ad hoc group CUEUP (Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy) — a.k.a. the anti-shedders — has released a “Community Blueprint for Outdoor Dining.”

Word has it that the Council is poised to vote in April on a bill, Intro. No. 31-A, to lock in Open Restaurants for the future.

CUEUP is comprised of block associations from some of the city’s most nightlife-saturated areas, including Greenwich Village, the East Village, Lower East Side, Chelsea, Chinatown, Williamsburg, Bushwick and Sunnyside.

Decrying Open Restaurants as “Mayor Adams’s broken plan” and “top-down, lobbyist-driven restaurant legislation,” the block association members are pitching their own alternative, calling it “neighborhood friendly.”

The coalition’s 10-point blueprint calls for a complete end to roadway dining — plus implementation of a seasonal program with reduced hours of operation to ensure quiet in residential areas.

Ending roadway dining, CUEUP argues, would “enhance street cleaning, reduce emergency vehicle response times and reduce rat infestations.”

“End roadbed dining now,” the manifesto declares. “Take down the sheds, remove the decks.” The position paper notes that Sanitation street sweepers haven’t cleaned underneath the shed platforms in the restaurant-filled streets for two years now.

“Sunset all roadway sheds now,” the blueprint urges, “then roll out citywide street cleaning and rat abatement programs.”

Some standing water and unidentified sludge spotted on a walking tour of Greenwich Village restaurant sheds with local councilmembers in March 2022. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The group is calling for a 50 percent reduction in the amount of outdoor dining — cutting the number down to 5,900 sidewalk cafes. Pre-pandemic there were around 1,200 sidewalk cafes citywide. Now, after the implementation of the pandemic emergency outdoor dining plan, there are more than 10 times that amount.

CUEUP stresses that any permanent outdoor dining plan must be equitable — as in, proportionate to different neighborhoods’ levels of bar and restaurant saturation.

“Some neighborhoods have just a few outdoor dining setups,” their blueprint says, “while others — Williamsburg, Astoria, the Village and the Lower East Side — are saturated beyond endurance. To avoid saturation in residential areas, ensure one block has no more than one or two licenses. Limit the number of cafe licenses in each community board to 100, or the number pre-pandemic, whichever is greater. This creates 5,900-plus outdoor dining sites — 5 times the pre-pandemic number of sidewalk cafes — and gives restaurants new incentives to open in the outer boroughs.”

On noise, the coalition states, “To respect the rights of New York residents to the quiet use of their homes, closing times for outdoor dining spaces in residential and mixed-use neighborhoods should be the later of 6 p.m. or sunset.”

In addition, citing the global climate crisis, CUEUP says there should be no heating or cooling of outdoor dining spaces and that the program should only be seasonal, which would not require such fossil-fuel-burning measures.

“New York City declared a climate emergency!” the coalition notes. “So has France, where they’ve banned all outdoor heaters because of the effect on the climate. We must take climate change seriously and do the same. Seasonal open-air dining makes sense. Heating and cooling the outdoors does not.”

The proposal also calls for community board input on outdoor dining sites, noting that the City Council’s bill reportedly would reduce the local boards’ oversight. Community boards should be given 45 days to review applications and consider neighborhood input, according to CUEUP.

Restaurants should also pay a sliding-scale fee for outdoor dining, the activists say, noting that this fee should be based on “fair market value” — meaning significantly more expensive in Manhattan than versus the rest of the city.

Pedestrian right of way also must be restored, the CUEUP blueprint says: Pedestrians and wheelchair users must be ensured at least an 8-foot-wide sidewalk space or 50 percent of the sidewalk, whichever is greater.

In addition, CUEUP wants the Department of Transportation booted from oversight of outdoor dining — decrying its “failed management” of the program — to be replaced by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, which formerly ran the sidewalk cafe program.

Furthermore, not only restaurants and bars should be given use of coveted outdoor space, the coalition argues.

“Give public space back to the public,” the manifesto states. “Don’t let restaurants cut to the front of the line for curbside and sidewalk use.”

CUEUP suggests that other “genuine, noncommercial uses” also be considered for this outdoor space, such as loading zones, which are used by businesses and residents alike, bike parking “for non-rental bikes,” forward-thinking trash-removal techniques and residential and visitor parking permits.

“And while we’re at,” the blueprint offers, “let’s add more trees. Our streets can use the shade and beauty of more trees.”


  1. lisa lisa March 28, 2023

    Incredible that the self-professed “progressives” of the City Council have been and are continuing to determine major land-use behind closed doors and with business lobbyists the Hospitality Alliance — just like the GOP would.

  2. nhu876 nhu876 March 27, 2023

    The restaurant shed fiasco is all part of the city’s war on cars. I know most Manhattanites don’t drive, but many Manhattan restaurant patrons do drive into the Village from the outer boros and from outside NYC. TransAlt elitists have taken over the NYC Dept. of Transportation. That’s what this is all about in Manhattan and the rest of the city.

    FYI, NYC vehicle registrations:

    Boro | Vehicles | % of NYC Total
    BX | 294,069 | 13.12%
    BK | 557,131 | 24.86%
    MN | 256,630 | 11.45%
    QN | 847,495 | 37.81%
    SI | 286,096 | 12.76%
    (Outer Boros only | 1,984,791 | 88.55%)
    NYC TOT | 2,241,421 | 100.0%

    NYC vehicle stats (pdf) –

  3. Lia Lia March 27, 2023

    Our family gave quite a lot in GoFundMe to help support local restaurants during the Covid lockdown,

    The shacks are horrible.
    If the shacks remain, we deserve our money back!

  4. JAT JAT March 27, 2023

    Unbelievable that bicycle lobby and “progressive” City Council is pushing for the restaurant sheds – because actually they just further gentrification, especially in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

    Go to Williamsburg or Astoria or anywhere – the vast majority of diners are people (especially under 40) with money who can eat and drink and hang out.

    The restaurant sheds turn neighborhoods that were real and authentic into playgrounds for the young upscale.

    What Bloomberg wanted and continued by de Blasio and now Adams.

  5. Leif Leif March 26, 2023

    Why in the world would we entrust restaurant owner investment groups & paid lobbyists with control over our public space, public access, city agencies, as being more more important than the rights & consent of people & communities where they live? Unbelievable. The pandemic is over. There are way more important problems in this world than hospitality industry profits. One of them is climate change, & the other is social democracy! Get over it! Get rid of the sheds already & start again!

  6. Greenwich Village Geezer Greenwich Village Geezer March 25, 2023

    Hooray for this group! Signed! City should be immediately removing sheds prior to having a conversation about seasonal outdoor dining. No one would ever agree that these hideous and disgusting Home Depot “homes” would ever be approved for use going forward, anyway. Someone just needs to drive down the road with a da&n snowplow at 3 am and put most of these shanties out of their misery.

    The sheds’ mere continued existence perfectly demonstrates the complete ineptitude of NYC political leadership. And I am a Democrat! For the love of God, no one of sane mind wants these shanties still up, nor do we want the modified muffler cars (most of which obscure their license plate), or the Harley Davidson motorcycles or the newly arrived loud-a** delivery mopeds that terrorize our city all day and night. This isn’t hard, we just need to revert back to pre-pandemic policies and enforcement. I swear, Adams is tracking to be worse than Warren Wilhelm De Blahhhsio. Incompetence everywhere.

    Why is it so hard for politicians to be adults and just say no?

  7. BrooklynSandy BrooklynSandy March 24, 2023

    Beyond quality of life, noise & other health harms, aesthetic eyesores from the extended “emergency” taking of public streets and sidewalks, there is also a matter of unequal privilege given to the restaurant industry. On the basis of enabling “secure jobs” for those who are, in reality, underpaid workers — the “job creators” rationale falls flat!
    One might argue: What about those employees in other retail businesses? Shall all retailers put out their wares on the sidewalks and streets and hawk their own product on an equal/equitable playing field? Anything goes? What about them? And finally — more questions: Who is it really who “likes them”? Which “community” should be the respected voice listened to who live it day into night — impacted 24/7? Why do slanted & manipulated so-called “surveys” preempt actual resident deference? Why should one industry’s lobbying group — namely the Hospitality Alliance — be given inner sanctum face time with the City Council, when actual residents have been shut out of engagement with the City Council and the Speaker? The bandied-about word “equity” — the moralizing word de jour by the City Council and the Mayor — continues to be shamelessly flouted. Open Restaurants serves up more than food — it serves up hypocrisy.

  8. Sam Sam March 24, 2023

    Please – Get rid of the restaurant shacks!
    One thing to do during the Covid emergency, but now they need to go.

    Garbage, rats, blocking buildings and stores, shantytown blocks, wait staff going back and forth on the sidewalk….

    BTW there is a limit to how many restaurants can exist anywhere – they start cannibalizing each other. Not everything should be a restaurant.

  9. LindaJ. LindaJ. March 24, 2023

    ALL street sheds and decks should be bulldozed immediately. They’re GROSS! Then the streets should be powerwashed and disinfected!

  10. jackDog jackDog March 24, 2023

    The visionaries have done a flip-flop. From advocating bike riding as the be-all-end-all solution to climate change to pushing what amounts to filth-and-vermin-generating, public-space-hogging, health-jeopardizing, favela-style squalor.

    Schizophrenia-style advocacy, no?

    • Mari Mari March 24, 2023

      Are you talking about this group, or are you talking about TransAlt?

      • JAT JAT March 27, 2023

        Sounds like TransAlt to me

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