NYC Battles Over Future Of Outdoor Dining Sheds

The New York Times reports:

Marking a pivotal transition in a return to normalcy, New York now faces the same question as cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta that are weighing proposals to keep outdoor dining: Which emergency innovations borne of the pandemic should remain as permanent legacies?

In New York, the program has turned into a contentious battle over who should have ownership of streets and sidewalks. A group of residents sued the city last month, detailing 108 pages of complaints about outdoor dining. Neighbors have confronted restaurant owners and flooded 311 with calls.

Opponents say that living on a street with outdoor dining means suffering through noise late into the night, rodent infestations and mounting trash. The structures block sidewalks, bike lanes, emergency vehicles and parking spots, which critics see as an unfair land grab that enriches the hospitality industry at the expense of other small businesses.

Read the full article. The city estimates that the outdoor dining program saved 100,000 jobs. Critics say some restaurant owners are abusing the program and have more than doubled their pre-pandemic seating. The Times notes that the Bronx now has 650 outdoor dining options, versus 30 pre-pandemic.