City’s Proposal for Permanent Outdoor Dining Begins Public Review Process

At the height of the COVID epidemic in 2020, the City allowed bars and restaurants to utilize outdoor space to accommodate customers who could not safely congregate inside. Several months ago, that order was extended for a year, and now the de Blasio administration is proposing to make it permanent.

We at Village Preservation feel that outdoor dining was an appropriate response to a health emergency limiting indoor gathering, and presents some appealing possibilities for longer-term changes to our cityscape and streets. But the City’s across-the-board, one-size-fits-all approach is wrong, and fails to address real concerns about the impact of noise, smoke, etc. on nearby residents; health, safety and sanitation concerns; pedestrian flow; the privatization of public space (sidewalks); and aesthetics.

We believe the COVID pandemic has opened all of our eyes to new ways of doing things, and think that done right and in the right locations, outdoor dining can create wonderful opportunities for the public and businesses. But the blunt-tool approach the City is taking doesn’t take other necessary considerations into account, and should be rethought.

Here is our letter to City officials about this last fall. We are communicating these concerns to Community Boards 2 and 3, and you can, too. You can learn more about the City’s proposal here. It will have to be voted upon by all five borough presidents and approved by the City Planning Commission and City Council.  

July 15, 2021