Landmarks Preservation Commission Proposes Rules for Outdoor Dining Structures in Landmarked Areas

The City’s renderings of prototypes of allowable outdoor dining structures for sidewalks (l.) and roadbeds (r.).

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has proposed new rules to govern permitting outdoor dining on sidewalks and in roadbeds in historic districts and adjacent to landmarked buildings. Last year, the City approved permanent rules for expanded outdoor dining in New York City, but added new restrictions as compared to the temporary program that has been in place since the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the times of year structures can remain out and the size, design, materiality, and placement of dining structures, and adding new requirements regarding maintenance, safety, and health, as well as imposing fees for permits. Those rules go into effect in March.

The LPC is proposing its own additional rules to govern those structures in historic districts and landmarked lots that would extend beyond those requirements of the general rules. The main additional restriction the LPC is requiring is that in cases where dining structures would attach to landmarked buildings, the means of attachment must receive LPC review. The LPC would not require any additional review for structures or setups that otherwise conform to the city’s general rules for outdoor dining, which are illustrated and described here for sidewalk cafes, and here for roadbed structures.

While the new citywide rules are much more restrictive than the current allowances for outdoor dining (and what we frequently see on streets today), we are concerned about several elements of the proposed rules and their suitability for historic districts and landmarked sites. These include: the need for robust and meaningful enforcement to ensure that the rules are actually followed, given the profound current problems in this regard for dining and many other structures; greater clarity around requirements intended to ensure that roadbed dining structures remain largely transparent and don’t block views of landmarked structures; and the lack of regulation regarding color and surface design of allowable structures. See our comments submitted to the LPC here.

The LPC will be holding a hearing on the proposed rules on Tuesday, March 19 at 9:30 am, which the public can attend and at which it can speak, in person or virtually (click here for information on attending or testifying). Written comments on the proposed rules can be submitted until Tuesday, March 19 at 9:30 am. 


February 27, 2024