Several city lawmakers call for end of NYC outdoor dining structures

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — While so-called “streeteries” were a lifeline for New York restaurants on the brink of extinction during the pandemic, what they have become over the length of the city’s comeback is something very different.

Opponents decry the state of many of the temporary structures, saying they are a haven for breeding rats and a shelter for the homeless to sleep in.

Before they become a permanent fixture, a vocal group of city lawmakers and neighborhood advocates say the program needs to end rather than be extended.

About 12,000 dining sheets are currently lining city streets and sidewalks and are allowed to stay until the end of 2022.

But should outdoor dining be renewed? It’s the question posed to the city planning commission.

City lawmakers and those who oppose the structures rallied Wednesday to demand greater oversight.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick of District 66 said sheds only sever a few people who can afford to dine in them and the good for the greater numbers of New Yorkers needs to be considered.

An earlier meeting about making dining sheds permanent got a lot of attendance. However, opponents then said they soak up parking and open space on sidewalks and are a safety concern because cars and trucks could hit them with diners inside.

Some outdoor spaces have been abandoned at restaurants closed for good. 

More than 100 complaints are coming to the city to dismantle those left behind. 

Supporters said they’ve been a lifeline to 100,000 restaurant workers who depend on the extra seating to keep them employed. 

Jackie Manley of the West Village weighed in. 

“I think going back to the old way is a mistake because a lot of restaurant workers were out of a job. But they could definitely use more regulations,” she said.  

“I think the restaurants could probably do a better job securing them at night so people can’t sleep in them,” another resident said.

A City Council survey of 418 downtown Manhattan restaurants released in August found that 93% of eateries were not complying with at least one Department of Transportation guideline, including blocked fire hydrants, barriers that extended too far into the street and setups on streets that were too narrow.

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