WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — A group of West Village neighbors is calling on New York City officials to do away with outdoor dining structures, pointing out four that are squeezed into one block of West 4th Street near Bank Street.
“In broad daylight, you’ll look outside, see rats running under the sheds,” said resident Natalia Petrzela. “It’s pretty awful.”
“People waiting for tables [are] just hanging out on our doorsteps, on our front stoops,” said neighbor Joseph Gabis.
“If you want transportation, if you want services of the FDNY, we’re blocked,” said neighbor Julius Boda. “We’re blocked all this way.”
The group CUEUP is proposing a future without dining sheds or any dining in the streets. “That was just a COVID measure,” said Stu Waldman, one of the leaders of CUEUP. The coalition represents 30 neighborhood groups in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan that want environmentally friendly outdoor dining, without structures that limit public space and require heating and cooling.
“If it’s just sidewalk cafes, that’s what’s been here forever, and we have no objection to that,” said Waldman.
The New York City Council and mayor’s office are working to create a permanent Open Restaurants program, using sidewalk and roadway space. A City Council spokesperson told PIX11 News:
“The Council continues to work on a bill that creates a permanent outdoor dining program for the city that strikes the right balance for our restaurants, neighborhoods and all New Yorkers. Discussions with the Administration and all stakeholders are ongoing, and no bill has been finalized yet.”
Sources within the City Council told PIX11 News that a seasonal program is under consideration. It would charge restaurants for the use of space and require a community review process for applications. Final legislation is expected in the spring.