Metro

City Planning approves permanent outdoor dining in NYC; council vote next

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The City Planning Commission voted Monday to make Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pandemic era outdoor dining permanent.

The commission’s unanimous vote to remove zoning prohibitions against sidewalk cafes sends the question of the program’s permanence for final approval from the city council, which itself initiated the process of codifying post-COVID rules for so-called “open restaurants.”

“The necessity of moving dining outdoors during an emergency gave New York City the rare opportunity to pilot a significant land use change on a citywide scale, and in doing this to recognize the incredible vibrancy outdoor dining can bring,” Planning Commissioner Chair Anita Laremont said during the vote.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office did not immediately comment on when council members plan to vote on the matter.

The al fresco set-ups on sidewalks and curbs have gobbled up 8,550 parking spots, The Post reported earlier this year. In exchange, the city claims to have saved some 100,000 restaurant jobs that would have otherwise not survived the pandemic.

The City Council will vote to give final approval for the program to become permanent.
The City Council will vote to give final approval for the program to become permanent.
Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

At the same time, outdoor eateries face vocal opposition in some neighborhoods, where locals complain of rats and other quality-of-life issues. Some two dozen residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn sued last month to stop the program from being made permanent.

Restaurants have unsurprisingly welcomed the new “str-eateries.”

The outdoor dining setups have reportedly taken away  8,550 parking spots from the city.
The outdoor dining setups have reportedly taken away 8,550 parking spots from the city.
Erin Lefevre/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We applaud the City Planning Commission for voting yes on the zoning text amendment that will create a clean slate for establishing and regulating a permanent Open Restaurants Program,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, in a statement.

“This yes vote is a critically important first step towards developing a sustainable future for this very popular program.”

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