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A lawsuit challenging New York’s expanded outdoor dining has been dismissed in court. This decision paves the way for New York to move ahead with plans to make the COVID-era program permanent, which the New York City Council first voted to do in 2020. After a bill was introduced to the City Council in February, the lawsuit was filed by the Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy, a group describing itself as “an alliance of neighborhood and block associations, organizations, institutions, businesses, and residents.”
Started as a way to help restaurants at a time when indoor dining was barred, Open Restaurants has been celebrated by many but has been contentious among others. Downtown NIMBYs and other members of the anti-outdoor-dining caucus have railed against the program — complaining variously about noise, drunk bros, and parking — and showed up in February to rail against streeteries during a City Council hearing that lasted almost nine hours.
Should the City Council bill be passed, regulation of outdoor dining will be moved to the Department of Transportation. While streeteries will survive, one artifact of COVID life won’t: the outdoor-dining shed.