Legislation to make outdoor dining permanent still has not passed. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Today, the city’s emergency order allowing outdoor dining sheds is set to expire, and there’s been little movement in the push toward making them permanent. So, are streeteries now illegal? No. Mayor Eric Adams’s office plans to renew the order, given there is still no permanent program in place. The City Council’s legislation remains in purgatory, despite some signs of life a couple months ago. That may — or may not? — change soon. A rep for City Council says the in-limbo outdoor-dining bill will (finally) be voted on sometime in the “next several weeks” now that an environmental review is completed.
Of course, this was all supposed to have been resolved long ago. Legislation to make the Open Restaurants program permanent was introduced in February 2022, but then six months passed, and then a year, and then in May, it was reported City Council and Mayor Adams had reached an agreement. Advocates such as the NYC Hospitality Alliance’s Andrew Rigie celebrated the news: Expanded outdoor dining would be permanent, with some changes. Streetery season will run from April through November, and there will be a licensing program for those structures. Adams was supportive of the legislation when speaking with the Times, saying it will “create jobs” and “keep our streets and communities vibrant,”but also noting the “hundreds of abandoned sheds on our streets that have become havens for rats and eyesores.”
The COVID dining sheds that dotted streets are now much rarer, many torn down for lack of use or, in some cases, sanitary issues like rats. Very occasional reports still come in of the city tearing down sheds deemed in violation of rules. Some loved Open Restaurants, others bemoaned it as a takeover of public space and parking spots by private businesses. Maybe before the end of the summer, its legislative fate will at least be settled. But for now, at least they can remain!