City Planning Commission votes to make Open Restaurants Program permanent
Outdoor dining may soon become a permanent thing across the five boroughs. The City Planning Commission voted in support Monday and it goes to the city council next.
This is just the first step in the process of making outdoor dining permanent. The New York City Hospitality Alliance called it "good news" and said it has saved more than 100,000 industry jobs and countless small businesses from financial collapse.
"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," says Andrew Rigie, of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
So, what comes next? In the coming months, the Department of Transportation says it will finish up the design guidelines by the spring. It will have a community engagement and outreach programs in the summer and fall. Before publishing a final design guide, the Open Restaurants Program could become permanent by late 2022.
This would allow restaurants who are approved through an application process to use the sidewalk adjacent and curbside roadway space in front of their business for outdoor dining.
The DOT says it's all due to the success of the emergency Open Restaurants Program that was put in place during COVID-19 so that restaurants could survive. But there has been opposition, especially in neighborhoods where outdoor dining setups have caused narrower streets and sidewalks neighborhoods already dealing with a shortage of space.