The New York City Council has approved a bill making outdoor dining a permanent feature in the city with a few limitations.
Per the decision, eateries will be allowed to maintain their temporary pandemic-era outdoor dining facilities on the condition that they are disassembled by November 30 each year and re-established after March 31 of next year. Furthermore, the city will permit year-round sidewalk dining with the appropriate licensing permit.
Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the bill’s approval, affirming that “outdoor dining is here to stay.”
The decision, approved by a vote of 34-11, comes after months of deliberation between Adams and the City Council. While Adams backed the extension of outdoor dining, opposition groups, including local neighborhood associations, were critical due to the loss of street parking and the potential eyesore caused by the dining structures.
The mayor said, “The temporary program saved 100,000 jobs, kept restaurants afloat during the peak of the pandemic, and brought new energy and excitement to our streets and sidewalks.”
He added, “But it wasn’t perfect — too many sheds were abandoned and left to rot and too few lived up to our vision of what our streets should look like.”
Adams conveyed that the bill maintains the positive elements of the interim program while doing away with its drawbacks. It pledges to establish a lively, neat, and secure urban environment.
The legislation provides restaurants with the necessary understanding to persist in catering to their patrons, with the ultimate goal of positioning New York City as the premier destination for outdoor dining worldwide.
Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez supported the bill and aimed to reduce licensing fees, speed up the approval process for permits, and make the opportunity available across all the city’s five boroughs.
The Department of Transportation is expected to provide design guidelines for roadside structures as per the legislation.
The bill, as outlined by Speaker Adrienne Adams, ensures a balance for local businesses, communities, and residents alike. It allows a broader range of restaurants to continue offering outdoor dining, simplifies the bureaucratic processes, and establishes a permanent program that will benefit neighborhoods, food establishments, residents, and the city for the foreseeable future. The mayor’s official signing date for the bill into law is yet to be determined.