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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ferrari

Gothamist Reporting No Apparent Progress Towards Permanent Framework Governing Outdoor Seating

According to the Gothamist, it does not appear that New York City Restaurant owners are any closer to gaining clarity on the future regulation of outdoor dining.

"Council members have been mostly quiet on their plans to make the program permanent. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said on Tuesday the council is 'almost there' on striking a balance between residents' concerns and restaurant owners."

Council members have yet to reach any sort of consensus, however, which would allow for a permanent regulatory scheme, with some having supported the bill introduced by Mayor Adams and others having been

"more scathing in their criticism of outdoor dining. Sandy Nurse, chair of the Sanitation Committee, has said the sheds are "nests for rats" and does not want them to be permanent."

Restaurant owners have largely benefitted by the temporary system allowing for additional seating on the sidewalks and in parking lanes but are disappointed that the city has not enacted some framework governing the rules of construction, location, hours and general limits on operation. Without such a framework the business owners are uncomfortable making any long-term plans. They may hesitate to make a costly decision on construction of a new dining shed, for example, which they might later find has been prohibited by the eventually enacted regulations.

It is reasonable to assume, though, that in order to reach a consensus sufficient to pass legislation through a majority of the Council, there will be some community review in the licensing process. Given the negative reactions to the outdoor structures in some areas of the city (lower Manhattan residents are not happy) one should expect that the eventual legislation will give neighboring residents the power that comes with advice and consent, which will more than likely go through the community board regime.

If you are a restaurant owner in the five boroughs and you would like to discuss what it will take to get through the inevitable community board review to obtain a permanent (whatever that will mean) license to operate an outdoor structure, contact our office. While the rules are not in place yet, we can certainly prepare for what we might expect, based on our experience before the many community boards throughout this city.

With rising food and labor costs, any extra income from outdoor dining is more vital than ever to the continued viability of NYC restaurants. If you have any questions regarding hospitality, the restaurant business or related licensure, contact us, a real estate litigation and transactional firm Farber Schneider Ferrari LLP.


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