City Jeered for its Intention to Make Streetside Dining Sheds Permanent

Posted on: July 15th, 2021 at 5:00 am by

The city has begun its controversial campaign to amend zoning laws to make permanent the dining structures that grew out of the so-called Open Restaurants program. First stop was the Lower East Side, where officials were met with a wave of resistance.

Brass from the Department of City Planning and Department of Transportation presented plans to Community Board 3 Tuesday evening to a packed house. Many in the community vehemently oppose the zoning amendment, which effectively redistributes public sidewalk space to private companies, and moves the party to the streets.

During the two-hour presentation, sign-carrying attendees – mostly local residents – hissed at various points and promised to fight what was described as a land grab.

“We have mobs running through our streets from 2:00am to sunrise,” said David Troutman, Hell Square resident and member of the LES Dwellers block association. “This is an incredibly stupid idea for New York City.”

In addition, DOT officials also explained that the emergency stipulations initiated at the outset of the pandemic to help the struggling industry will remain in effect until at least next winter. Doing so allows the city to develop this text amendment.

As previously reported, the proposed text amendment to zoning laws would “remove geographic restrictions on where sidewalk cafes can be located within NYC.” Effectively enabling the proliferation of these shanties in the streetscape. It entered public review on June 21, and the city is embarking on its campaign through each community board.

At the forefront of the hyperlocal fight on the LES is a collection of vociferous block associations – LES Dwellers, Orchard Street Block Association, Chinatown Core, and East 5th Street. The coalition is also part of a larger effort organized around the process, legality, and fairness of the sheds, CueUp, Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy.

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