Dining Sheds Must Come Down in 2024
DOT is Mulling New Regs for Return in Spring
By Village View Staff
Under a law passed earlier this year, all outdoor dining sheds have to be taken down by October 31, 2024. And what they will look like when they are allowed to be re-erected the following spring is the topic that will be decided by new Department of Transportation regulations. The DOT released its final proposals on Oct. 19, giving the public a 30-day window to comment that ends with a zoom hearing on November 30.
Curbed reports “…if it has already been approved, it stays for a while. Outdoor dining structures that are already up and compliant with the rules can stay through the end of November 2024, and then they, too, have to be dismantled. The bill generally seems to have been designed with a deep grace period before it takes effect, to help businesses adjust.”
Among the most striking aspect of the new proposals: no more enclosed four wall dining areas. The new look must be “open air” and wheelchair accessible.
The outdoor dining that was originally an emergency allowance to help save the restaurant and bar businesses in the worst days of COVID-19 was officially codified into law by Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year. But in a compromise with many local activists who had opposed the outdoor dining, the sheds were only permitted from April 1 to Oct. 31 in all the boroughs, with a few meticulous requirements.
Under the new rules, they clearly state how far apart outdoor dining is permitted to be set up in relation to subway entrances, fire hydrants, traffic signals, mailboxes, etc. Sidewalk cafes must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by being accessible to individuals with a physical disability, which means that they must have wheelchair ramps.
While owners can still have creative liberty to create a unique space, they are limited on the types of material that can be used. Furniture must be lightweight and easily moveable to promote an overall sense of openness. Critics said the closed in sheds in the past had attracted rodents and other varmints. The license fee will be a hefty one, a non-refundable $1,050 but it will be valid for four years.
DOT is expecting to finalize the rules of the program by the end of 2023 which will then be followed by an online application period where restaurants can apply for Dining Out NYC permits. How many actually return is an open debate. The first approved setups are expected to hit the streets of New York in the spring of 2024, when the sheds are either built or remodeled for the spring and summer months.
“Getting input from business owners and community members was essential to shaping this landmark legislation. We understood from the start that this historic piece of legislation would require a collaborative approach,” said New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Chair of the City Council Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection.
The set of requirements are extensive—29 pages worth.
In a statement Mayor Adams said, “Outdoor dining saved 100,000 jobs in New York City during the pandemic and gave the five boroughs something New Yorkers had been craving for a long time, and now, thanks to this program, it is here to stay.” Adams went on to say, “This public engagement period will allow us to refine the recipe and deliver a delicious final product.”