How to eat outdoors: The future of on-the-street dining in NYC – New York Daily News

When we saw Mayor Adams swing a sledgehammer at an abandoned dining shed in Midtown Thursday, we wished we’d been holding the tool ourselves. Graffiti-covered, ramshackle structures that are no longer in use are a blight on New York’s neighborhoods that should not stand. Adams is right to invite New Yorkers to report them when they see them so that the authorities can haul them away. (No, don’t do it yourself.)
What he’s also right to do is restate New York City’s commitment to continuing but improving outdoor dining, a COVID-era innovation that has overall been a boon both to hard-hit restaurants and the city’s street life. Unfortunately, the thrown-together emergency program is what we’ll be stuck with for the indefinite future, thanks to a lawsuit that won an injunction on a new program.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams takes a sledgehammer to abandoned outdoor dining shed in Manhattan, New York on Thursday, Aug 18, 2022. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
The future of eating outside has sometimes been reduced to a yes or no proposition, wherein supporters say the sheds are sacrosanct, and opponents say they’re obnoxious eyesores that frustrate street-cleaning, bring noise, drug use and invite rats to join the party.
That’s ridiculous. The greatest city in the world, with the best restaurants and street life anywhere, can and should continue to let people dine al fresco when the weather is nice — without perpetuating a chaotic free-for-all that chips away at people’s quality of life.
We need clear standards for all structures to ensure they’re safe, movable in an emergency, reasonably attractive and totally accessible to disabled people — and not fully enclosed, because that defeats the original purpose, which was to frustrate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other airborne bugs.
Restaurants should pay a modest fee to the city for the use of the space. This is precious public public land that could be used in a variety of ways by cars, bikes, businesses or people.
Last, based on community demand, government could allow outdoor dining in some swaths of New York but not others.
The time has come for a new and improved program. If only the city had the legal go-ahead to place the order.
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News

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