The City Planning Commission unanimously supports the idea of making what was once a temporary fix –– aiding thousands of restaurants and their employees amidst a pandemic –– into a mainstay on the streets of New York.
The City Council will take up the issue next, but a closer look should be taken at what it would mean to make these outdoor structures here to stay.
In addition to its role in employing restaurant workers, most of the outdoor structures have been creatively built, adding a unique aesthetic to nearly every block.
And while their use might decline during the coming winter months, that time should also be spent coming up with a refined plan regarding the lack of accessibility when maneuvering through some of the corridors of Queens and Brooklyn.
Should the City Council approve the plan, owners of the outdoor structures will likely see a rehaul of the rules as it pertains to outdoor dining in non-emergency situations. It will be an alphabet soup when it comes to how many city agencies will be involved in the design and foundation of the permanent program.
A timeline laid out by the Department of Transportation says that an application process to become an Open Restaurant could come in Winter 2022. If the structures become permanent, a six-month outreach program will be held beforehand.
Numbers wise, Brooklyn (2,931) edges out Queens (2,405) with the number of current Open Restaurants, according to the city’s self-certifying database. Manhattan alone has nearly 6,000 of them.
A DOT survey is seeking opinions and feedback on the program and is also taking into account the survey taker’s zip code. Every New Yorker should have their opinion heard, and the city needs to take into account local input before it moves forward.