Who Should Manage New York’s Outdoor Dining Program?

A proposal to shift responsibility away from the Department of Transportation has met staunch resistance from industry groups and advocates of the program.

2 minute read

October 24, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Writing in Streetsblog NYC, Kevin Duggan reports on the uncertain future of New York City’s outdoor dining program, which has been administered by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) since its inception in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, the program became ten times bigger than a prior sidewalk dining program managed by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) and, according to some, propped up the industry during the pandemic.

The 0.3-percent reduction in private car storage for Open Restaurants saved some 100,000 jobs during the coronavirus crisis, city officials estimate, and it is still driving Gotham’s slow comeback by helping restaurants make up for pandemic losses, according to the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, which represents tens of thousands of restaurants.

A bill proposed in February would shift management of the program to the DCWP and bar restaurants from erecting outdoor dining structures in the winter months, “a non-starter, restaurateurs previously told Streetsblog because of the cost to build, dismantle and store sheds every year simply because of a winter ban.” Duggan notes that Streetsblog and restaurant industry groups have unsuccessfully tried to get answers from the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez (D–Bronx).

Opponents of the proposal say it would “essentially kill” the outdoor dining program, and that “The $1.4-billion DOT is far better equipped to handle the mammoth initiative than the $70-million DCWP.” Restaurant owners say DOT has been a more collaborative partner, with one owner saying, “I think that [DOT] have their priorities right,” unlike DCWP, who are perceived as “punishers” rather than partners.

Thursday, October 20, 2022 in StreetsBlog NYC

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Digital drawing of person holding city skyline with wifi symbols and lines indicating smart cities or data.

Cities Awarded for Data-Driven Projects

The What Cities Works Certification recognizes cities for using data to solve real problems.

June 21 - Smart Cities Dive

The Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, California.

Faith-Based Housing Movement Grows

More churches and municipalities are saying ‘Yes in God’s Backyard.’

June 21 - Vox

Close-up of red and white BUS LANE sign painted in street lane.

Why BRT Can Benefit Cities More Than Rail

Bus rapid transit lines offer a less expensive, quicker-build alternative to rail that can bring other infrastructure improvements with it.

June 21 - Governing

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.