Lower Manhattan poles hope to set limits with Open Restaurants program

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The Planning Department on Tuesday began the public review process for a text amendment to establish an open restaurant registration system, and Lower Manhattan officials on Wednesday morning voiced opposition.

Elected officials led by MP Deborah Glick and community council leaders want tighter limits on open restaurants which speakers say make neighborhoods less livable in the declining pandemic, especially as sections of Lower Manhattan saw the most applications for the program.

“This is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, for a single industry – albeit a very powerful one – and it will create permanent quality of life problems in our dense residential neighborhoods,” said Jeannine Kiely, president of the Manhattan Community Board 2. “There are no geographic bans and this will create huge quality of life issues… It will also open windows and facades for non-compliant industries in residential areas. It creates noise and prevents people from sleeping and living above bars and restaurants. “

The amendment to the zoning text will remove the restrictions on the location of a sidewalk café once the health emergency has been declared over. The Department of Consumer and Workforce Protection (DCWP) will also be removed from oversight of the program, requiring legislative changes in city council.

Open Restaurants has helped save thousands of small businesses from closure, it’s credited with saving 100,000 industry jobs and providing New Yorkers the ability to safely socialize while dining al fresco around of a good meal during the COVID-19 crisis, “said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “Now that the city is moving from the temporary emergency exterior restoration program to permanent pavement seating, we welcome and look forward to working with the Ministry of Urban Planning, the Ministry of Transportation and community stakeholders in as part of a thoughtful public engagement process to develop the Open Restaurant Program that is standardized, sustainable and transformative for our city’s streetscape, neighborhoods, economy and food culture.

According to the DCP, siting rules, a pricing structure and an application review process for a brand new on-road catering program will also need to be developed by a working group.

“Good design is one of the most important elements of our upcoming Open Restaurants program – for our health and safety, and for our enjoyment of the public realm of New York City. To get it right, we need the input of the public – you. So please get involved and let’s make the Open Restaurants program even better, ”DCP Director Anita Laremont said in a statement on Monday.

Protesters on Wednesday claimed that although the city’s DCP and the city’s transport ministry had scheduled virtual and in-person roundtables, there should never have been a motion within town planning in the first place without asking. advice from community leaders.

“The mixed-use neighborhoods where people live directly above these places, they’ve been overloaded with crowded sidewalks, excessive garbage, an explosion of rats, an inability to be easily delivered or even picked up. a taxi near their home, ”Glick said. “We believe that to sit in the public space for an industry for commercial use, which can only be enjoyed by those who can afford to use it and without any review or input from the community is simply wrong.”

Before the text change can be fully implemented, it must be passed by the city council and a set of rules must also be established by the agencies through the City Administrative Procedure Act, or CAPA. In the city council, the text amendment has the support of city councilor Ydanis Rodriguez who chairs the transport committee, as well as Keith Powers and Antonio Reynoso.

“They had a lot of time during the pandemic, they could have held [the roundtables] virtually. Where have the roundtables been for the past 18 months, ”Glick said.

The task force will be made up of representatives from 12 municipal agencies who will work to create safe interactions between diners, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, according to DCP.

The awareness process will be carried out with the help of the Regional Plan Association, the Design Trust for Public Space and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

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