Mayor Adams and the City Council have reached an agreement on a bill pertaining to outdoor dining in NYC

On Thursday, Mayor Adams’ administration and the City Council reached a consensus on a bill that addresses the issue of outdoor dining in New York City. The agreement aims to allow year-round outdoor dining while implementing certain restrictions on the controversial pandemic-style street eating.

According to the terms of the agreement, which were the result of lengthy negotiations, sidewalk dining would be permitted throughout the year, while dining on city roads would be allowed only during the spring and fall seasons, totaling eight months annually.

During the winter months, it would be prohibited to have permanent dining structures occupying street space.

In a statement, Mayor Adams acknowledged the positive impact of the city’s outdoor dining program during the COVID-19 era, which helped save 100,000 jobs and supported numerous restaurants. However, he also highlighted the issue of abandoned sheds on the streets that have become breeding grounds for rats and unsightly sights.

“With this bill,” the mayor added, “we will create a permanent, year-round outdoor dining program that will support our small businesses, create jobs for New Yorkers, and keep our streets and communities vibrant.”

Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez, a Bronx Democrat and the primary sponsor of the bill, stated that the agreement was reached after engaging in discussions with customers, business owners, and city agencies.

Velazquez emphasized that the new agreement would establish an outdoor dining system that continues to benefit “our restaurants, residents, and visitors,” as stated in her official statement.

Under the proposed program, the Department of Transportation would be responsible for enforcement and licensing, which was a point of contention during the negotiations regarding the oversight authority.

According to the Council, restaurants would be required to pay reduced fees compared to the pre-COVID period for the privilege of offering outdoor dining.

During the pandemic, the scope of the city’s outdoor dining program expanded significantly beyond Manhattan. The Council reported that around 12,000 restaurants currently participate in the program, a substantial increase from the approximately 1,000 participants before COVID.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, an organization representing restaurants, swiftly applauded the proposed future framework.

“We’re thrilled,” Andrew Rigie, the group’s executive director, and Rob Bookman, its counsel, said in a joint statement. “New Yorkers should go out and celebrate with a meal at an outdoor café!”

If the legislation is approved, the next step is a rulemaking process to determine what kind of structures would be allowed — another possible source of contention.