Robust public engagement process will evaluate successes and improvements needed for Open Restaurants program; draft guidelines for permanent program out in March 2022
The de Blasio administration announced next steps for the public to participate in the creation of easy-to-use design rules to that will guide the coming citywide permanent Open Restaurants program. This public engagement process is a collaboration between the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of City Planning (DCP). A short guide outlining the coming citywide program is available here.
“The incredible success of outdoor dining shows how we can reimagine our streetscape to better serve our neighborhoods,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We have learned so much about how to make this overwhelmingly popular program even better, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re thrilled to start this robust conversation with the public to craft guidelines that will increase accessibility, safety and address concerns such as noise, hours of operation and sanitation.”
“While helping us to recover from a devastating pandemic, the coming citywide Open Restaurants program is a key to helping us build healthier and safer shared streets, and stronger and vibrant communities. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Fill out the survey and get involved in designing rules that will shape the look and feel of outdoor dining in New York City,” said DCP Director Anita Laremont, who also serves as Chair of the City Planning Commission.
A survey for members of the public is available here. We urge all New Yorkers to consider responding by Dec. 31.
Credited with saving over 100,000 restaurants jobs during the pandemic and increasing the number of restaurants with outdoor dining – from 1,200 in February 2020 to 11,000 now – the emergency Open Restaurants program introduced novel questions about how to best integrate roadway dining setups into the complex environment of New York City streets.
Earlier this week, the City Planning Commission voted to remove inequitable zoning rules that limited al fresco dining to some parts of New York City. In response to public input, the new zoning rules, which must still be approved by the City Council, will not go into effect until the Permanent Open Restaurants program, including all safety and design guidelines, are reviewed by the public and final. Alongside rigorous public input, the permanent program will be guided by coming legislation by the New York City Council.
This citywide public engagement process for the coming design rules for sidewalk and roadway setups aims to promote accessibility, ensure guidelines are clear and enforceable, and address quality-of-life issues such as trash and noise. DCP and DOT intend to release a first report on design of the coming program in March 2022. Read more about the process here. After that, DCP and DOT will begin a second series of public engagement and outreach sessions to develop the final rules. The permanent program is expected to be in place by 2023.
The survey, which is posted on DOT’s website, solicits information from New Yorkers, those in the restaurant business and their neighbors, about what they see as the pros and cons of Open Restaurants, and to share their thoughts on how to improve on the emergency program. Public input via the survey will shape the coming design rules. The deadline for survey responses is Dec. 31.
Five Borough Board Meetings
DCP & DOT will present to each of the five Borough Boards (made up of the Borough Presidents and Community Board chairs in all five boroughs) in December and January. The agencies will share an overview of the permanent Open Restaurants design guidelines process and goals and solicit feedback from the Borough Board members. The public is encouraged to join the meetings, either in person or online. A zoom link will be made available and publicized. The dates are available here.
Virtual Public Roundtables
DOT and DCP will host a series of four virtual roundtables that are open to the public, where any New Yorker can share their thoughts on the permanent Open Restaurants program. The first two roundtables will take place on Jan. 11, 2022, from noon to 1:30 pm and Jan. 12, 2022, from 6 to 7:30 pm.
Virtual Topic-Based Roundtables
Alfresco NYC - RPA, Design Trust, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign in coordination with DOT & DCT will host a series of virtual roundtables to bring together a range of stakeholders from the hospitality industry, design professions, and transit and accessibility advocates, to provide an in-depth look at major issues to be addressed by the permanent program. Details to follow.
This public engagement announcement comes after the City Planning Commission’s vote on Nov. 15 in favor of the Open Restaurants zoning text amendment that aims to remove geographic restrictions on where sidewalk cafes can be located within New York City. The text amendment was modified to only go into effect after the permanent program guidelines are in place. It now moves on to the City Council for a public hearing and vote.