A court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging New York City’s outdoor dining program, opening the door for the city to finalize pending rules that would make the program permanent.
Restaurants have been waiting since the beginning of the year for further guidance on how to maintain outdoor dining structures — and whether they can have so-called dining sheds that extend their seating areas into the street. Already, the city has taken down dozens of unused or poorly maintained sheds.
Mayor Eric Adams has blamed the litigation against the program for stalling the release of the finalized rules.
A group called Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy (Cue-Up) challenged the city’s program earlier this year. Outdoor dining has been technically on temporary status since it began in the summer of 2020, extended first by former Mayor Bill de Blasio and this year by Mayor Eric Adams as part of the pandemic public health emergency.
Now, however, the city is set to unveil final regulations for making the program permanent.
The unanimous decision from justices in the state supreme court’s appellate division turned on the city’s finding in an environmental review that there was no adverse impact of the program. The justices struck down Cue-Up’s attempt to annul that finding.
Cue-Up did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The city’s transportation department has been working on the outdoor dining rules throughout the year. The City Council also has a bill that would make the program permanent and move it under the jurisdiction of the agency.
Both the agency’s and the council’s rules would likely see the end of “sheds” in the street, replacing them with open air seating areas buffeted by thicker barriers (like the planters already used by some businesses).
In a statement, Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said he welcomed the dismissal.
“This decision paves the way for legislation implementing a permanent standardized outdoor dining program that will support local businesses, employees, and countless others who love dining alfresco,” Rigie said.