Lawsuit calls for end of New York City's outdoor dining program
Residents filed a lawsuit calling for New York City and the state to do away with outdoor dining.
The city’s Open Restaurants Program has been in place since June 2020, allowing restaurants to take their business outside.
While they've become a lifeline for some restaurant owners, some residents say it's become a quality-of-life issue.
The lawsuit was filed Friday and is made up of 35 residents from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
They say the outdoor dining structures have led to increased noise and traffic congestion, as well as an increase in rodents.
Other concerns include less parking for residents and challenges for disabled people trying to move down the sidewalk.
New York Attorney Michael Sussman is representing the concerned New Yorkers. He says they're calling for an end to the continuous renewal of the temporary program, a program that he also says violates the law.
"The public health emergency has abated and whatever mandates there were are gone. Yet, in New York City, politicians are running an emergency-based program without any legal basis. This lawsuit says there is no emergency, there's no legal predicate or premise to the program, you need to stop,” he says.
However, the New York City Hospitality Alliance praises the program.
“Ending outdoor dining would be devastating for our city's restaurant recovery, New Yorkers' jobs, and it would be a huge loss for the countless people who love dining alfresco,” says Andrew Rigie, of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “The answer is not to end outdoor dining, it's to develop a more standardized and sustainable program as we transition out of the emergency version that was launched during the pandemic."
Mayor Eric Adams said he is a big supporter of outdoor dining but that there should be some modifications that govern how the outdoor structures can be used and how they should be built.
News 12 reached out to the city for further comment on the lawsuit.