Adams: Outdoor dining to stay 'in some form,' but 'COVID cabins' need 'real standards'

Dining sheds in Greenwich Village on Feb. 7, 2023
Dining sheds in Greenwich Village on Feb. 7, 2023. Photo credit Richard B. Levine

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- New York City plans to have outdoor dining in “some form” going forward but aims to have a “real standard” and regulations for the ubiquitous sidewalk sheds, Mayor Eric Adams told 1010 WINS on Monday.

In recent months, the Department of Transportation and its sister agencies removed 238 dining sheds from city streets, according to sources, who said the dismantled structures either were abandoned or had egregious violation histories.

The City Council has been trying to better regulate the sheds, which popped up by the hundreds on sidewalks and streets across the five boroughs during the pandemic.

While the sheds were vital to the restaurant industry’s recovery, critics have said they’re eyesores that have overstayed their purpose. They say the structures have attracted trash and rats and made foot and car traffic worse.

In his State of the City address in January, Adams referred to them as “COVID cabins” and said it was time to “replace them with something better.”

Speaking with 1010 WINS on Monday, Adams said it’s time to rethink outdoor dining since the sheds were supposed to be temporary.

“Remember they were put up during an emergency,” the mayor said. “And hats off to the de Blasio team for understanding that we had to throw a life raft to the restaurant industry, because not only does it impact our tourism, but also many low-wage employees actually had to keep working during that time. But now we’ve cycled out of the emergency of COVID, we need to do an evaluation.”

Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez is pushing a stalled bill in the City Council to rework the outdoor dining program. Councilmembers are said to be hashing out the specifics, including if the structures will be seasonal or if they’ll be up year-round but subject to more standardized designs.

“We’re going to look over, analyze it,” Adams said of the legislation. “We believe some form of outdoor dining is going to be here in the city, and we want to make sure we get it right this time.”

“We should have a real standard,” the mayor continued. “We should have, in my belief, one or three models of different ways it should look. We shouldn’t have those areas that really cause rats to come and fester—the trash, the dirt. We want to make sure the city is clean. And we want to be the cleanest big city in America, and you can’t do so if you have an unregulated industry of outdoor dining sheds.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Richard B. Levine/Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire