Since eating indoors was still a major risk of contagion for months on end last year, City Council and Mayor de Blasio addressed the existential threat the virus had on the dining and drinking industry and started the Open Restaurants initiative which lifted restrictions and eased regulations for restaurants to build sheds on the street curbs so patrons can come back and dine again outside of their establishments. Despite usurping parking spaces from residents, these businesses were able to recoup some losses and were able to make money again. The city also integrated this program with the Open Streets initiative to “re-imagine” public streets initially centered on cycling and pedestrian commuting by evolving them to plazas with the intent to foster community activity and keeping vehicular traffic out (both initiatives annoyingly prodded by bike zealot/car abolitionist lobby Transportation Alternatives). With the sheds on the asphalt, restaurants were able to extend their businesses by placing tables on the street, enabling to serve more customers. At the time it was logical and necessary.
Even though this was enacted for emergency purposes to keep businesses thriving in a still near dead city (with more prodding from agent of the city TransAlt weaponizing this program to banish cars) the City Council Cronies and The Blaz decided to make restaurant outdoor sheds permanent, which was buoyed by a bill written by the State Senate and signed by Mario’s Son Governor Cuomo. Now even though restaurants are under the regulatory purview of the Department of Health, the Blaz left the responsibility of monitoring the street sheds under the Department Of Buildings. If this isn’t bizarre enough, the Department of Transportation seems are wholly left out of this even though the streets are officially under their purview. And as expected with the Blaz and the Council Cronies, they conjure these laws without considering the ramifications of them as some restaurants and even non-food related establishments opportunistically took advantage of the bureaucratic fugazi of NYC’s Open Restaurants and Streets policy.