The Queens Borough Board voted Monday night against the city’s plan to permanently expand outdoor dining throughout the five boroughs.
With 13 voting against and 6 voting in favor, the City Councilmembers and Community Board chairpersons on the borough’s advisory board overwhelmingly said the city’s plan to permanently allow sidewalk cafes wasn’t fleshed out enough to get their OK.
The board, which issues advisory opinions, said that it wasn’t keen on voting to allow the Department of City Planning and the Department of Transportation to implement the program before the details of the program have been codified.
“We appreciate what the text amendment is trying to do, pretty much we could agree with it, our issue really revolves around the fact that the text amendment is coming fist, before we have a fleshed out program from DOT,” said Betty Bratton, the chair of Community Board 10. We’re opening the door to do something before we have an understanding of what we're going to do.”
“We don’t need to give permission for something to happen, before we know what the permission is going to allow,” Bratton added. “Otherwise...we’re buying a pig in a poke.”
The city has been shopping around its text amendment to community boards for several months.
Citywide, 20 boards voted in favor of the text amendment, 23 against, one had no objections and one board, Queens Community Board 14, waived their right to vote.
The amendment would essentially remove geographic restrictions on sidewalk cafes. Currently, sidewalk cafes are only allowed in a few parts of the city.
The expansion would apply to most commercial corridors in Queens and throughout New York City, but how the program would work – barring the fact that DOT would enforce it – has yet to be written.
Community Board 13 voted in favor of the amendment but at Monday’s Borough Board meeting, board chair Bryan Block said his members still have worries.
“We had serious concerns..about enforcement by DOT,” Block said. “We don’t want to stop restaurants...we want to support our restaurants but enforcement is key.”
Block said that his district already doesn’t have all of its quality of life issues addressed in a timely or efficient way, especially when it comes to late night parties.
According to DOT representative Albert Silvestri, the NYPD and Department of Environmental Protection would continue to enforce noise complaints coming from restaurants participating in the new program. However, if a restaurant continues to be the subject of complaints, it would “impact their standing within the program.”
And now a final word, actually another prepared statement full of Transportation Totalitarians talking points from Commissioner Hank Gutman:
"Open Restaurants not only helped save New York’s world-renowned restaurant industry, it also showed how we can dynamically reimagine our streetscape,” DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman said in a statement. “Developing design guidelines will ensure that this emergency program can be transformed into a permanent part of our city, anchoring restaurants in our communities so that this program continues to flourish.”
Restaurants are already anchored in communities you dotard. GTFOH