Open Restaurants or Open Sidewalks?
We asked—and you answered! Read on…
I saw the Open Restaurants or Open Sidewalks article in WestView and figured I’d shared some thoughts given the stated request for reader input.
From a real estate perspective, what needs to be made clear is whether landlords can charge tenants for the space they are using on the sidewalk. Landlords do not own the space on the sidewalk, yet businesses are using that space to generate revenue. Should those businesses be paying rent to the city? Or should there be an additional tax on revenue generated from use of the sidewalk? If landlords can’t charge directly for it, in the long run (if the program is extended) retail spaces with material sidewalk usability will command a premium over those that don’t, which will directly affect property values. In a way, many restaurants have benefitted from their own form of a “COVID deal” by doubling (or more) their footprint via the use of sidewalk space, while they are not charged any more in rent. This will be interesting to see develop over time.
From a civilian perspective, I quite enjoy dining outdoors and have limited issues with it. What I think the Department of Transportation should be more concerned with is (i) continuing to make the city more cycling friendly and less populated by passenger vehicles, (ii) shutting down more streets to create walking/green districts and (iii) improving and cleaning up subway stations.
Thank you, PJ Finley
Following up on my note above, I recently learned of NYC 25×25, a proposal for the city to repurpose 25% of its streetspace by 2025 into green space, bike lanes, Citi Bike docking stations, pedestrian areas, benches and public spaces. The proposal has backing from Mayor Adams. https://nyc25x25.org/ Hope this is helpful to your piece. While it will be logistically challenging, it is critical we mitigate the number of passenger vehicles to reduce pollution in the city and disincentivize greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation here in the city.
There are many, many changes to the existing Open Restaurants operation that could be enumerated here, but I am confining myself to the three major ones:
- All restaurants taking public space for their private profit must give back a public benefit: let the public use their restrooms.
- Location, Location, Location: Something has to replace the zoning law that has been lifted, so that residential neighborhoods are protected against incursion of outdoor eating establishments.
- Eat-In-The-Street operations should be outlawed.
I urge you to press these points upon the City decision maker.
Not only do the sheds block sidewalks, but people linger around the sidewalks waiting for a table. Restaurants do nothing to ask them to wait on the side so as to let pedestrians pass. Also, if you’re walking, and a waiter is there, they’re standing back and blocking the sidewalk. Another issue is, waiters dart in front of you, cutting the pedestrians off. When a waiter sees a pedestrian, we ought to have the right of way! Smile at us, let us keep walking, and then attend to your table! If there are eight people waiting for a table, I need to say “excuse me” eight times? God forbid they should respect the neighbors and just move. I’m a senior, always lugging packages, and I’m sick of the rudeness of the customers, as well as the staff. Worst offenders: Rosemary’s and Olio e Piu.
I’m hoping they close these ugly structures down as soon as possible. I see dead rats in the daytime in those sheds because no one cleans them. It’s disgusting!
I’d like to anonymously complain about the useless benches/barriers/planters. I am sick of hunting forever for a parking spot for my coupe. Unless the city wants to give me a free parking voucher or $600 for a spot in our many garages in 10014. I’d rather they put a small dumpster on every street so I don’t have to smell rotting garbage in the summer in addition to the dog urine that nobody sprays down with sports water bottles. Half these outdoor dining sheds reek of formaldehyde/rotting formerly wet wood and the space heaters don’t help. Tired of all the sticks that are painted white from the winter outside certain establishments too, cough cough, White Horse Tavern of Hudson. The egregious robbing of parking spots for those who work in non-publicly accessible areas i.e. Mount Vernon, Yonkers, etc. is just too much, cough cough Pierre Lapin and its insane expansion a while back. I got ticketed for being within 6 inches of a hydrant for the first time in two years. It’s got to stop.
Dear Mr. Pape,
I just read Open Restaurants or Open Sidewalks. I say Open Sidewalks. (Forgive me for yelling.)
I was so happy when the City generously offered the restaurants use of public space to assist them during the pandemic, but it should not be made permanent,
No one thought about the wisdom of trying it for some time and then reassessing. With the same breath Speaker Johnson announced the opportunity for the restaurants to move out to the street, and then said it would be permanent. Without any thought of the consequences to the City and the residents.
I am glad Sid E Walker agrees with me. I ask you how can Open Restaurants be stopped?
Regards, Mary Taylor
Thank you for allowing someone who was born and has lived in the Village most of his life have a say.
The Open Restaurants program should not continue. It served a purpose when the Covid-19 shut everything down.
Now that people can do just about everything without wearing a mask and the virus is no longer a threat, why is the city giving free space to restaurant owners? The shelters that have been built are no different than dining indoors. Some have air conditioning and heating.
The streets look awful, there are rats all over the place, people have a hard enough time parking, now they can’t even drive down the street because these awful third world shacks are in the way.
It is unfair to the rest of the people who don’t love this liberal concept. Someone must have been paid off to approve this idea.
Please explain to me why the mayor is removing homeless people off of the streets and removing their sleeping bags and other items and yet he allows these dining shacks to exist.
We both know why.
I am a loyal reader of WestView News and find the articles very interesting and timely.
I’m writing regarding your request for those who have had experiences with St. Vincent’s Hospital and mine are as follows:
I have had a very soft spot in my heart for St. Vincent’s Hospital for a long, long time and was heartbroken when it closed.
I had my two daughters there, my son-in-law who is an artist and lived in Brooklyn had been stabbed and rushed there because the hospital was a trauma center, and my husband had bypass surgery and was ill for many years. He was taking Coumadin and had an internal bleed, and the ambulance went up Seventh Avenue (the wrong way) to get there quickly. The emergency room doctor pumped blood into him so quickly it ensured him life for many years.
When he eventually passed it was in the hospital he loved so much.
The loving care they brought to all kinds of people, rich and poor, young and old, was a true example for all hospitals.
Now we have no trauma hospital in this area and there is no way any person with a critical heart problem will make it alive to any hospital on the eastside.
We are truly in need of a first-rate hospital and enough already with these multimillion-dollar condos.
—Anne Vourtsis, Charles Street