Court dismisses lawsuit challenging NYC’s outdoor dining program

October 5, 2022

Photo courtesy of Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr

New York City’s outdoor dining program is here to stay after a New York State Supreme Court unanimous decision. The state court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that had been stalling the establishment of a permanent outdoor dining program. Roughly eight months after the City Council approved a zoning amendment in a move toward permanent outdoor dining, the city says it will now be able to finalize rules and regulations to ensure the Open Restaurants effectively serves local businesses.

Since it first began in the summer of 2020, outdoor dining in the city has technically been a temporary program. It was first extended by former Mayor Bill de Blasio and then earlier this year by Mayor Eric Adams as part of the city’s pandemic public health emergency.

In August, Adams started a multi-agency initiative that highlighted open and active outdoor dining sheds in the city’s Open Restaurants program while identifying and destroying vacant, decrepit sheds that had become an eyesore for New Yorkers and were being used for illicit activity.

The lawsuit was filed by the Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy (Cue-Up) earlier this year, which took issue with the city’s finding that outdoor dining had no negative impact on the environment. Cue-Up’s lawsuit attempted to refute those findings.

The new program will see the replacement of outdoor dining sheds with open-air seating buffeted by thicker barriers like planters, according to NY1.

Alfresco NYC, a coalition of advocates for NYC’s outdoor dining and open streets program, praised the court’s decision:

“The Alfresco NYC Coalition is pleased to see the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the environmental impacts of New York City’s Open Restaurants program. Open Restaurants have taken cars off our streets and saved tens of thousands of jobs in an industry devastated by the pandemic.”

The group continued: “By enlivening spaces and streets in a new and exciting way, we’ve seen how repurposing streets actually improves our environmental and public health.”


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