Mayor Adams responded this morning to the citywide outrage over the disastrous Open Restaurants program by proposing to tear down abandoned and dilapidated dining sheds.

Although this is an important first step, it fails to address the issues of the widespread degradation caused by the out-of-control Open Restaurants program.

We support the city’s goal of expanding the sidewalk cafe program where it makes sense. We are not against outdoor dining. To be balanced and democratic, sidewalk dining must be rendered in the context of the pre-pandemic zoning laws that worked. New Yorkers want a seat at the table and a big say in how their communities are shaped. Our government used the Temporary Open Restaurants Program as a catalyst to create a permanent program, which is an abuse of power – not a concern for pandemic recovery.


There are more than 12,550 Open Restaurants sites throughout the city. This morning the Mayor committed to demolishing a single shed. Clearly, the Mayor continues to underestimate widespread public concerns over the lack of emergency vehicle access, out-of-control nightlife activities, the assault on the public’s right of way on roadways and sidewalks, and the City’s failure to abide by the law.

“What I want to see is the rule of law followed,” said Michael H. Sussman, the civil rights attorney who has filed two lawsuits on behalf of New Yorkers opposed to the continuing emergency program. “And I don’t want to see the city simply implement a very major program at the same time it’s claiming there are no environmental impacts.”


Residents from Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens filed an Article 78 lawsuit to end renewals of the emergency executive orders that authorize New York City’s temporary Open Restaurants program, and to end its operation. Since June 2020, this “temporary” program has circumvented both the zoning code and the New York City Charter through repeated renewals of emergency executive orders.

The legal actions filed against the Open Restaurants program aim to restore public participation in decision-making on the future of the city and its sidewalks and streets.


Shannon Phipps, Brooklyn resident, Berry Street Alliance member

Robert Camacho, Bushwick resident

Angela Bilotti, Brooklyn resident

The opinions, content and/or information in this article are those of the author and are independent of BK Reader.

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  1. The pre-pandemic zoning laws didn’t work. It would cost a fortune and take years just for a restaurant to be able to have a few tables on the sidewalk.

  2. They all have to go bc these eyesores take up valued curb parking soo po aces and owners pay no taxes on such retail dining sq ft. And they’re often rat infested from food droppings

  3. Yes, please, sooner then later!!! It’s no longer necessary. It takes up space & brings rodents. I’m not a fan of eating outdoor while cars, trucks & people driving & walking by. Even prior to Covid, I never eat outdoors, just doesn’t feel safe or sanitary.

  4. The City has done everything to help restaurants – allowing free shack space on streets, financial support etc.
    In the meantime the City has done nothing for small stores suffering from high rent, crime, ecommerce etc.
    Ironically most restaurants benefitting are owned by rich investors/LLCs (not mom & pop) serve affluent customers and many have more outside space than inside seats.
    NYC is more than a playground for the fabulous.

  5. I saw my first rat during the day EVER in Williamsburg on Metropolitan & Bushwick. If the restaurants had been better at keeping their outdoor sheds clean and vermin free I’d lean toward them, but they have to go.

  6. How did the city get so far off track? Can we say the pandemic? When you actually reside in a place where the city no longer cares about your HEALTH & IGNORES PROVEN LAWS I have to question WHY DOES THE CITY NOT WANT TO GET BACK ON TRACK?? It is the first time I have ever dreamed of leaving NYC for good! Apparently the city does not care about the well being of it’s residents, only what they need to have a good time. How is it that we worry so much about where people can play? It takes alot more than providing more party spaces, so I have to ask again, ‘WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?’.

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