Mayor Eric Adams is taking a chainsaw to a couple dozen outdoor dining sheds as the city weighs permanent plans for the temporary structures.
Adams announced a crackdown on abandoned dining sheds at a news conference on Thursday, Crain’s reported. The mayor said sheds are dangerous or a haven for rats, and he wanted to root out those who use the sheds for illegal behavior.
Deputy mayor of operations Meera Joshi said a task force would tear down 25 outdoor sheds that have run afoul of the city’s standards. More “bad apples” could be at risk of having outdoor dining sheds torn down for “egregious violations.”
The city’s Open Restaurants program has largely been a hit since springing up in the wake of the pandemic, providing a lifeline to as many as 12,000 restaurants and the landlords dependent on those restaurants’ rent. The program was made permanent in February, but lawsuits continue to contest the program.
A court ruled in March the city hadn’t done a sufficient environmental review of the program when it was made permanent in February. The city is appealing that decision.
The city faced another challenge to the program earlier this month, calling for a quick demolition of the temporary program on the grounds it was related to a public health emergency and other orders linked to the emergency have disappeared. The city wants an appeal heard in September, though it also wants another six weeks to file papers in the case.
Despite the teardown of dozens of sheds and the legal challenges to the program, Adams said he is still a believer in outdoor dining’s future in the city.
“As long as I have something to say about it, this initiative will be here,” Adams said.
— Holden Walter-Warner