Lawsuit aims to stop permanent outdoor dining in NYC

For many restaurants in New York City, outdoor dining was a lifeline during the heart of the pandemic. And due to the popularity of al fresco dining on the streets, New York City is aiming to make it permanent. 

But some New Yorkers from the West Village and Lower East Side say they've had enough, and are suing the city to block Mayor Bill de Blasio's open restaurants program from becoming permanent, claiming it's brought poor conditions to their neighborhoods like trash and rats.

"To me, what we did is we sold out streets to the highest bidder," said Deborah Gonzalez, a Lower East Side resident.

A June 18 finding by the Department of Transportation said outdoor dining wouldn't have a negative environmental impact if it went into effect year-round.

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The lawsuit claims the city ignored zoning rules and isn't considering any long-term effects.

Restaurant owners say the structures are essential for business.

"Outdoor dining saved thousands of restaurants and jobs throughout the pandemic and is beloved by countless New Yorkers who want alfresco dining to be a permanent part of our city’s streetscape," the New York City Hospitality Alliance told FOX 5 NY in a statement.

A spokesperson with the city's Law Department said New Yorkers will continue to be able to share their thoughts on how outdoor dining structures should be designed. The DoT's recommendation will now go to the city council for review.