A group of New Yorkers has come together in filing a suit against the city to try to prevent outdoor street dining that was expanded during the pandemic from becoming permanent.
The lawsuit has been filed by 23 residents from Manhattan and Brooklyn and is asking a judge to overturn the DOT’s recommendation to let the existing temporary outdoor street dining set-ups become permanent.
The suit lays out case studies of each of the residents’ personal alleged bad experiences with the city’s Open Restaurants program. In one case, Kathryn Arntzen, who has been living with her husband on leafy Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan for 32 years, said she doesn’t even recognize their street anymore.
She said their block now has seven restaurants that have outdoor seating under the sheds. Arntzen claims in the court papers that music and televisions are blasted from the set-ups and dining guests can be heard chattering loudly. Furthermore, garbage is always piled up outside the eateries and the “rat population has grown immensely,” she says in the documents.
The lawsuit states, “Prior to its application to make the temporary open restaurant’s program permanent, [the city Department of Transportation] received thousands of complaints from residents related to noise, vermin, garbage accumulation, crowded sidewalks impeding residents access — all quality-of-life issues consisting a significant impact upon the environment. Despite plain evidence of those adverse effects, the DOT still issued a negative declaration, foreclosing the need for more intense study of both the projected effects, alternatives and mitigation measures.”