The Real Estate Board of New York to Landmarks Preservation Commission on the Installation of Sidewalk Cafes

Maddie DeCerbo

Senior Urban Planner

April 15, 2024

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REBNY thanks the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for the opportunity to comment on its proposed amendment to section 2-23 of its rules to address the installation of sidewalk and roadway cafes in areas under the LPC’s jurisdiction.

REBNY supports the proposed rules to address the installation of sidewalk and roadway cafes in areas under the LPC’s jurisdiction and to make them consistent with the planned rule changes by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish the new permanent Outdoor Dining program. REBNY voiced support for DOT’s Dining Out program and advocated for clarity and coordination between DOT and LPC so that additional review need not be required by LPC in addition to DOT in the licensure approval process.

The administrative burden for restaurants and LPC could lead to significant costs, delays, and processes and would impact the program's effectiveness. REBNY supports the proposed LPC rules that will not require owners to submit applications for sidewalk or roadway cafes provided the installations comply with all DOT rules and regulations unless components physically attach to a building or historic paving.

REBNY agrees that maintaining the integrity and character of our historic districts is important and believes the rules proposed today do not undermine that goal. Additionally, the outdoor dining program will not preclude LPC’s review to protect sidewalks consisting of historically significant materials.

The outdoor dining program requires structures to be removable and temporary or unfixed to the building facade, and therefore, a temporary structure does not rise to the level of requiring review by LPC. Additionally, sidewalk cafes have been part of the city’s streetscape since the mid-19th century and support ground floor restaurants, enliven the streetscape, and significantly aided restaurants’ economic vitality during the Covid-19 pandemic.

REBNY supports the proposed LPC rules governing outdoor dining structures, which will remove administrative burdens, align with the Dining Out program governed by DOT, and support an important industry to New York City’s economy.