Shed the Sheds: New Lawsuit to Shut Down the Open Restaurants Program for Good

Posted on: August 1st, 2022 at 5:03 am by

A contingent of New Yorkers last week filed an Article 78 lawsuit to end renewals of the emergency executive orders that authorize the temporary Open Restaurants program, and to end its operation altogether.

On the heels of news last spring that the State Supreme Court nullified any path to permanence for Open Restaurants, dozens of residents from across the Five Boroughs are suing to end the program. A measure initially enacted by the city at the outset of the pandemic to assist the hard-hit restaurant industry by permitting dining sheds outside establishments.

Thirty-five residents from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens – including seven from various Lower East Side block associations – filed the lawsuit last Friday.

“For nearly 26 months, this ‘temporary’ program has circumvented both the zoning code and the New York City Charter through repeated renewals of emergency executive orders,” reads a press release from CUEUP on the matter.

“While New York state and city have suspended or abandoned all other pandemic emergency orders and programs — including test-and-trace, vaccine and mask mandates, home food deliveries for the elderly and shut-ins, and free hotel rooms for those with COVID who need to self-isolate, eviction protections, and enhanced unemployment benefits — emergency orders continue to be selectively issued for the benefit of the restaurant and nightlife industries.”

Representing the group of plaintiffs is distinguished civil rights attorney Michael H. Sussman, Esq.

As we’ve been chronicling, many who initially supported outdoor dining as a means for struggling restaurants to cope have since flipped. Claiming that the sheds’ cumulative negative impacts on neighborhoods are destroying quality of life and blocking the streets. Not to mention the allegations of favorable treatment by essentially giving public space for private enterprise.

The affidavits included in Friday’s court filing provide a clear picture of those concerns. Everything from trash deposits and discarded food, to sex and shooting up.

“Nobody seems to care about other small businesses that create roots in a community like mine,” longtime Ludlow Street boutique owner Ellen Koeningsberg said in her affidavit. “Instead, the focus for years has been turning the neighborhood on the Lower East Side into a booze and tourism destination. As a result, shops like mine have been holding on by a thread. Now that my neighborhood has become a shanty town of sheds, my shop is hidden in plain sight.”

“Not only are [sheds] promoting all-night screaming and chaos, but they are also COMPLETELY eliminating visibility to the street, 24 hours a day,” Clinton Street resident Eric Casimiro notes in his affidavit. “People’s worst impulses are going unabated and the residents of the Lower East Side are paying the price. Sheds are 2- 3 times the width of the establishments they purportedly serve.”

Recent Stories

Excavation Underway on Affordable Grand Street Guild Towers

Work is officially underway on two new towers adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge. On-site excavation has been ongoing for several weeks at Broome and Clinton Streets, yielding plenty of dust and noise for neighbors. Earlier this year, demolition crews razed the two-story parking garage and Little Star early childhood center in the shadow of the […]

Mr. Fong’s Owner Plans All Day Cafe on Hester Street

Another day, another principal of Mr. Fong’s starting a new Lower East Side venture. Aisa Shelley – who co-founded the Chinatown hotspot with Lucas Moran, Noah Shelley, Daniel Eric Gold and Adam Moonves – is headed to 61 Hester Street. The long-inactive storefront previously occupied by L’estudio. There, Shelley will impart an “all day cafe” […]

Truck Hits ‘OhK Dog’ Dining Shed on Ludlow Street

Ludlow Street neighbors began Saturday with the sound of a large crash. It was the sound of the OhK Dog dining shed collapsing to the ground. From what we gather, a truck driver headed southbound on Ludlow struck the popular restaurant’s outdoor annex. No one was hurt in the incident. This was apparently the second […]

New 21-Story Tower Begins Ascent on Market Street

A former Lower East Side parking lot is meeting its skyscraping destiny. Another tower. The through-block parcel on Henry Street, just west of Market, is already on its upward ascent. The new mixed-use development at 59 Henry will ultimately rise 21 stories (227 feet), with 57,395 square-feet of residential floor area and 40,305 square-feet for […]

‘Caribea’ Grill Readies Space Left Vacant by Domino’s on Allen Street

Ever since Domino’s ditched its decades-old Allen Street location three years ago, the commercial space has been a vacancy consistently peddled on the market. Now, a new concept is a-knockin. Caribea is as it sounds – a fast casual pan-Caribbean grill. The restaurant at 203 Allen will seat fourteen tables and a stand-up bar, for […]