Friday, June 7, 2013

Sidewalk Cafe Legislation Calls for Earlier Hours, Efficient Application Process

CityLand at Center for New York City Law - New York Law School

Community boards fight City Council on shortened sidewalk cafe review period. On May 7, 2013, the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs held a joint hearing with the Land Use Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee to discuss proposed amendments to sidewalk cafe regulations. Introductions 875-2012, 876-A-2012, and 1039-2013 seek to expand sidewalk cafe hours and streamline the sidewalk cafe licensing and registration process.

Sidewalk cafes are licensed and monitored by the City’sDepartment of Consumer Affairs. In order to operate a sidewalk cafe, owners must first submit various documentation and fees to the DCA. Certain public safety regulations must be met and documented at this time, such as whether the proposed cafe will be on a sidewalk that is at least 12 feet wide. Applicants go through a multi-step approval and review process in order to be granted a revocable consent before a sidewalk cafe license will be issued. DCA controls and facilitates the process, sending the revocable consent petition to various City entities for discrete review periods. The petition is first sent to the City’s Department of City Planning, Department of Environmental Protection, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (if applicable). From there, the petition is sent to the local community board, then back to DCA, and then on to the City Council. Each entity is entitled to hold its own public hearing on the petition and recommend approval, approval with modifications, or denial. Finally, the petition is sent to the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services for review and approval. When a revocable consent is granted, DCA will issue the sidewalk cafe a license to operate.
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