It’s time for City Hall to pull the plug on outdoor dining sheds, which sprang up as an “emergency” measure in 2020 to save the locked-down restaurant industry.
You don’t have to be a lawsuit-filing NIMBY zealot to recognize what the so-called “Open Restaurants” program served up: a plague of ugly, ramshackle sheds that are magnets for vermin and crime.
While providing refuge for the dwindling numbers of New Yorkers who still think that indoor dining is dangerous, the pop-up abominations offer overnight cover to muggers, drug dealers and other sleazy elements.
Now, Post reporter Melissa Klein finds that lowlifes are using the sheds as rent-free refuges to conduct al fresco trysts in full public view. The bombshell expose should mark “final call” for the monstrosities.
Neighbors cringe over the rampant depravity at their front doors. But the NYPD and a merry band of useless city agencies do nothing except to harass owners with fines for minor technical violations. (e.g., a wall that encroaches an inch into a bike lane or a bus stop).
The sheds (not to be confused with permit-bearing restaurant sidewalk and garden seats) long ago outlived their purpose. They belong to 2020, along with six-foot “social distancing” and “SNL” broadcasts where stars Zoomed in their shticks from their home kitchens.
The shanty-town blight afflicts neighborhood rich, poor, and in-between – such as my own middle-class stretch of uptown First Avenue where flimsy-looking sheds suggest a Third World construction site.
City Hall’s do-nothing approach compounds the decline of our public environment – a sea of homeless squalor, mountains of uncollected garbage and scaffolds that darken entire blocks.
A “permanent” plan for the sheds to be rolled out next year would include design and safety guidelines to be enforced mainly by the Department of Transportation – the same crew that made getting around town near-impossible for pedestrians, drivers and bus and taxi passengers.
But the city can’t even police the minimal rules now in effect. And the only thing a “comprehensive” set or rules will achieve is to further enlarge the bloated government bureaucracy.
Mayor Adams needs to cut through the baloney from City Council members and agency commissioners who only want to flaunt their muscle. He needs to say: Take down the eyesores – or the city will do it for you.