Outdoor Dining Would Get Easier for Small Business with Temporary Permits for Lapsed Licenses and New Owners Proposed by Kallos
Cumbersome Bureaucratic Sidewalk Café Permit Re-Applications Would Be Replaced with
Easy Temporary Renewal Process for Cash Strapped Businesses
New York, NY – Outdoor dining has become a hallmark of New York City’s pandemic resurgence for restaurants and nightlife as businesses face bureaucratic hurdles to obtain and maintain their license to do so. Small businesses that are already struggling or new owners who may seek to fill an empty storefront, must start an expensive, cumbersome, bureaucratic and lengthy process to get a new sidewalk café permit, even where one was previously granted. Legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos would allow a sidewalk café permit that had been valid in the previous 3 years to be easily renewed or transferred temporarily for the business or a new owner provided the plans were the same.
“Outdoor dining is a welcome change in our urban environment that is beautifying and activating streets that had gone empty for far too long. We are cutting the red tape to make it easier for restaurants to renew and new owners to take over sidewalk cafes,” Council Member Ben Kallos. “I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it came right from a small business owner, as an example of a bureaucratic problem, that seemed stupid not to fix. Thank you to the New York Hospitality Alliance for hosting opportunities for small businesses to meet with elected officials so that we can work together to foster a better environment for small businesses to thrive.”
“Unfortunately, we are in a crisis with what may be thousands of vacant restaurants, many of whom had approved sidewalk cafes. New operators who are bold enough to open new businesses in these vacant storefronts should be permitted to operate that cafe under the prior conditions until they are able to apply for and receive their own cafe license. In times like this, it is essential to restart our economy as soon as possible with as little red tape as possible. This legislation would decrease the business’ startup costs and provide much-needed revenue to a new business because they would operate the sidewalk cafe immediately,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York Hospitality Alliance.
A LOCAL LAW
To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to authorizing the department of consumer and worker protection to issue temporary operating licenses to sidewalk café applicants if certain requirements are satisfied
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section 1. Subdivision a of section 20-227.1 of the administrative code of the city of new york is amended to read as follows:
§ 20-227.1. Violations and penalties. a. Any person found to be operating an unlicensed sidewalk cafe shall be liable for a civil penalty of at least two hundred and not more than one thousand dollars for the first violation, at least two hundred and not more than one thousand dollars for each additional violation occurring on the same day; and at least five hundred and not more than two thousand dollars for the second violation and each subsequent violation at the same place of business within a two-year period. For purposes of this section, any violation for operating an unlicensed sidewalk cafe shall be included in determining the number of violations by any subsequent license holder at the same place of business unless the subsequent license holder provides the department with adequate documentation demonstrating that the subsequent license holder acquired the premises or business through an arm's length transaction as defined in subdivision f of this section and that the sale or lease was not conducted, in whole or in part, for the purpose of permitting the original license holder to avoid the effect of violations on the premises.
§ 2. Chapter 2 of title 20 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended to add a new section 20-227.2 to read as follows:
§ 20-227.1. Temporary sidewalk café licenses.
a. Where an applicant for a sidewalk café license submits a petition to operate an enclosed or unenclosed sidewalk café for which a consent issued to another person has lapsed or was terminated, the commissioner may authorize such applicant to operate the sidewalk café at such premises pending the approval of consent for operating such café, provided that the plans for the café are the same as the café for which a consent to operate a sidewalk café had previously been granted, if it is an enclosed sidewalk café that the structure is the same for which consent was previously granted, and provided further that the applicant has acquired his or her interest in the restaurant to be operated at such premises in an arm's length transaction as specified in subdivision f of section 20-227.1. For the purposes of this section, the commissioner may not authorize an applicant to operate an unenclosed sidewalk café if the original consent has been expired for more than three years from the date of the submission of an applicant’s petition.
b. Where department has approved a petition to operate an enclosed or unenclosed sidewalk café pursuant to sections 20-225 or 20-226, the commissioner may authorize such applicant to operate a sidewalk café pending the registration of the revocable consent by the comptroller.
§ 3. This local law takes effect immediately.