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Outdoor dining

Tuesday’s Headlines: Oh, Rats Edition

Mayor Adams (and Council Member Marjorie Velázquez obviously love outdoor dining. Photo: Mayor’s Office

Oh, rats — we've been used again.

The New York Magazine cover.
The New York Magazine cover.
The New York Magazine cover.

We were pleased that Streetsblog was referenced several times (though without links, for some reason) in New York Magazine's cover story on outdoor dining. But we were also disappointed that writer Simon van Zuylen-Wood completely ignored some of the poignant insights we had given him during our interview about the politics of streeteries as a bill moves through the City Council.

Instead, the resulting piece seemed eager to downplay the positives of outdoor dining, accentuate the negatives and ignore the ongoing legislation to regulate the industry.

First, we don't mind having our coverage synthesized down to this: "Streetsblog sees the structures as a promising front in the war on King Car" though we don't agree that we have gone "scorched-earth against anyone who opposes" the sheds. In fact, our coverage of the opposition lawsuit and the bill moving through the City Council has pointed out that restaurants should definitely not get this public space for free and that the industry does need to be regulated.

"[Opponents] said their concerns about late-night noise, trash and sidewalk crowding were steamrolled under a rush of hastily built dining sheds, and want more input and oversight of the revolutionary program that has potentially forever changed the way New Yorkers use the streets," one of our articles pointed out. That's hardly scorched earth (and we should know!).

But, worse, the New York Magazine piece consistently raised straw men to attack restaurant dining areas. For instance, no one is saying that restaurants shouldn't pay for the public space they'll take up — space currently occupied by car owners for free, mind you — yet van Zuylen-Wood lets Assembly Member Deborah Glick pretend they are: “I don’t believe we should be ceding public land, public space, for private commercial gain,” said Glick, who hasn't minded ceding public land to car owners.

The story also quotes an opponent saying that outdoor dining is "unfettered capitalism — do what you want with no oversight or enforcement.” Again, no one is calling for no oversight. The piece also blames the sheds for the supposed increase in rats, which Julianne Cuba debunked so eloquently earlier this year.

And our cackles were also raised by how van Zuylen-Wood marginalized our early reporting, saying that the movement to create dining areas "started" in Crain’s. In fact, the Corey Johnson/Andrew Rigie op-ed to which van Zuylan-Wood referred was published by the business newspaper on May 18 — six days after our a comprehensive piece, "The ‘Al Fresco Economy’: Restaurants Want to Start NYC’s Revival — All They Need is Space" was posted on May 12.

That's called staying ahead of the curve. Want to join us? Get up to date with today's news:

    • MTA CEO Janno Lieber wants to keep criminals out of the subway (NYDN), but Gov. Hochul says people have a "sense of fear" because of a few high-profile cases (NY Post). And amNY put the so-called "crime wave" in a historic context, which was very helpful.
    • Also helpful was Ross Barkan's take in Crain's, where he blamed Mayor Adams for creating the crime-fear wave that now crashing over him.
    • The Post, Gothamist and the Times followed our scoop about the return of subway bathrooms. The Post's David Meyer and Gothamist's Stephen Nessen credited us. The Times's Ana Ley did not.
    • The MTA's OMNY system will finally be available to people with reduced fare Metrocards — but not Fair Fares recipients yet. (amNY)
    • WCBS2 — the official house organ of car culture — really outdid itself, covering the DOT's announcement of safe, car-free streets for kids on Halloween with a dismissive, "But some community members in Jackson Heights, Queens say the program feels more like a trick than treat." Really? Four hours of no driving to keep kids safe on the one night we let them go from house to house? To paraphrase CBS, some community members in Jackson Heights, Queens say the program is a long-overdue good idea — and that the people who oppose it are ghouls.
    • A moped rider may be left paralyzed after a hit-and-run driver injured him. (NYDN)
    • Cuomo-gate: Sunnyside isn't getting an LIRR station when the East Side Access project is done. (NYDN)
    • Take that, slimy pectin residue! Metro-North has a laser train! (amNY)
    • One of the city's worst cops defended brutal arrests on a podcast (yes, everyone has a podcast). (The City)
    • How about that? A reckless driver killed a man panhandling in the center median of Eastern Parkway — and was arrested for the death. That's a far cry from what happened when a cop did the same thing to Ronald Smith earlier this year. (NYDN)
    • And, finally, U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg paid a visit to Hizzoner at City Hall on Monday, but Mayor Adams's spokesteam declined to comment, and Buttigieg left via a side door into a waiting SUV without taking questions, prompting Nolan Hicks to call him Side Door Buttigieg. But we liked our take better (photo by Kevin Duggan):

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