Chapter 4 - Sidewalk Cafe Regulations
The sidewalk cafe regulations as established in this Resolution are citywide regulations, designed to encourage sidewalk cafes in locations where they are appropriate, discourage them in locations where they are inappropriate, and promote and protect public health, safety, general welfare and amenity. These general goals include, among others, the following specific purposes:
(a) To ensure adequate space for pedestrians on the sidewalk adjacent to sidewalk cafes.
(b) To promote sidewalk cafes as visual amenities that better relate to the streetscape.
(c) To preserve and enhance the character of neighborhoods throughout the City.
(d) To simplify administrative regulations and strengthen enforcement procedures for sidewalk cafes and ensure that such requirements are effective, efficient and enforceable.
(e) To promote the most desirable use of land and thus to conserve the value of land and buildings and thereby protect the City's tax revenues.
In harmony with the general purpose and intent of this Resolution, and the general purposes of the sidewalk cafe regulations, certain specified regulations concerning area eligibility, sidewalk locational criteria and physical criteria for sidewalk cafes, in general, and specifically for enclosed sidewalk cafes, are herein established.
The three types of sidewalk cafes that are permitted by the regulations of this Chapter and defined in Section 12-10 (DEFINITIONS) are enclosed sidewalk cafes, unenclosed sidewalk cafes and small sidewalk cafes.
The amendments to Article I, Chapter 4, adopted by the City Council on January 29, 2003, shall become effective March 27, 2003.
Physical criteria, including structural and operational requirements for sidewalk cafes, and unenclosed sidewalk cafes in particular, shall be regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs and found in Title 6, Chapter 2, Subchapter F., of the Rules of the City of New York.
Licenses for all sidewalk cafes must be obtained from the Department of Consumer Affairs, or its successor.
Sidewalk cafes may be located in all R10H Districts, in all Commercial Districts other than C3 Districts and in all Manufacturing Districts only where eating or drinking establishments are permitted, as modified by special eligibility regulations set forth in Sections 14-40 through 14-45, inclusive. These sections identify streets, areas, special districts and malls or portions of streets for which special area eligibility regulations apply:
Section 14-40 — (AREA ELIGIBILITY FOR SIDEWALK CAFES)
Section 14-41 — (Locations Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted)
Section 14-42 - (Locations Where Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted)
Section 14-43 — (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted)
Section 14-44 — (Special Zoning Districts Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted)
Section 14-45 — (Street Malls Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted).
Sidewalk cafes shall be permitted in Historic Districts or in designated landmark buildings only if such sidewalk cafe is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The regulations of this Section, governing clear path, clearance at intersection of streets, clearance from large obstructions and minimum distance between two cafes shall apply to all enclosed sidewalk cafes.
(a) Clear path
There shall be a minimum of 8 feet, 0 inches clear distance or 50 percent of the sidewalk width, whichever is greater, free of all obstructions, in order to allow adequate pedestrian movement.
The minimum distance shall be measured from the portion of the enclosed sidewalk cafe frontage that is nearest either the curb line or the nearest obstruction. In no event may recesses in the enclosed sidewalk cafe frontage be used to satisfy this unobstructed width requirement, except that the corners of the enclosed sidewalk cafe may be rounded or mitered. A clearance of 8 feet, 0 inches shall be maintained around the corners of enclosed sidewalk cafes, measured in radius.
For the purpose of the minimum clear path, but not the clearance from corners of enclosed sidewalk cafes, parking meters, traffic signs, and trees that have gratings flush to grade, without fences or guards, shall not count as obstructions
In the case of a street for which a mall plan or other special plan has been adopted, the clear path requirements pursuant to this Section shall be deemed satisfied if there is not less than an 8 feet, 0 inches clear path.
(b) Clearance at intersections of street line
There shall be a minimum of 9 feet, 0 inches clearance, free of all obstructions with no exception, measured from the outer edge of the enclosed sidewalk cafe to the curbside obstacle. The corner of the enclosed sidewalk cafe wall may be rounded or mitered. Such distance shall be measured from the outer edge of the enclosed sidewalk cafe to either the curb line or the nearest obstruction.
(c) Clearance from large obstructions
All enclosed sidewalk cafes shall be a minimum of 15 feet from large obstructions. For the purposes of this Section, large obstructions shall be bus stop shelters, newsstands, subway entrances or any other object greater than 15 square feet in area. The closed end of a subway entrance located along the front lot line may abut an enclosed sidewalk cafe.
(d) Minimum distance between enclosed sidewalk cafes
There shall be a minimum distance of 40 feet between the near end walls of two enclosed sidewalk cafes if an entrance to a ground floor commercial use, other than an entrance to the eating or drinking place associated with either enclosed sidewalk cafe, is located between them.
There shall be a minimum distance of 15 feet between the near end walls of two enclosed sidewalk cafes if an entrance to a ground floor non-commercial use, or a use located above or below the ground floor, other than an entrance to the eating or drinking place associated with either enclosed sidewalk cafe, is located between them.
The regulations of this Section governing certain structural and operational requirements shall apply to all enclosed sidewalk cafes.
The ceiling of an enclosed sidewalk cafe shall be of incombustible materials, including colored or colorless safety glass or fabric which has been treated to be fire resistant as approved by the Department of Buildings.
At no point shall the height of the ceiling of an enclosed sidewalk cafe be lower than 7 feet, 0 inches above the floor of the sidewalk cafe.
(b) Transparency — exterior walls
An enclosed sidewalk cafe may provide a base wall of opaque material up to a maximum height of 12 inches from the finished floor level. The base wall shall include any horizontal structural members that support transparent materials above.
All enclosing walls, doors and windows, except for the structural members, above finished floor level or base wall as provided in this Section, up to a height of 7 feet, 0 inches above finished floor level, must be of colorless, untinted, non-reflective, transparent material, as approved by the Department of Buildings. In order to maximize transparency, the horizontal as well as vertical structural members shall not be sized more than 10 inches wide.
At least 50 percent of the walls, up to a height of 7 feet, 0 inches above finished floor level, shall consist of operable transparent windows.
The enclosed sidewalk cafe floor shall not be more than seven inches above the level of the adjoining sidewalk.
In the event of a major grade change, however, the City Planning Commission may, by certification, permit the floor level to be more than seven inches above the level of the adjoining sidewalk.
(d) Designated boundaries
No portion of enclosed sidewalk cafes, such as doors, windows, walls or any objects placed within an enclosed sidewalk cafe, shall swing or project beyond the designated exterior perimeter of the enclosed sidewalk cafe. However, fire exit doors that are used exclusively as emergency fire exit doors shall be exempt from this provision.
The furnishings of the interior of an enclosed sidewalk cafe shall consist solely of moveable tables, chairs and decorative accessories. No objects, except lighting fixtures and HVAC installations, may be permanently affixed onto any portion of the wall of the enclosed sidewalk cafe. In no event shall such objects penetrate the exterior perimeter of the wall or the roof of the enclosed sidewalk cafe or impede the transparency as required by this Chapter. The exhaust for such HVAC installations on the adjacent walls shall not be less than 10 feet above curb level.
(f) Refuse storage area
No structure or enclosure to accommodate the storage of garbage may be erected or placed adjacent to or separate from the enclosed sidewalk cafe on the public right-of-way.
An enclosed sidewalk cafe or its restaurant shall be directly accessible to persons with physical disabilities. In the event the main restaurant has provided such access, the enclosed sidewalk cafe shall be accessible to persons with disabilities from the interior of the restaurant.
In order to ensure access for persons with physical disabilities:
(a) at least one door leading into the enclosed sidewalk cafe or restaurant from the adjoining sidewalk shall be not less than three feet wide, clear; and
(b) a ramp with non-skid surface, if there is change of grade, having a minimum width of three feet and a slope of not greater than 1 in 12, shall be provided. Such ramp may be of portable type for enclosed sidewalk cafes that are six feet wide or less, except if such sidewalk cafe is at least 180 square feet in area.
No signs are permitted on an enclosed sidewalk cafe, except that the name and type of establishment may be placed upon the glass wall but shall not obscure the required transparency.
Musical instruments or sound reproduction devices shall not be operated or used within an enclosed sidewalk cafe for any purpose.
In all Commercial or Manufacturing Districts, where enclosed sidewalk cafes are permitted in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, the City Planning Commission may permit, upon application, modifications to the locational or physical criteria regulations for enclosed sidewalk cafes, except that there shall be no modification of Sections 14-41 (Locations Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted), 14-42 (Locations Where Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted), 14-44 (Special Zoning Districts Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted) and 14-45 (Street Malls Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted), provided the Commission finds that:
(a) the enclosed sidewalk cafe is developed consistent with the general purposes and objectives of this Chapter;
(b) any proposed modification to the requirements of this Chapter will result in good overall design and enhance the general character of the street and the neighborhood;
(c) any proposed modifications to the requirements of this Chapter will not cause a serious adverse effect on pedestrian traffic;
(d) the restaurant or enclosed sidewalk cafe provides access for persons with disabilities;
(e) where a proposed enclosed sidewalk cafe is located between two existing stoops, it will not project beyond the stoops; and
(f) modifications to the provisions of paragraph (a) of Section 14-11 (Locational Criteria for Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes) shall be limited to the minimum clear path for a proposed enclosed sidewalk cafe that would be located on a street with a special pedestrian plan.
Physical criteria for unenclosed sidewalk cafes, including structural and operational requirements, shall be regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs pursuant to the Rules of the City of New York as described in Section 14-01 (General Provisions). Small sidewalk cafes, however, shall also conform to the requirements of Section 14-30.
Small sidewalk cafes shall be subject to the regulations of Section 14-01 (General Provisions) and, in addition, shall comply with the requirements for the definition of small sidewalk cafes in Section 12-10 as well as the following physical criteria:
(a) no form of serving station or any other type of furniture, other than the single row of tables and chairs set adjacent to the street line, may be placed within that space occupied by a small sidewalk cafe ;
(b) there shall be no railing, structure or other form of barrier between a small sidewalk cafe and the remaining area of the sidewalk; and
(c) there shall be no overhead coverage other than a retractable awning that is affixed to the building wall and does not extend further than 4 feet, 6 inches.
Small sidewalk cafes are permitted wherever sidewalk cafes may be located pursuant to the requirements of Section 14-011. Section 14-43 (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted) lists specific streets and areas where no sidewalk cafes other than small sidewalk cafes may be located.
Sections 14-40 through 14-45 identify those locations where specific area eligibility regulations apply.
For the purposes of Sections 14-40 through 14-45, the length of a street shall run the full block to the nearest intersections with cross streets, unless otherwise stated.
Areas bounded by streets shall include both sides of such streets and shall be subject to the regulations of this Chapter pertaining to such areas. When a street forms the boundary of a special district, however, only that side of the street located within the special district shall be subject to the regulations pertaining to the special district.
Sidewalk cafes shall only be allowed to locate along the length of a street or within the area bounded by streets, as set forth in Sections 14-40 through 14-45, where the applicable use regulations of the district allow eating and drinking establishments, either as-of-right, by certification or by authorization or special permit.