Action Needed For Laws On A/C & Open Storefronts

Int.1503

Back in 2015 an amendment was made to the sensible environmental law that prohibits retail businesses from keeping their doors open when the air conditioning is on. The amendment added the word “window” to the law. Unfortunately, it was written in such a way as to include, for the first time, restaurants constructed with open storefronts, an unintended consequence according to the amendment’s main sponsor in the City Council.

Andrew Rigie

That’s why the Council Member has introduced Int.1503, a sensible, small business, restaurant worker and restaurant-goer friendly amendment to clarify the law by making it clear that certain restaurants are exempt. We need your support to pass Int.1503 that slightly amends Local Law 092 of 2015.

This amendment is needed because unfortunately the law can now be interpreted to prohibit restaurants with enclosed sidewalk cafes (which are required to have operable windows), or restaurants with “french doors” or the like, from being open while their air conditioning is on.  Such windows and doors are designed and built often at significant cost to the business. (Most unenclosed sidewalk cafes are already exempt from the current law) This feature also provides diners with a desired, semi al-fresco dining experience during the spring and summer months, they add charm and character to our city’s streetscape, and the open air feature attracts customers, helping to generate necessary revenue for restaurants and workers.

Restaurants have provided workers with additional hours and even hired additional employees because of the extra business these open-air features generate during the warmer months. Having french doors and windows open are part and parcel for many restaurants, and they are not an incidental feature as they are to other big box stores that may blow cool air onto the streets to attract customers inside on hot summer days. 

On April, 24th, 2017 The Alliance testified at the hearing in support of the proposed amendment. Our testimony emphasized the unintended consequences of this law and advocated for this amendment to be passed immediately to ensure that the impacted restaurants are able to hopefully enjoy a profitable
summer.

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In the meantime, the industry can still help by contacting their NYC Council Member to support Int.1503. Visit council.nyc.gov/districts. Identify your local council member. Call them. Email them. Explain the impact this has on your  business, if this amendment is not passed immediately. Urge them to support bill Int.1503 and protect our industry from the unintended consequences of this bill.

Andrew Rigie is the Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade association formed in 2012 to foster the growth and vitality of the industry that has made New York City the Hospitality Capital of the World. Learn more at thenycalliance.org/