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New Yorkers file lawsuit wanting to end COVID outdoor dining over boom in trash, rats


New Yorkers file lawsuit seeking to end COVID outdoor dining over boom in trash, rats

A rat sits on the frame of a patio dining shack for an Upper West Side restaurant in March 2022. Photo by Adam Schrader/UPI

July 31 (UPI) — Several NY residents have filed case seeking a finish to the outdoor dining shacks built-in pandemic they state has resulted in a boom in trash and rats.

The eight-page lawsuit, obtained by UPI, was filed Friday against NY State and NEW YORK in the state’s Supreme Court.

The residents said the Temporary Outdoor Restaurant program implemented in June 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in “increased and excessive noise, traffic congestion, garbage and uncontrolled rodent populations and the blocking of sidewalks and roadways.”

The lawsuit also reads that this program “also continues to appropriate substantial share of public sidewalks and streets for private use and profit.”

“We were okay with restaurants utilizing the outside for dining when COVID came. It had been fine to provide them the exterior for dining then. Also it was okay never to charge them anything for the area then,” Robert Camacho, chair of Brooklyn Community Board 4, wrote within an affidavit filed with the lawsuit.

“But Corona has ended now. The pandemic has ended. The only real Corona we have now is the main one you get in from the refrigerator case in the store.”

The lawsuit employs the brand new York City Council in February passed legislation to create a permanent program to help keep outdoor dining, which have been created as a temporary treatment for help restaurants struggling due to lockdown restrictions.

Since those lockdown restrictions have long since been lifted, the brand new Yorkers said that the town is “abusing its authority” to keep allowing the dining shacks — a lot of that have fallen into various states of disrepair.

“Now some restaurant owners are employing the sheds for storage, not for outdoor dining,” Camacho wrote in his affidavit.

“Some are filled up with garbage. Some have kids within getting high. There’s water and sludge and garbage accumulated between them also it has the aroma of urine and human feces.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the outdoor dining shacks have caused problems for pedestrians attempting to navigate the sidewalks along with cars searching for parking.

Douglas Armer, among the a large number of folks from Manhattan and Brooklyn that are party in the lawsuit, wrote in his affidavit that the restaurant sheds “harbor vermin, collect food waste and impede garbage collection.”

“The effect is really a persistent unsanitary condition including garbage and broken glass strewn next door, rodent infestation and standing water in the gutters,” Armer wrote in his statement.

Brooklyn resident Angela Bilotti echoed the statements of her fellow petitioners in her affidavit with the lawsuit, adding that the sheds pose challenges for city garbage trucks and street sweepers that are “struggling to do their job.”

“Pre-pandemic, I enjoyed my neighborhood’s charm, clean and quaint tree-lined streets, parks, and peacefully employed in my garden,” Bilotti said in her affidavit.

“The sheds filling the streets have grown to be nesting grounds for rats. Litter lines the streets as rats tear open the piles of trash left next to the sheds. Stormwater collects at the shed walls becoming mosquito breeding grounds, and the stench is horrendous.”

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