8 votes

'If you eat here, you're dining with rats'

23 comments

  1. [19]
    Adys
    Link
    What a terrible article for giving a voice to what amounts to NIMBY. “But firetrucks have to slow down!”, fucking really? Instead of focusing on the actual issues and how they can be fixed, the...

    What a terrible article for giving a voice to what amounts to NIMBY. “But firetrucks have to slow down!”, fucking really?

    Instead of focusing on the actual issues and how they can be fixed, the people in question are just yelling out “This should have gone through decades of bureaucracy before being approved!”. No thanks.

    Jacob Siwak, head chef and owner of Italian restaurant, Forsythia, just across the road from where Deborah lives, finds the criticism of the outdoor dining scheme infuriating.
    "It's just insane to me that people are focusing on these minutiae, that might be a slight negative, when there are so many radical positives," he says.

    5 votes
    1. Thra11
      Link Parent
      I don't have a problem with trialling something before working out all the kinks, but the authorities seem a bit too laid back if they've watched garbage piling in the street for nearly two years...

      I don't have a problem with trialling something before working out all the kinks, but the authorities seem a bit too laid back if they've watched garbage piling in the street for nearly two years before "launching a consultation". If the garbage problem is anywhere near as bad as the article suggests, they should either have solved the problem a long time ago, or paused the scheme until they could.

      6 votes
    2. [7]
      TemulentTeatotaler
      Link Parent
      What gave you that impression? The residents claim to have supported outdoor dining as an emergency scheme: An impact assessment seems pretty reasonable before making any permanent change. One...

      the people in question are just yelling out “This should have gone through decades of bureaucracy before being approved!”. No thanks.

      What gave you that impression? The residents claim to have supported outdoor dining as an emergency scheme:

      The City Council - the elected body that manages New York affairs - is now in the process of debating and voting on removing zoning regulations that limit outdoor dining.

      That move has angered Diem, Marcell and Deborah. They say no proper assessment has been made of the impact the restaurant sheds are having. And they, along with more than a dozen other residents, have launched legal action to try force the city to look more closely at the effect a permanent expansion of outdoor eating and socialising will have.

      "That was not the plan," says Deborah. She adds, when the emergency scheme was launched, residents supported it...

      An impact assessment seems pretty reasonable before making any permanent change.

      One other thing that stood out to me was:

      Doubling restaurants' capacity by allowing them free use of the street, means landlords are being gifted one of the biggest public landgrabs in New York City's history.

      Restaurants are part food industry, part real estate. Their value is tied to how many people they can seat. Land is expensive in New York and restaurants were supported during a crisis by being allowed to use the street, but that doesn't mean that has to continue in perpetuity without something like an impact assessment.

      The article doesn't try to verify if there are legitimate problems with rats or access for emergency vehicles, but it also doesn't verify a restaurant owner's claim that are radical positives for the neighborhood or a public mandate for letting him use the street. Saying that he's able to employ more people as a justification is a bit of a joke.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        What would you expect it to look like? I invite you to really think about how shallow the paragraph you quoted is. Think about it line by line. It's political speech: Completely empty, but made to...

        An impact assessment seems pretty reasonable before making any permanent change.

        What would you expect it to look like? I invite you to really think about how shallow the paragraph you quoted is. Think about it line by line. It's political speech: Completely empty, but made to sound like the obvious and reasonable thing.

        I do agree with the property value point. I suspect that is part of what would come out of a "permanent" solution.

        New York is not unique here. Many other cities, mine included, are having all these discussions. By and large, streetside dining is loved by pedestrians, businesses, everyone. Everyone except the people who lost their favourite parking spot, that is.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          TemulentTeatotaler
          Link Parent
          I don't have a relevant background to try to put forth anything solid, but off the top of my head it would include things like: What is the a relationship between calls/reports of pest...

          What would you expect it to look like?

          I don't have a relevant background to try to put forth anything solid, but off the top of my head it would include things like:

          • What is the a relationship between calls/reports of pest infestations and density of street restaurants? Of confirmed cases?
          • What is the mean response time of emergency vehicles to / through those sorts of streets?
          • What is the average volume of the street? To what hours is there volume over some threshold (one that might interfere with sleep)?
          • What other uses of the street are desired and how do residents rank their preference?

          ...along with questions to evaluate what was improved.

          I have a cousin who is involved in city planning and have had other acquaintances that have done environmental impact assessments. There are a lot of things I'd never think of (e.g., using apex predators as an indicator of the health of an ecosystem) that an expert might.

          I understand what you mean about NIMBYism and dissembling political speech (such as with wind farms), but that doesn't mean that there aren't legitimate complaints and qualified people to evaluate those complaints out there.

          Near my area there was some contention over large slab homes. Maybe some of the complaints were NIMBYesque, like an old lady who wasn't happy that her yard was permanently cast in shadow, or complaints about the artsy vibe of the neighborhood getting erased. There was also significantly increased risk of flooding.

          Who do you think is the relevant constituency for making this sort of decision? Residents? Business owners and their local clients? Tourists?

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            To be clear I didn't mean to diminish the role of city planning, I can certainly appreciate how complex something like that can be. My point was that the complaints made by those citizens were IMO...

            To be clear I didn't mean to diminish the role of city planning, I can certainly appreciate how complex something like that can be. My point was that the complaints made by those citizens were IMO pretty vacuous.

            Who do you think is the relevant constituency for making this sort of decision? Residents? Business owners and their local clients? Tourists?

            A question as old as cities have been around, eh? I don't think this is a special case though, and whatever the answer is, it shouldn't be NIMBY-driven.

            I've seen a couple restaurants complain in Brussels, because they already had a terrace. So they'd talk about how losing parking spots meant less traffic to the restaurants or some BS like that.

            By the way, I shouldn't have gotten so upset about the article; I hope you didn't take it personally. It just … rubbed me the wrong way to see people complain about a measure that is nearly universally loved, and to see the BBC give a voice to NIMBY.

            2 votes
            1. TemulentTeatotaler
              Link Parent
              No worries, and nothing taken personally! I could guess you've already had experiences that were informing your position that I just haven't had.

              No worries, and nothing taken personally! I could guess you've already had experiences that were informing your position that I just haven't had.

              1 vote
      2. [2]
        rosco
        Link Parent
        Thank you for highlighting this, it is incredibly interesting. What would you think about changing the dynamic from free use to space rented from the city? That could be a really interesting...

        Doubling restaurants' capacity by allowing them free use of the street, means landlords are being gifted one of the biggest public landgrabs in New York City's history.

        Thank you for highlighting this, it is incredibly interesting. What would you think about changing the dynamic from free use to space rented from the city? That could be a really interesting revenue stream for municipalities and still allow for outdoor usage. I assume the land value would still increase, but it does seem like a potential public/private win win.

        1 vote
        1. TemulentTeatotaler
          Link Parent
          Sorry about never replying to this! The end of year got a bit hectic. I think space rented from the city could be a great idea to explore, and there may be lots of other situations where public...

          Sorry about never replying to this! The end of year got a bit hectic.

          I think space rented from the city could be a great idea to explore, and there may be lots of other situations where public land is underutilized due to the status quo being to use it for nothing. Your question made me think about the different communities I've seen that used space for little libraries or gardens, and how many missed opportunities their might be because no one asks (in the way developers are motivated to ask).

          As @Adys mentioned, it's an age old question of whose perspective you're using on whether something is "underutilized", though, and not one I have any insight into.

          I think the only safe changes are those few that are Paretto optimal, with the majority being ones that are competitions of preference and needs.

          Deciding to force some neighborhood to move via eminent domain (or equivalent for non U.S.ians) is just a mess I can't get into. Maybe you pay 2x the house value, you give 20x the number of people access to utilities and transportation, but you're still probably ruining lives.

          You may make changes in a neighborhood that makes everyone except the elderly happy. They may unrealistically feel unsafe because of increased noise (with no increased incidents of crime), but that meaningfully changes their quality of life or habits.

          About all I've got on that is I think it's best to have as many voices involved in those decisions, weighted by how much they'll be effected by it?

          2 votes
    3. [10]
      lou
      Link Parent
      What is that?

      NIMBY

      What is that?

      1 vote
      1. [9]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        “Not in my backyard”, a term to represent the general aversion some people feel about their neighbourhood changing in any way, even if said way is positive to everyone else. Wikipedia:...

        “Not in my backyard”, a term to represent the general aversion some people feel about their neighbourhood changing in any way, even if said way is positive to everyone else.

        Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NIMBY

        3 votes
        1. [8]
          lou
          Link Parent
          I see. But isn't rats and trash on the street, like, bad?

          I see. But isn't rats and trash on the street, like, bad?

          4 votes
          1. [7]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            While rats headline the article, that is essentially just clickbait as the meat of the article is about three specific people’s opinion that streetside dining has made NYC worse and should not...

            While rats headline the article, that is essentially just clickbait as the meat of the article is about three specific people’s opinion that streetside dining has made NYC worse and should not have been approved.

            Indeed rats are bad but those people fail to link streetside dining and rats. They assume that the restaurants are causing trash to pile up and I am having a lot of trouble following that completely unsubstantiated claim.

            Streetside dining has happened the same way here in Brussels and we don’t have a rat or trash problem. So, something else is at play.

            7 votes
            1. [6]
              lou
              Link Parent
              I didn't get that impression. They made a connection between street dining and rats. I'm not in either Brussels or New York City, but isn't it possible that NYC is different than Brussels in that...

              I didn't get that impression. They made a connection between street dining and rats. I'm not in either Brussels or New York City, but isn't it possible that NYC is different than Brussels in that respect?

              1 vote
              1. [5]
                Adys
                Link Parent
                I just came back from NYC two weeks ago and the streetside dining did not look particularly different here than there. There were more of them actually covered which was a nice touch. Either way,...

                I just came back from NYC two weeks ago and the streetside dining did not look particularly different here than there. There were more of them actually covered which was a nice touch.

                Either way, the attitude displayed here is the wrong one. “It should have been thought through more” is such a useless statement; yes congratulations on having hindsight, mr 20/20.

                Streetside dining was used by many cities as an emergency move to save a sector that was suffering a lot. It worked and not only did it work but people like it so now cities are trying to integrate it properly rather than have it continue feeling like a hack.

                Whatever is causing those rats needs to be investigated. By a team of people who isn’t “three whiny neighbours upset it’s harder to find parking spots”.

                4 votes
                1. [4]
                  lou
                  Link Parent
                  Sure, but NYC is pretty big and their rats are kinda legendary. I was thinking more about the underground really. Sewer system and whatnot, combined with whatever is happening above.

                  Sure, but NYC is pretty big and their rats are kinda legendary. I was thinking more about the underground really. Sewer system and whatnot, combined with whatever is happening above.

                  1 vote
                  1. [3]
                    Adys
                    Link Parent
                    Im not saying the two aren’t linked, I just said that in the article it’s completely unsubstantiated. And the solution outlined is “let’s remove streetside dining” when clearly people like it....

                    Im not saying the two aren’t linked, I just said that in the article it’s completely unsubstantiated.

                    And the solution outlined is “let’s remove streetside dining” when clearly people like it. Like I said, NIMBY at its finest.

                    If the trash is the problem, surely then let’s address the trash problem?

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      lou
                      Link Parent
                      I don't get it. I wouldn't blame anyone for making a connection between trash and rats. They may of course be wrong, but I would never dismiss it as "NIMBY" or whatever. That's a weird way to...

                      I don't get it. I wouldn't blame anyone for making a connection between trash and rats. They may of course be wrong, but I would never dismiss it as "NIMBY" or whatever. That's a weird way to express skepticism.

                      3 votes
                      1. Adys
                        Link Parent
                        The article fails to link the trash to the streetside dining.

                        The article fails to link the trash to the streetside dining.

                        2 votes
  2. [2]
    Thra11
    Link
    Does anyone here live in New York? Just reading the article, it's really difficult to tell whether we're looking at a couple of photos taken on bin day in the hours between the restaurants putting...

    Does anyone here live in New York? Just reading the article, it's really difficult to tell whether we're looking at a couple of photos taken on bin day in the hours between the restaurants putting the rubbish out and it being collected, or whether there's rubbish piling up in the street every day.

    3 votes
    1. Qis
      Link Parent
      I was in nyc thru the rise of these street-side seating set-ups. There is rubbish piling up on many streets in many parts of the city, but the restaurants aren't to blame for the piles (they would...

      I was in nyc thru the rise of these street-side seating set-ups. There is rubbish piling up on many streets in many parts of the city, but the restaurants aren't to blame for the piles (they would have piled anyway) and the curbside shacks have done an unthinkably successful job of reclaiming street space for pedestrians. It is, in my estimation, an unmitigated good.

      6 votes
  3. Thra11
    Link
    You'd think that the restaurants would want to keep the street as clean as possible. I mean, who wants to eat at a table next to a pile of stinky bin bags? That said, if there's no other access to...

    Diem, Deborah and Marcell say the shelters encourage "mile high" piles of black plastic rubbish bags to accumulate at the roadside

    You'd think that the restaurants would want to keep the street as clean as possible. I mean, who wants to eat at a table next to a pile of stinky bin bags? That said, if there's no other access to the buildings, and that's the only way they can get their rubbish collected, then it's not obvious what the solution is.

    2 votes
  4. skybrian
    Link
    I don’t know about rats, but in California, pigeons can be a nuisance. Any briefly unattended food will attract attention.

    I don’t know about rats, but in California, pigeons can be a nuisance. Any briefly unattended food will attract attention.

    2 votes