Rule status: Adopted
Effective date: December 31, 2023
Proposed Rule Full Text
Adopted Rule Full Text
Adopted rule summary:
The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM) is adopting rules for the Open Culture Program and to extend the street fairs moratorium.
Comments are now closed.
Online comments: 24
These guidelines are overly restrictive and stifle valuable growth and activity in the City.
The moratorium on new street fair permits should be lifted. Many new events are waiting in the wings, as well as events brought back from previous years (eg before covid). Further, as the city evolves, activities that were previously done on private property may now need to move into the street due to development on previously vacant land.
Open Culture applications should have a rolling deadline, rather than fixed. Many performing and cultural groups have great ideas that might not be fully formulated by spring.
SAPO permits should be opened up for non-profit charitable organizations to engage in fundraising and programmatic events at or near their facilities. Our Human Service Center relies on revenue from seasonal flea markets, which also draw clients and support for our food pantry and social services.
It’s a mistake to make public gatherings illegal. When it comes to embracing our streets and deepening social cohesion among residents and visitors alike, our municipal resources are better spent encouraging that positive activity.
When our government agencies are pitted against each other in this way, social cohesion suffers and that costs more later.
We would love to engage with the City to explore more productive policy choices.
Proposed rules are needed because, in my neighborhood, “events” on the 34th Avenue “open street” are overly frequent, horribly loud and devoid of consideration for those who live and/or work along or near this primarily RESIDENTIAL avenue. NYPD precincts have a history of granting sound permits for block parties and street fairs for which other, prerequisite permits have not been obtained, so some central control is desperately needed to protect residents’ rights to quiet enjoyment of their homes.
I think the moratorium on street fairs is completely ridiculous. These fairs do not need excessive policing, so why are we allowing the NYPD to dictate how we use our streets. The “overtime” concerns are also absurd. The fairs are scheduled far in advance so the NYPD can easily schedule officers in their normal hours, no need to milk overtime. I really think the city should reconsider and allow more street fairs which liven up and bring the city together.
How is it possible that the NYPD is unable to support budget for street fairs planned months in advance? If they aren’t going to figure that out, can they at least ticket/confiscate the mopeds parked outside my apartment with no license plates?
I am so embarrassed that I voted for this mayor, and told my friends to vote for him too. Just another example of the total lack of leadership from Adams. 2 years in with 0 major accomplishments.
Street fairs are a vital source of community. They must be able to thrive. I do not support this rule change. The nypd does not even need to be there. They can find other ways to bloat the overtime and steal public money.
Please do not raise the fees for public events that are sponsored by nonprofit organizations and individuals. I am referring to fees to make a bike corral at an outdoor event. Also open street events those fees should stay the same. Thank you.
1.Open Culture and Open Streets Need to End:
Noise from a Neighbor is one of the top 3 complaints to 311. In fact – tragically – two recent homicides were the result of noise conflict among neighbors.
In a city where housing is incredibly problematic (cramped, expensive, in bad shape, rodents etc) and daily living is incredibly stressful and people can’t even sleep, it is unbelievable that the City would create more stress by expanding “Open Culture” and “Open Streets”.
These “programs” create more conflict and stress.
Moreover, there is no way that the City can supervise and monitor – City resources are already stretched too thin and the budget situation is worsening.
Further it is outrageous that the City allows “Open Streets” where there are MTA bus routes and so buses are diverted. Buses are essential – people need and are entitled to MTA bus service, especially now that the fare is higher. It is truly shameful that the City has prioritized bicycles and restaurants over essential MTA bus transit.
Instead of wasting scarce resources on Open Streets and Open Culture, the City should be using these funds to support parks, playgrounds and recreation in under-served neighborhoods.
2. Street Fairs – Need for Moratorium and Reduction:
There needs to be a Street Fair Moratorium and Street Fair reduction.
Street Fairs are just big tag sales and which result in tons of trash.
Street Fair hurt local stores already suffering due to rent, ecommerce and other factors.
Streets Fairs force MTA bus diversion. Buses are essential and people need and are entitled to MTA bus service, especially now that the fare is higher.
The City should not be wasting NYPD or any City resources on streets fairs.
This rule allows the open street partner to approve and disapprove of events on large swaths of city streets. This vests the power of the sovereign in an organization that is not elected or appointed. By exercising sovereign power over the use of public streets, these “partners” are acting as public officials yet this power is not properly vested in them. Their powers go beyond even the community board, which is only made aware of events on open streets.
“Each year SAPO issues permits to over 200 street fairs and over 6,000 other events, most of
which include the use of multiple blocks over several days, the erection of structures, the
vending of food, apparel and other goods and the use of amplified sound and the performance of
music. Events like these require additional police officers which increases overtime costs to the
City. These events also divert police officers from core crime fighting, public safety and
This claim is absolutely laughable. The NYPD works for the city. If they are going to lie through spokespeople, the city should realize savings and help the overextended police budget by terminating those spokespeople’s positions.
These events do not require “additional police officers”. There is far more illegal activity going on in any block where cars are permitted at any given time, including illegal blackout tints and obscured or fake license plates, that present actual, legitimate “counterterrorism” concerns, then at a street fair where there are eyes on the street and any criminals can only escape at a human pace. The fake pedestrianization which New York has been experimenting with for decades involving dozens of city employees standing around idling cars, doing nothing, is a massive waste of resources and not how any other city in the world works, for good reason. The public does not work for the police, period. They do not get to arrogate public space through themselves, neither by stealing it with their cars or negating it through their lying yelps for overtime.
The justification for pre-empting review of new street fair applications on the basis of potential NYPD Overtime continues to be invalid. Street Fair applications should be evaluated on their individual merits.
I oppose the Street Fair Moratorium.
NYPD has many opportunities in how they staff (or do not staff) Street Fairs which are predictable ahead of time and do not need to incur overtime. NYPD is capable of scheduling employees ahead of an event just like any business would to minimize overtime. NYPD needs to adapt, not CECM.
Street Fairs are a vital part of NYC that bring communities together and support local businesses, businesses that should know every application for a Street Fair is evaluated fairly (pun intended) and not rejected before it’s even received.
Open Plans writes today in regard to new proposed rules on the Open Culture Program, Open Streets events, and the extension of the moratorium on street fairs. We strongly oppose the extension of the street fair moratorium, and believe the justification of avoiding police overtime is illegitimate. We also generally oppose requiring Open Streets Partners to obtain SAPO permits for each event on an Open Street and burdening them with fees and bureaucracy when they provide an essential service the DOT relies on in order to meet their goals. Further comments on these points and others are below:
End the street fair moratorium. We are vehemently opposed to the extension of the street fair moratorium and continuation of the status quo. Categorical denial of applications is unjust. Street fairs bring economic and social benefits to our neighborhoods. They are especially vital for food entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to open up their own brick-and-mortar establishments. Further, the explanation for the continuance of this moratorium is to reduce police overtime — a claim that does not reflect the current reality of policing in our city, and devalues the safety and necessity of safe, joyful public spaces.
Remove unnecessary waiting periods for community block parties. We oppose maintaining a 60 day application lead time for block parties, which is an unreasonable time frame that places barriers for communities attempting to create community. Instead, a 14 day lead time more closely mirrors the reality of neighbors and community groups applying for such permits.
Avoid disproportionate categorical denials. We are concerned that the reasons listed to deny applications will be felt by New Yorkers and organizations with fewer resources and could lead to subjective application denial.
Free Open Streets Partners from burdensome bureaucracy. We oppose requiring Open Streets Partners to obtain a SAPO permit in order to conduct programming on an Open Street. The proposed rule does not (but should) remove this undue burden that Open Streets Partners face when providing programming that is in-line with DOT-stated goals.
Lift unnecessary fees for Open Streets Partners. We firmly believe that any “Open Street partner” should be fully and permanently exempt from paying a processing or convenience fee. Charging such a fee is unfair to the groups that are vital in providing a public good and service that the City relies on these groups to provide in order to meet their goals.
Ensure Community Boards remain advisory. Broadly speaking, we are concerned about the consistent focus placed on Community Boards in the existing and proposed rules. While we recognize that they are a neighborhood-level entity, they have traditionally not proven to be good-faith partners for street safety improvements nor public space events. Their role in this process should continue to be 100% advisory.
Director of Advocacy and Organizing
Michael SutherlandComment attachment
The moratorium is terrible for locals, businesses, and civic life in NYC. It sacrifices our social and commercial interests to the convenience of the NYPD. Do not extend it.
The Times Square Community Fully supports the Street Activity Permitting Office and the extension of the Street Fair Moratorium. Times Square regularly sees over 300,000 visitors. There are already 18 Street Fairs in our neighborhood. These street fairs occur on the weekends when we have two Broadway shows and traveling through the area is already challenging. Adding additional street closures will negatively impact Times Square and the Broadway community.
The moratorium on street fairs must be extended.
Times Square is already one of New York’s most traffic-infused neighborhoods, boasting a population that increases on weekends (when most fairs are held). Navigating midtown is a challenge and the array of outdoor events drives foot-traffic into the streets, diverts attention from storefronts and generates enormous amounts of trash.
Street Fairs in Times Square require alterations to traffic patterns which frustrate motorists, lead to increased congestion and create a significant barrier to accessing Broadway’s theatres. In the 2018 theatre season alone, Times Square streets closed twenty-seven times for fairs.
Yes to street fairs, we need culture and life. Why the hell are you blocking street fairs ? Just like you take away life guards. I pay taxes and do not support this bill Eric adams.
This is ridiculous. Yes allow the street fairs to take place, get a life Eric adams. Stop letting cops run this city.
Robin P Schatell
This chapter 1 of title 50 of the Rules of the City of New York — SAPO-Proposed-Rules-re-Permits-for-Open-Culture-Open-Streets-Programs-Extension-of-Street-Fair-Moratorium-Preliminarily-Certified-10.18.23, is not updated.
It lists passed dates for the Open Culture program and rules for Open Culture events that were established for Local Law No. 8 of 2021 in which Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management (OCECM) was directed to establish an Open Culture Program during the height of the Covid pandemic
1) In Section 1 – The definitions of “Open Culture Event” and “Open Culture Street”, as set forth in Section 1-01 of chapter 1 of title 50 of the Rules of the City of New York, – § 3. Subdivisions (i) and (j)– it read as follows:
• “the Open Culture program shall remain in effect until March 31, 2022, and the final application deadline for any Open Culture event shall be March 16, 2022.”
Local law 2023/080 made permanent the Open Culture program.
2) Section 1 also refers to an “Open Culture Event” activity as taking place in the roadway [on an Open Culture street] and defines “Open Culture Street” as a “street designated by the Department of Transportation for inclusion in the Open Culture program”
In addition,§ 5. Subdivisions a, b, c, d, g, h, and i — reads as follows:
• “ The Director will deny applications submitted for Open Culture event permits for any location that is not an Open Culture Street”.
DOT has not designated specific Open Culture Streets for Local law 2023/080. Local law 2023/080 intends for any New York City Street to be used for Open Culture Events.
3) Finally, there are no proposed rules, establish eligibility, and use guidelines and policies for the Open Culture program listed in chapter 1 of title 50 of the Rules of the City of New York (except for the two outdated rules mentioned earlier) for the public to Comment on except for the rule that directs CECM to establish eligibility and use guidelines and policies for the program and promulgate any necessary rules.
Given these discrepancies, I am asking for a second Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on a list of proposed rules of Open Culture program by the end of the year, and for the establishment of a consulting team of performing arts professionals, chaired by myself, to work alongside CECM again to create these rules of engagement, as we did in 2021 through Local Law No. 8 of 2021.
Ainul Haque for Muslim Day Parade
Director of Street Activity Permit Office
Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management
253 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Submitted via Email and website
Re: SAPO Proposed Rules re Permits for Open Culture Open Streets Programs Extension of Street Fair Moratorium
Dear Director Raynard,
I am a member of the United Neighbors of Prospect Crown Heights (https://unpch.org ) association, a group of over 1,500 (and growing) neighbors who came together last Spring out of concern of how the Vanderbilt Open Street program and the Underhill Bike Conversion in Brooklyn were being managed.
Specifically relevant to these rule changes, the Prospect Height Development Council (PHNDC), and its current leadership, has been unaccountable to the local community when impacted people have voiced concerns over how it runs the Open Street program on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn. Based on lived experience, I am writing to request rule changes to the Open Culture events permits to allow for more community oversight, Open Street Partner accountability, and clear, quick, easy to initiate recourse available to the community for any abuse of permits.
Sec. 4. (g)
Sec. 4 (g) of the proposed regulations requires SAPO to notify the community board and the Open Street Partner of Open Street Event applications.
I applaud that the Community Board is included as a mandatory body to receive notice of Open Street Event applications. I encourage you to consider adding the relevant City Council member, and Precinct Community Officers as well to provide more accountability over the process. As noted, in our experience with the Vanderbilt Open Street events, the Open Street Partner has demonstrated its unwillingness to take seriously the concerns of the impacted community. For that reason, as part of adding more accountability and pathways for the impacted community to have a voice, I urge you to add required notice to the City Council and Precinct community officers.
Sec. 4 (i)
Sec. 4 (i) establishes that the OSP is the only entity required to recommend approval or denial of the Open Street Event applications. Due to the experience with the Open Street Partner for the Vanderbilt Open Street, it is critical that other bodies are also required to recommend approval or denial of Open Street Event applications to the SAPO. In the case of Vanderbilt, the PHNDC is a non-profit unaccountable to community concerns. Furthermore, PHNDC themselves submits permits for Open Street Events. It is a conflict of interest for the PHNDC to propose Open Street Events and then be the only entity required to recommend approval or denial to the SAPO for SAPO final decision.
I urge SAPO to require the relevant City Council Member, Community Board and the Precent Community Officers to this section as required entities to recommend approval or denial of Open Street Event applications to the SAPO to ensure that the local impacted community has accountable bodies involved in the process.
Sec. 4 (j)
Sec. 4 (j) requires that the Open Street Event application will be available for review via the Citywide Event Management Systems “CEMS” database.
Due to our experience with the Vanderbilt Avenue Open Street Partner that is unaccountable and often disdainful of locally impacted persons’ concerns, it is important to provide a transparent mechanism to ensure oversight. If the CEMS is not publicly accessible, I urge you to include a mechanism for public transparency over Event applications. A possibility is to require the entities that receive notice of the OS Event application to be required to post them publicly and/or SAPO has a web page where they are publicly accessible.
Sec. 5 (a)
Sec. 5 (a) requires SAPO to consider recommendations or comments from a limited list of sources when making decisions regardng Open Street Event permits. Again, relying on our own experience with the Vanderbilt Open Streets, it is important that the locally impacted community themselves and locally accountably entities be involved in this process. For that reason, I urge you to render mandatory for the SAPO to consider recommendations and comments from locally impacted persons, the relevant City Council representative, the relevant Community liaison officers, and the relevant NY state senator and assembly persons (who we have had to appeal to regarding Vanderbilt).
Sec. 5 (c)
Sec. 5 (c)(1) states that the SAPO will take into consideration recommendations for approval or denial of Open Street Event permits only from the public agencies listed in this section that received a copy of a Street event permit application for comment, and has notified the Director of SAPO of its disapproval and the reasons.
I urge you to consider including locally impacted persons to this list. This suggestion also inherently means that the public must have a meaningful way to receive notice and provide recommendations to approval or denial.
Sec. 5 [(i)](h)
Sec. 5 [(i)](h) establishes 5 days for approval or denial of the complete application. What is not clear is the time period for recommendations for the entities to provide recommendations on approval or denial of the Open Street permits. I urge you to provide at least 30 das for that process, as the Community Board, City Council person, community affairs officers and the local impacted persons need a reasonable amount of time to review the application and comment.
Thank you for considering these comments.
Cathleen CaronComment attachment
Washington Ave, Brooklyn resident
United Neighbors of Prospect Crown Heights member
The Manhattan Theatre Club fully supports the Street Activity Permitting Office and the extension of the Street Fair Moratorium.
The Times Square area is already increasingly difficult to navigate even without additional street closures. The theater industry, the life blood of Times Square, has struggled to fully bring audiences back after the pandemic. Adding more barriers to attendance will only hurt a fragile industry.
We urge you to extend the moratorium to protect non profit theaters like MTC and Roundabout in addition to the core business of commercial Broadway theater. Please don’t further jeopardize these foundational businesses that define NYC and Times Square.
The attached testimony is submitted on behalf of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Inc.Comment attachment
34th Street Partnership and Bryant Park Corporation request that the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management continue the moratorium on all street fairs in 2024. We are opposed to street fairs because they generate unsanitary street conditions, blatantly disregard SAPO regulations, and unfairly burden the businesses and residents which make our districts vibrant and lively everyday.
We have had a representative on site at many of the street fairs in our districts. This representative conducts inspections, photographing street conditions and monitoring closing and clean-up deadlines imposed on vendors.
We have observed that street fair sanitation and health conditions are sub-par and cause undue strain on our staff resources. Fairs generate large oil puddles and food residue that leave lasting stains on sidewalk ramps and curb edges. They overwhelm waste receptacles with trash produced from visitors and street vendors. We have observed over 70% of receptacles to overflow during fairs. Street fair vendors offer low-grade and unhealthy food products prepared under unsanitary conditions. The City’s push for better access to healthy food on city property is undermined by permitting street fairs to operate outside of the recent regulations placed on commercial events in our streets and plazas.
Furthermore, vendors habitually disregard important SAPO regulations. Many vendors stay open well after 6pm, allowing queues to grow long after the mandated closing time. While packing up, vendors will continue to lay out merchandise on the streets and shout prices to passersby.
The midtown neighborhoods we manage do not require the additional activity that street fairs provide and attract. The combination of loud music from vendors’ speakers, rumbling generators, and loud cooking equipment disrupt quality of life for the residents and businesses in our districts. We have heard from constituents that such fairs draw attention away from our retailers. We firmly believe that brick-and-mortar businesses which make up the community of our districts deserve the full support of the City, and that street fairs only serve to hinder them.
Midtown street fairs are no longer a unique, singular, or curated experience. One can expect the same offerings at every street fair throughout Manhattan, and even within one fair as they often repeat block after block. They limit the ability of our staff to maintain the high standards of sanitation, security, and programming that New Yorkers have come to expect.
We ask that these issues be considered in evaluation of the moratorium extension, and that the City deny all street fair applications in 2024.
Vice President, Retail Services
34th Street Partnership
Bryant Park Corporation