As any car owner knows, New York City is a veritable utopia of free parking, with such an excess of space that it's not unusual to see tumbleweeds blowing through vast expanses of forgotten curbside parking prairies. We even have a holiday to celebrate our parking abundance, called Park(ing) Day! For years, the city has struggled to come up with a better use for all this unused real estate, and now it seems the DOT has finally found a solution: letting restaurants use them as seasonal "pop-up" cafes.

After deeming the first pop-up cafe in Lower Manhattan a success, the DOT is "seeking applications from restaurants for its Pop-up Café Program. Pop-up Cafés provide outdoor public seating in the curb lane during the warm months and promote local businesses. Such cafés are popular in Europe, where narrow sidewalks prevent sidewalk cafés, and have recently been established in California and Canada." Well, as long as it's going to make NYC more like Toronto or LA or Copenhagen, we're sure New Yorkers will embrace it!

The DOT may approve as many as 12 cafes for next spring, but they're only considering applications from restaurants in locations where sidewalk cafés are not permitted. And any restaurant that gets approval has to cover the cost of installing and maintaining the cafe, which must be open to the public, even if nobody buys anything. According to the DOT, these cafes could cost approximately $10,000 per restaurant, but applicants may spend as little or as much as they wish, as long as they follow all the requirements and meet the approval of David Byrne. [Via Brooklyn Paper]