Are there about to be fewer restaurant and coffee shop bathrooms for New Yorkers to abuse? Yes, maybe, kinda—it's complicated. Thanks to some recent legislation signed by Mayor Bloomberg we certainly could soon see fewer urination stations around town. We know, not exactly the answer you wanted. But we wouldn't get your knickers in a twist just yet.
The problem is that the rules for bathrooms in restaurants and shops depend on a LOT of factors. Here, let's let the Times try and explain:
The answer depends not only on how many seats it has, or people it can hold, but also on when the building was built, when the restaurant opened, what its certificate of occupancy says and whether it underwent renovations and, if so, how extensive.
A building is subject to the law it was built under, and if a restaurant moves into an old restaurant space and does not change its bathroom fixtures, the old requirements apply. The city also does not have just one building code; there is a 1938 code, a 1968 code and a 2008 code, and all have different bathroom requirements. The 1968 code required one bathroom for each sex for up to 100 people. The 2008 code required one for each sex for up to 150, a Buildings Department spokeswoman said.
New laws are not retroactive — they apply only to new construction and if a site changes its use or occupancy load. Adding to the complexity, waivers have often been granted to smaller restaurants allowing them to have just one unisex bathroom when they otherwise might have needed two.
Got all that? Good, so you see what we mean. Basically, what the new rules mean is that going forward new spots, or heavily renovated spots can have fewer bathrooms than they currently do. Specifically, small restaurants and coffee shops with an occupancy of 30 people or fewer are allowed to provide patrons with one bathroom rather than two.
But for now? You can continue to use Starbucks as your personal WC. Y'know, until the coffee company totally freaks out and starts locking the doors unless you've got a receipt. And then it really is Urinetown for all of us!