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Chapter 4 - Sidewalk Cafe Regulations

The City of New York
Bill de Blasio, Mayor
City Planning Commission
Marisa Lago, Chair

The sidewalk cafe regulations as established in this Resolution are city-wide regulations, designed to encourage sidewalk cafes in locations where they are appropriate, discourage them in locations where they are inappropriate, and promote and protect public health, safety, general welfare and amenity. These general goals include, among others, the following specific purposes:

(a)        To ensure adequate space for pedestrians on the sidewalk adjacent to sidewalk cafes.

(b)        To promote sidewalk cafes as visual amenities that better relate to the streetscape.

(c)        To preserve and enhance the character of neighborhoods throughout the City.

(d)        To simplify administrative regulations and strengthen enforcement procedures for sidewalk cafes and ensure that such requirements are effective, efficient and enforceable.

(e)        To promote the most desirable use of land and thus to conserve the value of land and buildings and thereby protect the City's tax revenues.

In harmony with the general purpose and intent of this Resolution, and the general purposes of the sidewalk cafe regulations, certain specified regulations concerning area eligibility, sidewalk locational criteria and physical criteria for sidewalk cafes, in general, and specifically for enclosed sidewalk cafes, are herein established.

The three types of sidewalk cafes that are permitted by the regulations of this Chapter and defined in Section 12-10 (DEFINITIONS) are enclosed sidewalk cafes, unenclosed sidewalk cafes and small sidewalk cafes.

The amendments to Article I, Chapter 4, adopted by the City Council on January 29, 2003, shall become effective March 27, 2003.

Physical criteria, including structural and operational requirements for sidewalk cafes, and unenclosed sidewalk cafes in particular, shall be regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs and found in Title 6, Chapter 2, Subchapter F., of the Rules of the City of New York.

Licenses for all sidewalk cafes must be obtained from the Department of Consumer Affairs, or its successor.

Sidewalk cafes may be located in all R10H Districts, in all Commercial Districts other than C3 Districts and in all Manufacturing Districts only where eating or drinking establishments are permitted, as modified by special eligibility regulations set forth in Sections 14-40 through 14-45, inclusive. These sections identify streets, areas, special districts and malls or portions of streets for which special area eligibility regulations apply:

Section 14-40 — (AREA ELIGIBILITY FOR SIDEWALK CAFES)

Section 14-41 — (Locations Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted)

Section 14-42 - (Locations Where Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted)

Section 14-43 — (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted)

Section 14-44 — (Special Zoning Districts Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted)

Section 14-45 — (Street Malls Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted).

Sidewalk cafes shall be permitted in Historic Districts or in designated landmark buildings only if such sidewalk cafe is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The regulations of this Section, governing clear path, clearance at intersection of streets, clearance from large obstructions and minimum distance between two cafes shall apply to all enclosed sidewalk cafes.

(a)        Clear path

There shall be a minimum of 8 feet, 0 inches clear distance or 50 percent of the sidewalk width, whichever is greater, free of all obstructions, in order to allow adequate pedestrian movement.

The minimum distance shall be measured from the portion of the enclosed sidewalk cafe frontage that is nearest either the curb line or the nearest obstruction. In no event may recesses in the enclosed sidewalk cafe frontage be used to satisfy this unobstructed width requirement, except that the corners of the enclosed sidewalk cafe may be rounded or mitered. A clearance of 8 feet, 0 inches shall be maintained around the corners of enclosed sidewalk cafes, measured in radius.

For the purpose of the minimum clear path, but not the clearance from corners of enclosed sidewalk cafes, parking meters, traffic signs, and trees that have gratings flush to grade, without fences or guards, shall not count as obstructions

In the case of a street for which a mall plan or other special plan has been adopted, the clear path requirements pursuant to this Section shall be deemed satisfied if there is not less than an 8 feet, 0 inches clear path.

(b)        Clearance at intersections of street line

There shall be a minimum of 9 feet, 0 inches clearance, free of all obstructions with no exception, measured from the outer edge of the enclosed sidewalk cafe to the curbside obstacle. The corner of the enclosed sidewalk cafe wall may be rounded or mitered. Such distance shall be measured from the outer edge of the enclosed sidewalk cafe to either the curb line or the nearest obstruction.

(c)        Clearance from large obstructions

All enclosed sidewalk cafes shall be a minimum of 15 feet from large obstructions. For the purposes of this Section, large obstructions shall be bus stop shelters, newsstands, subway entrances or any other object greater than 15 square feet in area. The closed end of a subway entrance located along the front lot line may abut an enclosed sidewalk cafe.

(d)        Minimum distance between enclosed sidewalk cafes

There shall be a minimum distance of 40 feet between the near end walls of two enclosed sidewalk cafes if an entrance to a ground floor commercial use, other than an entrance to the eating or drinking place associated with either enclosed sidewalk cafe, is located between them.

There shall be a minimum distance of 15 feet between the near end walls of two enclosed sidewalk cafes if an entrance to a ground floor non-commercial use, or a use located above or below the ground floor, other than an entrance to the eating or drinking place associated with either enclosed sidewalk cafe, is located between them.

The regulations of this Section governing certain structural and operational requirements shall apply to all enclosed sidewalk cafes.

(a)        Ceiling

The ceiling of an enclosed sidewalk cafe shall be of incombustible materials, including colored or colorless safety glass or fabric which has been treated to be fire resistant as approved by the Department of Buildings.

At no point shall the height of the ceiling of an enclosed sidewalk cafe be lower than 7 feet, 0 inches above the floor of the sidewalk cafe.

(b)        Transparency — exterior walls

An enclosed sidewalk cafe may provide a base wall of opaque material up to a maximum height of 12 inches from the finished floor level. The base wall shall include any horizontal structural members that support transparent materials above.

All enclosing walls, doors and windows, except for the structural members, above finished floor level or base wall as provided in this Section, up to a height of 7 feet, 0 inches above finished floor level, must be of colorless, untinted, non-reflective, transparent material, as approved by the Department of Buildings. In order to maximize transparency, the horizontal as well as vertical structural members shall not be sized more than 10 inches wide.

At least 50 percent of the walls, up to a height of 7 feet, 0 inches above finished floor level, shall consist of operable transparent windows.

(c)        Elevation

The enclosed sidewalk cafe floor shall not be more than seven inches above the level of the adjoining sidewalk.

In the event of a major grade change, however, the City Planning Commission may, by certification, permit the floor level to be more than seven inches above the level of the adjoining sidewalk.

(d)        Designated boundaries

No portion of enclosed sidewalk cafes, such as doors, windows, walls or any objects placed within an enclosed sidewalk cafe, shall swing or project beyond the designated exterior perimeter of the enclosed sidewalk cafe. However, fire exit doors that are used exclusively as emergency fire exit doors shall be exempt from this provision.

(e)        Fixtures

The furnishings of the interior of an enclosed sidewalk cafe shall consist solely of moveable tables, chairs and decorative accessories. No objects, except lighting fixtures and HVAC installations, may be permanently affixed onto any portion of the wall of the enclosed sidewalk cafe. In no event shall such objects penetrate the exterior perimeter of the wall or the roof of the enclosed sidewalk cafe or impede the transparency as required by this Chapter. The exhaust for such HVAC installations on the adjacent walls shall not be less than 10 feet above curb level.

(f)        Refuse storage area

No structure or enclosure to accommodate the storage of garbage may be erected or placed adjacent to or separate from the enclosed sidewalk cafe on the public right-of-way.

An enclosed sidewalk cafe or its restaurant shall be directly accessible to persons with physical disabilities. In the event the main restaurant has provided such access, the enclosed sidewalk cafe shall be accessible to persons with disabilities from the interior of the restaurant.

In order to ensure access for persons with physical disabilities:

(a)        at least one door leading into the enclosed sidewalk cafe or restaurant from the adjoining sidewalk shall be not less than three feet wide, clear; and

(b)        a ramp with non-skid surface, if there is change of grade, having a minimum width of three feet and a slope of not greater than 1 in 12, shall be provided. Such ramp may be of portable type for enclosed sidewalk cafes that are six feet wide or less, except if such sidewalk cafe is at least 180 square feet in area.

14-123

Signage

No signs are permitted on an enclosed sidewalk cafe, except that the name and type of establishment may be placed upon the glass wall but shall not obscure the required transparency.

In all Commercial or Manufacturing Districts, where enclosed sidewalk cafes are permitted in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, the City Planning Commission may permit, upon application, modifications to the locational or physical criteria regulations for enclosed sidewalk cafes, except that there shall be no modification of Sections 14-41 (Locations Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted), 14-42 (Locations Where Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes Are Not Permitted), 14-44 (Special Zoning Districts Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted) and 14-45 (Street Malls Where Certain Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted), provided the Commission finds that:

(a)        the enclosed sidewalk cafe is developed consistent with the general purposes and objectives of this Chapter;

(b)        any proposed modification to the requirements of this Chapter will result in good overall design and enhance the general character of the street and the neighborhood;

(c)        any proposed modifications to the requirements of this Chapter will not cause a serious adverse effect on pedestrian traffic;

(d)        the restaurant or enclosed sidewalk cafe provides access for persons with disabilities;

(e)        where a proposed enclosed sidewalk cafe is located between two existing stoops, it will not project beyond the stoops; and

(f)        modifications to the provisions of paragraph (a) of Section 14-11 (Locational Criteria for Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes) shall be limited to the minimum clear path for a proposed enclosed sidewalk cafe that would be located on a street with a special pedestrian plan.

Physical criteria for unenclosed sidewalk cafes, including structural and operational requirements, shall be regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs pursuant to the Rules of the City of New York as described in Section 14-01 (General Provisions). Small sidewalk cafes, however, shall also conform to the requirements of Section 14-30.

Small sidewalk cafes shall be subject to the regulations of Section 14-01 (General Provisions) and, in addition, shall comply with the requirements for the definition of small sidewalk cafes in Section 12-10 as well as the following physical criteria:

(a)        no form of serving station or any other type of furniture, other than the single row of tables and chairs set adjacent to the street line, may be placed within that space occupied by a small sidewalk cafe ;

(b)        there shall be no railing, structure or other form of barrier between a small sidewalk cafe and the remaining area of the sidewalk; and

(c)        there shall be no overhead coverage other than a retractable awning that is affixed to the building wall and does not extend further than 4 feet, 6 inches.

Small sidewalk cafes are permitted wherever sidewalk cafes may be located pursuant to the requirements of Section 14-011. Section 14-43 (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted) lists specific streets and areas where no sidewalk cafes other than small sidewalk cafes may be located.

Sections 14-40 through 14-45 identify those locations where specific area eligibility regulations apply.

For the purposes of Sections 14-40 through 14-45, the length of a street shall run the full block to the nearest intersections with cross streets, unless otherwise stated.

Areas bounded by streets shall include both sides of such streets and shall be subject to the regulations of this Chapter pertaining to such areas. When a street forms the boundary of a special district, however, only that side of the street located within the special district shall be subject to the regulations pertaining to the special district.

Sidewalk cafes shall only be allowed to locate along the length of a street or within the area bounded by streets, as set forth in Sections 14-40 through 14-45, where the applicable use regulations of the district allow eating and drinking establishments, either as-of-right, by certification or by authorization or special permit.

No enclosed or unenclosed sidewalk cafes shall be permitted on any of the following streets, portions of streets and areas, except that small sidewalk cafes may be permitted pursuant to the provisions of Section 14-43 (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted).

        

Citywide:

All streets with elevated rail transit lines, unless specifically permitted in Section 14-43.

        

Manhattan:

All streets bounded by 38th Street on the south, 59th Street on the north, Third Avenue on the east and Eighth Avenue on the west

All streets within the M1-5A and M1-5B Districts south of Houston Street

Bowery — from East Broadway to Canal Street

Elizabeth Street — from Bayard Street to Canal Street

Pell Street — the entire length

Mott Street — from Park Row to Canal Street

Mulberry Street — from Worth Street to Canal Street

Bayard Street — the entire length

Doyers Street — the entire length

All streets facing Chatham Square

Canal Street — the entire length

Orchard Street — from Canal Street to Houston Street

Delancey Street — from Norfolk Street to the Bowery

Eighth Street — from Avenue A to Sixth Avenue

14th Street — from Second Avenue to Eighth Avenue

23rd Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

31st Street — from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue

32nd Street — from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue

33rd Street — from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue

34th Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

42nd Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

All streets or portions of streets bounded by 43rd Street on the south, 45th Street on the north, Eighth Avenue on the east and, on the west, a line 150 feet west of Eighth Avenue

57th Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

58th Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

59th Street — from the East River to Fifth Avenue

59th Street — from Sixth Avenue to Columbus Circle

All streets bounded by 59th Street on the south, 61st Street on the north, Fifth Avenue on the west and, on the east, a line 125 feet east of Fifth Avenue

60th Street — from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue

61st Street — from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue

62nd Street — from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue

63rd Street — from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue

68th Street — from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue

72nd Street — from the East River to Fifth Avenue

77th Street — from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue

79th Street — from the East River to Fifth Avenue

86th Street — from the East River to Fifth Avenue

116th Street — from Malcolm X Boulevard to Frederick Douglass Boulevard

First Avenue — from 48th Street to 59th Street

Third Avenue — from 59th Street to 62nd Street

Lexington Avenue — the entire length

Park Avenue — the entire length from 38th Street, northward

Madison Avenue — the entire length

Fifth Avenue — from Washington Square North to 61st Street

Sixth Avenue — from 31st Street to 38th Street

Broadway — from 31st Street to 38th Street

Seventh Avenue — from 31st Street to 38th Street

Eighth Avenue — from 31st Street to 38th Street

Herald Square.

        

Brooklyn:

13th Avenue — from 39th Street to New Utrecht Avenue

86th Street — from Third Avenue to Gowanus Expressway

Court Street — from Schermerhorn Street to Montague Street.

        

Queens:

82nd Street — from 34th Avenue to 41st Avenue

Austin Street — from Yellowstone Boulevard to Ascan Avenue

Junction Boulevard — from Northern Boulevard to 41st Avenue

Roosevelt Avenue — from Union Street to Prince Street

Skillman Avenue — from 43rd Street to 56th Street.

No enclosed sidewalk cafe shall be permitted on any of the following streets.

        

Manhattan:

Bleecker Street — from Bank Street to Mercer Street

Central Park South — from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

Park Avenue South and Park Avenue — from 31st Street to 38th Street.

Small sidewalk cafes may be located wherever sidewalk cafes are permitted. In addition, only small sidewalk cafes shall be allowed on the following streets, notwithstanding any regulations set forth in Sections 14-41 or 14-42 prohibiting certain sidewalk cafes on such streets.

        

Manhattan:

Orchard Street — from Canal Street to Houston Street

Delancey Street — from Norfolk Street to the Bowery

Centre Street — from Canal Street to Spring Street

Lafayette Street — from Canal Street to Houston Street

Sixth Avenue — from Canal Street to a line 100 feet south of Spring Street

Special Union Square District1

14th Street — from Second Avenue to Irving Place

14th Street — from a line 100 feet west of University Place to Eighth Avenue

23rd Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

31st Street — from Fifth Avenue to a line 200 feet east of Broadway

34th Street — from the East River to Fifth Avenue

35th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Fifth Avenue to a line 150 feet east of Sixth Avenue

36th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Fifth Avenue to a line 150 feet west of Fifth Avenue

37th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Fifth Avenue to a line 150 feet west of Fifth Avenue

37th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Sixth Avenue to Broadway

38th Street — from Third Avenue to Seventh Avenue

39th Street — from Exit Street to Seventh Avenue

40th Street — from a line 100 feet east of Exit Street to Broadway

41st Street — from a line 100 feet east of Exit Street to Third Avenue

42nd Street — from First Avenue to Third Avenue

42nd Street — from Fifth Avenue to a line 275 feet east of Sixth Avenue

All streets bounded by 43rd Street on the south, 46th Street on the north, a line 200 feet east of Third Avenue on the east and Third Avenue on the west

43rd Street — from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

44th Street — from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

45th Street — from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

46th Street — from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue

47th Street — from a line 200 feet east of Third Avenue to Third Avenue

48th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Third Avenue on the east and Sixth Avenue on the west

49th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Third Avenue on the east and Sixth Avenue on the west

50th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Third Avenue on the east and Sixth Avenue on the west

51st Street — from a line 150 feet east of Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue

52nd Street — from a line 160 feet east of Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue

53rd Street — from a line 160 feet east of Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue

54th Street — from a line 150 feet east of Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue

55th Street — from a line 100 feet west of Second Avenue to Eighth Avenue

56th Street — from a line 100 feet west of Second Avenue to Eighth Avenue

57th Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

58th Street — from the East River to Eighth Avenue

59th Street — from the East River to Second Avenue

59th Street (Central Park South) — from Sixth Avenue to Columbus Circle

60th Street — from Lexington Avenue to Fifth Avenue

61st Street — from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue

62nd Street — from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue

63rd Street — from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue

86th Street — from First Avenue to a line 125 feet east of Second Avenue, south side only

116th Street — from Malcolm X Boulevard to Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Special 125th Street District – only as set forth in Section 97-13 (Permitted Small Sidewalk Cafe Locations)

First Avenue — from 48th Street to 56th Street

Third Avenue — from 38th Street to 62nd Street

Lexington Avenue — from a line 100 feet south of 23rd Street to a line 100 feet north of 34th Street

Lexington Avenue — the entire length from a line 100 feet north of 96th Street, northward

Park Avenue — from 38th Street to 40th Street

Park Avenue — from 48th Street to 60th Street

Park Avenue — the entire length from a line 100 feet north of 96th Street, northward

Madison Avenue — from 23rd Street to 38th Street

Madison Avenue — from 59th Street to 61st Street

Special Madison Avenue Preservation District2

Madison Avenue — the entire length from a line 100 feet north of 96th Street, northward

Fifth Avenue — from 12th Street to 33rd Street

Fifth Avenue — from 59th Street to 61st Street

Sixth Avenue — from 36th Street to 42nd Street

Sixth Avenue — from a line 150 feet north of 42nd Street to 48th Street

Sixth Avenue — from 50th Street to Central Park South

Seventh Avenue — from 50th Street to Central Park South

Broadway — from 36th Street to 40th Street

Broadway — from 50th Street to Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle — from Eighth Avenue, westward, to Broadway.

1        Small sidewalk cafes are not allowed on 14th Street

2        Small sidewalk cafes are not allowed on 86th Street within the Special Madison Avenue District

        

Queens:

Jackson Avenue, north side — from 44th Drive to the prolongation of Dutch Kills Street

Queens Boulevard — from a line 100 feet west of 39th Place to 48th Street

Queens Plaza North — from 23rd Street to Northern Boulevard

Queens Plaza South — from 23rd Street to Jackson Avenue

Skillman Avenue, north side — from 45th Street to a line 100 feet east of 51st Street, including that portion within the Special Planned Community Preservation District

Skillman Avenue, south side — from 45th Street to 51st Street, excluding that portion within the Special Planned Community Preservation District.

Enclosed or unenclosed sidewalk cafes shall be permitted, as indicated, in the following special zoning districts, where allowed by the underlying zoning. Small sidewalk cafes, however, may be located on streets or portions of streets within special zoning districts pursuant to the provisions of Section 14-43 (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted).

Manhattan

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

125th Street District

No

No4

Battery Park City District

Yes

Yes

Clinton District

No

Yes

East Harlem Corridors District

No

Yes

Enhanced Commercial District 2

(Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues)

Yes

Yes

Enhanced Commercial District 3

(Broadway/Upper West Side)

Yes

Yes

Hudson Square District

Yes

Yes

Inwood District

No

Yes

Limited Commercial District

No

No1

Lincoln Square District

No

Yes

Little Italy District

No

Yes

Lower Manhattan District

No

Yes2

Manhattanville Mixed Use District

No3

Yes

Transit Land Use District

Yes

Yes

Tribeca Mixed Use District

Yes

Yes

United Nations Development District

No

Yes

West Chelsea District

No

Yes5

1          Unenclosed sidewalk cafes are allowed on Greenwich Avenue

2          Unenclosed sidewalk cafes are not allowed on State,Whitehall or Chambers Streets or Broadway

3          Enclosed sidewalk cafes are allowed in Subdistrict B

4          Unenclosed sidewalk cafes are allowed on the east side of Malcolm X Boulevard between West 125th and West 126th Streets, on the west side of Malcolm X Boulevard between West 124th and West 125th Streets and on the east side of Fifth Avenue between East 125th and East 126th Streets

5          Unenclosed sidewalk cafes are allowed only on wide streets except they are not allowed on the west side of Ninth Avenue between West 15th Street and West 16th Street

Brooklyn

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Bay Ridge District

Yes

Yes

Coney Island District

No

Yes

Coney Island Mixed Use District

Yes

Yes

Downtown Brooklyn District

Yes

Yes

Enhanced Commercial District 1 (Fourth Avenue)

No

Yes

Enhanced Commercial District 4 (Broadway, Bedford-Stuyvesant)

No

Yes

Mixed Use District-8

(Greenpoint-Williamsburg)

Yes

Yes

Ocean Parkway District1

Yes

Yes

Sheepshead Bay District

No

Yes

1        Sidewalk cafes are not allowed on Ocean Parkway

        

The Bronx

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

City Island District

No

Yes

Harlem River Waterfront District

No

Yes

Jerome Corridor District

No

Yes

Queens

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Downtown Far Rockaway District

No

Yes

Downtown Jamaica District

No

Yes

Forest Hills District1

No

Yes

Long Island City Mixed Use District2

No

Yes

Southern Hunters Point District

No

Yes

Willets Point District

No

Yes

1        Sidewalk cafes are not allowed on Austin Street

2        See Appendix A in Article XI, Chapter 7

        

Staten Island

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Bay Street Corridor District

Yes

Yes

South Richmond Development District

Yes

Yes

St. George District

Yes

Yes

Stapleton Waterfront District

Yes

Yes

Sidewalk cafes are permitted as indicated in the following malls where allowed by the underlying zoning.

Manhattan

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Mulberry Street Mall

No

Yes

Nassau Street Mall

No

Yes

        

Brooklyn

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Fulton Street Mall1

No

Yes

1        Enclosed sidewalk cafes are allowed along DeKalb Avenue

        

Queens

Enclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Unenclosed Sidewalk Cafe

Far Rockaway Beach 20th Street

No

Yes

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