Sunday, May 07, 2006

Date: Sat, 06 May 2006 01:59:19 -0400
From: "Kitchen"
Subject: Times: Hearing on Liquor License Bill Draws Crowd

NB - Good old NY Times...
- Average crosstown blocks in Midtown are 800
feet long, not 260 feet (which is closer to the length of North-South
- I live right behind Restaurant Row on West 46th
St. Over 20 licenses on the one block ... not to
mention the dozens of bars populating Ninth Avenue and now Eighth
- While most of the restaurants are small and
quiet, as I write (1:30 AM), I'm being kept awake
by noise coming from B. Smiths, a popular
restaurant bar. Smiths has ignored years of pleas
to quiet their exhaust fans and air conditioning
units, the latter of which are illegally on the
roof of a first-floor rear extension.
- Down the block from B. Smiths is Joshua Tree,
another problem bar with open doors, loud music
and patrons blocking the narrow sidewalk.
- Around the corner is Mercury bar (46/9), often
a problem. But the worst being Zanzibar (45/9),
being so arrogant they show illegal dancing on
their web site. Zanzibar is connected to the
McManus Dem. Club (you all know about them,
- And should I mention the rear yard beneath my
window, being part of a supportive housing-SRO
building with seniors, formerly homeless and so
on. This building, run by Joe Restuccia and
Clinton Housing Development Company, seems immune
to complaints in that Restuccia has de facto
control over CB4. He also runs disco-type parties
in the rear yard on warm-weather weekends.
- Board 4? Too busy rubber-stamping night-clubs
in Chelsea, and then pretending they are surprised.
- Police? What police? They are too busy flirting
with customers at B. Smiths on 8th Ave.
- 311? Are you kidding? You call, wait, nothing
happens, call back and they tell you the police
have "resolved" the problem even though you've
been outside for the last hour waiting for the police to show up.
- Quinn, Gottfried, Duane and Stringer? They do
nothing. One time Quinn got into a shouting match
with the owners of Zanzibar, but then rolled over
when McManus came to their rescue.
- Silver should become acquainted with the
Cabaret Laws when he suggests restrictions for
dance clubs -- those restrictions already exist.
Perhaps bar owners and restaurateurs should be in
a state of panic. While an absolute limit of
three licenses within 500 feet might be too much,
maybe an additional limit of 2-3 per block should
be imposed. Perhaps the quiet restaurant owners
who feel threatened should reign in the bad bars.
(I doubt that will happen as long as Bookman-Pezetsky run the show).
One question that remains is whether Silver is
serious with the bill. I am VERY skeptical. Is
there a Senate sponsor? Multi-sponsors? Will
community groups be able to shepherd it through
the Albany maze and overcome resistance? And what
about the Governor? Getting a bill introduced in
one house is the easy thing to do. Keep the natives duped, you know.
And what about the good bars? My favorite
watering hold, McHales on 46/8th, was forced to
close two months ago so another Chris Quinn
luxury tower could be built. Board 4 seemed overjoyed at the prospects.
And so it goes. -
May 6, 2006

Hearing on Liquor License Bill Draws Crowd

New York Times

Liz Glass says that she and her children cannot
sleep at night. The trouble, she says, is a noisy
bar that operates in the courtyard of her East
Village co-op. "Our lives have become a hellish
nightmare," said Ms. Glass, 37, who lives on East
11th Street above the Boxcar Lounge. "My
2-year-old's first words were 'there are people in the backyard.' "

Doug Griebel, too, has had difficulty sleeping
lately, but for different reasons. Mr. Griebel,
who owns four restaurants in Manhattan, among
them Rosa Mexicano and City Grill, is worried
that legislation recently introduced in the State
Assembly will stifle growth in New York's fabled
food and beverage industry. "This law is
punitive," he said. "It's going to hurt so many mom and pop

Restaurateurs, tavern owners and nightclub
impresarios are in a state of near panic over the
proposed measure, which would severely limit the
supply of new liquor licenses in New York,
especially in downtown commercial districts
throughout the state and in densely populated swaths of Manhattan.

Introduced last month by Assembly Speaker Sheldon
Silver, the bill would amend the state's liquor
laws and eliminate exemptions to the so-called
500-foot rule, which prohibits more than three
licensed establishments from operating within 500
feet of one another. In certain quarters of New
York City ­ among them Restaurant Row, vast
stretches of the Upper East Side and the
meat-packing district ­ dozens of bars, lounges
and restaurants serving alcohol can be found
vying for business along a single block. The
average crosstown block in Manhattan, for example, is about 260 feet

Mr. Silver held public hearings on the bill
yesterday in Manhattan, which brought out scores
of anxious business owners who oppose the measure
and an even larger number of residents
desperately seeking relief from what they say is
a plague of noisy night life establishments and
their inebriated clientele. Mr. Silver, who
represents the Lower East Side, was clearly
motivated by a constituency that has become
highly vocal in the battle against the
proliferation of places serving alcohol.

"People have a right to a good night's sleep free
of excessive and overt disturbances," he said.

"They have a right to neighborhoods that are not
being continuously scarred by vandalism, mischief
and obscenity, and they have a right to walk down
their neighborhood streets without being accosted
every few feet by someone who is out of control."

Opponents of the bill said that troublesome bars
should be dealt with through existing laws or
restrictive zoning. They pointed to the night
life industry's contribution to the New York
tourist economy ­ $22 billion in revenues,
330,000 people employed ­ and said restricting
new licenses would chase away business and have a
chilling effect on the city's financial well-being.

"This law is overkill," said Albert Capsouto, who
helps run a neighborhood improvement group called
the TriBeCa Organization and who also owns
Capsouto Freres, a restaurant on Washington
Street. "You're not allowing good operators to
open simply because a small number of
establishments in a certain area are behaving badly."

Under existing law, the State Liquor Authority
can overlook the 500-foot rule if an applicant
shows that the business provides a public
benefit. In many cases, the authority's members
cite the jobs and tax revenue generated by a bar
or restaurant when it waives the rules. Over the
past few months, the authority reviewed 22
exemption requests in Manhattan and granted 21 of
them, according to Mr. Silver.

The authority, however, says that when it comes
to exemptions challenged by the community, it
often sides with the opponents. Daniel B. Boyle,
the authority's chairman, said that so far this
year in Manhattan, the agency had rejected 7 of
10 applicants who faced local opposition.

Mr. Silver, one of the most powerful men in
Albany, acknowledged that his bill is draconian,
but he suggested that it could be a starting
point for negotiations with the restaurant and
night life industry. Compromises, he said, could
include new categories of liquor licenses that
would differentiate between restaurants that
would close at midnight and dance clubs that
would stay open until 4 a.m. The latter category,
for example, might have more stringent requirements, he said.

He also floated the idea of giving members of the
New York City Council the power to approve or
reject new liquor licenses in their districts. "I
don't want to inhibit any New Yorker's dream of
owning and operating a nightclub," he said, "but
among the competing interests in each and every
community, a balance must be struck."

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Posted as a Public Service the opinions expressed do not necesssarily express the opinion of the Chair or the Board Members

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