prevent the spread of chain stores by installing bars in every storefront!! Brilliant, no?
We all hate chain stores, right? They attract rowdy, noisy crowds at all hours of night, play loud music and create a nightlife scene with mobs loitering in the street yapping into cell phones, and they give our once radical and cutting-edge arts neighborhood that attracted artists, activists and intellectuals from all over the world -- give it a frat party reputation, a scene that everyone but the partiers and their playmates assiduously avoid.
Wait a minute. I'm confused. Chain stores, non local and offensive as they are, serve working people's and residents' basic needs quietly during the day. It's the non local upscale bars that pushed up commercial rents and pushed out local businesses, decimating and ruining the culture of the East Village and LES.
And Starbucks is actually closing stores.
CB3 appears to have lost all reason, following like sheep this chain-stores-oh-my-goodness-no! argument put to them by -- a bar owner, of course!
It was a meeting to remember. The SLA committee presented a reasonable and well-deliberated recommendation to deny a license to a new bar opening in a location on 3rd Avenue near the NYU, New School and SVA dorms, an area fast becoming a crowded nightlife destination.
The committee had all the right reasons against the bar:
1. the location had no previous license, so this bar would actually be adding to the numbers of licenses in the area
2. the bar had no community support -- the owners presented no petitions of community support (the committee standardly requires this evidence of public benefit and community interest),
3. the community had complained to the committee about the required community notification
4. the community had complained to the committee about the proposed hours of operation
5. the bar would be within 500 feet of six other liquor-licensed establishments
in other words, the community plainly didn't want the bar and the owners had made no effort to appease the community's concerns or engage the community or even properly notify the community as required under the law, displaying unprofessional disregard for both law and community. The owners of the bar didn't even show up last night to argue their case.
Yet a well-known bar owner and Board member stood up and announced that a bar would be better than a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.
Magic words. No one wants to be caught defending chain stores. Can't go wrong invoking chain stores. Chain stores suck. And what's more, they're politically incorrect, they're unhip: they're not chic or trendy or cool. Comparing bars to chain stores is an easy win for bars -- IF the people you are talking to don't think for themselves, but just follow like sheep whatever sounds good.
He also argued that the bar would provide economic benefit to the community (more so than Dunkin' Donuts?) and this particular owner owns many successful bars throughout the city (so aren't they non local, just like a chain store?) and have a proven track record -- a less successful bar would have to bring in promoters to sustain itself and promoters cause disruption (but if the committee denied this bar, why would they ever approve a less viable bar?).
None of these gaping holes in his transparently meritless "argument" were even so much as questioned.
The CB voted to override the SLA committee's recommendation to deny.
...even though the bar owners didn't attend the meeting to present their case or answer questions, even though chain stores don't make noise, don't stay open til 4am, don't attract crowds of rowdy students, don't contribute to the nightlife destination that has completely undermined that character and reputation of the East Village and LES.
Chain stores are not worse than non local bars, unless you happen to be in the nightlife business, in which case more bars add to the destination value. Bars do not provide any greater economic benefit to the community than any other business, unless you happen to be in the nightlife business, in which case more bars draw more crowds into nightlife establishments in the neighborhood-turned-
Bar destinations drive up commercial rents that drive out local businesses. They toss the neighborhood upside down into a daytime wasteland and a nighttime warzone.
But they provide revenue for the city.
That's what you and your neighborhood are serving -- the city coffers.
We always had bars here, but they were local and drew funky, low-income, edgy real folk. That's not the current scene. New York's historically avant-garde community, radical ghetto, hotbed of the arts, was destroyed by this new, culture-impoverished, upscale nightlife industry, plain and simple. I don't like chain stores, but they didn't destroy the neighborhood.
The city views this destruction as "saving" the neighborhood from its poverty. That's 'cause the city sees only revenue, not people or culture.
After the CB voted down the denial, 15 CB members actually voted to approve this bar without any stipulations or negotiations with the owners, to give it carte blanche on the basis of second-hand assurances from -- a bar owner.
Fortunately, 17 voted to send it back to committee, a narrow margin.
Those 15 benefited the nightlife industry at the expense of the community. Surely the CB has got to adhere at least to basic responsibilities of community, process and review.
CB votes are roll-call and public record. Go find out who has a brain and who's braindead.
And people criticize me for being skeptical of the CB...