Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hope for the LES?

Last night at CB3's SLA committee, 20 bars and restaurants applied for licenses. Residents showed up to protest four. All four of those license applicants were rejected by the committee. Two more were sent back to consult with the residents on their block. All the rest of the unopposed applicants were approved.


100% of successfully opposing a liquor license at the CB is --

-- just showing up.

At least half of those residents who showed up were brought by block associations. They can be effective, those block associations. Maybe it's time to organize EV/LES block associations. A neighborhood friend is creating a website where block associations can share information with residents on their block and with other block associations, view community news alerts and, with virtually no effort, even create and manage their own webpage. All he needs are block association contacts.

Anyone want to contribute a block association contact?

(Could be the start of something big: community voice and network throughout the EV/LES.)


Unknown said...

Funny, the moral I got is that all it takes is the in-person complaint of one lone crank to effectively block the operation of legal businesses.

rob said...

Actually it's a lot more complex than just showing up. The committee has moratoria to observe on several areas of Community District 3. These moratoria were established in response to broad community organizing requiring the signed support of at least 75% of the residents living in the moratorium area.

The Committee also discourages licenses in residential midblocks (sidestreets).

And, finally, in none of the denials was opposition limited to one person.

Using epithets like "lone crank" does not recommend you as a good neighbor. And being a good neighbor is the base line requirement that the Committee expects of the applicants.

The lack of respect that money-making has for human values is the sum and substance of the problem. You have every right to make money as best you can, but not at the expense of the human beings who have to live with your money-making arrangement.

It's all about neighborhood and neighborliness. There's got to be room for both residents and businesses to coexist. And not just nightlife.

Unknown said...

I'm not a disgruntled restauranteur, just a grumpy New Yorker nonplussed about the weird draconian feudalism of the current way people operating legal businesses are permitted to open and expand those businesses.

rob said...

Sorry if I presumed wrongly. It doesn't seem weird, draconian or feudal to me. Businesses that are harmful to the public shouldn't operate or should be made to operate harmlessly. This seems straightforward to me.

Our zoning laws recognize distinctions between neighborhoods that are manufacturing, commercial and residential. Within those are recognized distinctions between sidestreets, avenues and major thoroughfares which go back, really, to the 1811 grid. These are all elements of the heritage of urban planning.

The ABC laws recognize the danger of license oversaturation. I don't see why the CB shouldn't identify additional threats and local concerns. Their standard is not low. They approved two bars this week despite resident's lengthy opposition. The opponents were two lone individuals, respectively.

Of all the possible difficulties in this city, this seems an odd one to get the grumps over. I can understand being grumpy about a bar opening under your window on a quiet residential street -- that affects you immediately. But being grumpy in the abstract about the hurdles that potentially disruptive businesses must pass before opening -- I'm not sure I grasp the sentiment.

Maybe I need to search for my inner grump. My moods swing freely from wry cynicism to fried outrage without stopping to wait on line at grump.