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The Drying of NYC: Election Day '08 Edition

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A incredible amount of attention has been paid in the last few weeks and months (and years) to the presidential election. But the people who are often just as important to everyday life as your national elected leaders are your local ones. Case in point: the state senate and the SLA. There has been a small email campaign going around to nightlife folks—including bar owners, promoters, djs, and restaurateurs—today opposing state senate candidate for Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, Daniel Squadron, calling him the "Anti-nightlife candidate." We will side with neither Squadron nor his opponents here, but his recent "Community-Based Nightlife Control Plan" is worth a look for anyone living in a neighborhood over saturated with bars, all CB members, someone hoping to get a liquor license, or anyone already concerned with how much power the community boards wield:

Squadron proposes the following major reforms:
·Require affirmative approval from community boards to grant waivers to override the 500-foot rule (which limits the number of on-premises licenses allowed within a 500-foot radius of each other) in residential communities. Today the opinion of the community board influences the ruling of the SLA commissioners when there is a 500-foot issue, but their recommendation is not binding. "Making the community's 500-foot waiver recommendations binding will allow communities to encourage true neighborhood development while protecting themselves from the over-density that turns neighborhood blocks into party zones," said Squadron.

·Undergo a comprehensive review of license density within the five-boroughs and designate appropriate zones - including some in the 25th Senate District - as "residential high-density." Deploy special resources (as outlined below) into these "residential high-density" zones.

· Create a dedicated, inter-agency SLA Community Enforcement Team (CET) for residential high-density zones. While each CET will handle a number of residential high-density zones, the creation of the CET program will demand an increase in SLA resources - a need which exists in any case. The team will maintain a formal relationship with the Community Board and local police precincts. Its special knowledge of each high-density area will allow for a more productive relationship between the community, the SLA and local establishments. "As someone who owned a restaurant and bar a few years ago, I know from personal experience how valuable community engagement can be," said Squadron. "We worked closely with the community and had a nearly spotless record. Unfortunately, since there was not a formal process, the problem spot across the street with nearly nightly problems did not forge nearly such a productive relationship." ("What Bar" received a single ticket, for serving a patron who was not 21.)

· Deploy special NYPD street beats during peak hours in high-density zones. These officers will complement the CET program and will work with SLA and local city agencies to pinpoint troublesome establishments. The beat officers' familiarity with a neighborhood concerns will allow them to identify and quickly respond to issues or complaints. When it comes time for establishments to apply for renewals, data collected on the beat - and even the testimony of the local beat cops - will be an important way to separate the good spots from the bad. "The NYPD does a great job protecting our neighborhoods," said Squadron. "Working collaboratively on cutting-edge methods is critical. But when it comes to high-density zones, there's sometimes no substitute for good old-fashioned cops on the beat."

· Squadron Announces Community-Based Nightlife Control Plan [Official Site]

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