New Law Would Help Regulate Approval Of ‘Boozy Bars’
A bill that would give local community boards new clout in the liquor license approval process is awaiting approval by the state senate.
The bill, passed by the Assembly in June, would require business owners seeking a liquor license to alert their local community board 60 days before an application is filed with the State Liquor Authority (SLA).
Business owners are currently required to give local community boards just 30 days notice prior to filing an application with the state regulatory agency. The boards, which hold monthly meetings, are often hard pressed to notify the public in time for a hearing on the applications.
If approved, the bill sponsored by Jackson Heights Assemblymember Francisco Moya, would also provide the community boards with a liaison, an individual responsible for communication between the boards and the SLA.
The measure was introduced to address community and law enforcement concerns of increased violence at establishments that serve beer and liquor and to cast light on the rapidly increasing number of cafes, restaurants and taverns serving alcoholic beverages.
The senate could reconvene in the fall to vote on the bill, but if it is not approved by November, Moya will have to reintroduce the measure in January 2013.
Residents living near 30th Avenue in Astoria have been calling on city officials for years, to help curb the flow of alcohol along the bustling commercial strip.
Area residents have repeatedly asked officials at Community Board 1 and local elected officials to consider how the actions of unruly patrons impact area residents, before approving liquor licenses for new bars and restaurants along the strip.
Neighbors said most bar and restaurant owners are considerate of area residents and the majority of patrons come and go without incident. The problems stem from a handful of younger patrons who leave the establishments after drinking too much – causing disturbances on private property and urinating on the streets, area residents said.
Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. has described 30th Avenue as one of the city’s most viable commercial strips, and has been actively seeking a solution to the conditions outlined by area residents.
Top ranking police sources told the Gazette that cops at the 114th Precinct patrol the 30th Avenue strip regularly – especially during summer months when sidewalk cafes fill with patrons.
“Officials at the 114th Precinct have a good handle on the condition,” the sources said. “The patrols keep officers close to the strip. When someone calls to report a specific incident the cops respond as quickly as possible to handle the complaint, ” the sources declared.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit (CAU) said area residents should be mindful that local community boards are only able to recommend their “Yes” or “No” vote to other boards and agencies that make final decisions.
“The community boards do not have the final say on who gets a liquor license and who doesn’t,” the spokesperson said. “That’s up to the New York State Liquor Authority.”
When complaints of rowdy customers reach Vallone, the seasoned lawmaker alerts police and other city agencies asking for a swift resolution, a Vallone spokesperson said.
In fact, Vallone was praised in recent years by area residents for his handling of complaints involving unruly patrons at sidewalk cafes along 30th Avenue.
Bar and restaurant owners along the strip said they are always open to meeting with area residents to discuss noise and their other concerns.
“We have a reputation as good neighbors,” said a local café owner. “We are always willing to work with our neighbors to try and resolve these problems.”