A New York City night-life ordinance is unlikely to see the light of day in 2004. But supporters say the law, which seeks to soften club noise for Manhattan residents, will eventually be pushed throug
LOS ANGELES--A New York City night-life ordinance is unlikely to see the light of day in 2004. But supporters say the law, which seeks to soften club noise for Manhattan residents, will eventually be pushed through the NYC legislature.
Gretchen Dykstra, the commission of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, initially proposed the "Nightlife License" in November 2003. The idea was two-fold: to abolish an antiquated dancing license and replace it with a license that would force clubs to follow noise, fire and security regulations.
Ever since New York banned smoking inside bars and restaurants last year, nightclubbers have increasingly been milling outside venues, triggering complaints from nearby residents and businesses.
In order to get a nightlife license, clubs must certify that music played in their clubs won't enter neighboring residences. This may require club-owners to shell out money for soundproofing enhancements. Clubs would also be ordered to provide security and keep nearby sidewalks clean.
A current list of proposed nightlife provisions is available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/pdf/nightlifeproposal.pdf.
If clubs can't meet these standards, they can still operate their facilities. But all unlicensed clubs will be forced to close by 1 a.m. Affected venues include all N.Y. buildings housing over 75 people in a residential zone and over 200 people in a commercial zone; support noise levels louder than 90 decibels, and places which generally stay open past 1 a.m.
Many clubs won't be able to abide by the licensing guidelines, says Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the New York Nightlife Association. "They would choose to close at 1 a.m., and likely suffering financially, to avoid having to apply in the first place
"No bar or club would be able to withstand those provisions. Your average walkman turned halfway up is 90 decibels. That is not ear-shattering," says Zuckerman.
Soundproofing upgrades could set a club back as much as $100,000, observers say.
The local press covered a February meeting with NYNA members, which include Hogs and Heifer owner Michelle Dell and Union Station/Lotus owner David Rabin, bringing attention to club grievances.
Days later, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would not seek to push a revamped nightlife law this year.
Nevertheless, Dykstra says she will continue to seek input for a revised license proposal. She wants to solve neighborhood disruption problems without disrupting local clubs.
At this point, there are no official hearings scheduled to discuss modifying the proposed nightlife provisions. But talks are expected soon within New York's regular community board group meetings.
Arthur Gregory, owner of the A&M Roadhouse club and chairman of the Tribeca community board, favors decreasing club noise. "You can have it as loud as you want, but just so people across the street or upstairs can't hear it," he says.
He says paying for extra soundproofing "is just the cost of doing business. If you want to do this business, you need to be professional. All the major theater (concert venues in NY) are sound-proofed."
Meanwhile, Canal Street district manager Judy Duffy says club owners and residents can compromise. "Everyone is never going to be happy. But I think we need to find common ground and (pass) a sensible rule," she says.