2003-11-27 / Other News

Consumer Dept. Proposes Abolishing City’s Cabaret Law

Consumer Dept. Proposes Abolishing City’s Cabaret Law

Consumer Dept. Proposes Abolishing City’s Cabaret Law

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra has announced a proposal that would abolish the City’s cabaret law and institute a new nightlife license to address ongoing community concerns including noise, disorderly crowds, and dirty sidewalks. The proposal, unique in the nation, will require City Council approval.

Establishments meeting all three of the following criteria will be required to obtain a two-year nightlife license from the DCA, under the proposal:

•Located in residential and some mixed-use zones with a capacity of more than 75 or in commercial, manufacturing, and mixed-use zones with a capacity of more than 200.

•Choose to have continuous live or reproduced sound at a noise level of 90 decibels or higher.

•Remain open after 1:00AM. Licensed nightlife establishments will be able to choose the noise level they wish to maintain and must have a professional sound engineer certify that they are in compliance with the City’s Noise Code at that level.

Highlights of the proposal include:

•Establishments that meet the same criteria three times or less in one year will be able to obtain an expedited special nightlife permit.

•The proposal will not change existing fire and zoning regulations.

•The local Community Boards will have a 45-day comment period to report its recommendation on a new application.

•Establishments with capacity levels of 500 or more occupants will be required to have one state-certified security guard for every 50 occupants. These guards would also be responsible for maintaining order outside the establishment when needed.

•Following New York City Department of Environmental Protection standards, the DCA will be authorized to enforce the Noise Code using digital sound meters recognized by the industry.

•DCA will be authorized to order occupants to vacate the premises immediately if exit doors or fire doors are found blocked or locked.

•Violations for licensees (which will include exceeding the chosen noise level) would range up to $250 for the first violation and up to $1,000 for the third violation. If a licensee receives three violations within two years, DCA will be authorized to padlock the establishment for up to 30 days.

The city’s Cabaret Law was created in 1926 and currently covers establishments that serve food and/or drink to the public and have patrons dancing. It is illegal to operate a cabaret in New York City without a license from the DCA.

Noise emanating from bars and clubs continues to be a top complaint at 311, the City’s 24-hour citizen service hotline. For a list of common noise levels and zoning maps, visit www.nyc.gov.

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