In 2018, the Committee on Hospitality Law of the New York City Bar Association submitted a letter to the Office of Nightlife describing ways in which the SLA and Community Boards Impose Conditions on License Applicants.
The New York State Liquor Authority is the dominant regulator of music and dancing in New York City. Reform of the zoning law will not remove the SLA regulation. Over 1900 liquor licenses in New York City require licensed venues to prohibit dancing; over 3880 license do not allow live music.
Some Community Boards, such as Community Board 1, may require Applicants to enter into a Stipulation which Applicant’s are required to sign, which refer to music, cover fees, and dancing and CB1 then requests that the SLA include the Stipulation in any Liquor License.
The SLA is subject to New York’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Law. Although the SLA can regulate “Cabarets” but only if the capacity exceeds 600. There is nothing it the ABC which authorizes the questions included in the questionnaires to applicants for Licenses or Changes in Method of Operation.
Applicant’s for Liquor LIcenses or change in Method of Operation are required to provide 30-days advance notice to the local Community Board. Community Boards are not required to provide their response within a set timetable.
The New York State Liquor Authority has acted the major regulator of dancing in venues offering alcohol using a scheme that Liquor Licenses and a venues Method of Operation must show whether the venue is offering patron dancing and collaborates with Community Boards to restrict dancing and live music. The SLA collaborates with Community Boards in its enforcement.
The State Liquor Authority requires applicants to provide a 30 day notice to Community Boards for an application for a new license or to modify a Method of Operation. Questions are asked concerning patron dancing and live music including the types of music – rock bands, acoustic, jazz. The questions as to types of music are in our opinion not constitutional.
After repeal of the Cabaret Law, the SLA revised its forms for requesting the Method of Operation for applicants. Applicants are required to state whether live music is to be offered and whether there will patron dancing.
Applicants for New York State Liquor licenses must include in the application a statement of the proposed Method of Operation, which is then deemed to be part of a resulting liquor license, and licensees must conform to the proposed method and apply for modification if uses are changed. The form has changed over time. This version pre-dates the repeal of the Cabaret Law.
Concurrent with repeal of the Cabaret Law, the City Council established a new Nightlife Office and provided for a Nightlife Advisory Board. The board held hearings. On March 13, 2019 Alan Sugarman presented a comprehensive PowerPoint, shown here in a post-hearing edited version.