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.
As attorneys involved in the process of the acquisition of liquor licenses and other related permits, we have seen many occasions where Community Boards have taken unanimous positions against license applications for what appear to be minor or irrelevant issues, such as a restaurant’s proposed menu, or based on highly subjective views of a neighborhood’s past history as opposed to its current or future composition and character. These resolutions may well get rejected by the State Liquor Authority; however, this uncertainty coupled with the time and cost of challenging the Board’s resolution at the SLA places a business owner in a fraught financial predicament.
At present, only large businesses may have the resources to take disputes to the SLA to overturn community board stipulation requirements that cannot reasonably be met.
More and more, community boards are seeking to place a moratorium on all on-premises licenses in New York City. In addition, many community boards have created a standard set of stipulations and use their substantial power to force new licensees to agree to terms and conditions that stand in the way of what would be a well-run operation.