Monday, August 3, 2009

How to Complain

With the East Village turned into a combination frat house and bachelorette party destination, I spoke with Susan Stetzer, District Manager for Community Board 3, and asked a few questions about how people in the community can most effectively wield the power of the complaint. The following is a quick guide to waging your own personal "Noise War."

[Update 7/12: The Times takes a noise tour of NYC and confirms what we all know--the bars and restaurants are painfully, dangerously loud.]



Tip #1: Make your complaint a three-fold whammy

1. Call 311. According to Susan, there are a few reasons why it’s crucial to make this call. Each complaint is immediately sent electronically to the police and helps to create a record against the offending establishment. In addition, the City allocates resources and money where there are problems, and 311 is one of the tools they use to identify problems. Your 311 call can make a long-term difference in the neighborhood.

2. Call your local police precinct and give them the complaint directly.

3. Make the complaint to the Community Board. You can do this via email and through their website. CB3 creates a spreadsheet of all the complaints they receive and they review this, as well as 311 calls and discussions with the police precinct, when an establishment comes before the Board for renewal. However, they only review locations that have had complaints reported directly to the CB within the last year.

If a business continually violates any stipulations they agreed to (for example, they promised to close their doors by 10:00 pm), you should also email the CB3 with specifics, such as: "This business has their doors open with live music playing every Tuesday until midnight." Doing so can give the authorities a heads up so they can catch the violators in the act.


"Stop the SuperNoise," says Jill


Tip #2: If you live above Houston Street, attend the 9th Precinct Community Council.

At these monthly meetings (except July and August), you will find many community members lodging complaints, several bar owners, and members of the police force who take these issues seriously. Click here for info--the next meeting will be 9/15.

Tip #3: There's more power in numbers.

A single individual's complaints are one thing, but a group of complainers is really powerful. If a business you have issues with comes to the board for a license, attend the CB3 meeting as a group. If you go solo, bring your "group" to the meeting with signed petitions and collections of letters from community members. If you have formed a group, Susan will be happy to schedule a meeting with you to answer your questions. Click for contact info.



The Coop


Tip #4: Keep an eye on the Community Board agenda.


When something you’re concerned about comes up in the CB3 calendar, attend the meeting. And come prepared: Bring friends, petitions, letters, photos, and an outline of any specifics (dates of complaint calls, talks with the owner, loud parties, etc.).

Tip #5: Take it straight to the State Liquor Authority.

As Susan says, the SLA’s job is not to plan for our community, it’s to give licenses to people who fit the criteria. Only when it comes to the 500-foot rule does the SLA get involved in regulating. They have a special 500-foot Hearing when a business is planning to apply for a full liquor license where three or more full licenses exist within 500 feet.

If the business owner can attest that they are a benefit to the community, they can be awarded a liquor license—even if they’re within 500 feet of others. Community members who show up at those 500-foot Hearings and testify that the business is NOT a benefit can swing the vote. Susan told me, “Every time I have gone to a 500-foot Hearing with a group of well-organized community members, the SLA has sided with the residents 100% of the time.” Click here for info on upcoming 500-foot Hearings.



Quick Links...1-2-3 Complain!
...and one more for luck:

32 comments:

BrooksNYC said...

Invaluable post. Thanks.

EV Grieve said...

The definitive how-to on the topic. Thanks, Jeremiah.

Andrew said...

Seriously? Where there are a few bars that abuse their licenses, and serve outdoors for an extra hour or leave doors open to attract passers, their contribution to the community's safety and property value is more than this author will add. Without the bars/restaurants/cafes you lose the shops; and without commercial business you lose higher income residents, and with out money, property value drops, and parks are nicknamed needle park again. Please remember what your local bar has done on the macro side for your neighborhood, not the little extra noise that isn't worse than the typical car horn on the corner. You choose to live in the city that never sleeps.

Anonymous said...

I've known Susan Stetzer for years. There's good information in her post, except I would recommend to avoid the Community Board at all costs (and not because she's associated with it). Community Boards in general (not just Board 3 on the LES) will screw residents 90% of the time. They take the ability of a local group ... say, a block association ... to oppose and negotiate a solution to the issue. There are cases where a license should not be given no matter what. Then there are cases where a negotiated settlement with compromises on both sides are more appropriate. That should be the decision of the local group, not a community board of hacks whose loyalty is to those who appointed them (and generally those who get contributions from the bar, club or nightlife industry).

KnicksBasketballNY said...

Without the bars/restaurants/cafes you lose the shops; and without commercial business you lose higher income residents, and with out money, property value drops, and parks are nicknamed needle park again.

Dont forget about the loss of all the wanna-be Carrie Bradshaws and their disgusting cell phones and texting devices.

Me personally, I would welcome a return to the OLD NEW YORK.

The New York where my mother would prepare a large thermos she always carried with her for me to drink out of instead of having to pull out cash to buy me something to drink every time I was thirsty.

She was street smart like that.

Anonymous said...

Knicks who is preventing you from carrying your own thermo now?

Cell phones and texting are now a part of life, complaining about it only leaves you behind. You are living through evolution, humans will continue to communicate more electronically than verbally, you can either except change or waive your fist at those darn kids while natural selection makes you obsolete.

Jill said...

In no way do I see how having several noisy bars on one block, all bunched together has added any value to the East Village. In fact, what we have lost in terms of a neighborhood is incredible: butchers, fishmongers, bodegas, fresh fruit/vegetable stores, laundromats, supermarkets, shoemakers, tailors - all things that residents need are gone and replaced by bars.

To raise property values?? Really? This is a neighborhood mostly of rentals so the increased property values only cause rents to rise and landlords to get richer. How does that help the average person living here? The very high rents have created a neighborhood of transients. Just this month we lost tenants in 3 apartments who have been here for one year. Next month I am sure we will lose the rest of them whose leases are up. Nobody in their right minds pays this much for rent for the long term, it just isn't worth it. So what we have are more and more people living here who don't put down roots, don't participate in the community and don't care about the future of the neighborhood. They live with the leaks in their newly renovated apartments, and lack of basic services because they know this is a short term arrangement and it's not worth the time to fight about it when they will be gone within the year.

We should move because overnight 4 bars have opened up within a block of us? Really? So the life we've created here can be destroyed in such a short time because bars are good for the local economy and more important than the residents? The late night noise they create is more than a little annoying when you are trying to sleep so you can get up refreshed, keep your job, pay your taxes, get your kid to school on time, and be a valuable member of the community. And the people who own should move too? So the brokers make more money on more commissions when apartments are overturned to new suckers who don't realize how annoying it is to live without basic services and too much late night street noise?

Drunk people out at night make the streets safer? Not for me. I almost always nearly get in a fist fight when I venture out at night with one of them because they are seriously stupid and drunk. I have to go up to my roof at least once a month at 4am to chase away the drunk kids who think the roof is their after hours party house. They don't give a shit that running and jumping up and down wakes up at least 20 people below them. They trip over the cable wires and fall and hit their heads, unfortunately not enough to kill them and strengthen the gene pool. I've had objects knocked off my wall because they are running so hard with their boots and big, fat beer bellies. And when I ask them to leave, they are livid they aren't the center of the universe, that they have neighbors who might not appreciate their presence. The arrogance is beyond unbelievable.

When you see my obituary you will know it's because I crossed the wrong person and got myself beaten to death over this.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I don't know where you live, but I live smack in between two very popular bars on upper Avenue A, and I assure you, they contribute nothing to the neighborhood. We've already "lost the shops" -- Drop-Off Service was a laundromat a few years ago! The record shop is gone, the hair salon is gone, even the tea/coffee place is no more. It's all bars now (Jill at Blah Blog even pointed out that restaurants like Al Diwan are empty because the people clogging the streets only want to drink: http://mingum.blogspot.com/2009/07/al-diwan-sad-story.html).

And when the loud, drunk, and completely uncivilized patrons of Superdive et al. stumble out the door to leave, where do you think they go, right upstairs? Of course not: they don't LIVE HERE.

When you have to push past a bunch of aggressive, obnoxious assholes every Thursday through Sunday just to get to your (filthy, cigarette- and trash-strewn) front door, come talk to me. Until then, calling it a "little extra noise" reveals that you have no idea of the reality of the situation.

And please stop with the oh-so-tired "you chose to live in the city that never sleeps" meme. I didn't choose a f*cking frat party outside of my building when I moved in 10 years ago (just as I didn't "choose" to be born in NYC in the first place). Stop using a 1970s-era catchphrase to justify assholism.

KnicksBasketballNY said...

Knicks who is preventing you from carrying your own thermo now?

Cell phones and texting are now a part of life, complaining about it only leaves you behind. You are living through evolution, humans will continue to communicate more electronically than verbally, you can either except change or waive your fist at those darn kids while natural selection makes you obsolete.



There really is no need to walk around all day with a thermos now.

All of the idiots walking around with $400+ I-pods and all of the idiots leaving their $2,000 macbooks unattended for a few minutes are easier and more desirable targets than a mother pulling out $2 in cash to buy a soda for her young child.

As far as cell phones are concerned one does not need a cell phone to survive.

One does not become obselete if they do not own a cell phone.

A few months back I took my cell phone and smashed it on the ground and then tossed the remains into the Potomac River.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Anonymous said...

Dear Andrew,

Please shut-up.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Little extra noise?" What type of cognitively challenged, ignorant, just plain tired and old clap-trap logic is that? Aren't you remotely embarrassed at the depth of your stupidity on this issue?

Anonymous said...

@ Knicks

"There really is no need to walk around all day with a thermos now.

All of the idiots walking around with $400+ I-pods and all of the idiots leaving their $2,000 macbooks unattended for a few minutes are easier and more desirable targets than a mother pulling out $2 in cash to buy a soda for her young child."

Umm what?

First of all if you say you long for the days of carrying around a thermos, why would you then say there is no use for one anymore?

And I fail to see why you are judging people who own Apple products, as it really has nothing to do with what the comments discussing. Maybe you should make your point clearer and more succinct next time you post, otherwise you just sound like a rambling idiot.

I don't completely agree with Andrew, but I do feel as though it's unfair to target certain people in certain neighborhoods just because you all hate change. Not everything new is good, but you can't live in the past, and you have to find a balance instead of lashing out against all new establishments, new patrons, new residents, etc.

JD said...

I do have some sympathy for noise complaints, but come on - you chose to live in the East Village. It's been a rowdy neighborhood for decades, so you can't exactly claim that you thought you were living in Tudor City or something.

Jill: Come off it. The neighborhood is still full of bodegas, supermarkets, tailors, etc. (Like bars are really taking over spaces suited for use as a supermarket?) If you "almost always nearly get in a fist fight", then maybe you need to look in the mirror for the source of the problem; I'm out and about a good bit and rarely feel any urge to get into a fight. And if you really need to chase people off the roof at least once a month, may I suggest the amazing new invention called a lock? Works great for keeping people from going through doors they're not supposed to, you know...

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Move to Dubai prick. Stop making the Bowery into Dubai 2.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i don't think a tenant can put on a lock. and many people come from other buildings, walking from one roof to another.

they don't like it in williamsburg, either:

http://curbed.com/archives/2009/08/04/williamsburg_roof_abusers_are_very_unconsidered_neighbors.php

and the east village has not always been the rowdy, obnoxious, party-zone it is today. to think so is short-sightened and uninformed.

Jill said...

You are right, you cannot put a lock on the roof, it is illegal, and dangerous, as it is a point of egress in case of fire. I have put up signs very nicely asking for consideration, explaining that there is no insulation between the roof and our ceiling, and there is little heed paid - not by all of them, but the few assholes that don't care are enough make it miserable for at least 20 people who are regularly woken up by the noise.

We have lived here for 27 years, through all kinds of times, all kinds of tenants, all kinds of shop keepers, watching them struggle to earn a living, go in and out of jail, move in and out, get kicked out, get killed, whatever.

It has always been a FUN neighborhood, which is why we love it, but this is a different thing now. It's not about complaining about change for the sake of it, it's about seeing 150 people at midnight on the sidewalk, all yelling at each other and into their phones. That's A LOT of people.

We've never had people regularly stomping on the roof all hours of the night, inviting 100 people over to go on the roof. Never, not in 27 years. We have never had such a high level of noise coming up from the street, waking us up from a dead sleep on a regular basis. Of course there was always noise, we didn't just wake up out of a coma and discover we are living in Manhattan, but the noise level is unprecedented and constant.

There is absolutely no reason that there should be 6 bars that cater to this noisy crowd in a two block radius. If some of the bars were wine bars with an older crowd, or some were old man bars that catered to the drunk old man crowd, and one or two bars that catered to the noisy youth, that would be fine. But this is out of control.

There was one time when a restaurant across the street had live music every Sat night til 4am without a license, but they were also the drug kingpins of the block and they were finally put out of business by a coalition of the block association and the cops. That was a pretty bad summer too, so one summer 15 years ago and now this. I complained about the drug dealing fake restaurant owners and went to the meetings to get rid of them, and I will complain about these 20 year old idiots, hopefully with the same measure of success.

hntrnyc said...

Bravo Jeremiah, this guide should be laminated and distributed.

Andrew said...

where to start!
1. There was great info in the original posts, so those complaining go to the meetings and do something rather than blog about it.
2. As for moving to Dubai, I've been there and lived in Baghdad for 2.5 yrs and I choose where to live based on a decision making process, that accounts for potential changes or bombs in the neighborhood.
3.I have lived right behind the delancey on Clinton st. They have live bands 4-5 nights a wk, rooftop bar and taxis/drunks all night. But I paid $1500 for 3000sqf. Why so cheap (not the best neighborhood to raise a family).
3. If you want quiet move to the suburbs, Peter Cooper Vill, Stuy Town, UES, UWS, or a neighborhood that is Co-ops and knows how to play the game to keep the bars out. Who said happiness is Easy!

KnicksBasketballNY said...

@ Knicks

"There really is no need to walk around all day with a thermos now.

All of the idiots walking around with $400+ I-pods and all of the idiots leaving their $2,000 macbooks unattended for a few minutes are easier and more desirable targets than a mother pulling out $2 in cash to buy a soda for her young child."

Umm what?

First of all if you say you long for the days of carrying around a thermos, why would you then say there is no use for one anymore?


HA HA HA HA HA

You are an idiot!

And I fail to see why you are judging people who own Apple products, as it really has nothing to do with what the comments discussing. Maybe you should make your point clearer and more succinct next time you post, otherwise you just sound like a rambling idiot.

NO.

What I said above makes perfect sense.

You are the one who is looking like an idiot right about now.

I would welcome a return to the OLD NEW YORK.

All the annoying texting device pedestrians with their I-pods and cell phones and all the self righteous unattended Macbook people they would all be DONE, FINISHED, HISTORY!!!

I myself might even be tempted to join in on some of the action.

Anonymous said...

NO JD, you need to come off it. Stop showing your ingorance, and lack of NYC's past, and deal with the present. I will reiterate, the EV was NEVER the chaotic hell it is today, never. When people choose to live in a particular area, and it turns into something compeletely different, then it's time to blame the victim right? That doesn't work in this discussion, and neither do you.

Anonymous said...

"I choose where to live based on a decision making process, that accounts for potential changes or bombs in the neighborhood."

Yes, I'm sure that 20 or even 30 years ago, the folks moving into the EV could have easily accounted for the potential that their neighborhood would one day evolve, or really devolve into the douchebag capital of the east coast. Your distorted sense of predictive talent might be the result of a close call in Baghdad; either that or you're just plain stupid. Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

where to start!

1. There was great info in the original posts
[gee thanks Andrew!! so happy for your approval!!], so those complaining go to the meetings and do something rather than blog about it. [yes, because the people here only comment on blogs. We don't go to community meetings.]

2. As for moving to Dubai, I've been there and lived in Baghdad for 2.5 yrs

3.I have lived right behind the delancey on Clinton st.

3. If you want quiet move to the suburbs
[two #3s, heh]

Who said happiness is Easy!

Andrew, I tried to keep an open mind, but clearly you are exactly the kind of douche that's ruining my neighborhood. See you at Superdive, brah!!

Anonymous said...

With all this talk about who and what is to blame for the current state of the EV, I haven't heard a peep about greedy landlords who, by charging obscene amounts for rent, have made it damn near impossible for any other type of business to thrive in the area. Why do you think that the laundromat was forced to close? Because EVIL club and restaurant owners forced them out? Most likely, it’s because they couldn’t afford the rent anymore. Why aren’t there more bodegas, florists, boutiques, etc? There is no way that these businesses can survive with such high overhead costs.

Instead of simply complaining, what about creating a dialogue with area landlords in an effort to get them to reduce the rent on a few properties in the area, so that desired businesses can afford to open in the neighborhood? None of these clubs and restaurants own the properties where they are doing business, so they are renting from someone. The landlords are the ones who ultimately control the types of businesses that are being brought into your neighborhood because they are choosing to rent to these establishments.

Yes, SOME restaurants and clubs are a problem, but they also contribute to the color and vibrancy of the city overall. However, I do agree that the best solution would be a mix of businesses so that one neighborhood isn’t bombarded at the expense of others. Open your eyes folks, real estate greed is the real problem here.

Anonymous said...

Instead of simply complaining, what about creating a dialogue with area landlords in an effort to get them to reduce the rent on a few properties in the area, so that desired businesses can afford to open in the neighborhood? ... Open your eyes folks, real estate greed is the real problem here.

I love when commenters like Anon 5:25 talk to the rest of us as if we are children.

One of the buildings on upper Avenue A houses two of the noisiest and most crowded bars on the block. Their landlord is an enormous private/predatory equity firm. Perhaps you have heard about Westbrook. They own 17 buildings in the East Village, and were able to evict or buy out up to 40% of rent regulated tenants in some buildings through a well-documented system of harassment, bullying and false claims.

http://curbed.com/tags/westbrook-partners

To think that one can get in a "dialogue" with such an entity is absolutely laughable. One will have enough difficulty getting someone to pick up the phone at PVE Associates, the shadowy management firm that serves as the landlord's liason.

So yes, of course the high rents have caused the proliferation of bars and deterioration of services. And many of us DO try to engage in a dialogue as best we can, through advocates such as the Cooper Square Committee, GOLES, Rosie Mendez, etc.

We residents may be fighting a losing battle, but to imply that we have yet to "open [our] eyes" is ridiculous. We are the ones who live here. We know what the problem is.

Jill said...

Clearly you have never tried to speak to an EV landlord, whose response is ALWAYS "Fuck you I'll see you in court." Always. Really. Our landlord doesn't have an address, only a PO Box. Ask for somebody in charge on the phone and you are told "no." Ask them for their name, you are told "no."

They took away our bike parking to make room for more garbage cans. There are empty rooms in the basement, perfect for bike parking but they won't even speak about it.

Our last 2 landlords were called into the Community Board to explain themselves and their PR people showed up, but nothing changed. They are all about the greed and the turnover.

Of course there are still some family owned buildings that care about their tenants, but they are fewer and fewer, which is exactly why all of this has happened.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I am looking for help in my nabe, illegal social club running out of a garage. It's 2:31 am. They are broadcasting/blasting hostile gangsta and pop music. They are obviously stoned/drunk as these males are always fighting/talking/screaming. (occasional women present, but only once in a while - a friend in another nabe says that's how it is. ) there are unsupervised minors running causing disturbances in the street until 4 or am.
One just ran by screaming obscenities.

the horrible, horrible part is the later it gets the louder the music gets. I want to wake up before 11 or 12! I can not sleep even with ear plugs with this horrific level of noise.

I am amazed to hear the same thing going on in other neighborhoods. I assume these specific people are drug dealers due to their complete disregard for anyone else. I am exhausted. I don't want to call 311 but I will.


any suggestions or City Wide meeting of Anti- Noise activists, I can attend? Thanks for showing up here!

Anonymous said...

the EV has changed. i lived there like over 40yrs ago. they had the fillmore but you couldnt hear that much. & yes there was a the dom on st. marks place. i stayed again in the EV between 2004-2008. there was a bar downstairs w/blasting noise 3 nights a week. crowds of people on the street screaming. they stayed open way past the legal closing time. sometimes the sound was muffled & i did not mind. other times it was impossible. also drunks screaming untill 5 am. the EV is not a residential area anymore. after reading these comments & being witness to some of this, i can say "NO it was not always like that". this is not a way to live. it seems to be the bar center of new york now. this is also happening world wide as well. quiet & normal life is for the rich. anything else is a commercial nightmare.

Anonymous said...

much of this is due to the social shifts. corporations running real estate. loss of small businesses. this is not about carrie bradshaw or imacs. or whether someone carries a thermis. i carry a bottle of water & dont use a cell phone much (never take my imac out of the house), where do you put me? these references just undermine your cause. its commerical vs. residential. corporations vs. small landlords. its stupid to complain about texting. actually its good as you cant hear them! there should be zoning. some blocks bars, others not. then people could live on the non bar blocks. the transients or college kids would live next to the bar. oh yes, hopefully some practical everyday businesses like laundries, groceries, etc. of cause im a fatalist. since i see this in other countries on a much bigger scale, i dont have answers as how to fight the global enemy. what once was (for example) a nice town becomes a tourist trap. the same noise & issues are here where i live, its 5000 miles away!

Anonymous said...

When I moved to the East Village in 1988 it was gloriously deserted and that included weekends.

The neighborhood definitely had a fantastic "countercultural" feeling (I used to see Quentin Crisp eating at a diner almost daily), which has since been completely eradicated and replaced with the most banal, uninteresting people imaginable. As most people mentioned here, it's mostly "frat" types that now flood the neighborhood Thurs-Sun nights. It's unpleasant to leave your apt/be on the streets during that time.

I also agree that that lame "you chose to live in the city that never sleeps" comment, with regard to the current noise situation, has got to go/stop being tossed around.
The neighborhood was never as "hideous" or loud as it is now. Yes, it was more dangerous/rundown at one point, but if were talking about noise, there's no comparison.

Yes, I chose to live in NEW YORK. I did not choose to live in a larger, more expensive, noisier version of a suburb in middle America.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. I'm a native New Yorker and always live in the East Village (buying here soon, actually, so we're here to stay). I'm a musician myself, and my true love is a more stable working profession. We like the liveliness, that bars and clubs are open late and spill out onto the street. I wish there were more live music venues. It does indeed make us feel safer than if the streets were desolate and closed down at night. Of course, sense of safety is also increased by the presence of non-bar 24-hour places like St Mark's Market, Veselka, and so on.

The noise from bars and clubs on our street and in the neighborhood feels like the pulse of life to me. Even chose to live right above a jazz club for a while. The far worse noise is the completely non-musical ear-splitting and regular bombast of the SIRENS, car horns, car alarms, and occasional motorcycles without mufflers.

- EVillager

Anonymous said...

May I politely ask a question without being cursed at silenced:

Is the issue here about noise, or about the obnoxious types of people making the noise?

(I have little sympathy for the fratitlement crowd myself. )

That is: would we feel differently about this if it were the Filmore East or CBGBs as the source of noise?

Just curious.

- EVillager

Anonymous said...

To qualify my own comments again:

I suspect the divergence of opinions may represent the radically different experience one may depending on the particular establishments in one's immediate vicinity. Some of the bars and venues maintain a civilized crowd and behavior, and others attract the self-entitled egoists.

If alcohol disinhibits and reveals one's true character - then maybe it's the difference between the charming drinker and the belligerent drinker. I feel for those stuck on a block with the latter type of crowd.

- EVillager