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Move over mayor, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Rafael Espinal announced on Wednesday the appointment of Ariel Palitz as New York City's first-ever nightlife mayor.
The New York Times, which published the news first, reported that Palitz's initial move at the helm of the Office of Nightlife would be to hold a series of listening tours to address the concerns of residents who believe nightlife venues make neighborhoods loud, dirty and overcrowded.
“Both sides feel unheard,” Palitz, 47, told the Times. “Both sides feel that things are unfair. I think the grievances are almost the same but there haven’t been any practical real-world solutions to address them.”
In September, de Blasio signed into law legislation to create the Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board at Bushwick nightclub House of Yes.
At the time, de Blasio said the Nightlife Mayor position would be "one of the coolest job titles you could ever hope to have."
"The office will be led by someone who undoubtedly will be more popular than me and will wield tremendous power," de Blasio said in September.
Palitz’s responsibilities will include regulating the nightlife industry, helping DIY venues stay open and creating a safer partying environment.
Palitz will be responsible for conducting outreach to nightlife establishments, acting as a liaison for venues, referring those organizations to city services, reviewing 311 complaints and holding at least one public hearing in each borough, among other duties.
The Nightlife Advisory Board will be comprised of 12 members: four to be appointed by the mayor and eight by the speaker of the City Council. They will each serve a two-year term.
Palitz is a fifth-generation New Yorker who was raised on the Upper East Side and who currently lives in the East Village, the Times reports. She was a member of Community Board 3, which encompasses the East Village, Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
Palitz has a long track record of working in nightlife. She ran the door at the shuttered Club Mars and owned a bar for 10 years in the East Village, according to the Times.
Palitz will have a salary of $130,000 and will oversee a $300,000 budget.
The Office of Nightlife will be included under the mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and will be monitored by the Committee on Consumer Affairs.
New York is now the first American city to adopt a night mayor position.
Many European metropolises have had night mayors for some time, including Amsterdam, Paris and London.
Mirik Milan, the night mayor, or “nachtburgemeester” of Amsterdam, came and spoke to club owners and nightlife professionals in May at the Williamsburg club Output.
Milan, who has held the position since 2012, has played a leading role in the introduction of 24-hour licenses for venues in the Dutch capital.
After creating an Office of Nightlife in Amsterdam, the city has seen a 25 percent reduction in crime and a 28 percent decrease in noise complaints.
Espinal, who introduced and sponsored the bill to “bring nightlife out of the bureaucratic shadows and address quality of life issues in local communities,” was elated with the hiring.
"I'm excited that we're finally going to be able to get down to work and have named a Night Mayor,” Espinal told the Brooklyn Eagle. “In order for this office to be effective, the director of nightlife has to hit the ground running.
“I look forward to working with Ariel Palitz on supporting nightlife as a whole, but more importantly the DIY and underground spaces in Brooklyn. As chair of the Council's Committee that will oversee this agency, I will keep a close eye on the progress of this office on supporting nightlife in Brooklyn and the city as a whole."
Nightlife versus Gentrification
One prominent issue that Palitz will likely have to address early on is gentrification.
At a recent discussion at the Bushwick Starr, a community arts center in Bushwick, several influential nightlife professionals discussed subjects intimate to Brooklyn, including the effects of gentrification, the future of the nightlife industry, the challenges and perks of operating a venue in New York City and the expected benefits of the forthcoming Office of Nightlife.
The panel included Dhruv Chopra, partner at Elsewhere and PopGun Presents; Belvy Klein, co-founder of Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint; Johnny Beach, Bowery Ballroom talent buyer; and Ami Spishock, co-founder of Fort William Artist Management.
Attendees acknowledged that while arts and cultural institutions are positive for communities, they also play a role in gentrification.
“There’s no good answer, other than the fact that it’s like a snake eating its tail,” Chopra said. “We are the victims and culprits of it. It seems like it’s a never-ending cycle, especially in New York City, where everything keeps getting pushed out and out and rents go up.”
“It’s a Catch 22,” added Klein. “You go in, and you’re not trying to [trigger gentrification], but our last location is now a BMW creative workspace.
“You get companies that come in, and they never would have gone there if we weren’t there. We made this empty strip viable for this multinational company, and then we get evicted.”
San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener today reintroduced legislation that would allow a handful of cities to extend alcohol sales as late as 4 a.m., following the death of a similar bill in committee last year.
Senate Bill 905 would create a five-year pilot program giving six cities -- San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood and Long Beach -- the option to extend the hours for alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs and restaurants, but not liquor stores.
The bill, which gives cities the flexibility to limit extended hours to certain neighborhoods or specific nights of the week or year, has the backing of local officials in the named cities as well as restaurant and nightclub owners and business groups.
Wiener called the bill a "nuanced and responsible approach."
"California is a diverse state with cities and neighborhoods that have different needs for nightlife, and we shouldn't have a one-size-fits-all closing time," Wiener said in a statement. "Nightlife is central to the culture and economy of many of our cities, and they should be empowered to extend alcohol sales hours if they choose."
Wiener introduced a similar bill last year, which passed the Senate with a two-third vote but then died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Cities would need to develop a plan and go through a process to approve late night drinking hours, and individuals businesses would still need to apply for extended hours licenses.
Cities that allow alcohol service beyond 2 a.m. include Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Louisville, Atlanta, Miami Beach and New Orleans.
Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge from Clique Hospitality open this spring
Two new nightlife ventures coming to the Palms now have an opening date at the resort. Clique Hospitality’s Andy Masi, along with nightlife partners Ryan Labbe and Jason “JRoc” Craig, plan to open Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge at the resort in mid-Ma, both part of the $485 million renovation plans there.
Apex Social Club takes over the former Ghostbar space on the 56th floor, converting 8,000-square-foot room with 180-degree views into an open-air boutique nightclub. Clique plans to add “one-of-a-kind art pieces” for a “sophisticated, upscale vibe.” The cocktail menu includes new concoctions along with age-old favorites and table-side bottle service.
At the entrance to the resort, Camden Cocktail Lounge takes over the former Social space with over-the-top cocktails. “Bartenders, all of them masters of mixology in their own right, will put their own whimsical spin on beloved classics or create new favorites for guest’s right before their very eyes.” A mix of live music and deejays drives the music.
Nearly a year and a half after the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting, more than 100 restaurant and bar owners have received active shooter training from the NYPD.
Following the mass shooting, in which 49 people were killed inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, on June 12, 2016, members of the NYC Hospitality Alliance were concerned that they weren’t prepared for such an attack.
“They weren’t comfortable they would know how to react,” said Inspector Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Crime Prevention Division, which meets quarterly with the alliance.
While the NYPD had active shooter training for office buildings, they didn’t have a specific plan for nightlife, so representatives from the department and the alliance sat down to come up with best practices and ground rules. That resulted in a video that was shared for the first time on Monday.
“The main focus is to familiarize their staffs with the different scenarios that can happen and devise an action plan for those scenarios,” Conforti said, adding that those action plans have to be practiced the same way fire drills are.
Some of the best practices include identifying key staff members who would take the lead if a situation arises, identifying safe rooms and exits in the restaurant or bar, having a continuing dialogue with police and being mindful of suspicious behavior, said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
“We have to be proactive and think about this,” Rigie said. “This is the state of the world we live in.”
The training video, about 9 minutes long, was shared with all members of the alliance, but will not be made public. It was shot at The DL, said Paul Seres, one of the owners of the downtown venue, a lounge, restaurant and event space on the Lower East Side.
Seres, who is on the board of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, noted that the nightlife industry is vulnerable to this type of attack. “We are a welcoming industry. We want people to come in and feel secure,” he said.
While owners and staff may not be able to prevent a shooting, the alliance hopes the training will help them save as many lives as possible.
Other groups or businesses interested in receiving active shooter training can make a request through their local police precinct.