REVISED 05/06/15: Resident-Focused Policies For Backyard/Rooftop/Sidewalk Bars

REVISED 05/06/15 Resident-Focused Policies For Backyard/Rooftop/Sidewalk Bars

Attention CB11M, & CB11M Licenses & Permits Committee
re: revising the Application process for outdoor, sidewalk or rooftop bar & restaurant expansions.

This document is available as a PDF on request: contact

Community Board 11M’s Licensing & Permits Committee is in the midst of revising their application process for bars trying to open or expand into residential backyards & rooftops. They briefly discussed it at the last two meetings, & we are hoping to help them come up with new procedures ASAP, before any more blocks are disrupted by outdoor bars & restaurants that ruin the lives of those who live above & next to them.

Because the previous L&P Chairwoman recently moved to another Committee, last winters’ CB11M L&P meetings never had a chance to get started on

“a. Committee discussion on establishing a review procedures
ii. Liquor Licenses in rear yards & roof tops”

The new Chair has stated he is interested in the process but has not yet added the above to his agenda yet.

Our suggestions are at least partially due to the ongoing noise & friction raised during our community’s battle to stop Earl’s Beer & Cheese from expanding into 3 adjacent backyards. Visit for the details on that issue. We hope to avoid a repeat situation, similar to the contentious fights over Earls, where our block association had to attend 4 NY SA hearings before prevailing, & we pray that the Chair starts this review as soon a possible.

We are leaning very strongly to opposing all commercial & entertainment-type development in NYC residential backyards, with or without liquor, but in the interim, if these proposals are at least reviewed & taken into consideration and some are implemented, we are open to the CB’s serious revision of the process.

Currently the CB11M L&P committee requires a semi-detailed application, as well as posting on the door of the bar & “200 feet” from the establishment only SEVEN DAYS ahead of the hearing, & require “circulated petitions of support”; these latter vague & short-date requirements giving neighbors virtually no notice to find out the hours, details of operation (i.e., HOW LOUD, HOW LARGE ARE THE NEW CROWDS), to show their support or opposition, etc. And in the past, even that minimum posting requirement has been ignored.

Being grateful that the CB11M Licensing Committee has, on their own, suggested requiring more affected residents’ approval for future bar expansions, we have created a set of modest suggestions for how CB11M can revise their application process.

We hope this could become a city-wide issue to help both renters & residential property owners stop the noise & the lessening of the quality of life outside their rear windows, & on their street-side of their blocks as well.
Noise is the number one 311 issue in NYC, & anyone who has or has ever had a back apartment window knows that even one person speaking in the backyard outside their windows is a terrible distraction, & anyone overlooking a bar in the front or back knows that restaurant & crowd noise outside their windows is unbearable & intolerable.

Anyone who does not live in a front or back apartment overlooking a bar & restaurant likely has less or little concept of the issue

Ask yourself why at the CB, The City Council, the NY SLA, indeed at almost all government committee meetings, they do not allow people to stand outside the committee hearing rooms talking on their phones or having conversations while you are having their meetings or hearings inside…

Because it’s a distraction, & you can’t hear yourself think, when crowds of people are chattering away outside your door or window…

As recently noted by the Chair of the NY SLA Commission at a recent hearing on an outdoor expansion application, any outdoor venue that isn’t fully enclosed & soundproofed is probably going to be unacceptable, as even if it is only open on weekend days; it will intrude on the ability of hard working people to enjoy the quiet usage of their homes on their days off, to say nothing of those who are shut in, or children or adults who are studying, etc.

With the above in mind, here are our current suggestions for revising the application process.

All applications must include certified, professional audio & architectural engineering studies explaining how they are fully sound & light proofing their expansion, to insure that their expansion doesn’t interfere with neighbors enjoying the quiet use of their homes & apartments, quiet usage that RESIDENTS PAID FOR WHEN THEY SIGNED THEIR LEASES, or bought their apartments.

All applications must show their plans that include:

Fire department approved emergency exits, & certification of use of fireproof materials in both construction & outdoor furniture, as well as fire dept certification of the installation of fireproof doors separating kitchen areas from backyards &/or roofs, that if caught on fire would be a threat to surrounding or neighboring buildings.

A quote from a current commercial insurance company noting their price & availability of heavy liability coverage including the proposed outdoor expansion.

Double door sound proofed hallways in & out of the front door & to the backyard, if any, to prevent sound leakage from music & or crowds in the interior spaces coming out to the backyards or the street.

Diagrams showing placement of video cameras with audio recording aimed in the expanded space, with said video being publicly viewable 24×7 on the WWW, as well as saved for at least 30 days.

Diagrams showing placement of lighting showing that the Applicants’ lights aren’t aimed in &/or will light up the surrounding resident’s windows.

The Applicant’s “7 Day Posting” requirement must be up to THIRTY DAYS, & on the entire block that the applicant business is on, not just on the Applicant’s business front door or some vague 200′ rule that isn’t enforced.

Why shouldn’t neighbors be advised of new bars &/or expansions in the same manner that we are notified when a Landmark building is being renovated, or when a film shoot is going on on our block & our parking is restricted for a few days? These bars will be here & affecting our quality of life much longer.

Posting must also be mailed to every resident in the building above & on either side of the applicants business location, & to every resident in every building with a window surrounding or having any view of the outdoor cafe, backyard, or rooftop expansion being applied for.

Applicant must get signatures denoting acceptance from a majority of the neighborhood, along with but not just the Boards of relevant block association(s), building tenant association(s) & community groups.

Applicant must get signatures denoting acceptance of their planned outdoor expansion from 95% of the neighbors in the building directly above, directly facing, & on either side of the applicants business location, as well as from 95% residents in every building with a window surrounding or having any view of the backyard, sidewalk cafe,or rooftop expansion being applied for.

If 95% seems high, consider that the 3-decades-long-running restaurant Yaffa in the East Village was recently closed down, partially by repeated complaints from neighbors. Failure to get the 95% shows the Applicant is not focused on providing a community desired or approved venue, nor on keeping their business open…& for thirty years, the non-responsive city agencies ruined the lives of hard working citizens.

Applicant will be disqualified if it is revealed they have offered free or discounted services to CB members &/or neighbors in return for their support for the expansion.

Before every licensing Committee meeting, & full CB board meeting, before all Applicants’ business is raised, the Secretary shall read the following:

All board members attending this Board / licensing committee meeting shall now advise if they are customers of or have done business with the applicant, & if they have, will not speak nor vote on this application except to say “present”.

Any and all CB members who have received gifts or political donations must announce same, recuse themselves, & not speak on, nor expedite nor vote on the Application.

Thank you for considering these suggestions to your review process for outdoor applications. As a block association in this Community Board’s area that is still very actively involved with applications for commercial outdoor expansions on our block, we are working with other community groups in the CB as well as city-wide to gain their input, & we look forward to further discussions with the Licensing Committee on this issue.

97-98 Lexington & Park Ave. Neighbors
Please review the above, & feel free to leave us comments below.

And if you agree with some or all of these ideas, please contact Community Board 11M at Tel : 212-831-8929/30, Fax : 212-369-3571, & show up at next CB11M License & Permit Committee hearing, 1664 Park Avenue (between 117th & 118th Sts.) Ground Floor, New York, New York 10035

And thank you for your time & interest in keeping our neighborhood just a little bit quieter.

If you agree with and support our efforts to stop businesses from destroying our peace and quiet in NYC backyards, please:

Contact us to get on our mailing list, and please sign up in the upper right corner of any page to follow this website for new articles and posts.

Follow and re-tweet us on Twitter @9798LexPark;

Print out these pages for your neighbors who have no internet, and forward our website URL to your neighbors and anyone in NYC interested in this issue;

Make sure you contact your local politicians on this issue.

And any donation, even a few dollars to help with postage would be very much appreciated here.

Thank you.


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