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Hell's Kitchen Residents Form Group to Fight New Bars

By Mathew Katz | November 7, 2013 8:42am
 Traffic, a Ninth Avenue bar, is one of the many hotspots that locals have complained about to Community Board 4.
Traffic, a Ninth Avenue bar, is one of the many hotspots that locals have complained about to Community Board 4.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — A group of Hell's Kitchen residents fed up with the bars and clubs in their neighborhood is uniting to fight them.

The frustrated neighbors are forming the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Task Force to Fight Bars, which aims to tackle "bars, bars, and more bars here in our 'hood," according to organizers.

The group's goal is to convince Community Board 4 to start denying liquor licenses for all new bars and clubs seeking to open in the neighborhood. CB4's vote is advisory, but the State Liquor Authority often considers the board's input in making decisions about licenses.

"We want the community board to understand our point of view: that we're oversaturated with bars," said Kathleen Treat of the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, one of the residents behind the task force. "We have too many bars at the expense of everything else."

Treat and others say that Hell's Kitchen landlords have jacked up retail rents in many buildings to the point that no businesses other than bars can stay afloat.

CB4 has approved liquor licenses for dozens of new bars over the past year, typically adding on a host of stipulations, including earlier closing times and limited roof use. 

In the past, the co-chairs of CB4's Business Licenses and Permits Committee, Paul Seres and Lisa Daglian, argued that the State Liquor Authority would approve new licenses no matter what, so the board should approve them with stipulations rather than rejecting them outright and losing the chance to influence how the venues will be run.

Treat said the community board's stipulations are fine, but she argued that the SLA does not do enough to enforce them, allowing bars to ignore the rules.

The SLA did not respond to a request for comment. Seres and Daglian also did not respond to requests for comment.

The same group of Hell's Kitchen residents has worked together loosely in the past to achieve a few concrete victories. In 2012, huge community outrage caused the SLA to deny a liquor license for gay sports bar Boxer's proposed location next to P.S. 111.

More recently, the community's ongoing complaints about drunken Santas wreaking havoc during SantaCon convinced organizers of the annual event to stay away from Hell's Kitchen this year.

"All these bars, they just destroy the neighborhood," Treat said. "We don't want 'em."

The Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Task Force to Fight Bars will have its first meeting on Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. Contact the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association for more information.