For years, neighborhood activists on the Lower East Side have argued that the influx of bars and liquor licenses in the area has led to an increase in crime, and created the perception of the neighborhood as a crime-infested partyhole. This week, the city has announced a new plan to try to make Hell Square a little less hellish for locals.
“The world loves New York nightlife, but we also have to take care of the New Yorkers who live where others play,” Mayor de Blasio said during the announcement at Max Fish on Tuesday. “We are creating cleaner, quieter streets to improve quality of life while ensuring bars, restaurants and clubs can thrive.”
The six block area around Ludlow and Orchard Streets, between Houston and Delancey, contains more than 80 places for eating and drinking. The new plan, called “Night Owl etiquette campaign," will seek to address local residents' concerns about late-night noise pollution, double-parked cars and traffic congestion, as well as litter and the rats who love to wallow in it. City officials noted that this area had the second-highest number of 311 noise complaints over the last two years.
"You wake up in the morning to a whole lot of trash – that’s not a way people want to live," de Blasio said. "If you wake up in the morning and you see people hanging around from the night before on the street, that’s not the way we want to live. We don’t want noise in the middle of the night, that’s not fair to the community. We want to make sure traffic is managed. It can be done, but it takes not only a village, it takes a whole lot of different parts of the City working together to get this done."
Here's what is in the new plan:
New parking regulations to ease traffic congestion and reduce noise
- DOT is implementing a “No Standing” rule from midnight to 6 a.m. on the west side of the streets and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the east side of streets, seven days a week
- Removing standing vehicles overnight eases congestion, honking and other noise
New litter removal schedule coordinated with bar closing times for more efficient cleaning and additional street cleaning
- To more efficiently clean neighborhood streets, DSNY street sweepers will now operate between 3 and 6 a.m.
- The prior schedule from midnight to 3 a.m. was less efficient, as many businesses were still open and patrons were still out
- The Business Improvement District (BID), the Lower East Side Partnership, will provide 200 hours of street cleaning services a week, seven days a week
- Council Member Margaret Chin allocated $30,000 expense funding to LESP for cleaning Ludlow St, which is outside the BID boundaries
- Council Member Margaret Chin has also allocated $40,000 in capital funds to LES Partnership to purchase a power washer truck
Increased enforcement of for-hire vehicles
- TLC will increase enforcement patrols to crack down on unlicensed for-hire vehicles double parking and making unauthorized pickups
- A 10-person team of TLC officers and supervisors will conduct random patrols between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. at least once every Friday and Saturday night
Mayor’s Office of Nightlife “Night Owl” etiquette campaign urging patrons to be more considerate
- Awareness Campaign will urge patrons to use common-sense nightlife consideration including keeping sound to a minimum and keeping sidewalks clean and clear. The PSA will be displayed on LinkNYC kiosks in the area
- The Office of Nightlife and NYPD will distribute signs to bars and clubs with tips for theft prevention
“Nightlife is vital to New York City’s local culture and global identity,” said Ariel Palitz, NYC's nightlife mayor, in a statement. “The Lower East Side is one of the city’s most vibrant and social neighborhoods. This plan coordinates City services to support our thriving nightlife and respond to the needs of the residential community, to ensure that nightlife is fair and works for everyone.”
Although several local residents and business owners spoke during the event on behalf of the plan, not everyone was thrilled with de Blasio's priorities: after showing up 20 minutes late to the event, a group of protesters waiting there claimed the city was ignoring neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Flatbush that have more minority-owned businesses. “Black business are being shut down and they’re being fined out of existence,” community organizer Morgan Flores told the Post. “People are losing their livelihoods, their savings and their retirement and there’s no help."