SantaCon 2015 is fast approaching (Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!) in NYC, and once again elected officials are speaking out in opposition of the annual debauched bar crawl. This time State Senator Brad Hoylman is leading the charge, with an open letter calling upon the event's anonymous organizers to announce their route in advance and do a better job coordinating with officials. It seems unlikely that the organizers of SantaCon, which is inherently anarchic, will comply, but here's Hoylman's letter in full:

To Whom It May Concern:

For a third year, we write to express our concerns regarding the annual SantaCon bar crawl and the negative impact it has on the residential communities where it takes place. Each holiday season, local elected officials, community boards and local precincts face a wave of complaints as the SantaCon bar crawl passes through their neighborhoods. This year, we are again hoping to take preemptive action.

We appreciate that the SantaCon bar crawl can provide additional short-term sales to a small group of local business establishments. However, we also recognize that the event’s many adverse effects significantly disrupt the quality of life of entire communities. While the SantaCon bar crawl has pledged to take proactive steps in the past, the organization’s efforts have not mitigated the bulk of the event’s deleterious impact. There is still more that can and must be done to ensure that the event is positive and safe.

Previously, we requested that the SantaCon bar crawl adhere to a set of common-sense principles. We urge you to agree to a similar set of guidelines this year in anticipation of the event’s 2015 iteration. The three principles are as follows:

Share defined routes with the community - The SantaCon bar crawl’s path often comes as an unwelcome and last minute surprise to community members, the NYPD, and local businesses.

We ask that the SantaCon bar crawl make its routes and timetable publicly available far in advance in order to give all of these stakeholders time to adequately plan for the arrival of SantaCon bar crawl participants.

Ensure responsible participant behavior - While the police can certainly play a role in ensuring SantaCon bar crawl participants abide by laws regarding public intoxication and urination and overly aggressive behavior, the NYPD is responsible for serving the public at large rather than providing security for a private event.

The SantaCon bar crawl’s organizers must make a concerted effort to self-police at establishments along the route and should expel overly intoxicated and badly-behaving participants.

Mitigate pedestrian safety risks - The Santacon bar crawl’s participants often overwhelm sidewalks that were designed to accommodate smaller crowds, posing serious safety concerns for participants and other pedestrians. The SantaCon bar crawl should identify opportunities to reduce these risks. For example, staff members or trained volunteers can be present along the route to ensure the free-flow of pedestrian travel and to prevent individuals from walking into busy vehicular traffic.

With the date of the event rapidly approaching, we urge the SantaCon bar crawl to act swiftly to adopt these guidelines and make its programmatic and safety plans public.

The letter was co-signed by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senators Adriano Espaillat, Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, and Council Members Daniel Garodnick, Corey Johnson and Rosie Mendez.

In a separate letter, the same coaltion of officials urged the SLA to remind local bar owners that state law prohibits them from serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons. They also asked the SLA to assign additional inspectors on the day of SantaCon in order to monitor bars that participate in the event.

"When left unregulated, the bar crawl has widespread negative effects on the local community, with complaints including but not limited to public consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, public urination, and disorderly and aggressive behavior," the letter to the SLA concludes.

Last year, as backlash to the event intensified, SantaCon organizers hired famed civil rights attorney Norman Siegel to serve as their liaison to the press and NYPD. They also changed the pub crawl's format in an attempt to scale back SantaCon's impact, in part because it fell on the same day as a large march protesting police brutality. Nevertheless, some sparks flew between SantaCon participants and protesters.

A SantaCon organizer tells us they will be releasing a statement in response to the open letter this evening.

Update: Santa and his attorney have responded to the anti-SantaCon coalition in a letter explaining that they have shared the planned route with the NYPD, and noting that "our 2014 event saw zero arrests and zero citations." Read it in full, below:

Santa Con Response to State Senator 120715