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A New Era: Mayor de Blasio signs bill to Create NYC Office of Nightlife

September 20, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio (center) celebrates with Councilmember Rafael Espinal on Tuesday night after the mayor signed into law legislation to create an Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board. Courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office
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Mayor Bill de Blasio was the life of the party on Tuesday at Bushwick nightclub House of Yes.

But it wasn’t for his dancing skills.  

In a room filled with hundreds of artists, musicians and business owners, de Blasio officially signed into law Councilmember Rafael Espinal’s legislation to create an Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board.

The newest city agency will be controlled by a night mayor, which de Blasio described as “one of the coolest job titles you could ever hope to have.”

“I’m not going to announce any names yet — there is a massive competition going on — but the office will be led by someone who undoubtedly will be more popular than me and will wield tremendous power,” de Blasio said.

The new position’s responsibilities will include regulating the nightlife industry, helping DIY venues stay open and creating a safer partying environment.

The director 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.

“Finally, nightlife venues will have a partner in city government to work with them, rather than against them,” Espinal told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“For decades, music venues and cultural spaces have had an adversarial relationship with city government, which resulted in 20 percent of the city’s smaller venues closing in the past 15 years alone,” he continued.  

Famed drummer Marky Ramone from the Ramones and legendary jazz musician Ron Carter joined de Blasio and Espinal onstage for the event.

The signing of the bill legitimizes the city’s nightlife and comes as a huge victory for Espinal, who first drafted Intro No. 1688 in May.

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 on May 6 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.


Both Sides of the Story

In response to the signing of the bill, Reclaim New York, a nonprofit organization that “empowers citizens through education and civic engagement,” called the bill “unnecessary” and a “wasteful party pooper.”

“This position amounts to a taxpayer-funded party pooper…” the organization said in a statement. “Worse, it adds to record personnel head counts that are a big part of the city budget’s unaffordable, 22 percent increase in spending over the last four years.

“New Yorkers created one of the most vibrant, lucrative nightlife cultures in the entire world without the help of a government chaperone. It’s insulting to pretend they need one now. The city should just get out of the way, and then the party will really start.”

Espinal, a Bedford-Stuyvesant native and regular at several Brooklyn music venues, responded to Reclaim New York’s statement.

“The nightlife industry produces over 100,000 jobs and immeasurable cultural capital,” Espinal told the Eagle. “A fiscally conservative view that thinks $400,000 in the context of an $85 billion budget is too much for such an impactful sector of our city life is shortsighted.

“That view doesn’t see the potential this office will have for more jobs, support for small businesses and safety for New Yorkers as they experience nightlife. Last night, we were joined by over 100 New Yorkers from all walks of life, business owners and patrons, who value the culture this industry produces and want to make sure it gets the support it needs to stick around.”

Nightlife is a $10 billion sector of NYC’s economy, according to the Mayor’s Office.

In April, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosted an event at Brooklyn Bowl that released the results of a report from the New York City Media & Entertainment Department that reviewed the economic impact of music in New York City.

The study revealed that the music industry supports roughly 60,000 jobs, accounts for nearly $5 billion in wages and creates $21 billion in total economic output for the city.

In 2015, New York’s concert tickets accounted for $5.4 million, which was more than Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago combined.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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