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What does the city’s new quiet nightlife campaign mean for Brooklyn?

The Mayor’s Office is asking club and bar goers in the Lower East Side to keep the noise down in a poster campaign that could appear in other parts of the city. The Eagle asked Brooklyn nightlife stakeholders for their take.

November 15, 2019 Michael Stahl

Parts of Brooklyn may soon be asked to pipe down at night.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Office of Nightlife’s “Late-Night Quality of Life Improvement Plan” last month, focused on a six-block section of the Lower East Side, home to more than 80 food and beverage establishments. The plan includes measures to reduce congestion and increase garbage pickups — and to quiet down the neighborhood’s many partygoers.

The plan includes a “Night Owl Words of Wisdom” etiquette campaign, a marketing blitz featuring a knowing owl’s polite prodding for courtesy. “Put on glitter, but please don’t litter,” one reads. “While you’re singing, someone is sleeping,” says another. “Please try to keep it down.”

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The New York Post called the plan a “nightlife crackdown,” to which the senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife, Ariel Palitz, objected.

“This is not about giving tickets and enforcing people, it’s about just bringing awareness to people to be more considerate, in a light-hearted way,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “For me, the whole purpose of the Office of Nightlife is to make nightlife more fair, for everyone, for the owners, the operators, the employees, the patrons and the residents.”

The Night Owl Campaign posters. Images courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife

For now, the campaign is contained to the Lower East Side, but Palitz called it a “prototype” program. She told the Eagle she expects similar measures to be launched elsewhere “as needed,” with neighborhood-specific curation.

“We’re always looking at how to make improvements in all five boroughs,” she said.

In an email to the Eagle, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams expressed his support of the plan and its prospective launch in Brooklyn.


“As the nightlife industry grows in our borough and throughout the city, we have to ensure we are balancing that growth with the very real quality-of-life concerns,” he said. “The recently announced campaign by the Mayor ensures our nightlife culture continues to thrive without burdening local residents … Everyone benefits when we make communities safer, cleaner, quieter and more respectful.”

The Eagle asked Brooklyn nightlife stakeholders what they thought of the campaign and its possible spread into other nightlife neighborhoods deemed too problematic for some residents. Here’s what they said.

Andy Heidel, proprietor of The Way Station:

“The LES crackdown is obvious: people with money are complaining so of course the mayor is listening. What these complainers are forgetting is that they live in a city, not the suburbs. The reason the LES became desirable to live in was its collection of unique mom and pop shops, restaurants, bars and clubs started by entrepreneurs looking for cheap rent. They added to the existing community and helped make it more vibrant. However, clubs and bars that over-serve their customers are at fault city wide. Instead of a crackdown, there should be more education provided to bars and clubs regarding over-serving their patrons. Ultimately, the complainers shouldn’t worry about it for too long since the multi-million-dollar condos will increase property taxes for everyone else. Rents will rise and more small businesses will close. Like many places in NYC, the over-building of luxury condos will lead to the demise of the small business, more empty storefronts, and the death of NYC.”

Dash Speaks, programming director for Friends and Lovers:

“While it’s easy to only focus on the problems and policies that affect you, your business or your livelihood directly, it’s important to remember that all of us are part of a greater community.  We do our best to be respectful of our neighbors and our neighborhood, and be considerate and mindful of noise particularly when most people are sleeping. All of this said, the nightlife community on the Lower East Side is much different than ours in Crown Heights. We’d happily welcome and cooperate with any campaign that is working to improve the lives of people in our neighborhood, but we’d expect said campaign to be tailored to fit the needs of Crown Heights. Ultimately, being a good New Yorker means that you have a net-positive impact on your city. By living here and operating a business here, we’ve made a covenant with NYC (and Brooklyn and Crown Heights particularly), and it’s our responsibility to be good to our neighborhood and neighbors, and we hope that our neighbors and patrons feel the same way.”

Sarah Hupper, owner of Crawl Brooklyn:

“It’s interesting how the Mayor’s Office gets involved in a neighborhood’s nightlife scene when there’s a spike of high end development in the neighborhood. It seems that nightlife is the heart and soul of the LES and is actually a major attraction that’s driven this high end development. In Brooklyn, I’ve seen that friendly and considerate relationships with the residential community are a chief concern widely shared across management teams in the Brooklyn nightlife industry; probably especially important considering that many Brooklyn venues are located within otherwise residential areas.”


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