downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 42 | March 2 - 8, 2007

Council passes bar bills in 3 straight shots

The City Council passed three measures on Wednesday intended to make nightlife safer and one resolution calling on the state Legislature to regulate bottle service in nightclubs.

One of the new bills, passed unanimously 49-0 on Feb. 28, was introduced this year and expands the Nuisance Abatement Law to enable the city to shut down any business that makes or sells fake I.D.’s. The measure is intended to make it more difficult for underage persons to buy illegal fake documents and use them to enter bars and lounges.

Another bill, introduced last year by Council Speaker Christine Quinn as part of a nightlife safety program and passed unanimously on Feb. 28, requires security cameras to be installed at the entrances and exits to help fight crime in and around bars, clubs and lounges. The measure includes privacy safeguards against improper use of surveillance tapes, which must be kept in a restricted area, with access restricted to authorized persons. Illegal dissemination of the tapes could result in cabaret license suspension or revocation and fines ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

The third bill, also introduced as part of the nightlife safety program, was passed 46-3 and provides that clubs with serious or repeated violations may hire independent monitors at their own expense in lieu of license suspension. The monitors, to be approved by police, will consult with police to establish safety measures, including employee training and I.D. scanners, in the clubs that employ them.

The mayor is expected to sign the three bills, which were drafted with the help of the N.Y.P.D. and other city agencies.

The bottle service resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, calls on the state legislature and the State Liquor Authority to regulate bottle service in nightlife establishments and require a club’s wait staff to monitor the service. The intention is to reduce excessive consumption of vodka and other hard liquors when guests at tables buy alcohol by the bottle rather than by the drink.

Quinn noted that a number of high-profile incidents that resulted in the death of club patrons, including an 18-year-old New Jersey college student, were linked to problems with club security and management practices. “This package of nightlife safety legislation aims to help solve those problems and insure that nightlife is safe and secure,” she said in a prepared statement issued just before the bills and the resolution were passed.


&Mac246;Albert Amateau

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