Community Board 3 Suspends LES Dwellers Group

Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee will once again take up the controversial issue of The DL, the nightlife venue at 93 Ludlow St., this evening.  But before the meeting even begins, there’s some news about the LES Dwellers, the neighborhood group opposing the renewal of The DL’s liquor permit.

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CB3 recently notified the group that it was suspending it as a recognized block association until the end of this year. In a letter that was sent not only to the Dwellers but to members of CB3’s SLA Committee, Chairperson Gigi Li wrote, “it appears that the group has been working as its own entity” and acting as a ‘shadow community board.”

Specifically, she said the organization was “contacting and communicating with applicants, attempting to impact the (community board) agenda without communicating with the (community board), investigating and submitting materials to the State Liquor Authority) without informing the (community board).”  The letter stated that CB3 needed to “operate within the parameters” of state law and “to be perceived as fair and trustworthy by all.”  Li noted that, “over the past several months, we have become concerned about the manner in which the LES Dwellers interacts with applicants, the community board, and the State Liquor Authority.”  As examples, she mentioned two proposed resolutions sent to applicants asking them to withdraw their applications and instances in which the Dwellers were accused of meeting with applicants individually rather than calling public meetings in which all impacted residents could attend.

Back in February, the community board instituted new guidelines requiring block associations to follow certain procedures. The rules read, in part:

Block associations must have a publicly posted meeting for every SLA application considered. Flyer should be posted on the street for several days and copy must be submitted to CB office. Block and tenant associations must represent a substantial number of residents of their building or block.

Under state law, the Liquor Authority is obligated to receive feedback about proposed permits from local community boards.  CB3’s leadership believes it has the authority to decide how the board interacts with neighborhood organizations.

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Last week, local residents met with management from The DL.  The SLA renewed the venue’s liquor permit before CB3 weighed in last month, but tonight the committee will look at asking the SLA to add new restrictions to The DL’s license.  In the past few days, we reported about the tensions between the board and the Dwellers. Members of the organization told us they are frustrated that the community board office has, in their view, not dealt more assertively with problem bars and clubs on the Lower East Side.

In her letter, Li wrote, “LES Dweller members can continue to be involved in SLA-issues as concerned residents. We value the work that you do, but feel very strongly that all block associations should be held to the same standard and rules.”

In a statement, the LES Dwellers reacted strongly to the decision. See excerpts below:

 

Community Board 3’s decision to suspend the LES Dwellers for 3 months effective Sept 23, 2013 – or more specifically, the procedurally deficient decision of CB3 Chair Gigi Li, and District Manager, Susan Stetzer, without seeking Board approval – constitutes a serious violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. Specifically, the LES Dwellers was suspended not because the group engaged in unlawful behavior, but rather because Li and Stetzer objected to certain opinions being expressed by the LES Dwellers, the manner in which the group chose to express them, and the persons with whom the group chose to communicate them. The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech is not only infringed when a government entity prevents one from speaking, but also when it “chills” free speech by threatening or implementing punishments in response to the decision to speak freely. That is precisely what CB3, through its Chair and District Manager, have done… In response to Community Board 3’s actions, L.E.S. Dwellers filed a complaint with the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The complaint includes an audio recording of the entirety of the conversation between the LES Dwellers and Li and Stetzer, in which the LES Dwellers were told of the suspension and the reasons therefore, as well as the Community Board suspension letter and response letter from the LES Dwellers, including 81 pages of supporting supplemental material.  The LES Dwellers calls on Manhattan Borough President to take swift action in response to Community Board 3’s suppression of the group’s constitutional rights, including reversal of the CB3 decision and whatever punitive action may be deemed appropriate given the severity of a Constitutional violation by members of the Board. Although the LES Dwellers want to give the Borough President the first opportunity to condemn and rectify this highly inappropriate behavior, the group is considering all available courses of action, including taking legal action against the board and the offending officers….

 

 

 

28 comments to Community Board 3 Suspends LES Dwellers Group

  • AnonNYC10009

    Some community boards are off the hook. CB3 has gone off the rails.
    LES Dwellers were suspended for “contacting and communicating with applicants, attempting to impact the (community board) agenda without communicating with the (community board), investigating and submitting materials to the State Liquor Authority) without informing the (community board)”? Oh, the humanity. Go get ‘em Gigi McCarthy!!! She should be impeached.

  • SD

    LES Dwellers have gotten out of control and are hurting business for everyone. These type of groups just want to create commotion and only care about making other peoples lives more miserable. They are jealous of other peoples success and have nothing better to do other than bit ch

  • Hi Dee,

    We don’t publish profanity. If you want to resubmit this comment without the profanity, we will publish it.
    Regards,

    Traven Rice
    The Lo-Down NY
    thelodownny.com

  • oh well

    The proper palms are not being greased. Cb3 doesn’t want to lose controll of it’s big money maker. Influence of the state liquor authorities.

  • oh well

    Currently if you stand in the middle of Ludlow st (on the block btwn Rivington and Stanton) at the address for the proposed Ludlow House you can count 51 Liquor licenses that the SLA has granted which CB3 has either allowed or not protested. The SLA created a law that only 3 license are allowed per 500 ft radius…..the reason that this law exists is to specifically allow for a well directed PUBLIC HEALTH and PUBLIC SAFETY issue. The DL has very clear stipulations on its license which they have been violating for a very long time and these are not negotiable or subjective actions that they have taken.

  • alyce1213

    “These type of groups?” You mean people who live in the neighborhood and care about their quality of life? I assume you live nowhere near the noise and vomit, or what you refer to as “success.” From your comment, I can only speculate that you may be one of the people partying and puking around DL.
    Truly, the most unfounded, nonspecific and overgeneralized remark here.

  • david

    My first reaction is that it appears to be an overreaction by CB3. Why can’t community members talk directly with businesses? I understand procedure but this seems a bit over the top.

  • MyCivilRights

    The decision by Community Board 3 to suspend the LES Dwellers for three months infringes on their Constitutional right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, defend common interests, and petition the government in the manner they see fit. The ruling is not only unconstitutional, it was decided in absence of procedural due process and a determination of just cause. It is time MBP Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Chin and Councilwoman Mednez stood up for the people and did some house cleaning at CB3!

  • SD

    I live in ” hell square”. I moved in around five years ago. I’m not one to go out to the bars and sometimes the noise can be annoying. …but I chose to live there. I moved in knowing bars were there.. knowing they make noise. Why would I go and waste my time to complain when I put myself in to this situation?!. Most members of the dwellers don’t live in the area. the ones that do, moved in knowing that there are bars there making noise. The ones there before the bars moved in, are probably paying $300 a month for there rent controlled apartment and are not providing any benefit to the neighborhood accept providing government jobs for people to deal with all their bitch-ing.

  • alyce1213

    A lot of people, like myself, have lived in the neighborhood a lot longer than your 5 years, before the excessive number of bars and newcomers. I challenge your assertion that “most members of the dwellers don’t live in the area.” And no one, NO ONE, is paying $300 a month for any apartment. Ridiculous, hyperbolic statements like that give your point of view no credibility.
    For you, yuppie parvenu, to say that the people who’ve lived here for years are “not providing any benefit to the neighborhood accept (sic — should be EXCEPT) providing government jobs for people to deal with all their bitch-ing is ignorant and disrespectful. Exactly what are you talking about? What government jobs? You sound like a Teabagger, in which case, you don’t belong here.

  • Really Unimpressed

    Wow SD- you are embarrassing yourself with your ridiculous and ignorant comments! Who are you to insult the large number of people who haves lived here much longer than you?

  • Downtown Resident

    So Life on the LES started when you moved in 5 years ago, and everything before that does not matter? How many new bars since you moved in? How do the allowances for those new operations comply with the requirements of the law?

  • Emily

    There’s nobody paying $300 for a rent controlled apartment. Pipe dream.
    Manhattan is desirable because of diversity of businesses, people, architecture.
    Mono-culture is deadly in nature and in life.

  • I am one of those rent regulated tenants and have lived on Ludlow Street for 33 years.Your comment that we do not provide any benefit to the neighborhood is a very ignorant remark.We not only patronize many of the struggling mom and pop businesses but we also provide some stability to the neighborhood.And despite the noise and chaos we are not going away.We are the ones that show up at community board meetings to fight for a clean and less noisy neighborhood.

  • I______m

    WTF!!!

    so we are back to the days of no adequate representation ……………..i.e. take it and shut up!

    I believe this country had a revolution about crap like this!

  • Really Unimpressed

    This is certainly a sad day for grass roots organizing. Doesn’t a neighborhood have the right to form a group to represent their interests? Since CB3 was neither effectively representing nor respecting the concerns of the residents of Hell Square, it made perfect sense that the LES Dwellers would be formed.

    Why should this group now be banned, squashed, and suspended?

    I thought we lived in freedom in the U.S.of A.

  • Downtowner

    This is a first. Who ever heard of “suspending” a block association for doing something the community board disagrees with? A community board can choose to not approve of the opinions and advocacy of any association when making a decision, but they have no right to “suspend” a group.

    Community Board 3 has gone overboard in dictating to block associations how they should operate. Now they’ve made matters worse. Whether the LES Dwellers have overstepped their authority or not, this action by CB3 is outrageous and uncalled for. It is purely punitive in nature and serves no useful purpose for the community.

    CB3 should be suspended for not acting in the best interests of the community they’re supposed to represent.

  • AnonNYC10009

    That block asssocation meting rule for every SLA application is impractical and also was not adopted by the full board (see a pattern here?) so it has no legal effect. A few members of the board are clearly making rules aimed at stifling anti-bar criticism. This board has no legitimacy under its current leadership.

  • Raul gonzales L.E.S

    Thank you CB3!!! Finally these so called “dwellers” got what they deserve, they come to board meetings with the same BS stories about i payed 2800 for my windows an Im a single mom etc. Kudos to Gigi

  • worried in CB2

    This high-handed silencing of the public on the part of CB3 management is dangerously anti-democratic.

    Rosie Mendez, Margaret Chin, Scott Stringer (as current Borough President), and Bill de Blasio (as current Public Advocate) need to step forward immediately to call Gigi Li and Susan Stetzer to account. Li’s and Stetzer’s actions need to be scrutinized, and their appointments to CB3 reconsidered. Or, perish the thought, is it possible one or more of our elected representatives was aware of this disenfranchisement of LES Dwellers? Could it be that it was condoned in advance?

  • Tribeca Trust

    Has CB3 forgotten about freedom of association and freedom of speech? The best solution to this mess is for NYC to have direct election to community boards with short term-limits. Might be good too for State Liquor Authority powers to devolve to the level of community boards as well.

  • emmet

    as a long time resident of ludlow street, i am both saddened and outraged by CB3’s action. they have WAY overstepped their bounds and are working CONTRARY to their stated purpose and mission of representing on the community’s behalf. CB3, you MUST pay attention to what is happening here, work to ease the overcrowding of nightlife in this neighborhood, and REVERSE your decision to exclude LES from the community process. they seem to be the ONLY ones working to restore a measure of sanity to an INSANE situation!

  • AnonNYC10009

    Raul:
    We may not agree on the balance needed for this neighborhood, but can’t you at least agree silencing an advocacy group is wrong/troubling? If CB3 suspended a pro-bar group, I would be just as offended and would be screaming my lungs out to get them reinstated.

  • David Uptown

    So the community board objects to the “noise” made by Dwellers, but takes no effective action about the riot on the streets? What do they understand as the meaning of “community”?

  • “Most of the dwellers don’t live in the area”? “probably paying $300 a month”? Way to over-generalize. What exactly is your point? That you are illogical? Some people will believe whatever it takes to so as not to be intellectually or morally inconvenienced.

    Also, do you expect us to congratulate you for having such low standards of living? Congratulations!

    Just because you don’t think you’re worth more than the quality of life afforded by the current conditions in the LES doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t. I just can’t fathom why a resident would complain about others working to improve a situation which would benefit them.

  • The following comment is from Clayton Patterson:

    Wow! The LES Dwellers got suspended from participating in the political dialogue and using their so-called government protected democratic rights at the CB3 meetings. First, I must say, for me, at initial glace their being censored is funny. Now, finally, they will understand some of the earlier problems our small group encountered trying to deal with this new Entertainment Zone that had been forced down our throats. Problems like being banned from the 7th Precinct Council meetings. All of a sudden they now know exactly what I was talking about and what we went though. All of a sudden they realize that there are hidden agenda’s and what is, is not always as it appears to be. And that this is not what Democracy looks like.

    So now that we are all on the same page, they are right. There is absolutely no way they should be suspended from participating in the supposedly government protected democratic process.

    There should be a serious investigation into the whole bar history. Answer questions like who started the Entertainment Zone. Whose idea was it? Who backed it? Who profited from it? Why where all the rules and regulations broken to allow all these bars to take over and to destroy the backbone of the mom and pop neighborhood businesses?

    Someone should contact Rebecca Moore and ask her about how badly she was treated when she tried to stop the bars and the hotel on Ludlow to Orchard from going up. She was telling local politicians and people on the community board that some of the cement being used for the new hotel was inferior. What was the CB3 response? She was crazy. Turns out she was right and in the end the new hotel owner had to tear off a couple of stories before they could start going up again. Why would the local politicians and community board support the invaders who were clearly breaking the law?

    The over abundance of new bars have always been a source of trouble so why would the local politicians and community board people support them? The bars have been as much of a problem as the drugs so why support them to the point where they could disregard all of the local laws, rules, and regulations? No question that all the new bars have been like a plague on the community.

    A plague to such a degree that we were banned from attending the precinct councils meetings for asking questions about the crime related to bars, and LES Dwellers have now been suspended from attending the community board meeting. Something is totally wrong with all of this. This is not what Democracy looks like.

    My confusion is how they, LES Dwellers, lost these rights— to quote- “Moreover, they infringed upon the rights of every resident who has taken an action along side us -from signing petitions, to writing letters, to making posters, to attending meetings, to writing to our elected officials, to printing presentations, to proof-reading, to research and writing content, to submitting photos and videos etc.”

    And – “We are outraged. We do accept this suspension.” Why would they accept this suspension?

    As a side bar—I had pushed, in the Villager, for the LES Dwellers to meet with new liquor license application people, and they, LESD refused. Now I see they have changed their position. And, from my perspective, they have every right to meet the new prospective business owners. It is their, LESD neighbor and not the
    neighbor of the others on the community board. Who wants another noisy bar polluting the community? The LESD should have the right to investigate and see if the new business would further destroy their quality of life. thanks clayton patterson

  • Lectricboogaloo

    This, and only this.

    CB3 is an absurd version of organized crime, it’s how gangsters behave. Boss Tweed and old Tammany Hall ran the city like this back in the 19th century. The buildings and the current politics in the CB3 area should be designated an Historic District, and the CB members should be forced to wear period dress at public meetings. And, then arrested.

  • Kris Noel

    Would you live next to an airport if you hate noise? You want to make everyone elses life mise rable. Move to long island.