Last night Community Board 3 voted to put in place comprehensive new policies that could have a dramatic impact on the nightlife industry on the Lower East Side for years to come. The revised rules, governing how CB3’s SLA Committee evaluates liquor license applications, are intended to streamline and standardize a process that has been harshly criticized by bar owners and community activists alike as inconsistent and capricious.
Reversing a decision made at the committee level last week, the full board decided to phase out the controversial practice of automatically transferring licenses from one operator to another. During a heated meeting last Wednesday, CB3 member and bar owner David McWater persuaded his colleagues to make the practice official community board policy. But last night, key members of the panel changed their minds. Acting on a proposal from longtime CB3 member David Crane, the full board then voted 37-0-3-1, to throw out the automatic transfer language (there were 3 abstentions; one member did not vote).