The State Liquor Authority has finally launched a new web site intended to make it a lot easier for communities to track the status of liquor permits. The old system was notoriously archaic. Information was difficult to find and, in many cases, not available at all online.
The new site features a searchable interactive map, allowing users to look up both pending and approved licenses. Once you identify a particular bar or restaurant, you can also see other licensed establishments in the vicinity, as well as churches and schools.
State Senator Daniel Squadron pressed hard for the new system, in the name of greater transparency. Along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, he passed legislation reallocating money already in the SLA budget for the project. In a news release emailed yesterday, Squadron said, “this website will make life a whole lot easier for communities and businesses. Everyone benefits from more transparency and efficiency.”
Recently, the SLA held training sessions for community boards, who rely heavily on SLA data in evaluating whether to support liquor license applications. Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer told us the new web site is a big advancement. “We will have a true picture of what exists, including pending applications, which is very useful, and violation history of businesses to help work with problems,” she said.
Stetzer noted that there’s still some information, including actual applications and stipulations (operating agreements detailing certain restrictions), not available online. She hopes more funding can be found to enable the liquor authority to add new features and information to the web site. SLA officials have said they built the best web site possible, given limited financial resources.