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New website will let NYers check city bars' violation histories

SLA website

SLA website Credit: A screenshot of the online database the State Liquor Authority is creating (SLA via DNAinfo)

Amid complaints from New Yorkers about bars not keeping crowds under control, New York's State Liquor Authority is creating an online map that will let the public see an establishment's history of violations and liquor licenses.

The website -- set to launch next month -- will let New Yorkers search for an establishment by name or location, and scroll through its license and violation history, similar to the city's online restaurant inspection database.

Though license information has been available online, the authority currently requires people to submit Freedom of Information requests to find out about violations cited for places that sell booze.

“Just for them to have this information at their fingertips would be very useful,” SLA spokesman William Crowley told DNAinfo, which first reported the database's creation.

It’s unclear what kind of violations will be posted.

Crowley didn’t return calls to amNewYork Monday for further comment.

The announcement thrilled locals that are often disturbed by noisy drunks stumbling out of bars.

Corey Johnson, chair of Community Board 4 — which covers Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, said relationships between local bars and neighbors is “one of the biggest issues” the board deals with.

“The more transparency information that residents in the city are able to get from the SLA about establishments that are potentially doing things that aren’t in line with their agreements when they got their license is a good thing,” Johnson told amNewYork.

But the nightlife industry said they were annoyed the state didn’t ask them their opinion of the new site, which hasn’t been shown to them.

Rick Sampson, president of the New York State Restaurant Association, said he was worried violation information posted “could be dangerous” to nightlife establishments if enough context isn’t published on the site.

“An issue like that should be between the State Liquor Authority and the licensee,” said Sampson, who said he first learned of the new online map Monday.

Terry Flynn, counsel to the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association, agreed, saying the online database may have “far-reaching implications” for restaurants.

“They reached out to community boards who tend to make complaints, but they didn’t reach out to organizations that represent licensees,” Flynn said.

But State Sen. Tom Duane said the website was a step in the right direction.

“The maps may not be perfect, but we can work together to make sure they’re as accurate as possible,” said Duane (D-Manhattan), who held a community meeting this month for residents to address complaints about local bars. “Most nightlife establishments are very good neighbors… but occasionally we have a bad operator.”

(With DNAinfo)

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