NYC Office of Nightlife Report 2018-2021: Overview
In June 2021, the NYC Office of Nightlife (ONL) at the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment released their inaugural report that documents its activities and accomplishments as well as recommendations for new programs and initiatives to be implemented in the coming years.
These ongoing and proposed initiatives are the result of stakeholder engagement; constituent services casework with nightlife businesses, workers, and neighbors; focus groups to solicit detailed feedback regarding the issues and challenges facing New York nightlife; in-depth research of national and global best practices; and extensive partnership with other government agencies.
ONL's purpose is to help establish and coordinate systemic solutions to support the nighttime economy, culture, and quality of life. Its goal is to make nightlife fairer, safer, more equitable and accessible, and to make sure that nightlife works for all New Yorkers, and the city's millions of visitors each year.
In the three years since it was established, ONL has made major strides toward fulfilling that mission. This report serves as a record of that progress and sets forth recommendations to help secure the future of nightlife.
From Legislation to Agenda
The first part of the report, "From Legislation to Agenda," describes the establishment of the Office of Nightlife, the community engagement and research process, and the commission of the economic impact study of the nightlife industry in New York City.
- Support Business Development & Recovery
- Improve Quality of Life
- Promote Safety, Equity & Harm Reduction
- Elevate Nightlife Culture
From Agenda to Action
The second part of the report, "From Agenda to Action" describes ONL's work pursuing its agenda, including the work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on nightlife.
- Established one-stop shop of resources and support for nightlife businesses, workers, patrons, and residents
- Established Nightlife Interagency Working Group
- Established a Multi-Agency Support for Hospitality (MASH) approach
- Established MEND NYC mediation program to resolve disputes between venues and neighbors
- Implemented Lower East Side Quality of Life Improvement Plan
- Produced report of Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots (MARCH) operations activity
- Promoted harm reduction approach to substance use through educational campaigns
- Hosted active shooter response training for venue owners, staff, and security
- Hosted "State of Nightlife" panel series
- Responded to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Served as a liaison to New York's nightlife community, bringing issues and concerns to policy makers and providing information about new regulations and best practices
- Conducted an initial survey to evaluate the immediate effects of COVID-19-related restrictions on businesses, workers, and freelancers
- Held multiple, virtual "Town Call" meetings with city, state, and federal officials to share resources and get answers to common questions and challenges
- Participated in the city's daily inter-agency teams working to coordinate reopening and recovery efforts, suggested ideas for new policies and reforms to provide immediate relief to struggling businesses and workers
- Created resources to explain new COVID-19 rules and regulations in plain language
- Launched public awareness campaigns about responsible behavior when patronizing nightlife businesses
From Action to Projection
The third and final part of the report, "From Action to Projection" is a detailed roadmap for the future, incorporating public feedback and research, and setting forth a wide range of recommendations. The following is a summary of key recommendations:
1.0 Support Business Development & Recovery
Improve the business environment for existing and prospective operators by creating resources to assist businesses understanding of regulatory processes, and coordinate efforts of city agencies involved in managing, regulating, and promoting nightlife.
- 1.1 Streamline processes through one-stop for multi-agency permitting, inspections, and support
- 1.2 Launch "Night School" workshops for business operations, best practices, and workplace rights
- 1.3 Establish process to evaluate and address complaints about venues
- 1.4 Reduce impact of "curable" violations and redundant penalties
- 1.5 Study effects of commercial rent and long-term vacancies on businesses
- 1.6 Encourage standard community board processes and applications for liquor licensing
- 1.7 Advocate for amended "tied house" law in New York State
2.0 Improve Quality of Life
Strengthen relationships between venues and communities through programs and policies to manage sound, reduce traffic congestion, improve waste collection, and mediate conflicts.
- 2.1 Implement Street ambassador program
- 2.2 Implement policy to improve conditions that cause complaints from new residential developments near existing venues
- 2.3 Create incentives for soundproofing
- 2.4 Introduce Sunday waste removal services to address Saturday nightlife activity
- 2.5 Coordinate for-hire vehicle pickups in nightlife areas
3.0 Promote Safety, Equity, & Harm Reduction
Promote opportunities in nightlife for people to look out for each other through campaigns and workshops to promote harm reduction, bystander intervention, mental health awareness, and worker and patron safety.
- 3.1 Address concerns regarding inequities by race, gender, and sexual identity inequities in enforcement
- 3.2 Promote equity and fairness through best practices, guidance, and campaigns for safer nightlife spaces
- 3.3 Advance public health through a harm reduction approach to substance use
- 3.4 Promote mental health awareness in nightlife spaces through "Thrive at Night" program
4.0 Elevate Nightlife Culture
Preserve and protect venues that foster connection, creativity, and personal expression through programs to support cultural spaces and the New Yorkers who work and perform in them.
- 4.1 Establish alternative temporary use process for small or "do-it-yourself" (DIY) cultural events
- 4.2 Ensure safety and compliance in cultural spaces
- 4.3 Improve affordability for DIY spaces and promoters to host safe, legal events
- 4.4 Explore changes to zoning language to support and expand live music and social dancing uses
- 4.5 Explore allowing 24-hour use in select neighborhoods
- 4.6 Explore dedicating city assets for new cultural venues
- 4.7 Promote and preserve New York nightlife's cultural history
Office of Nightlife Reports