“Clearly, we will have to do more to show you what La Marina is all about.”
– Letter to CB12 from Manhattan River Group, April 2018
At the April 2018 Community Board 12 meeting, a remarkable thing happened — the members of the community board voted against the renewal of La Marina’s liquor license.
This license comes up for renewal every two years. Past renewals had brought plenty of complaints, but each time some new excuse was made or stipulation added (vague non-binding obligations like “not blocking traffic” that were utterly unenforceable) and then the renewal would sail through while absolutely nothing actually changed. In 2014 for their first renewal, a nervous La Marina even had four elected officials and the precinct commander sign a form letter they drafted for them, in order to put pressure on the CB, Parks and the SLA.
But after six years it appears the community board members have had enough of the problems (documented on this site but especially related to concerts, late-night crowds and traffic) and wanted some improvement from the status quo. How did this change come about?
When the licensing committee did not support the renewal earlier in the month, the operators of the concession lobbied the members of the community board before the general board meeting by sending all of them a remarkable letter filled with claims and boasts. The problem is that many of them were less impressive upon closer inspection, and the letter may have been the final straw in the community’s tolerance for insanity (i.e. doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results).
Let’s go through the highlights of the letter one at a time, fact-checker style:
La Marina is one of the largest employers in the area.
La Marina actively supports our community through direct funding and free access:
La Marina is one of NYC’s premier event venues, and the only large venue in our area:
La Marina is in good standing with the SLA.
La Marina did NOT cause more than 2,000 311 calls last year, as has been widely circulated.
And since La Marina is larger than all of the other businesses combined and a heavy influence on their foot traffic, it is hard to claim complete separation from what happens down the block.
Police data shows that there has been not a single violent incident reported at La Marina over the past 3 years.
La Marina did not block installation of an Eco Barge
La Marina is in good standing with the Department of Parks and Recreation, is not in violation of our concession agreement, and is not behind on payments due to the City.
Concerts are strictly prohibited at the Licensed Premises. All amplified music at the Licensed Premises must cease at 10:00 pm. [Section 10.18]
La Marina does not operate secretly, or without Community updates.
Traffic on Dyckman Street was a challenge before we opened and has clearly become worse as the entire area has become a summer destination.The popularity of our business without a doubt contributes to traffic congestion; but that is no reason to shut down La Marina, just as traffic on Atlantic Avenue is no reason to shut down Barclays Center.
“This is an existing use, previously a [marina] cafe, for at least, I believe, 15 years. I don’t know the exact number; at least the last 10 years. So this is not a new use of this space. Therefore, we didn’t do any [environmental assessment], because typically it is existing use and we know what the conditions that were there before. We don’t think there is going to be any — the concessionaire has offered to work with local garages to make sure that there is valet parking; to encourage people to come by public transportation. And we don’t think there’s going to be a particular traffic impact based on the concession.”
Our positive impact is ongoing and pervasive in this community.