City Appoints Ariel Palitz as First ‘Night Mayor’
Ariel Palitz, a longtime fixture of local nightlife, was just appointed to the newly created “Night Mayor” position.
The primary responsibility of Night Mayor, as part of the Office of Nightlife, is to grow the industry while serving as liaison to the communities affected by it. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the Lower East Side, where many residents are faced with a borderline safety crisis due to over-saturation of liquor licenses.
Paltiz is a controversial pick given her reputation. During her tenure on the SLA subcommittee of Community Board 3, she didn’t exaclty endear herself to locals when, in 2012, she told the Daily News in an interview that the neighborhood was “ripe for the picking.” Her nightclub, Sutra, was also considered one of the worst noise offenders in the East Village that year, with approximately 265 complaints registered via 311. Nevertheless, Palitz reportedly plans to engage city residents with “listening tours” to hear how the other half lives, so to speak. Those meetings might not go over well around here, given the contentious relationship with the neighborhood.
The New York Times had the scoop on the appointment yesterday.
In her first interview since accepting the post, Ms. Palitz suggested that her stint as the Nightlife Mayor would be slightly more sober and focus less on carousing than on conflict mediation. In today’s New York, gentrification has pitted partygoers against the settled residents of neighborhoods like the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. In her first official act, Ms. Palitz promised to hold a series of listening tours and entertain the gripes of those who are bothered by the vomit on their streets or the noise at 3 a.m.
“Both sides feel unheard,” she said. “Both sides feel that things are unfair. I think the grievances are almost the same but there haven’t been any practical real-world solutions to address them.”
Now in charge of a mayoral office with a 12-person advisory board, a $300,000 budget and a salary of $130,000 a year, Ms. Palitz seems to have realized that even a doyenne of New York night life must make a few concessions when joining city government. On her Tuesday evening drink, she was accompanied, for instance, by a minder from City Hall. While she admits that there were times in her career when she personified “what the no-bar movement rejected,” she also claimed that she has always tried “to find solutions that work for everyone.”
Among those who will be watching her as she begins her job is Rafael Espinal, the Brooklyn city councilman who sponsored the law that created the position. Mr. Espinal, whose district includes the night life neighborhood of Bushwick, said he was excited by Ms. Palitz’s appointment, but hoped that she would not be too Manhattan-centric.