Fix the Hell Square Chaos: An Open Letter to CB3 and Elected Officials
The following open letter was written by a concerned resident of Hell Square who wishes to remain anonymous.
Dear Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Council member Margaret Chin, Council Member Carlina Rivera, Borough President Gale Brewer, NY SLA, and NYC Nightlife Mayor Ariel Palitz:
I write to you as a taxpaying and voting resident of the district you represent, asking for your help in addressing problems that are the direct result of reckless and contemptuous city and state polices. I write specifically of the obscene number of liquor licenses issued within a few blocks on which also happen to live thousands of residents who have been forced on a 24/7 basis to deal with the direct consequences of these reckless policies: the creation of a perpetual drunken circus atmosphere in which almost any acts – save assault – are permitted apparently without consequence.
It is clear to us, the residents, that word continues to travel that the Lower East Side is, for the thousands of partiers who come but do not live here, a place where other people do not exist and you can do as you please. You want to blast your music from a portable speaker at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning and gather around it drinking beneath someone’s window? Be my guest. You want to urinate in someone’s doorway? Why not? You want to block off a street on a Sunday afternoon, declare a block party (no permits needed!), invite 50 or so of your middle aged out of state buddies to parade around endlessly blowing their horns in the midst of a global pandemic? You’re almost providing a public service! You want to ride around in a car blasting music at decibels so loud that residents and their families can literally feel it in their bodies? Hey, the pandemic is over and it’s party time all the time! Even if I never leave my car! You want to blast music in the middle of a street at 4:00 am on a Sunday morning so 200 or so of your pals can continue to party as they did this past week? Hey! It’s the Lower East Side and you can do whatever you want whenever you want. If fact, it is precisely why you come here. There are no consequences.
It is difficult to capture in words the sense of degradation a steady diet of this lawless idiocy creates. The pattern was out of control long before the pandemic, a tragedy now being exploited to make it seem acceptable or patriotic to be an asshole. And while it is understood that bars and nightclubs have a role in rebuilding the economy post-Covid, in no way does that justify an even further saturation of nightlife. Likewise, who doesn’t understand that, following a year of being shut in, many people are pent up. We all suffered under the same conditions.
To be clear, no one who chooses to live in this city has the right to expect the absence of the sounds of the city: sirens, traffic, chatter, horns. And none of us do. What we do have the right to expect are the same rights that most people in this city take for granted: the right to dine with our families in relative peace; the right to read if we care to without a bombardment of sound at levels that are absolutely impossible to muffle; and above all, the right to sleep at night. Perhaps nothing indicates the grotesque failure of our political leadership than the fact that, increasingly, these fundamental human rights have been stolen from us.
Think about that.
Given the above, I propose that you, our elected officials, meet with us, your constituents, in good faith and address the very real problems that so degrade the quality of our lives and that would never be tolerated for a single day in your home neighborhoods.
We are not nothing. We are your constituents. We are human beings. Meet with us. Listen to us. Hear us. Help us.
Citizen X, Orchard Street, Lower East Side