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Several Vernon Blvd residents sign petition AGAINST rear yard spaces

Alobar's closed rear yard space

Alobar’s closed rear yard space

May 6, By Christian Murray

They simply want peace and quiet.

Several residents who live next to Vernon Blvd bars and restaurants started circulating an online petition calling on the community board and elected officials to protect them from noise. The petition – titled “Not in my Backyard” — has generated about 50 signatures.

The petition was formed in response to a growing group of disgruntled residents who are calling on the community board and elected officials to allow bars/restaurants on Vernon Blvd to use their rear yard spaces —- even on a limited basis. The advocates for rear yard use started their petition about 10 days ago and have generated about 600 signatures.

Anna Finn, who lives next to Alobar, started her dueling petition on Thursday that calls for the rear yards to remain closed.

The petition reads in part: “We support the change [to Long Island City] and want to see businesses flourish, but not at the expense of disturbing the peace and quiet that every person deserves and should have after a hectic work day.”

Finn said she is not opposed to outdoor seating and that there are plenty of options in the neighborhood for residents. These options include: Bella via, Tourensol, Manetta’s, Shi, Skinny Cantina, Riverview and LIC Bar.

Finn said that if the rear yards are open she will essentially be dining al fresco 7 days a week with about 20 people. The customers get to go home afterward their drink and meal, she said, but the neighboring residents have to wait until closing for the party to be over.

Meanwhile, Louis Diliulio, who lives on Vernon Blvd and signed the “Not in my Backyard” petition, said he is very concerned that the community board might change its view.

“I have never seen it be so tense,” Diliulio said. “I just hope they listen to the people who live next door to the noise.”

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33 Responses »

  1. Anna Finn is being ridiculous. I live on Vernon, it is a truck route. There is a happy compromise for all residents. She seems to think the only people affected live above a backyard, which is unfair to the rest of us. It is Springtime and Summer is approaching. All anyone is asking for is FAIRNESS.

  2. I live on 50th and tho there may be street noise the back of my apt enjoys peace and quiet which would disappear if the restaurant behind me is allowed to open their yard. I think that, in this issue, the voices of those DIRECTLY affected should be the voices heard. The many should not be allowed to trample on the rights of the few.

  3. Our city has zoning for a reason. The commercial zoning is to allow services and entertainment for the community. Being able to enjoy the outdoor eating when possible is something that enhances the options of all residents. As I said before it should not be “all or nothing” for either side. Compromise on a set of ristrictions that restaurant owners need to abid to to have the privilege of using the backyard of their establishments. I think that is were most reasonable people in the neighborhood stand. I think there is very few people that want bars pumping music at late hours of the night, weather you live on Vernon or away from it.

  4. “I think that, in this issue, the voices of those DIRECTLY affected should be the voices heard”

    If that’s the case, there would be no patio seating in any patio in any borough of NYC. You don’t have a right to say what happens to yard space that isn’t yours. The owner of the business has a right to use the yard that they pay for especially if the landlord of the building doesn’t object.

    Noise has to reach a certain level before a violation is issued. No violation was ever issued to Lounge 47 when it was open despite 96 noise complaints. I guess it couldn’t have been that loud…. And no, the sound of dishes, forks falling on the ground, and people talking doesn’t create a strong enough argument for forcing a restaurant to forgo a third of its space.

    Nobody forced you to rent/buy an apartment on a two-way commercial strip zoned for businesses. You should be able to tolerate moderate noise.

  5. I didn’t want a 50 story building blocking my view of the city, but alas, that’s what happened.

    The majority want the backyard spaces open. To have a handful of people block it is ridiculous. Nobody’s looking for all night ravers till 4am. But reasonable outdoor use should be allowed.

    Ultimately it will happen… as there are a lot more people in the neighborhood for it than against it. As this new population becomes more and more involved in the community, the ability to block it will decrease. Might as well face facts and work out a nice compromise now while you still can.

  6. Of course the abutters of any proposed backyard use of a restaurant have considerable more say in this matter than someone who simply signs a petition to eat outdoors and retreat back to their quiet nest on the riverfront.

    There is nothing in the city’s zoning that says a restaurant is allowed to use their backyard as of right for customers. Period. If the restaurant can’t ensure residents aren’t going to be annoyed by nighttime noise, then their proposal should be rejected.

    Yes, Sonny, Vernon is a busy street, but there isn’t traffic barreling through people’s back gardens. That’s exactly why the back gardens are so important. Those spaces have long been the refuge of urban dwellers. It’s the only reprieve people have from the constant din of city living. Why should they give it up for you or anyone else? You want to compensate them for this loss? I didn’t think so.

    Just because many of the new residents have shitloads of money and want to impose their wants on other people doesn’t mean they should be entitled to. I know that must really irk so many of you, and maybe it flies in the face of your life experience so far. But on this issue — Tough Titties. I’m hoping the CB maintains the strict licensing requirements regardless of the threats and hysteria coming from the other side.

  7. If you decide to live on a commercial street with restaurants and lounges, that is what you chose. If you don’t want to be next to a restaurant with a backyard, you should move to a non-commercial street. You certainly don’t have any moral position to tell the rest of the community to kiss off because the tiny few of you don’t want to see a restaurant use it’s backyard. The neighborhood has changed and if CB2 doesn’t reflect that, it will change to. Time for those opposing this to change their attitudes and try to be good neighbors to the rest of the neighborhood

  8. Bravo, Taxpayer! Well said. It is true, we all should have a voice, including those of us across the street form said establishments.

    Thanks!

  9. Community Board members are appointed by the Borough President, so while NYS Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan didn’t technically appoint 3 of her former aides to the board, what influence did she have in their nominations and/or appointment? Or is it just a coincidence that 3 of her aides are making decisions that affect Long Island City businesses?

    Diane Ballek: According to her LinkedIn page, she currently holds the title of Director at the NYS Assembly and has served as an assistant to Catherine Nolan. She is also a member of CB2 Queens on the following committees: Public Safety, Executive Budget & City Services. What’s more interesting is that the city services committee oversees liquor license applications from restaurants and bars within the community. Keep in mind that Community Boards only serve an advisory purpose to the NYS Liquor Authority. The NYSLA does NOT and should not reject an application based solely on the opinions of the Community Board. CB2 members Donald McCallian & Santiago Vargas also served as aides to Catherine Nolan.

    Catherine Nolan has long held a biased position regarding bars on Vernon Boulevard that want to use their outdoor space. A new pizzeria set to open called “L’inizio” is no different. According to her representative, Nolan is concerned that “the approval of this application would break the precedent and could lead to many other establishments along Vernon Boulevard to reapply and change their status”. What’s worse, the Community Board’s Chairmen and quite a few of the board members share her unreasonable position.

    Even more interesting- I was told by a source that she has been friends with the Garrett family for over 20 years. (It’s public knowledge that William Garrett pulls the strings behind the yard space debacle) Garrett currently serves as a Community Board member on the Land Use Committee! Wouldn’t you love to know the story behind his appointment to the board?? I sure would.

    Catherine Nolan refuses to allow Vernon Boulevard restaurants to ever use their backyard spaces, no matter how many compromises the restaurants are willing to make to appease the surrounding neighbors. And there have been many compromises, such as: shutting the outdoor space at 10 or 11 pm on weekdays, not allowing smoking in the yard, and not playing music in the yard.

    Does a biased woman who puts favors for her friends ahead of our rapidly changing community deserve a seat in the NYS Assembly? Should a Community Board chairman who try to sway the votes of the board members by announcing his personal opinions?

    Everything stinks of cronyism! and I bet there’s more where it came from. yuck!

  10. If you don’t like cronyism, leave the City, State and Country.

    Gentrification, been around since 1620!

  11. I am fully in favor of a clearly disgruntled group of 10-20 people with less flexibility than the MTA deciding everything for Long Island City’s future. They are clearly more enlightened than the rest of us, and their condescending tone about rich newbies and those who haven’t lived here long enough in their opinion is exactly the type of discourse needed to move forward. NYC is not a thriving metropolis of millions and LIC should not be a thriving community of tens of thousands – instead, decisions should be restricted to a select few. After we get rid of this silly nonsense of building thriving businesses, lets move on next to banning cars and buses, then altering flight paths to LaGuardia, and finally instituting No Talk Thursday’s across the neighborhood so 10-20 people who choose to live in New York City can get the peace and quiet only they deserve.

  12. Those concerned. The residents, old and new, of LIC. Not just the neighbours.
    Outdoor dining (Tournesol, BElla Via, etc.) is ok, just not next to ME?!
    Welcome to LIC 2014. Garrett for City Council. Yuck.

  13. This is absolutely the reason small business is failing in nyc. Jackasses that have no idea how a bar or restaurant run but need to bitch about how they pay the bills for 3-4 months out of the year. You locals make me sick. Move the f… Out if you don’t want to listen to noise.
    Stop your belly aching and put your money in a real home outside the city with a huge backyard where you have nothing to listen to accept nature. Even than you’ll bitch.

  14. I like how we’re being told where else we can eat. As if I want to drop 100 dollars at Riverview, Skinny’s Cantina and Shi every night. Or eat the soggy, yet burnt pizza at Bella Via (Co – conspirator of back yard closure). Or maybe I’d love one the the roaches at Tournesol to jump up in my dinner plate like they have in the past. LIC Bar smells like mold and their drinks suck. Dominies, an awesome hangout, great brunch, but their food also kind of sucks. So does Creek and the Cave whose outdoor garden smells like bug spray 24/7. Woodbines, Alobar, El AY Si and Blend on Vernon are the ones to beat in terms of food quality and have the prettiest yards. They’re just better. Period.

    Dominies and Creek support the Vernon restaurants’ right to fair competition, because they know it would look pathetic not to support them. However, I think the other sucky places don’t want the competition. Who knows maybe they’re in the pockets of local politicians just like the Garretts.

    Please don’t tell us where we should be eating. We want to enjoy summer in the gardens of the best restaurants in town without having to deal with small town BS a stones throw away from NYC.

  15. I think that if the restaurants in the neighborhood followed these principles from NYC Business Solutions, then there shouldn’t be any problems.

    https://www1.nyc.gov/html/sbs/downloads/pdf/biz_express/rest_bar_backyard_use.pdf

  16. Hey all you newly civic-minded neighbors ; )

    Have you seen the blog post on how lower speed limits in Long Island City will save lives?

    Funny, I didn’t see any comments on that post. Not one. Nor did I see our industrious signature seeker put up a new petition that states a position on tougher penalties on those driving with suspended licenses.

    Oh wait, I forgot… we have come together to spend our (meager) collective political energy on telling our local government that we want to get trashed in yards.

    (There’s a name for these kinds of “problems.”)

  17. LIC Community Perspective, you are confused if you think the people driving the backyard eating push care about those kinds of things. If it doesn’t directly affect them, they don’t give a crap.

    We’re talking about a bunch of narcissists who are willing to wreck their neighbors’ quality of life, simply because there isn’t a continuous line of restaurants ready to cater to their whims 24 hours a day within spitting distance of their million-dollar aeries. They will never be satisfied, never, no matter what happens in LIC. We can have 18,000,00 Michelin restaurants here and they’ll find a way to moan about it. Just read “Really”‘s comments and the kind of entitlement that surrounds these people. With supporters of restaurants like him, who needs adversaries?

    As for Sonny, is it necessary to point out that loud Vernon Blvd. traffic does not mean we should create disruptive noise in backyards too? A roadway is for traffic, and a backyard is for relaxation and enjoyment of residents. Duh.

  18. What a silly comment. Maybe no one objects or finds anything controversial about the speed limits, whereas a few selfish people who chose to live on a commercial street and deny thousands of others a service that other neighborhoods provide is appropriate for comment. Sonny is absolutely correct- don’t live on a commercial street if you don’t want to see commercial activity

  19. LIC Community:

    It was actually lowering speed limits (to 25 mph) on Queens Blvd aka “the blvd of death” and Northern blvd, not all over LIC. And as a lifelong LIC resident, I’m shocked that it took this long to do it.

    People most often comment on the matters that move them. Speed limits and pedestrian safety, while VERY important, just don’t inspire passionate discussions. Our social lives are vital to our mental health and local hangouts are essential to maintain and build new friendships in a growing community.

    The issue of dining outdoors may seem trivial to some, but if LIC is going to be a “destination”, as Jimmy Van Bramer calls it, it has to keep up with other trendy neighborhoods. That means, LIC needs cool spots that keep people coming back and investing in the area so that our property values don’t drop.

    More importantly, I’m very concerned about the influence of one resident, William Garrett, who is coincidentally a CB2 member. Who would nominate him to the Community Board when his actions against new restaurants have proven he is incapable of being an objective member of the board? This “backyard space debacle” is now part of a larger, (and more important), conversation: Are CB2, Cathy Nolan, and other local politicians really acting in the majority’s favor as well as the direction this neighborhood is heading? Are they part of an organized clique that is doing favors for certain restaurants and residents? If ‘cronyism’ is what’s going on, shouldn’t it be investigated? What other decisions are being made by a select few that could impact the majority of residents?

    This also has led to the discussion of term limits for community boards and thank heavens for that!

    Down with narcissist:

    Dude, you’re the one with the entitlement issues if you think living here first entitles you to have the only say in the development of the community. You enjoy YOUR backyard. The restaurant’s yard does NOT belong to you. They should be able to keep it open until 10 or 11pm (as the city permits) on weeknights without this level of drama. A reasonable amount of noise is to be expected and anyone who lives in a gentrified neighborhood in every other borough understands this reality. You don’t own all of Vernon blvd. Get over it!

  20. So I’ve readily posted issues on the new project zero traffic issue map about the need for more stop signs and lower speed limits. And I want the backyards open. And I’d be more than happy if a few more places opened on my block down by the water as well, and would hav no issue if they had outdoor space.

    Soooooo… what? It’s about making the neighborhood better for everyone, not simply for a few.

    Again… there are more of us who want this than don’t. And as the new residents take more of a role I’m the community board, the backyards will be opened. So read the writing on the wall now and make yourself a nice compromise while you still can.

  21. @SC.
    Ok. Now that you’ve “readily posted” I guess there is no more to be said on these matters. Mission accomplished.

    Except, perhaps, but, however: No.

  22. I love the implicit threat in SC’s inclusive, neighborly comment. I think General Custer was even more tactful to the Indians before he tried to slaughter all of them.

    How disturbing the quality of life of many people who live in the neighborhood is somehow “better for everyone” is a claim I’m having a hard time getting my head around.

    If restaurants and bars made more trustworthy commitments to be good neighbors with their outdoor spaces, I would be totally behind them. But they haven’t or they won’t, so I think it’s more likely that they simply don’t give a crap about anyone and are only in it to make a buck.

    So tell me, SC, why should I think their attitude will result in a better neighborhood for everyone? BS.

  23. To Anyone who says that we don’t need the business:
    At 11 AM today a table of 4 walked in.
    Guy #1 says to his friends: this place has great brunch!
    Guy #2 Says (to me): Is your back yard open?
    Me: No, I’m sorry. But I can seat you right next to the open doors.
    Guy #2: Oh, I really wanted to sit outside. Lets just go to Skinny’s.
    Guy#1: The food here is better… but OK.

    This happens multiple times a day every Saturday & Sunday that we have nice weather. We are only in May, imagine how much this happens in June, July, August, and September.

    Please don’t assume that just because you walk by my restaurant and its sometimes busy that we don’t greatly need this revenue.

    And please don’t assume that we want to be “heard in your living room all hours of the night.” We have asked for closing the outdoor seating at 8PM and were denied.

    And lastly to the PERSON DIRECTLY ABOVE MY COMMENT please stop saying we will be irresponsible with this. Pat O’Brien said, in front of the SLA Board, that we were excellent, responsible, operators of our liquor license. We have an excellent track record of nearly 3 years.

  24. Wow, the harping continues! Why all the fuss!
    Vernon blvd and the rest of Lic restuarant
    Owners are responsible. get over it, move to
    The country already! Geez

  25. Not once has the complaining, anti yard dining minority brought up the thanks that is due to all the “narcissists” and “new residents with s*itloads of money.”

    These folks have invigorated a community once known for deadbeats, warehouses and hookers and have doubled if not tripled you property values over the past 5-10 years.

    If backyard dining is THAT much of drain on your quality of life and you miss the old days so much, sell and buy a sprawling place on a quiet island all your own; you may even have some dough left over to import a couple hookers. Ah the good ol days.

  26. Pardon me, but you move away…Mel, Native! What makes you think older people that live in LIC don’t have money? They don’t have big ass mortgages, like you “rich” people, they just have MONEY with property looking at you fools paying the way to man.

    You didn’t come in and fix a neighborhood or make it better. It is now a smelly restaurant garbage filled, stained sidewalks, dog crapping… and not picking up after, garbage strewed, over crowded place to live!

    Hookers make better neighbors than loud, entitled, gentrified aholes.

    Half of you don’t have to nickles to rub together.

    Yep the good old days!!!!!!!!!!! LMAO

  27. My name is not Mel
    I am not they
    I too have money and own property
    You have bad grammer

    TO. TOO. TWO.

  28. WOW what a response, the statement was made to both, two, you and Native! still LMAO

  29. Dear Look Who’s Complaining,

    I fail to see your point. Also, I believe it is “two” nickels.

    Regards,

  30. Where is Van Bramer during all of this fixing his hair? Our tax paying dollars pay his salary to be there for us when we need him. The business owners should call the news on this situation and get him out there helping you guys. How people think he’s so good forbusiness is mind boggling.

  31. I whole-heartedly agree with the point SC is making.

    Opening the back yards should be a non-issue. There is a reasonableness that can be accomplished in this and there should be concessions made on both sides of the argument. No one is seeking a 2 AM closing in the outdoor spaces. Just reasonable hours for all to enjoy. Remember, this is also a seasonal proposal which can be achieved in an objective and reasonable manner.

    I think concessions can be made because I have to believe in our neighborhood and in our neighbors.

    There is too much anger and emotion. Take those off the table and I am sure that everyone can come together as a community. After all, this is Long Island City, a fantastic community and proponent of the arts, small business growth, and confers a general conviviality other neighborhoods lack. We CAN do this TOGETHER. I think it’s time everyone put down their daggers and resolve this in a communal fashion.

    Currently we are laggards where LIC is a known leader. Let’s act accordingly.

    Besides, how great would it be for families to enjoy a nice meal at Woodbine’s, Blend, Alobar, and other places on a nice afternoon? That is not a lot to ask, it is reasonable.

    How much more progress through unity. What about art installs in back yards?

    Someone argued that the petition has “outsiders” on the petition for re-opening the spaces. Those outsiders have money, patronize the arts and come to LIC for this such as the Taste of LIC, the theatre, and accomplished local artists. Work together and grow. Alternately, infighting can only take away from the endeavors of everyone.

  32. Be Nice is correct.

    Also, LIC Community Perspective: You should start that petition. Most of us would distribute and help have it signed. It will be happening with the street signs and the speed bumps, in due time. That is a good issue but this article is not about that. If you care, then together we will stand and get it done. The other question is, have you contacted 311 or the powers outside of the CB? They are not the ones who make the decisions, they simply petition on the behalf of the community. You, too can do your part. I guarantee folks will rally behind you, as we have also voiced in favor or getting the traffic slowed on these dangerous areas.

    Best of luck and let us know how we can help.

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