Evidence of increased noise complaints and litter due to smoking bans in the New York press

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NY Times, 5/23/03: "We're constantly getting noise complaints for having people standing outside smoking at 2 in the morning," said Jim O'Brien, the bartender at the Roxy Bar in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. "The cops have come three or four times," said Mr. O'Brien. NY Post, 5/27/03: "We've definitely had more complaints since the smoking ban - noise, fights out on the sidewalk, harassment of pedestrians. You name it, it's gone up," said a cop who patrols Bleecker Street. The officer's sentiments echo those of dozens of street cops, residents and restaurant owners who've complained to The Post about the quality-of-life issues associated with the smoking ban that took effect April 1. According to NYPD statistics, noise has topped the list of complaints in Manhattan. Figures show that those complaints in precincts south of 59th Street jumped 160 percent, to 3,229, between April 1 and May 18 this year as compared to the same period last year. North of 59th Street, noise complaints jumped 64 percent, to 5,558. NY Post, 4/7/03: No butts about it - Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban has turned the city into one big noisy ashtray, frustrated New Yorkers are saying after the first full weekend of the new law. Residents who live near bars say they've been kept awake by crowds puffing on sidewalks. On 11th Street, architecture student Daughtry Carstarphen, 34, was worried she won't be able to keep her window open during the summer, because of gangs of people congregating outside the 11th Street Bar underneath her bedroom. NY Daily News, 6/8/03: The city's indoor smoking ban has turned some nightlife districts into nightly block parties where pedestrians fight their way through acrid gantlets of cigarette puffers. A woman who would only be identified as Sascha, pushing her 2-year-old boy in a stroller along Second Ave. toward her home above Clancy's bar, said the outdoor party has wrecked her neighborhood. "It's crazy," she said. "It's obviously more crowded on the street, but the real problem is the noise. If your apartment faces the street, it keeps you up all night." NY Post, 7/31/03: [Manhattan Borough President] Fields says that her office and city agencies have noticed "the dramatic increase in the number of complaints about outdoor noise as a result of the ban."

The Villager, 8/1/03: Martha Danziger, district manager for Community Board 3, which includes the East Village and the Lower East Side, said that noise complaints have surged since the city’s smoking ban took effect. NY Daily News, 6/9/04: …New Yorkers embraced Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to revamp noisecontrol laws and lower the volume in the city that never sleeps. “Everybody comes out from restaurants and talks in the street,” said Edgar Goss, 50, who lives in the West Village. “They should let them smoke in the bars again.” NY Times, 2/20/05: At the Bitter End, the club below her new home, live music played almost every night, not stopping until 4 a.m. on weekends. With the city's new law banning smoking in bars, people hung around on the sidewalk beneath her window, smoking, laughing, talking. "It was unbearable," said Ms. DiMeo, 39. NY Daily News, 8/18/05: Brooklyn neighborhoods are abuzz with noise complaints, after a push by the Bloomberg administration to curb construction din and loud music stalled in the City Council. "I hear garbage trucks at 1 a.m., and then there are the smokers outside the bars," said Maria Alexander, as a police car screeched by with a siren blaring in her Park Slope neighborhood yesterday. "And don't forget the brawls that used to stay inside the bars" before the smoking ban, she added. Time Out New York, 12/1/05: Faced with an onslaught of trendy drinking destinations, rowdy sidewalk smokers and unbearable nightly noise, downtown residents have joined forces to tell bar owners: You're cut off. It's 12:45 on a recent Friday night… It's hard to tell which is more crowded, the bars or the sidewalks. A block away, Rebecca Moore, 37, is also sleepless. An avant-garde violinist who first moved to the Lower East Side in 1985, she recalls when the quiet streets were home to but a few clubs that supported neighborhood musicians. In the past seven years, she's had a front-row seat to a nightlife explosion. Five nights a week between 1 and 3am, she says, the volume hits a peak level, as smokers mingle outside four nearby bars. "I can't sit in my own apartment anymore and hear myself think about music," she says. "I think it's terribly ironic that I'm going to have to leave New York City in order to be a musician." Bar owners and industry groups are, naturally, eager to find solutions that don't involve street protests or shuttering their establishments. They point to the city's smoking ban as central to the noise issue. "We hear talk about the rowdy bar problem," says David Rabin of the NYNA, "but a 'rowdy bar' is any bar that has ten people going out on the street to smoke." Bar owners say they are simply unable to police noise on the sidewalk. NY Daily News, 6/13/06: To the Editor: This is becoming a major concern in a beautiful community. "No smoking in bars" is great, but what about the people who are trying to sleep at night when everyone brings the party to the streets? I am a very concerned parent in Bay Ridge and I dread when Thursdays roll along because if it's not the fighting from the corner bar, it's the smokers who come and sit on our stoops at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., screaming and talking loud.

Every weekend, the cops have to be called because of the noise and the fights; it has gotten to the point where the police precinct doesn't even answer our calls. We need something to be done. I have a 2-year-old son who barely sleeps on the weekends because of the noise. My husband has to get up at 4:30 every morning, and with nights like this, there is no sleep. Help us, please! Lisa Fonsecadine The Villager, 8/9/06: Opus NY has not yet produced a single note of music, but its critics are already firing a volley of scathing reviews. A new East Village music venue, Opus NY is still in its construction phase, with a tentative opening date in mid-September, at 531 E. 13th St. Neighbors are opposing its application for a wine and beer license. But Opus’s founders, Stephen Choi and Erica Rubin, promise their venue will be nothing like a rowdy, drunken nightclub. Jessica Lohrmann, who lives on the block, is not convinced by Opus’s assurances. “It’s a fairy tale. They need to appease [the residents] and I just don’t buy it. I think we’re in for big chaos and a lot of noise,” Lohrmann said, stressing, “I just don’t believe them. It’s a residential street and since the smoking ban, you have all these people outside until 4 in the morning, being drunk, screaming, throwing up, urinating. The noise from the people walking down the street or waiting in line will be a total disaster. No matter how they insulate it, people will be outside,” Lohrmann continued. Press & Sun Bulletin, 12/2/06: BINGHAMTON -- Some residents and property owners near Alexander's on Lake Avenue are worried that a variance to allow music to play at a certain level until closing time daily at the bar and restaurant will mean sleepless nights, lower property values and just plain trouble in the neighborhood. As it is, "because of the smoking ban, everybody goes outside to smoke," he said. "They yell and they scream and carry on. There's been fights." Sharon Hanafin, owner of Alexander's, said she wants to be a good neighbor, but the smoking ban is contributing to the problem. "People have to go outside to smoke. What happens is when the doors open, then the music goes outside," she said. "Plus, if I have five to six people outside smoking, they talk."