SLA bypasses rulemaking again

Liquor authority creates new hurdles for temporary permits in NYC

Agency bypasses rulemaking, ignores new law enacted to help applicants waiting 6 months or more

Thought you were getting a temporary permit from the New York State Liquor Authority as a result of a change of law Gov. Kathy Hochul signed on Dec. 21, 2021? Guess again – and you can thank the bureaucrats.

Despite claims that the change in law would cut “red tape” and put New York City applicants on par with applicants in the rest of the state, the New York State Liquor Authority announced new rules last week that place new hurdles on Big Apple applicants. The agency did so without following the rulemaking process required by the state Constitution and the state Administrative Procedure Act.

Specifically, the SLA is requiring NYC applicants who want temporary permits for on-premise consumption to notify their community board of their intent to do so – even though many already went through the community board process and got support. That is not contained in law. Applicants outside of New York City don’t have to do that.

Also, the SLA will not give you a temporary for full liquor for a bar or restaurant if the NYC premise was not licensed in the last two years. That’s not contained in the law. Applicants outside of New York City don’t have to do that. That is not contained in law.

If a community board objects to a temporary permit, the SLA may not give you one. Nowhere in any law is a provision that gives community boards veto power over a temporary permit. They are advisory only.

Even if you are lucky enough to jump over all of these hurdles the SLA is putting up in violation of law, bars and restaurants getting temporary permits will have to close early and cannot have live music or dancing — even if the community board supported later hours, music and dancing already. Applicants outside of New York City have no such restrictions while operating under temporary permits. No such rule exists in law; regulations like that with wholesale implications for applicants must go through the rulemaking process; the SLA brass obviously are following the “rules for thee, not for me” standard. Just like they did when they decided to rubber-stamp attorney certified applications with little review, no audits and glaring errors and omissions examiners were ordered to ignore.

When is Gov. Hochul going to rein in the New York State Liquor Authority?

The agency is shell shocked. The agency is in chaos. Processing times are at historically long levels. Business are going out of business while they wait for months and months for application reviews or hearing dates. Arrogance among SLA leadership is rampant and there are no signs that anything is going to change for the better for applicants and licensees soon.

Taxpayers deserve better. If you agree, email the governor, your state senator and assemblyperson.

We wrote to Sen. Jessica Ramos about it last week and again today. Gov. Hochul’s staff never replies. If we hear back from anyone we’ll post an update. The SLA declined comment, referring us to the governor’s press release and the new guidance and forms on the SLA’s website.