unState Senator Jose Peralta came armed with a proposal this time to clean the Roosevelt Avenue of alleged illicit crime taking pace in bars/nightclubs along 74th-82nd stretch.
Peralta asserts that Roosevelt Avenue, after decades of neglect, has transformed into a corridor of exploitation and depravity, with prostitution, fake ID houses and scam artists who target immigrants and other unsuspecting marks.
Senator Peralta, who represents13th State Senate District introduced Bill on August 31, 2016 to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in relation to the licensing of cabarets. He called on the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) to restrict liquor license for new nightclubs, and introduced legislation to fine up to $10,000 for violations of cabaret licensing rules.
New York Cabaret Licensing law that prohibits dancing by more than three people at one time unless the venue has a cabaret license, has been deemed out of place by many New Yorkers over the years, who filed a lawsuit against it and lost. Enacted in 1926, the city’s cabaret laws were aimed at stemming the spread of booze-serving dance halls.
Cesar Coeli, stepping out of the oldest gay bar in Queens, Friends Tavern when it is not open for business, opined ‘Well, I have my own doubts about the merits of the bill. Squinting his eyes in the bright sun, he added “Right now, everybody comes to Roosevelt Avenue for entertainment. If the corridor changes its hue, people may be more prone to crime without the dose of entertainment available here.”
Senator Peralta has been pushing with the clean-up plans for years. In July 2014, he referred to Roosevelt Avenue as a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and NYC.
Some of the many bars of Roosevelt Avenue, Photo by Tenzin Sangmo
Speaking outside California Sports bar at 82nd St, Sanjay Gurung, an immigrant from Nepal who has been in the US for eight years now, said ‘Everything should operate legally. But I do not really see this place as dangerous, but you will always see lots of drunk people here on weekends.’
The New York State Latino restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association (NYSLRBAL) issued a joint press release with the Senator requesting a moratorium on Liquor license on Roosevelt Avenue to clean up this strip. Elvis Silverio, the president of the association and owner of the famous Rubi Rosa, located in the hearts of the Queens reconfirmed his support over the phone saying ‘We are all unanimous in it. Our association’s goal is to promote the common Business interests of our members with professionalism.
Andres Duque, a founding member and Healthcare Referral Navigator at Queens Pride House located a block away from the avenue echoed Senator’s claim that when the night falls restaurants and bars become salacious nightclubs that discourage other commerce along the corridor. “I believe he is referring to bars that advertise dancing with the waitresses as a cover for prostitutions,” He added, “20, even 10 years ago, you are handed cards advertising such services in open. We don’t see that anymore.”
Meanwhile, some official and residents are either not commenting or sceptical of the effect of the proposal
Giovanna A. Reid, the District Manager of CB3, refused to comment.
Bryan Pu-Folkes, Attorney for the last 15 years at Pu-Folkes Law Group in Roosevelt Avenue maintains “There should be a dramatic change in all of the illegal activity underneath all of our noses every single day. It won’t be an overstatement to say that the criminal element here is a cesspool. I talk to a lot of people every day. He continued ‘It shouldn’t unnecessarily impede the ability of business owners to engage in commerce. It has been going on for too long.”
Two clients at the Law firm, who doesn’t want to be named shares the Attorney’s scepticism about lack and need of political will at higher levels.
Juan Soto, Director of Communications at Senator office said that Senator is receiving support from different sections of people in the district. When asked how confident the office is, he said this is politics. “You cannot tell. But we will try.”
The area under the scrutiny is also a home for many undocumented immigrants, deprived of avenues to operate legally. While the residents wait to see the outcome of the proposal, the bulky doors of dozens of dimly lit bars/clubs in the Roosevelt avenue continue to throb in music and darkness that the overhead 7 train, helps extend in the day.
Bryant Pu-Folkes, Attorney: 718-205-5353
Juan Soto, Director of Communications Senator JP office: 718-205-4145
Giovanna A. Reid, District Manager, CB3: 718-458-2707
Andres Duque, Healthcare Referral Navigator, QPC:718-429-5309
Cesar Coeli: 917-371-5059