New York's 'nightlife mayor' holds first event

New York City's first so-called nightlife mayor held her inaugural public event Monday night at a bar in Brooklyn. Ariel Palitz, who was appointed the senior executive director of nightlife by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month, addressed a packed room of bar owners, artists, promoters, and performers who were eager to talk about their concerns.

So what does the job of nightlife mayor entail?

"It's really just to be the voice of the people who haven't been heard," Palitz told Fox 5.

And there was plenty to hear about Monday night, from out of control commercial rents, to 311 noise complaints that can cost a business to city bureaucracy.

"You don't get to spend any time actually worrying about your business, you spend all your time worrying about the city and if you're going to get shut down because of a neighbor," said Rachel Nelson, who owns Secret Project Robot in Bushwick, where the event was held. Nelson said the rent on her bar and event space increased by 600 percent since 2011.

"We're really scraping by," Nelson said. "And I'm not the only one."

While Palitz said her office of nightlife won't necessarily be the place where rent control is legislated, she said she will be a sounding board on that and other issues. She owned an East Village nightclub for 10 years but also lived above a bar, so she understands concerns from both sides.

"I really think that this office is the answer that a lot of people on all sides of the issue have been hoping for to try to address the long list of issues," Palitz told Fox 5.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal of Brooklyn sponsored the law that created the office of nightlife mayor. He said the position is long overdue.

"It's important for the city to have a system in place where it's supporting its nightlife community," Espinal said. "The community that actually gave the city the brand as the city that never sleeps."