The 500 Foot Law was enacted in 1993 by the state legislature to curb liquor license clustering and saturation in order to keep neighborhoods safe, healthy, and maintain fair and equal quality of life standards for all communities.


"The purpose of this bill is to help ensure that local communities are not oversaturated with premises that sell alcohol for on premise consumption and to provide for community input.  Oversaturation of licensed liquor establishments can adversely impact on local communities. The municipality or local planning board possess the unique knowledge and understanding of their communities and can best determine what impact another bare will have on a particular street." 

(Assemblyman Brian M. McLaughlin, 1993)

"More importantly, many factors are specifically within the purview and expertise of an area's community leaders, businesses and residents.  This bill is necessary to assure that quality of life impacts are fully incorporated into the responsible state decision-making apparatus."

(G. Oliver Koppell's Memo in the NYS Legislative Annual 1993)

New York Consolidated Laws, Alcoholic Beverage Control Law - ABC § 64. License to sell liquor at retail for consumption on the premises

Alcoholic Beverage Control Law - ABC § 64 (7)(b) states:

7. No retail license for on-premises consumption shall be granted for any premises which shall be...


(b) in a city, town or village having a population of twenty thousand or more within five hundred feet of three or more existing premises licensed and operating pursuant to this section and sections sixty-four-a , sixty-four-b , sixty-four-c, and/or sixty-four-d of this article;...

New York Consolidated Laws, Alcoholic Beverage Control Law - ABC § 64-a (7)(d) allows for the approval of licenses within 500 ft of three or more:


(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, the authority may issue a license pursuant to this section for a premises which shall be within five hundred feet of three or more existing premises licensed and operating pursuant to this section and sections sixty-four , sixty-four-b , sixty-four-c , and/or sixty-four-d of this article if, after consultation with the municipality or community board, it determines that granting such license would be in the public interest.  Before it may issue any such license, the authority shall conduct a hearing, upon notice to the applicant and the municipality or community board, and shall state and file in its office its reasons therefor.


New York Consolidated Laws, Alcoholic Beverage Control Law - ABC § 64 (6)(a)  identifies the considerations the Authority is to take into account in determining whether the public convenience and advantage and the public interest is met:

  • the number, classes and character of licenses in proximity to the location and in the particular municipality or subdivision thereof;

  • evidence that all necessary licenses and permits have been obtained from the state and all other governing bodies;

  • effect of the grant of the license on vehicular traffic and parking in proximity to the location;

  • the existing noise level at the location and any increase in noise level that would be generated by the proposed premises;

  • the history of liquor violations and reported criminal activity at the proposed premises; and

  • any other factors specified by law or regulation that are relevant to determine the public convenience and advantage and public interest of the community.


Quick summary of 500 Ft Rule by the NY SLA

The NY State Liquor Authority  has completely distorted, and many instances abandoned, the 500 Foot Law, facilitating the clustering and saturation of liquor licenses across the five boroughs at the expense, not the public benefit, of local communities overwhelmed by traffic, noise, crime, heath risk, anti-social behavior and substandard quality of life.

It is the Governor who is responsible for enforcing all laws.

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Neighborhoods United is a community based organization advocating for common sense and fair development for NYC's network of unique and diverse neighborhoods.