Tel Aviv Mayor, Officials Hash It Out With Bar Owners

Nightlife or quiet time?

More than 100 Tel Aviv bar and nightclub owners met with city officials yesterday to discuss how to strike a balance between cultivating a thriving nightlife and keeping noise pollution and public disorder to a minimum.

Organizers said they hoped the brainstorming session, which they touted as the first of its kind, would promote dialogue between business proprietors and the city officials responsible for granting business permits in Tel Aviv.

Dan Keinan

"I welcome this dialogue," Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said at the meeting, which was held in the city's ZOA House on Ibn Gvirol Street. "This city is in favor of business. Not only is it in favor, but its livelihood is based on business and we want it to thrive."

Still, the mayor said that since taking office 12 years ago, city residents have often lost out to visiting revelers - a trend he said he wants to change.

"The pendulum must swing back toward the welfare of those who live here. We're first and foremost working for residents of this city. But we have learned that ultimately this approach also benefits business owners," Huldai said. "I'm standing in front of you not as an enemy, but as someone who you can work with. Whoever meets the rules and regulations will receive the city's help in having his or her business succeed."

The meeting was put together by the Israeli Bars and Clubs Union, an organization founded eight months ago that includes around 100 Tel Aviv business owners.

Elhanan Meshi, who is responsible for building permits in the Tel Aviv municipality, and Moshe Belsenheim, the city official in charge of environmental issues, told the proprietors how to cut through red tape to get their establishments licensed.

The meeting concluded with a panel discussion with the two officials and union chairman Ronen Miley, at which proprietors aired grievances and proposed solutions to common problems.

The city also stressed its role in ensuring high safety standards in bars.

"I'm happy about the very existence of this conference and believe this dialogue is important," said Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir. "This is an arena that requires organization for the sake of business owners and residents equally."

Participants received a code of ethics drafted by Asa Kasher, the Tel Aviv University philosopher who drafted the army's code of conduct. The document describes how nightclubs can prevent improper discrimination in deciding who may enter and states that entertainment venues need to clearly post signs indicating maximum capacity.