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your feature on the black cat nightclub trying to weasel its way into adding a deck for smokers forced outside due to the city’s impending indoor smoking ban (Show & Tell, “Smoke Screen,” 9/1) illuminates the degree to which the city’s high per capita alcohol consumption translates into political influence and permissive “regulation.”
But the article failed to make a very simple point that would have put everything into perspective. Black Cat patrons more frequently crowding the public space because the indoor smoking ban is per se a substantial change in the establishment’s operations, regardless of that substantial change being solely occasioned by the new law. Having to build a new deck to accommodate those patrons, as Black Cat insists is the case, is per se a hardship the new anti-smoking law envisioned. Consequently, Black Cat could make a hardship petition for an exemption from the new indoor smoking ban law that would be a lot less disruptive than building a deck. Black Cat’s not applying for a hardship petition, which surely the neighborhood residents and ANC would support, but instead seeking to expand its facility, stokes suspicion that the smoking ban is a smoke screen masking Black Cat’s expansionist desires.