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Tag Archive | "DC liquor licenses"

Fainting Goat, Vanishing Document: Where Did ANC 1B’s Protest Go?

"Fainting Goat"

Future site of the Fainting Goat at 1330 U Street NW. It was home to Urban Essentials before the store moved to 14th and Rhode Island NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

The plight of the Fainting Goat Tavern has taken a strange turn. An official document of protest by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B seems to have vanished before reaching its destination, the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).

Unless the document suddenly turns up, the ANC 1B’s decision rejecting the Fainting Goat’s settlement agreement would not be recognized, because the deadline for filing such documents has now passed. This may make it easier for the Fainting Goat to argue before ABRA in favor of granting a liquor license. ANC 1B covers the U Street area.

March 7 Meeting

The Fainting Goat’s troubles began on March 7. That evening, ANC 1B voted 5 to 2, with two abstentions, against the settlement agreement with the District Pub Group, LLC, to operate the Fainting Goat Tavern at 1330 U Street, the former site of Urban Essentials. The decision was made after an animated discussion with the community and conflicting recollections of previous ANC committee actions. This decision then needed to be officially communicated to ABRA.

Meanwhile, a petition in support of the Fainting Goat appeared on change.org on March 14.

Joan Sterling, president of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), said on March 14 that ANC 1B Alcoholic Beverage Committee Chair Jeremy Leffler (District 02) wrote her in an email that the protest documents had been filed with ABRA.

Statement from ABRA

ABRA permit. (Luis Gomez Photos)

ABRA Liquor License application. (Luis Gomez Photos)

“No resolution from ANC 1B has been received by ABRA protesting this application,” wrote William Hager, ABRA Public Information Officer, in an email, also on March 14.

Borderstan’s multiple email requests to several commissioners for copies of ANC 1B’s protest documents and evidence that they were presented in a timely manner were not answered.

Information on the ABRA web site says that protests against liquor licenses can be faxed or email. All email protests must be sent as a PDF document and signed. These two methods are the only ways to officially file a protest with ABRA.

Still, it is far from clear sailing for The Fainting Goat’s liquor license application. Two community groups correctly filed their protests before deadline. ABRA’s William Hager identified the two groups. One is the SDCA, which is the spearhead of a U Street liquor license moratorium campaign. The second is a group of 14 residents, most of whom live on Wallach Place NW. The ABRA web site says that any “[g]roup of five or more property owners sharing common ground” may file a protest.

Next Step for Fainting Goat

The next step for the Fainting Goat will be an ABRA Roll Call Hearing on March 25. It will be held at 10 am on the fourth floor of the Reeves Center at 2000 14th Street NW. ABRA’s Hagar told Borderstan that the purpose of the Roll Call Hearings is only to identify the parties that have standing as protestants in this matter. The substance of each protest will not be discussed. A separate hearing is scheduled for May 15 to discuss the substance of the protests.

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Posted in Business, Politics & GovernmentComments (7)

Fainting Goat Becomes Collateral Damage in ANC 1B Liquor Wars

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

The District Pub Group, LLC, aspiring proprietors of the Fainting Goat Tavern at 1330 U Street NW, got caught in the cross fire at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B meeting last night, March 7. Most of the U Street corridor is in 1B. The tavern site is the former Urban Essentials space, which is now on 14th Street NW.

"ANC 1B"

Seated at table: ANC 1B commissioners at the March 7 meeting at the Reeves Center. (David McAuley)

After a session of conflicting recollections of past committee meetings and votes, ANC 1B voted against accepting the settlement agreement that would have kept the tavern license for the Fainting Goat on track (they were formerly called voluntary agreements). Attorney Michael Fonseca, representing the Fainting Goat, told the meeting that his client had been “kicked to the curb” and “treated very badly.”

Missing Piece of the Puzzle

The vote against accepting the settlement agreement was five to two, with two abstentions. Voting against were Commissioners E. Gail Anderson Holness, ANC 1B-11; Juan Lopez, ANC 1B-07; Marc Morgan, ANC 1B-01; Ricardo Reinoso, ANC 1B-05; and James Turner, ANC 1B-09.

Voting for the agreement were Commissioners Zahira Jilani, ANC 1B-12; and Emily Washington, ANC 1B-08. Abstaining were ANC1B Chair Tony Norman (District 10) and Commissioner Sedrick Muhammed, ANC 1B-3.

The missing piece of the puzzle was absent Commissioner Jeremy Leffler, ANC 1B-02, chair of the ANC 1B Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Committee. Jilani, speaking on Leffler’s behalf, claimed that the ABC Committee had voted at its February 21 public meeting to recommend accepting the agreement, at least in part.

Pushback from SDCA

Members of the community who were present at the February ABC Committee meeting, led by members of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), pushed back, saying that they had been present and no such vote had been taken publicly.

Jilani admitted that she had not been at the meeting and was only repeating what Leffler had told her. Two other members of the public, seemingly unaffiliated with the SDCA, agreed that they had been present at the meeting and no vote had been taken. No one present recalled a vote being taken, although Jilani cited meeting minutes which claim that the motion to accept the agreement with the Fainting Goat had passed.

SDCA has recently been in the public spotlight as the driving force behind the proposed 14th and U Street liquor license moratorium. Even before last night’s ANC meeting, the SDCA had planned to protest Fainting Goat liquor license application, with a view of obtaining a settlement agreement more to their liking.

In spite of this, Fainting Goat management and their attorney had an amiable February 21 public meeting with SDCA, where the two parties agreed to disagree. At that time, SDCA alcohol licensing committee chair Elwyn Ferris even praised Fonseca’s work cooperating with the committee.

In the end, the Fainting Goat got caught in a feud not of their making, fueled by a combination of citizen mistrust and sloppy government. Leffler was absent, and the ANC1B commissioners present had not been adequately briefed. SDCA members told ANC 1B that the public still had until March 11 to file protests with the DC government about the application, so an ANC vote now would be premature. Holness Anderson said that she could not vote to approve the agreement because it must “go to the community first.”

Settlement Agreements

Settlement agreements are normally negotiated between liquor-serving establishments and interested members of the community. They cover topics such as hours of operation, time of trash pickup, sidewalk cafés, valet parking, vermin control, among others. You can download a model settlement agreement. They were called voluntary agreements, or V.A.s prior to the passage of new alcoholic regulation legislation by the DC Council and mayor, which went into effect in January.

There are signs that ANC 1B may try to improve its communication with public. At the meeting’s end, it was announced that ANC1B had just rolled out a new website, Facebook page and Twitter feed. The general email address for ANC 1B is 1b[AT]anc.dc.gov. It was pledged that meeting announcements and other relevant information would be posted in these places in the future.

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Posted in Politics & GovernmentComments (16)

A Liquor License Moratorium for 14th and U Corridor?


Click for a larger image: The proposed 14th and U liquor license moratorium zone.

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Two citizen groups have filed a petition with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to establish a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor.

The Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Residential Action Coalition (RAC) request that a circular zone be established that extends 1,800 feet (about 1/3 of a mile) from 1211 U Street NW — the location of Ben’s Next Door — and adjacent to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th U and Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.)

Borderstan was unable to find a website or Facebook page for RAC — only a listing for the organization with a T Street address. The signer for RAC on the petition letter was Kathryn A. Eckles while SDCA President Joan Sterling was the other signatory.

The proposed zone would be a circle, and extend as far as Clifton Street NW to the north, R Street to the south and have 8th and 15th streets as the east and west boundaries, respectively.

The zone includes blocks in Wards 1, 2 and 6 and portions of all four Borderstan area Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and four Metropolitan Police Service Areas (PSAs). The four ANCs impacted are 2B (Dupont Circle), 2F (Logan Circle), 1B (which includes U Street and Columbia Heights) and a small section of 6E (Shaw).

The filing by SDCA and RAC cites 107 liquor licences in the proposed zone, with another twelve in the regulatory pipeline or planning stages (see the full list submitted with the filing). The petitioners argue that the density of licenses in the area have “imposed extremely stressful conditions” on residents; specifically noise, crime and parking problems. The second factor is that growth of licenses in other areas of the city — where new businesses may be needed — has been stunted. SDCA unanimously voted to endorse a moratorium at their August 2012 meeting.

Once ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board determines that the petition meets all the criteria for consideration under DC Law, the Board will hold a public hearing to review the petition. In addition to public testimony for or against the petition, the Board will request comment from affected ANCs and Councilmembers, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Planning, among others. The DC Council would also have to approve the moratorium.

The ABC Board has several options after hearing testimony and comments. Grant or deny the request in its entirety. Grant in part by enlarging or decreasing the size of the zone, or limiting the moratorium to one class of liquor license. There are currently five liquor license moratorium zones within DC: Georgetown, Glover Park, Adams Morgan, Dupont West and Dupont East.

SDCA was founded in 2012 and includes blocks near the center of the moratorium zone. RAC was founded in 1981 and serves residents in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which would include about three blocks at the southwestern edge of the proposed moratorium zone.

The filing of the moratorium petition by SDCA and RAC comes just days after Mayor Vincent Gray officially enacted major changes to laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol sales. Among the changes in the law is a provision that would dismiss any liquor license protest by a group of five or more residents if an applicant reaches an agreement with their ANC.

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Posted in Politics & GovernmentComments (25)

Tap & Parlour, Bohemian Caverns Reopen After Liquor License Suspension

From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.


Tap & Parlor/Bohemian Carverns at 11th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Tap & Parlour and Bohemian Caverns, which share a liquor license and building at 2001 11th Street NW, reopened Friday evening after a temporary liquor license suspension that began December 8.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier shut down the establishments after an alleged second-degree sexual assault that took place in Tap & Parlour. Lanier has the authority to temporarily close establishments serving alcohol for up to 96 hours under the Emergency Suspension of Liquor Licenses Act of 2005.

According to the investigative report by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA; available from Washington City Paper), a female victim reported that she was sexually assaulted by an employee of Tap & Parlour at about 4 am on December 8.

The victim and her friends had been drinking with a manager they knew and employees in the lower level of the stablishment. The victim reported she became tired and went up to the street-level bar to rest. When she awoke, she was being sexually assaulted by a male employee. After an MPD investigation, Lanier closed the bar at 6 pm December 8. The ABRA investigation also concluded that Tap & Parlour was serving alcohol past its closing time of 3 am.

ABRA continued the suspension of Tap & Parlour’s liquor license at a December 12 hearing, but allowed the establishment to reopen following a December 13 hearing. Bohemian Caverns and Tap & Parlour had to meet a number of conditions before reopening (see the Order on Summary Suspension).

These included firing the employee and manager involved in the December 8 incident, fixing a broken lock and broken security cameras, creating written guidelines for ensuring the bar is closed on time and submitting a Security Plan to ABRA. The Security Plan had to cover a number of areas including the placement of security guards and cameras, provisions for reporting incidents to MPD and ABRA and policies on ID checks. Within 30 days, all employees must undergo sexual assault training, and ABRA must ensure that all four security cameras are functional and that security footage is being kept for 30 days.

These conditions were all met on December 14 and Bohemian Caverns tweeted about the club’s reopening for happy hour that day.

Tap & Parlour and Bohemian Caverns will have a status hearing on January 30 to monitor compliance with these conditions. The incident was also referred to the Office of the Attorney General for a potential show cause hearing.

The ABRA Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board also held a fact-finding hearing during their December 13 meeting on the triple shooting outside Indulj on December 3 (Chief Lanier Shuts Down Indulj for 96 Hours Following Triple Shooting). The Board set a status hearing on the case for March 6. Indulj was allowed to reopen on December 7.

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Posted in CrimeComments Off on Tap & Parlour, Bohemian Caverns Reopen After Liquor License Suspension

DC Council Takes First Vote on Liquor Licensing Reform Bill

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

"liquor license"

On December 4, the DC Council took its first vote on overhauling the city’s liquor licensing laws. (Luis Gomez Photos)

On Tuesday the DC Council met to to take the first vote on a controversial bill addressing liquor licensing for local businesses, and residents’ roles in the process. Many issues were on the table regarding liquor licensing, including how long it takes to obtain a license and who can squash it.

The legislation came before the Council following work done by a large task force headed by Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). What did happen on Tuesday?

  • The Council passed a provision to get rid of any “Gang of 5″ license protest if a venue applying for a license reaches agreement with Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) — essentially giving an ANC first standing in liquor license protests.
  • According to Tim Craig, reporter for The Washington Post, the council defeated Councilmember Cheh’s amendment,which strengthened the ability of five or more residents to protest a neighborhood liquor license. Graham, Orange, Barry, Graham Brown, Evans and Wells voted against the amendment. Alexander, Bowser, Cheh, McDuffie and Mendelson voted for it.
  • The requirement that “Gang of 5″ members protesting a liquor license application or renewal live within a 400-foot radius around an establishment was taken out of the bill. (See DC Liquor Board Reaffirms Hank’s Oyster Bar Decision and Poll: Most Readers Say 5 People Not Enough to Protest Liquor Licenses).
  • D.C. Hospitality reports that the Council also approved a measure that requires the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to act on licensing applications in a quicker time frame — of great importance to businesses that are essentially waiting to open pending approval of a liquor license.
  • And as Dcist reports, sometime next year, liquor stores will be able to open for business on Sundays.

The final vote on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18.

Large Number of Licenses in Area

There are 1,586 liquor licenses of all types in DC, according to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The battles over liquor licenses in the Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods are more easily put into perspective when you look at the numbers — what wards, ANCs and areas have the most liquor licenses. Statistics from ABRA show how dominant our locales are in the ranks of DC’s watering holes: Ward 2 (Dupont-Logan) is home to 40% of all the city’s liquor licenses, followed by Ward 1 (which includes most of the U Street corridor) with 16%. In third place is Ward 6 (Capitol Hill) with 15%. It’s important to point out that Ward 2 includes Georgetown, in addition to Dupont-Logan and areas south of Dupont Circle. Ward 1 also includes Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. Other DC Wards: Ward 3 has about 11% of all licenses; Ward 5 has 7%; Ward 4 has 6%; Ward 7 about 3%; and Ward 8 about 2.5% of all the city’s liquor licenses.

Licenses in Local ANCs

A look at number of licenses by Advisory Neighborhood Commission level is more revealing. ANC 2B/Dupontis home to 14.44% of all liquor licenses in the city (229) — keep in mind that the boundaries of ANC 2B extend well south of Dupont Circle and reach Pennsylvania Avenue at some points. (See DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%.)

ANC 2F (Logan Circle and a big chunk of 14th Street NW) has 111 liquor licenses, about 7% of the city’s total. ANC 1B has 91 licenses, about 6% of all licenses in DC — 1B includes the U Street corridor and large swath of territory to the north plus Howard University. Together, these three ANCs are home to 431 of 1,586 licenses, about 27% of the city’s total. Throw in ANC 2C/Shaw and you have another 7% of all liquor licenses in DC. How many are in ANC 1C, home to Adams Morgan? That ANC has 84 licenses, about 5% of all the DC liquor licenses.

The exact numbers are as follows:

ANC # ABC Licenses % of All DC Licenses
ANC 1B (U Street corridor and Columbia Heights) 91 5.74%
ANC 2B (Dupont Circle) 229 14.44%
ANC 2F (Logan Circle) 113 7.12%
ANC 2C (Shaw) 111 7.00%

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Posted in Politics & GovernmentComments Off on DC Council Takes First Vote on Liquor Licensing Reform Bill

Mayor Gray Dines at Hank’s Oyster Bar, Shows Support for Restaurant

"Mayor Vincent Gray and Jamie Leeds"

Mayor Vincent Gray and  Hank’s Oyster Bar Chef and owner Jamie Leeds on Thursday night. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle on Thursday night. The mayor’s visit to the popular restaurant at 1624 Q Street NW happened as the restaurant is embroiled in another chapter of a seven-year-long regulatory battle with a small group of neighborhood residents. Hank’s Chef and owner Jamie Leeds greeted the mayor who acknowledged Leeds’ latest challenge.

Leeds told Borderstan that she said to Gray, “I just want my patio back.” According to Leeds, the mayor shared her frustration that a small group of people could dictate how a business may operate, even in the face of so much popular support. Shortly after Leeds was forced to downsize her patio, an online petition was circulated in support of Leeds and quickly attained more than 1,800 signatures.

Hank’s Oyster Bar most recent roadblock occurred just before the start of the annual gay pride weekend — one of the busiest times for the outdoor cafe portion of the restaurant. Leeds was forced to close half of her cafe’s outdoor seating after a DC Court of Appeals decision ruled that the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board) had erred in its 2010 decision that allowed her to terminate the voluntary agreement (V.A.) she had signed before opening in 2005.

Among other things, the V.A. controlled the hours service and size of the outdoor cafe portion of the restaurant. The case was remanded to the ABC Board and a hearing took place last month. A ruling is expected in a few weeks.

While the drama of Hank’s unfolded over the past few weeks, DC Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) has introduced legislation that would overhaul many of DC’s alcohol licensing laws. Among the 43 amendments and additions proposed in the legislation is a change in how close neighbors must live to a business before they may have standing to protest a liquor license application. The legislation was introduced last month and a hearing is scheduled for July 12 at 11 am in room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 14th and Pennsylvania NW.

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Posted in Food & Drink, Politics & GovernmentComments (2)

Graham’s Alcohol Licensing Bill Proposes 43 Changes

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

"DC bar"

Graham proposes changes to DC liquor laws, but what will be the final result? (Luis Gomez Photos)

Councilmember Jim Graham (D-ward 1) on Tuesday introduced legislation that proposes extensive changes to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage laws. The much anticipated bill includes 43 changes based on the recommendations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control task force that Graham has led since December 2011.

The changes to alcohol laws and regulations is always of particular interest to Borderstan residents since the major commercial corridors of  our neighborhood — U Street, 14th Street, P Street, 17th Street, 9th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW — are home to hundreds of restaurants, liquor stores, nightclubs and bars. (See DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%.)

The sweeping legislation even replaces terms for certain body parts for establishments that offer nude performances. Noteworthy in the bill are some changes to procedures on protesting a license application, what may be included in a voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the establishment of a noise complaint hotline.

The sweeping legislation touches on nearly every aspect of alcohol control currently on the books, even replacing terms for certain body parts for establishments that offer nude performances. Noteworthy in the bill are some changes to procedures on protesting a license application, what may be included in a voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the establishment of a noise complaint hotline.

The proposed amendment to the current code section on who may protest a license application states “A group of no fewer than five (5) residents or property owners of the District residing or owning property within a 400 foot radius of the Applicant’s establishment.” Borderstan recently conducted a reader poll on the number of signatories required to protest a liquor license application (see Poll: Most Readers Say 5 People Not Enough to Protest Liquor Licenses).

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for is bill on Thursday, July 12 at 11 am in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 14th and Pennsylvania NW.

The legislation also adds a new code subsection to address what may and may not be included in a V.A. Among the areas covered in the bill are entertainment, noise, litter, parking, hours of operation and occupancy. The bill further details what a V.A. may not include.

In that section are such items as restraint of trade, attendance at meetings and conflicts of interest. The V.A. is a facet of DC regulatory processes by which residents and community organizations may negotiate with a liquor license holder to set mandates that are not part of standard regulations.

Another new item in the proposed legislation is a noise “hotline” to handle resident complaints. In a press release, Graham said, “This legislation addresses the problem of spillover noise in neighborhoods that are adjacent to entertainment areas. The bill requires a nighttime complaint line and a response team at ABRA (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration) that will be operational every night until one hour after the legal bar closing time”.

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Posted in News, Politics & GovernmentComments (1)

All Souls Go To 8th and T Streets

All Souls entered into a Voluntary Agreement with neighbors for its 725 T Street NW location. (Tom Hay).

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com

As the story goes in DC, obtaining the necessary licenses to open a restaurant business can be a long process.  — especially when dealing with a liquor license from DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). And for local restaurant entrepreneur, David Batista, this battle seemed like an impossible win. (Also, check out Schools and taverns can coexist at Greater Greater Washington.)

This past spring, Batista made the evening news with his efforts to open a neighborhood bar near 8th and T Streets NW. However, these efforts were quickly halted when neighbors of the (currently abandoned) 725 T Street storefront opposed Batista’s business venture.

According to the ABC Board’s “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order,” some of the opposing neighbors are worried about noise, increased drug activity and public drinking, while others are worried about decreased property values, parking and the proximity of the bar to Cleveland Elementary School.

Despite these grievances, the Board sided with Batista on June 20 and granted him a Retailer’s Class CT License for his bar, All Souls, as well as a Voluntary Agreement (VA) with area neighbors. Not green to the DC restaurant scene, Batista’s previous restaurant experience includes managing Jose Andres’ Jaleo and Zaytinya. All Souls is expected to open in the fall of 2012.

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Posted in Food & Drink, Politics & GovernmentComments (2)

Poll Closes Sunday: Should Just 5 People Be Allowed to Protest a Liquor License?

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com

News of licensing agreements about local businesses and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has been rocking area websites and newsfeeds for more than a week. Hank’s Oyster Bar, a local restaurant just off the 17th Street corridor, was forced to shut down half of its outdoor patio on June 8 due to a pending review of an ABC Board decision approving termination of the Voluntary Agreement (V.A.) with six area residents; two of the original six protestants filed the appeal. The hearing was held last Wednesday, but nothing has resulted (as of yet) from the battle between a handful of local residents and the local business.

Reader Poll: What’s your opinion? Should a minimum of five residents or property owners be allowed to file a protest against liquor license application that then goes before the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board — or should that number be increased? Take our reader poll. We will share the results early next week.

"U Street NW"

How many residents should DC law require to protest a liquor license application? (Luis Gomez Photos)

That’s the law in DC: At present, a minimum of five residents or property owners (three if it is a liquor license moratorium zone) living up to 600 feet away from a restaurant or bar with a liquor license can file for a Voluntary Agreement (V.A.) with an establishment — for reference, a football field is 360 feet long.

Residents — as well as neighborhood associations and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions — can also protest a pending liquor license application, and then the establishment must reach an agreement with the group or groups. (Hank’s is located in the Dupont East Moratorium Zone.)

V.A.’s are often used to limit hours of operation or specify how  outdoor dining areas are used. There may also be other requirements that the bar or restaurant must agree to follow to obtain the liquor license. (See details below.)

Since the closure of half its patio at 1624 Q Street NW, Hank’s has procured the support of local businesses and organizations, including the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), the Urban Neighborhood Alliance (UNA) and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA). Furthermore, an online petition in favor of Hank’s was posted on June 18 and has already received about more than 1,200 signatures.

The petition, started by Mary Tucker, calls on the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Director, Fred Moosally; Ward 2 Council Member, Jack Evans; Councilmember and ABC Committee Chair, Jim Graham; and DC Mayor Vincent Gray to end the ability for a small number of residents to hold up liquor licensing.

DC Code Spells Out Protest Rules

If you want to dive into the weeds, Title 23, Chapter 16 of the DC Code stipulates the rules for filing a protest against a liquor license. The specifics on who can protest are in Title 25, Chapter 6:

§ 25-601. Standing to file protest against a license

The following persons may protest the issuance or renewal of a license, the approval of a substantial change in the nature of operation as determined by the Board under § 25-404, a new owner license renewal, or the transfer of a license to a new location:

(1) An abutting property owner;

(2) A group of no fewer than 5 residents or property owners of the District sharing common grounds for their protest; provided, that in a moratorium zone established under § 25-351 (or in existence as of May 3, 2001), a group of no fewer than 3 residents or property owners of the District sharing common grounds for their protest;

(3) A citizens association incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia located within the affected area; provided, that the following conditions are met:

(A) Membership in the citizens association is open to all residents of the area represented by the association; and

(B) A resolution concerning the license application has been duly approved in accordance with the association’s articles of incorporation or bylaws at a duly called meeting, with notice of the meeting being given at least 10 days before the date of the meeting.

(4) An affected ANC;

(5) In the case of property owned by the District within a 600-foot radius of the establishment to be licensed, the Mayor;

(6) In the case of property owned by the United States within a 600-foot radius of the establishment to be licensed, the designated custodian of the property; or

(7) The Metropolitan Police Department District Commander, or his or her designee, in whose Police District the establishment resides.

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Posted in Politics & GovernmentComments (21)

New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th and U


The intersection of 14th and U Streets NW. What does the future hold for one of the city's most desirable locations? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Matty Rhoades. You can email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.

Borderstan first learned earlier this spring that a new neighborhood organization was being formed, one whose mission was to change the course of the rapid pace of development along the 14th and U corridor — including a possible push for a liquor license moratorium. (For another view, see Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.) Moreover, changes are being considered to DC’s zoning laws as recently noted in the City Paper’s Housing Complex blog.

The new Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) held its first meeting May 21. The boundaries for membership in SDCA are from 12th to 15th Streets and from S to U Streets NW. Joan Sterling is president of the board of directors and some of the other names on the board are familiar to people who follow neighborhood politics and community organizations — Elwyn Ferris (partner of ANC 2B09 Commissioner Ramon Estrada) is secretary, and Doug Johnson and Craig Brownstein of U Street Dirt are on the board of directors.

The entire 14th and U corridor has been undergoing rapid change in the past decade, with numerous residential-retail complexes still under construction, from S Street past Florida Avenue NW; the strip of 14th below S Street saw the first wave of new construction on empty lots earlier in the decade. One such complex just getting underway is the Lous at 14th and U Streets NW (see Plans Unveiled for the Louis at 14th/U; Will Remake Famous Corner.) Another project, spanning 14th from S to Swann Streets is expected to be completed this fall. Demolition work will soon begin on the project at the southeast corner of 14th and Wallach NW. And there are more projects under construction or on the drawing board (13th and U NW, for example).

Not surprisingly, not everyone in the area views the changes — or the trajectory of the development — in quite the same way.

SDCA Organization’s Message Points

The membership application for SDCA is quite blunt in terms of the message points it drives home to potential members, with the following Q&A on the membership applicaton:

Q: Finding it increasingly difficult to park?
A: Local developers are being granted variances from the required parking regulations!

Q: Is late night noise and disturbance increasing?
A: New establishments are requesting operating hours till 4 and 5 AM!

Q: Are you concerned about the drastic increase in street crime?
A: Three stabbings of local restaurant patrons in the past year!

Q:  Did you know that new development almost caused us the permanent loss of our Post Office.
A: A vocal group of citizens (our members, and our neighbors, just like you) fought it, and saved it!

Q: Are you aware that new legislation could strip away the legal standing residents have in alcohol licensing?
A: The right to negotiate a reasonable Voluntary Agreement may be permanently eliminated!

Interview with SDCA President

Borderstan asked SDCA President Joan Sterling about the new organization, its priorities — and why its members felt the need to form the organization instead of working through three neighborhood organizations in or near the 14th and U corridor.

Borderstan: What is your organization’s top priority as of now?

Sterling: Shaw-Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) views this neighborhood as a residential community, a historic treasure, an educational center, and a vital component of the District of Columbia’s retail and tourism economy. The association seeks to maintain a unique mix of missions for the community, while seeing that the views and interests of residents and homeowners are well represented in the neighborhood’s continuing evolution. DSCA’s mission is to preserve the historic character, quality of life, and aesthetic values of this area with a particular eye toward protecting the interests of the neighborhood’s residents and homeowners. We all welcome the new businesses and the exciting development. At the same time we also have some concerns about the impact of that growth on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

As a newly incorporated organization we are very busy with membership and organizing our committees in a way that will reflect the varied interests of the members. We have had a lot of feedback regarding things such as parking, new development, new retail, improved daytime activity in the neighborhood, and concerns related to the significant late night activity that borders the residential areas.

Borderstan: Are you actively pushing the DC Government for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U area?

Sterling: That is one of the options that the members have discussed as a possibility to get a little ‘breathing space’ while trying to find a way to improve the implementation of the ARTS Overlay and Comprehensive Plan for the neighborhood. We hope to work with both Councilmember Graham [D-Ward 1] and Councilmember Evans [D-Ward 2], along with the Office of Planning, BZA [Board of Zoning Adjustment], ABRA [Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration], DCRA, DDOT and the other agencies that all have a piece of the puzzle. We are interested in having a vibrant and safe community during both the daytime and the evening hours. (Editor’s note: The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) lists five moratorium actions in DC. The neighborhoods with liquor license moratoriums are Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Glover Park, Dupont West and Dupont East (17th Street NW).

Borderstan: How would you respond to Bryan Martin Firvida’s claim that liquor license moratoriums are ineffective?

Sterling: It’s an interesting position to take considering Mr. Firvida provides no data that supports that opinion – the petition language is long on hyperbole, but short on facts. Existing Moratoria have been renewed which would indicate that, in the areas that have them, the residents are happy with the results. Moratorium zones as defined by ABRA can only be in a radius of 600 feet, 1,200 feet or 1,800 feet. Implying that because online petition signatories are in a particular zip code means that they live in a moratorium zone is far from accurate. It does not correctly reflect the very small sizes of ABRA defined zones compared to the much larger areas covered by zip codes.

Signatures of approximately 600 DC residents is just not reflective of those residents that are directly impacted by the current over-concentration of licenses in this particular small area. We are very interested in all ideas that can actually be implemented to help alleviate the problems that residents are experiencing and are eagerly awaiting Mr. Firvida’s alternate suggestions. We are aware that Mr. Firvida has authored other online petitions such as D.C. Council and the D.C. Taxicab Commission: Make “Red” the standard color for Taxicabs in Washington, D.C.

(Editor’s note: Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues. )

Borderstan: Why did you decided to form a new organization instead of working through existing community associations, such as the U Street Neighborhood Association, the Logan Circle Community Association and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association?

Sterling: We felt that we needed a residents association to address the things that are of interest to our neighborhood. Because the area straddles two different ANCs and two Wards it made sense to start an organization that could represent the neighborhood in a more cohesive way. Both the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Logan Circle Community Association represent residents in different areas than SDCA. The residents in those areas are clearly ably represented by their associations and we hope to follow their examples.

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