14th and U: Petition Opposes Possibility of Liquor License Moratorium

by Borderstan.com April 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm 2,507 1 Comment

"Borderstan" "U and 14th Street NW", Luis, Gomez, Photos, liquor, licenses, DC, nightlife

The 14th and U corridor has become of DC’s most popular destinations for restaurants, music and clubs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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

Late last week, on April 25 news of an online petition opposing the possibility of an Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license moratorium in the 14th and U Street / MidCity neighborhoods landed in Borderstan’s email box. Bryan Martin Firvida created the petition on the site Change.org petition on Wednesday and it is already has almost 400 signatures as of Monday morning.

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.

In their comments, the petition’s signers overwhelmingly expressed their support for the growth, diversity and development of the U street area. Former president of the U Street Neighborhood Association, Martin Firvida, a resident of the U street area,  appears to have created the petition as a preemptive measure to the possibility of a moratorium.

Martin Firvida told Borderstan, “I set up the petition as a way for my neighbors to both proactively express their support for our neighborhood, and for addressing the issues we face in a smart and comprehensive way, while also registering their opposition to an ABC license moratorium. Just like any of the vibrant neighborhoods here in the District, we have a complex mix of quality of life issues that can really only be effectively managed through ongoing collaboration — which is accomplished by bringing residents, businesses and government to the table to work together. A moratorium does none of that.”

Another factor at play in the area is a current zoning restriction, which limits the total square footage of restaurant, club and lounge storefronts to 50%. This restriction was raised from 25% in 2010, and is part of an arts overlay district that was put into place a number of years ago.

The 14th and U/MidCity neighborhoods could prove to be a tricky area to navigate for any community group hoping to build support for a moratorium. The area includes blocks in Wards 1 and 2, at least three different ANCs (1B, 2B and 2F) and just as many neighborhood associations.

Five Moratoriums in Effect

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).

The moratorium discussion and process begins at the level of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) or neighborhood association. Martin Firvida’s petition states, “Once again, we’re hearing the idea of a Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) License (a/k/a “a liquor license”) Moratorium being discussed for the Greater 14th and U Street Neighborhoods.”

The commercial corridors of 14th and U Streets have seen rapid residential development in the past few years and have, as a result, drawn many new restaurants and bars. New businesses that desire an ABC license must navigate their way through the choppy waters of the public protest process. In most cases, businesses end up signing the now ubiquitous “voluntary agreement” or VA and agree to limited hours in serving alcohol in order to expedite the process.

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