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Reviving the Dream: Moving Forward on 17th Street

by Borderstan.com — June 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,208 42 Comments

Editor’s note: The following guest column is from the president and vice president of the Urban Neighborhood Alliance (UNA), Lee Granados and Stephen Rutgers, respectively. Granados’ grandparents were Spanish immigrants, and she grew and continues to live just off the 17th Street corridor. Borderstan welcomes guest columns on variety of subjects with differing viewpoints; email us at borderstan[AT]gmail.com. Disclosure: Borderstan is a supporter of UNA.

"DC's 17th Street corridor in Dupont Circle"

The corner of 17th and Q Streets NW, the heart of the 17th Street corridor. (Borderstan)

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For those of you new to the city or who may not know the history, 17th Street was built out of the desire of early immigrants to achieve the American Dream. Through their hard work, dedication and family sacrifice, these immigrants strived to provide future generations a better life.

Name a continent and it is likely that an immigrant got their start somewhere close to the 17th Street Corridor. So popular that multiple presidents, diplomats and even the famed musician Jim Morrison used to visit often, the 17th Street corridor has been built upon people knowing and taking care of one another.

Things have, unfortunately, changed. “What’s best for the neighborhood?” has been replaced with “What’s best for me/my house?” Honest debate born of rational self-interest has been replaced with the use of leverage — no matter what the cost to the business and its employees.

These are the things that should be talked about and considered, and why VAs are now an archaic concept of the past. This is the time for the community to voice their support and to respect small businesses and our local elected officials. If there is an issue with a decision — take it up with your elected officials, not the small business striving for the American Dream.

"La Fonda Restaurant on 17th Street NW in DC"

La Fonda restaurant was at the corner of 17th and R Streets NW. Pictured are Adelina Pena (center, grandmother of Lee Granados) with her daughters, Angelina Pena and Adelina Callahan. The former Casa Pena on 17th was the deli started by Manuel and Adelina Pena after they immigrated. (Courtesy Lee Granados and UNA)

As this community was built, if there was a problem, it was addressed with your neighbors through productive dialogue and debate. Fast-forward to modern-day and that dialogue has been lost at the hands of a small group seeded in irrational self-interest — no matter the collateral damage to the small business owners and the evolving communities.

The unfortunate reality within our community is that as small businesses eye moving in they are forced with choosing either potential financial hardship, at the hands of a small minority, or they simply choose not to come to the 17th Street area at all, given the considerations.

For example, Hank’s Oyster Bar has been forced to spend in excess of $50,000 in legal fees, and other businesses on the street have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting similar small groups. We have elected officials in our local ANC 2B that represent our community and the voice of the people. When our elected representatives take up these issues and make a decision, we should respect that.

Many employees in these small businesses reside in and around the neighborhood, and they are doing jobs that many take for granted. These people work hard and work to better their lives through promotion, skill and/or opportunities afforded them at local businesses. Here are some hard facts regarding Hank’s: 12 to 15 employees reside in the neighborhood, eight to 10 more employees live in the city and 80% are long-term employees.

Voluntary Agreements (V.A.’s) between businesses and/or residents and local groupsdo not discuss the loss of revenue to the business, to the owner, and their employees. That is not only a shame but furthers the perception of people acting purely out of self-interest.

"Java House Cafe at 17th and Q NW in DC"

Communities revolve around local businesses. Java House Cafe at 17th and Q NW has been a neighborhood gathering spot for two decades. (Borderstan)

For every day an owner is fighting a VA they are losing thousands upon thousands of dollars of revenue and time needed to focus on developing their business. And their employees, when affected, lose income to pay their bills.

These are the things that should be talked about and considered, and why VAs are now an archaic concept of the past. This is the time for the community to voice their support and to respect small businesses and our local elected officials.

If there is an issue with a decision — take it up with your elected officials, not the small business striving for the American Dream.

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Comments (42)

  1. Stacy Q Street

    I must respectfully disagree. Hanks is hardly suffering a financial loss. Ms. Leeds started that business half its current size and with just a wine and beer license. I assume that that business model was successful for her as she sought to expand to serve liquor and then further expanded the foot print of her business including patio space. So any “loss” that she is suffering is really just less gain. As for any out of work employees – check Craigslist Jobs and type in “Dupont/Logan restaurant” – there are pleny of these jobs currently available. So no business loss and no loss of employment. Property owners have rights too.

  2. Are you aware that the unemployment rate east of the river is above 20% or higher? No, sir, there are NOT enough jobs for many people in DC. Small businesses are the prime drivers of job creation. As for Ms. Leeds making a profit? Wow! SHOCKING!

    And since when do property owners have no rights? That’s the problem. 0.0000000000001 percent of the property owners in DC get to make the decisions in cases like this. the rest us be damned, I suppose.

  3. You seem to miss the point. The question is not whether she is making less profit or none or less at all, but that she is having to pay legal bills she really shouldn’t have to pay. There should be some due process involved before needlessly requiring a business to shut down half of it’s space, losing revenue and spending profits on lawyers. Especially when it’s essentially a few neighbors whose homes aren’t even adjacent to Hanks driving the effort.

    Homeowners should have some rights to protect the value of their homes. But this should not include what has happened here. Homeowners should not dictate everything about neighboring businesses. I can’t even imagine how a someone who owns a home down the street can show that Hanks has any impact whatsovever on their property. It’s absurd.

  4. Deacon Maccubbin

    Stacy, your assumption is a clear indication that you have no grasp of how small business works and grows. I once had a retail store in Baltimore. I ran it for 5 years but despite strong support from the neighborhood there, I was unable to squeeze any profit from it until I was finally able to renegotiate my lease and expand, tripling the space and, finally, turning our first profits.

    I’m not suggesting that Hank’s experience was the same as mine, only that the fact of their expansion says much more about their hopes for the future than it does about the finances of their past. And in any case, once you have to hire a lawyer, there go the profits.

    I’m not connected with Hank’s in any way. Amazingly (since I do love their food and ambiance), I’ve eaten there only twice so far. But from all I’ve seen and heard over the past few weeks, it seems obvious to me that the vast majority of my neighbors think the closing of half the patio was uncalled for. I agree with them. Hank’s (and other locally owned and operated restaurants and stores) are why I live here and not in (insert name of your least favorite Virginia suburb here). It’s not the residencies that drew me here. It wasn’t the businesses either. It was the delightful mix of both, and the people that moved among them.

  5. Right on point. The residents have rights too. If the residents were using their homes in the same way (i.e., causing lots of noise and attracting hundreds of people from outside the neighborhood to jam the streets and overwhelm the available onstreet parking), you’d be sure to hear the businesses complaining! Also, I don’t understand why Lee thinks her grandparents (and other immigrants) established the neighborhood back in the ’50s (or whenever it was they got here.) This neighborhood is far older, and started off strictly as that, a neighborhood. Just walk down 17th Street and look up past the commercial windows and signage and you’ll see all those ‘buildings’ are actually houses (i.e., people’s homes) which have been turned into businesses. So I don’t see how we now have LESS businesses than existed here back when the FIRST immigrants got here ….

  6. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Reading comprehension appears to be an issue. Lee didn’t say her grandparents “established the neighborhood back in the 50s.” She wrote about how immigrants (no personal adjectives, not HER relative immigrants, just “immigrants” incl her’s) and others pursuing the American dream built the neighborhood into what it is today. And it’s pretty clear she’s suggesting that tradition continues right up to someone risking it all in today’s times to open her oyster restaurant. And what is this “started off strictly as that, a neighborhood” bullshit? You mean all residents and no businesses? Or maybe you think the businesses back then looked like something out of a fucking Thomas Kinkade painting? There was probably a lot of unnecessary noise and horseshit then, you know, like there is from the Hank’s opponents today.

  7. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Stacy please have your accounting teacher from high school taken out and shot.

  8. Tying Hank’s request to expand to businesses making this a better community, is really kind of silly. What we have here is a private agreement between a restaurant that wanted to come in a create more noise and issues for adjoining neighbors and these adjoining neighbors who agreed to let the business do something it otherwise was NOT entitled to in return for PROMISES to do simple things like not keep the patio open at all times or let it be too large. And it’s BECAUSE of this agreement that Hank’s was able to come in in the first place. Take away the means for the agreements to function and you’ll take away the means for the exceptions to happen … Without basic assurances like limited outside patio hours, the businesses will never get permission to open up in the first place. Don’t believe me? Go look at our neighbors in Montgomery County in Northern Viriginia. Have you ever wondered why Virginia doesn’t have the kind of bars where people don’t need to be seated and ordering food at the same time? If you don’t let the affected neighbors negotiate directly with a prospective licensed establishment, then you can be sure the politicians will be just doing blanket NOs … as you’ll find in the surrounding juridictions.

  9. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Hey I really love it when Lance ruminates all over the place. Helps to avoid addressing the reality of what’s actually happened in the case at hand. First VA almost didn’t happen, even though Jamie Leeds was nearly bankrupted by the delays, and only happened because a single grownup entered the room in 2005 and told Mallof to shut it. Wow if that VA hadn’t happened, Hank’s never would have opened, and Lex Rieffel could have had his precious precious burned out former Trio’s pizza. Yeah, no loss to neighborhood amenities and property values there! No loss of neighborhood improvement there!
    And no I don’t believe you, because you’re painting some imaginary either-or, VAs-or-no-VAs NIMBY halloween special. Hank’s went through a process THAT EXISTS in the regs, to have their VA terminated. It’s already an available process. Have you seen hordes of VA terminations? No. Probably has something to do with the fact there aren’t that many set of protestors like these gems off 17th, facing a real gem like Hank’s.

  10. Anyone who thinks the neighbors protesting are neighbors isn’t paying attention. Maybe by some broad definition of neighbor they are neighbors. I live in the same ANC and I can’t imagine having the audacity to complain about a restaurant that isn’t even on my street. Get a grip. There has to be a better process than this.

    There is no way we should allow business to expand, re-zone property and then after it’s a popular, profitable, thriving business, let a few asshats that live “nearby” decide they no longer want to agree to the terms they’ve already agreed to. Where is the proof of impact? You dont’ get to shut down businesses on a whim. And frankly, the process should be, you prove YOUR case as a property owner BEFORE we shut down businesses. Or, if you complain and you lose, YOU pay back the lost profits. This frivolity is absurd.

    MOVE TO VIRGINIA.

  11. “As for any out of work employees – check Craigslist Jobs and type in ‘Dupont/Logan restaurant’ – there are pleny of these jobs currently available. So no business loss and no loss of employment.”

    I didn’t realize Romney had a speechwriter on Q St

  12. I remember once, more than a decade ago, attending an ANC 2B meeting. A new restaurant on Connecticut Avenue (the name escapes me now) as applying for a liquor license. One of the commissioners grilled the owner for a good 10 minutes on exactly what was going to be on the menu. It was apparent she was NOT going to vote in favor of the application unless the menu was to her liking. And we wonder why 17th Street has stagnated in recent years?

  13. I think this situation with Hanks is ridiculous but I also want to point out that this blog is extremely biased towards business owners in virtually all cases. Couldn’t the other side of the argument be presented, just once???????? Could we hear from the people on the other side or at least learn what they are complaining about in the ANC meetings that nobody else bothers to go to?????? Could they possibly have some legitimate concerns? You won’t find out about them here. Sure, these folks may be jerks but at least they bother to get involved in their community instead of just complaining about it on some biased blog message board.

  14. You might want to read these three pieces:

    http://www.borderstan.com/05/new-organization-formed-to-radically-change-current-path-of-14th-u/
    http://www.borderstan.com/06/u-street-dirt-not-ballston-for-14th-u/
    http://www.borderstan.com/11/dcca-to-protest-congolese-embassy-over-16th-street-renovations/

    And for news about local establishments that one probably would not refer to as glowing, there are these:
    http://www.borderstan.com/02/stabbing-at-tabaq-bistro-early-saturday-leads-to-temporary-closure/
    http://www.borderstan.com/02/mood-lounge-found-to-violate-agreement-on-noise/
    http://www.borderstan.com/02/mpd-feds-visit-townhouse-tavern-arrest-made-weapon-seized/

    And finally, in case you missed it, this is at the beginning of today’s guest column: Borderstan welcomes guest columns on variety of subjects with differing viewpoints; email us at borderstan[AT]gmail.com.

    We look forward to your guest column.

  15. Matty,

    Well I stand corrected. SOMEBODY did her homework. However, I would like to point out that A. An embassy is not a business and B. It seems like the articles about businesses tend to be objective only when describing a crime. [Off topic – I recall the Townhouse stuff turned out to be BS and the charges were dropped.] I had not seen the U Street Dirt or SDCA articles before.

    Anyway, I have seen some really fairly biased articles here, especially anything involving Mark Lee. In this one, I think it was the statement, “Things have, unfortunately, changed.’What’s best for the neighborhood?’ has been replaced with ‘What’s best for me/my house?’ Honest debate born of rational self-interest has been replaced with the use of leverage — no matter what the cost to the business and its employees,” that I found especially slanted. Don’t get me wrong. I support Hanks even though I don’t go there anymore (long waits, bartender has major ‘tude). I just think there are always at least 2 sides to any story. Overall, I think the blog does a decent job of chronicling life in Borderstan and the transformation which has occurred in the past 20 years. [Off topic -I am a lifetime DC area resident and I remember what 14th St and U St. USED to be like. Yikes!]

    As for a guest column, I would love to but I am far too busy. You can’t just write this stuff without doing research and interviews, which, after my usual 12 hour day, isn’t going to happen. Although I do have a secret desire to review restaurants…

    -M

  16. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Huh someone’s not too busy to write 387 words of rambling and inaccurate complaining. What’s the big holdup for another 157 words? Guess what, you’d have enough then to match the length of the guest essay above! But hey, you’d have to think it through, maybe get your facts right, actually look shit up. Which seems kinda challenging for you at 387. So maybe THAT’S the big scary time challenge for you eh?

  17. The way DC liquor licenses are approved (and they always are) is that if there’s a concern by neighbors the applicant is encouraged to work out a voluntary agreement with them on things like patio hours, trash, etc. Usually minor things. This avoids neighbors feeling warranted in appealing to the DC Court of Appeals and usually makes the restaurant or bar more acceptable to neighbors and usually more profitable.

    In this case, as I understand it, the liquor licence holder chose to disregard the voluntary agreement they had signed. If voluntary agreements are worthless then the system to get consensus breaks down.

    I miss La Fonda and the restaurant above it since they became bars. I miss Casa Pena too. But what does that have to do with Hank’s ? Are they Hispanic oysters?

  18. HanksNotaThreat

    You don’t understand it. Your storyline is the one that only the small clique targeting Hank’s have put forward. Well, we just had a 4-and-a-half hour hearing where that storyline was shown to be completely false. You can read the hearing transcript when it’s published, or just Google this very blog for their coverage of the hearing. Hank’s tried to discuss their existing VA with the protestors, got a complete stall-to-no-response, so they went for terminating the VA. And nobody with any shred of familiarity with these protestors can blame Hank’s. AND long before Hank’s even reached out to the protestors, it was THEY who “chose to disregard the voluntary agreement they had signed.” They promised in secs 13a and 13b to support an upcoming relaxation of the moratorium for this turf, but instead heatedly opposed it.

  19. What does the relaxation of a moratorium have to do with the voluntary agreement Hank’s signed with the nearby neighbors to do reasonable things like not leave the patio open all night so that these neighbors can get some sleep in own homes. Personally, I’d like to see the moratorium go away because it gives the existing establishments, such a Hank’s, a monopoly over the market for licensed establishments AND it gives our elected officials something to ‘give’ to their friends as they did with the last go around where they allowed 2 additional licensed establishment, and incredibly, named who they were going to! So if you or I wanted one of these licenses we’d be out of luck … unless we buddy buddied up to the ANC like the two lucky winners the last time around. (Hank’s expansion was one of these.)

  20. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    What does the relaxation of the moratorium have to do with the VA, the VA that has that language in there, that the people who signed it agreed having it in there, and then each signed it? Gee I don’t know. Maybe because IT’S IN THERE.

    Let me repeat: IT’S IN THERE, the same Voluntary Agreement you and these petty Hank’s protesters keep saying the restaurant violated, when in fact the protestors were the first to violate, what they agreed to, IT’S IN THERE, did I mention IT’S IN THERE, and yet they turn around and claim Hank’s didn’t honor the VA and wasn’t dealing with the VA “in good faith”?

    VA on an altar, how many times can we kiss and honor the VA and say please please don’t take our precious VA away…but violated two huge regulatory provisions of it themselves? Oh hey no relevance whatsoever sure.

  21. Get some sleep!? THEY DO NOT LIVE NEAR HANKS!!!!!

  22. Stacy – you are the perfect example of everything that is wrong in this city. If Hank’s were a nightclub, I would understand your concerns as a resident of the neighborhood. However, Hank’s is a neighborhood friendly, casual eatery that happens to have a liquor license. What is your issue with this? I’m sorry if you ran for student government in the 6th grade and lost, and now you feel like you have some “power” because you bought a home in the nation’s capital. Businesses like Hank’s only do good for the city through job creation, tax revenue, neighborhood safety, etc. The fact that there are so few people who agree with you should be a sign that you are wrong, plain and simple. Realize that fact and move.

  23. “Hank’s Oyster Bar has been forced to spend in excess of $50,000 in legal fees

    Doesn’t this speak for itself? If Hank’s is willing to spend $50,000 to get out of its agreement to not leave the patio open longer hours (and to not operate with more seating and more hours in general), then Hank’s apparently believes there’s a lot more profit to be made than that $50,000 cost. They’ve made a very good business decision. But have they made a very neighborly decision? The kind of trait which Lee is trying so hard to attribute to them? Good neighbors, residential and commercial, compromise and come to agreement on matters of mutual interest. Most of our licensed establishments on 17th understand this, and they consequently haven’t had to spend $50,000. When your aim is to come to an agreement that is mutually acceptable, you don’t need to bring in the lawyers. You only do that when there fees are less than what you stand to gain, and you’re focusing on $$$$ instead of being neighborly. I don’t completely disagree with what Lee is trying to say, but I think she picked the wrong establishment to set out as an example.

  24. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Look at the utter presumptuousness and sense of entitlement you display, Lance, vis a vis neighborhood businesses. You screed through a bunch of sentences that indicate opposition to Hank’s ever having expanded, then wag your finger in saying “Good neighbors, residential and commercial, compromise and come to agreement on matters of mutual interest.”

    Yes, as in “agree with me, and you’re being reasonable, disagree and try to expand, and you’re being a bad guy.”

    You can fool yourself all you want with that, but it’s the minority take on this situation, this SEVEN-YEAR-LONG battle of some of the most cantankerous, obstructionist, inflexible, toxic activists not just in this neighborhood, but arguably across the whole damned city. Does 4 and a half hours of a hearing, JUST for the most recent round Hank’s has been put through, not get through your head? They LIED, the protestors LIED in claiming Jamie never tried to reach out to amend her VA. Oh but she wanted to EXPAND and that’s automatically a no-no, sayeth the Lance, fellow overseer of a legal and responsible neighbor business, so your upside-down-logic world fits with these protestors perfectly. And if Jamie had to spend $50K A-HA sayeth the Lance and overseers, it proves we’re right! Yeah, dream on. The rest of us can see the nightmare. Your upside-down view is being rejected, pretty solidly, across the community and across seven years of regulatory process. Council’s next, pal.

    Victor Wexler, the ANC commissioner for Hank’s, said it best in The Dupont Current: ““I see the protestants as sort of combing through technicalities and throwing up barriers — almost laughably so…Someday I think someone is going to tell them to shut up, which I think is the only solution: a good slap in the face.”

  25. While I don’t think the fate of the institution of the Voluntary Agreement and the good purpose it’s intended to serve should be determined upon the facts and issues of one case, i.e., the Hank’s situation, I would be very interested in hearing what proof you have to offer that the protestants lied about not being contacted by Leeds. I ask because it was I who in 2010 happened to mention to one of the 6 holders of the voluntary agreement that I’d been to an ANC meeting where I’d heard the commissioners setting aside a lateral liquor license expansion for Hank’s. That protestant was dumbfounded when I told him this (and yes, it was David Mallof). He said that was the first he knew of any proposed expansion. Now I’d heard about the planned expansion long before when there’d been talk of the rezoning of the adjacent building to allow the expansion as part of the Comprehensive Plan redo (where the ANC representative asked to classify that parcel in the plan so that it could then be rezoned to commercial.) So, by the time we’d gotten to the point of the ANC voting to give Hank’s the moratorium liquor license it needed to expand, a lot of planning for this expansion had already occured. Another of the 6 holders of the voluntary agreement expressed the same lack of having been notified or included in any way in the planning for the expansion when I mentioned it to her a couple days after I’d run into Dave. At this point, Hank’s was already scheduled to go before ABRA … So, we’re talking about the end of the process and not the beginning or even the middle, and the holders of the voluntary agreement who should have been among the FIRST to be included in the process weren’t yet included. When I ran into this second person again a second time a few later she said they’d tried reaching out to Jamie Leeds and had yet to been informed of ANY of the plans. That they were being completely shut out of the process. Now THIS was the then president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. And SHE a very respected member of the community. Say what you will about the 2 protestants who have brought this matter to the recent state it’s at, but here we’re talking about a very respected member of the community who was then the president of a very respected neighborhood civic association. She’d have no reason to lie and I’m sure she didn’t. So, again, what is your proof that the 6 holders of the voluntary agreement lied about not being given the opportunity to discuss the agreement. From where I stand, I see the lies coming from the other side. From the same folks who would claim they were told to shut down half the pation ‘only the eve before Pride’ when in fact the DCRA folks have openly acknowledged that Hank’s was notified more than a full week prior to Pride to shut down the half of the patio (and I’ve seen the order with my own eyes, so I know where the lie was there.) Before calling others liars, you might want to look at the facts on the ground. And in any case, whatever transpired here cannot and should not be used as a judgement on the voluntary agreements … as the press, and obviously some in our community, are trying to do … 99.9% of all volunatary agreements out there have been win win agreements for the neighbors, the neighborhood, AND the establishment owner.

  26. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    So in 2010 Lance was the Paul Revere or CNN or maybe Deep Throat of Hank’s wanting to expand, and Dave Mallof “said that was the first he knew of any proposed expansion.”

    “the desire by the owners of two especially acclaimed restaurants, Komi and Hank’s Oyster Bar, to laterally expand their successful businesses were referred to by ANC commissioners”

    That’s from the In Towner, about a community meeting in 2009, TWO-THOUSAND-AND-NINE. Read it yourself: http://tinyurl.com/6qyj6jh I attended the meeting, church basement, 16th Street. Guess who sat near me? Lex Rieffel, Dave Mallof’s bossom buddy in aiming at Hank’s from 2005 right up through the recent court appeal that sent this back to the ABC Board. Oh wait Jamie didn’t send Mallof and Rieffel a Power Point, so it didn’t count? That’s from the recent hearing. Laughable, Victor Wexler’s own words. And the community’s too.

    Who says these people’s versions of events can’t be relied on? The info above is a good indicator. And the 4-1/2 hour hearing solely focused on Hank’s reaching out to them in good faith. Let’s all have fun reading that one.

  27. Just because the possibility of an expansion was discussed at a public meeting doesn’t mean Leeds had included the 6 co-signers of the voluntary agreement in on the planning for the expansion … which is what probably should have been the FIRST step given the effective veto power they held over the expansion per the Voluntary Agreement. You don’t address why Hank’s letter makes it sound like the enforcement action the eve before Pride was a ‘surprise’ event, although they’d been ordered to shut that half of the patio down a full week prior … and hadn’t. You also don’t address the fact that the president of the DCCA was in the dark also. We she ALSO in cahoots with Mallof? Do we have a consiracy theory brewing here?

  28. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Robin Diener: Said Hank’s “has proven to be very well managed and operated” and “Neither DCCA nor the neighbors want to be seen as holding up Hank’s from expanding…” – ABC hearing Oct. 2010

    Robin Diener: “Dupont Circle Citizens Association president Robin Diener called the restaurant “lovely” but said the neighborhood does not have the capacity to support the Hank’s expansion.” – Dupont Current Dec. 2010

    Why am I not surprised Lance finds such NIMBY duplicity worthy of high community esteem? As for the rest of the World According to Lance, I prefer the recent 4-1/2 hour hearing, under oath, that proved Mallof’s idea of having no idea about the expansion and never being invited to talk about it really translated as he wouldn’t talk until he saw a Power Point presentation lol.

  29. Why, yes, Lance! How many business have you started and ran? “Being neighborly” is easy when you have a steady paycheck coming in. BTW. where are the hordes of people who live on the 1600 block of Q Street that are complaining. There are NONE. NONE. How do you explain that? You cannot. This is an invented issue by a group of people who fell their power to run things by themselves slipping away.

  30. Oh, I see, so sound will only travel to homes having a ’16’ in their address? That must be a new rule of physics. I know the neighbor immediately adjacent to the expansion isn’t happy. Did you notice the ‘No Trespassing’ sign he’s had to post on his front gate? He must have people hanging out on his steps at all hours and all days of the week. Would you want to have to live like that? Let’s stop being selfish.

  31. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    Hi Lance I live next to a space that a restaurant wants to expand into. It’s a clean and very respected place. Here’s my thinking. I know I could call up the owner and get with her and probably get soundproofing, shrub barriers, a bunch of stuff that would help. (There are zero probs with trash or any of that other stuff). But I’m thinking it might be better to pick out a couple of the most notorious jagoffs in the neighborhood, ones that every single city employee and board or commission member before whom my case will go abso-fucking-lutely hates, I mean these guys talking in circles for hours conjure suicide daydreams for anyone within earshot, and let them ride it out for me! If I do have to show up once, I’m practicing walking out in a huff, insulting the city board members verbally as a group. Easy peezy. So, I was wondering how you think that’ll work for me. I’d appreciate the strategic help!

  32. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    And you hit the coal vein, Lance. You think these duplicitous NIMBYs, who’d engaged in the worst tactics against Hank’s since the day it opened, and said one thing around the neighborhood then another to others, said one thing under oath then another to the Current, said in their VA they’d support relaxing the moratorium but then opposed it…

    YOU think these people had veto power over Hank’s simply wanting to expand, via their VA with her.

    Well, we agree. They had veto power over expansion. That’s all they wanted, to stop her cold. And that’s been your position all along too.

    And THAT is why Jamie wanted, and deserved, to terminate her VA. To terminate the veto power of a bunch of cranks who never should have had it in the first place. And the ANC, and the new DCCA president, and Councilman Evans, and the Urban Neighborhood Alliance, and the Gay & Lesbian Activist Alliance, and a vast majority of the community all believe Hank’s had the right to expand, and the right to remove the VA-as-veto of these NIMBYs and NIMBYs like you.

  33. “That’s all they wanted, to stop her cold.”

    If that were true, then how do you explain the fact that they didn’t ‘stop cold’ the original license request? Before voluntary agreements existed that is exactly what would have happened. The affected neighbors would have used the ‘blunt instrument’ of protest to kill the whole idea. Instead, the voluntary agreement allows a COMPROMISE to be met. Don’t agreements mean anything to you? Or do you feel parties should be free to breach them at their convenience?

  34. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    “IF” that were true? IF?? IF these protestors didn’t want to stop the expansion, and IF they were trying to use the VA’s constraints re: seating to do so? They’ve said it themselves!

    IF? It damned near happened. You’re only displaying your lack of grasp of what happened in 2005 (as you have with just about every other Hank’s matter along the calendar). These cranks damned near did stop Jamie cold in 2005. The only thing that saved the day was a late interjection.

    How many more free passes should these NIMBYs get, to drive Hank’s to the brink? Lance wants to hand them a stack of ’em. The rest of us, broadly, have said “enough.”

  35. It’s sounds like you have a thing for Hank’s or the owner of the place, and you’re not able to separate the personalities from the issues here. (Or conversely, maybe you have a thing against Mallof or Diener.) But you see, that’s the problem here. There’s a PR campaign going on that has absolutely nothing to do with the issues. And we’ll all be the poorer for it if the result is that bars and restaurants can establish themselves wherever they want without regard to the people alreary living there and their right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. A healthy community needs a healthy balance of bars, restaurants, other types of retail, AND residents. Taking away the residents’ rights to stand up to prospective bars and restaurants and demand some consideration in regards to things like hours of operation and number of people on an outside patio isn’t going to accomplish that.

  36. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    What Lance fantasizes as someone’s grudge or a PR effort actually sounds more like broader community observations and growing consensus:

    “What is even more infuriating is that two toxic people in our neighborhood are allowed to shut down part of a legitimate business and force them to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees. Their ability to do this should be eliminated from D.C. law, and I urge Mayor Gray and the D.C. Council to reform D.C.’s archaic regulatory laws.” – Doug Rogers, DCCA president

    “I see the protestants as sort of combing through technicalities and throwing up barriers — almost laughably so. Someday I think someone is going to tell them to shut up, which I think is the only solution: a good slap in the face.” – Victor Wexler, ANC commissioner for district where Hank’s is located

  37. “To terminate the veto power of a bunch of cranks who never should have had it in the first place.”

    So tell me. Are they cranks simply because they’re standing in the way of something you want? Or because fundamentally you don’t think the affected neighbors should have any right to protect the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their own homes? Would you feel the same way if this establishment had set up shop across the street from you?

  38. Restore Thomas Kinkade's 17th St!

    So tell me. Are they respected community figures because they’re advancing something you want? Or because fundamentally you don’t think seven years, countless hours of multiple hearings, a Superior Court appeal, and then another long hearing, and an ANC decision, and a BZA decision, all just isn’t enough yet to settle the matter the way you want?

  39. I think it’s time everyone stopped avoiding the real issue here. I’ve been here a long time and I am one of those who has silently watched a self-selected group of people — most of them members of a “local citizens association” run the show. People were (and some sill are) afraid of them. Frankly, they were, and are, BULLIES.

    Well, times change. New people move in — lots of them. Gosh, guess what? The self-appointed group and citizens association no long scares people. People are speaking out. We’ve all had enough of you. You do NOT get to run the show all by yourselves anymore.

    People and groups never give up their power without a fight. What this whole Hank’s battle is about is a group of people who see their influence and power fading away. They are striking back. It’s the death throes of a wounded beast.

  40. What neighborhood groups are you talking about? Both the elected ANC and the neighborhood’s civic association, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, have come out as publically criticizing the neighbors with the voluntary agreement. It’s not a complicated matter like a lot of people are making it out to be. This is really pretty simple .. you have people within earshot of an outdoor cafe who came to an agreement with that outdoor cafe that both said they could live with. No one of them doesn’t want to live with it anymore. That’s it. As simple as that.

  41. And incidentally, those posters who keep saying the 2 neighbors involved in this action don’t live near Hank’s couldn’t be more wrong. They are both within the 200 foot zone which would apply if this were a zoning matter, and both can both hear and see the place. And at least one of them (if not both) has had to install special windows to block out the noise from the patios of not just Hank’s but other establishments within earshot. Personally, I enjoy and frequent these outside patios, but I’m okay with neighbors affected by the externalities I help create negotiating happy compromises with the restaurants I frequent. For example, I know if I want to sit outside for a nice meal on a great evening, I’d better be there before 10 pm. Would I maybe sometimes (like after a show at the Keegan) prefer that I could get there at 10:20 and still sit outside? Of course I would. But part of being a good neighbor is realizing that other neighbors have a reasonable expectation to not hear noise on the street after a certain time … It’s this kind of consideration that makes a neighborhood. Frankly, I’m kind of shocked by the ‘me me’ attitude I’m hearing on here from people who say they are neighbors. They know what they want, and they don’t care if other neighbors are going to be the ones suffering the externalities. People weren’t always so selfish. Lee is right about that.

  42. It’s a long, long history, Lance. You and your cohorts are not going to wiggle out of this. The chickens have come home to roost.

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