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Graham’s Alcohol Licensing Bill Proposes 43 Changes

by Borderstan.com June 27, 2012 at 8:00 am 0

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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