New ABC Legislation for the District

by January 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm 0

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

New ABC Legislation for the District. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The District has new liquor licensing laws, or Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) regulations.

In December, 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. The legislation was approved by the Council on December 18, and this week, DC Mayor Vincent Gray singed the reforms into law.

Some highlights inthe bill:

  • Liquor stores are now allowed to open and sell on Sundays.
  • Grocery stores and pubs can now sell 64-ounce growlers of beer, DCist reports.
  • The new bill guarantees that placards for new business applications will now additionally include a pre-determined and set date for the license protest hearing to accelerate the process, DC Hospitality reports.
  • All ABC Board rulings must now be issued within a maximum 60 days, rather than the previous 90 days, DC Hospitality reports.
  • The proximity requirement for “Gang of 5” members was eliminated. Any “Gang of 5” license protests are automatically dismissed if the applicant reaches an agreement with the applicable ANC. However, the provision for the “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).
  • In addition, “Voluntary Agreements” were replaced with the new title of “Settlement Agreements.” They are neither a requirement of licensing or an instrument by which to force concessions from licensees as part of that process. Instead, the Settle Agreements are an optional opportunity for parties to resolve a license protest.

“As a practical matter, the newly expedited and statutory timeframes for protest hearings and rulings removes the power of protest groups or ANCs to utilize the threat of delay to compel operating concessions,” said Mark Lee of DC Hospitality and a business columnist for the Washington Blade

For more information on the number of businesses in the area affected by the reforms, read DC Council Takes First Vote on Liquor Licensing Reform Bill.

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