From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
The Shaw Dupont Citizens Association (SDCA) took its case for the controversial U Street Liquor License Moratorium to the monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F on Thursday evening, March 14. They got a polite but frosty reception. ANC2F covers the Logan Circle area.
The SDCA made a presentation similar to the one they made at last month’s meeting of the subcommittee for liquor license matters of neighboring ANC1B. Guy Podgornik, SDCA treasurer, made the presentation to ANC2F.
He said the legal definition in DC of “overconcentration” in regards to liquor licensees is now 18, but there are about 120 licensed establishments in the proposed moratorium zone. This number is up from the 107 establishments operating when the petition was filed, Podgornik said.
Podgornik added that DC government timeline requirements meant DC’s Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) would not have public hearings on the matter before June at the earliest. After the hearings, ABRA will have the authority to accept the petition, reject the petition, change the radius of the zone, or change the shape of the zone entirely.
The ABRA hearings should not be confused with the town-hall style listening session about the liquor license moratorium to be held jointly by ANCs 1B, 2B and 2F this Wednesday, March 20, at 7 pm, at the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th Street NW.
After Podgornik’s presentation, ANC2F Chair Matt Raymond and other commissioners asked questions and made statements that made clear their displeasure with the proposal. Raymond took exception with some facts that appeared in the SDCA’s petition filing.
The proposal said certain blocks in the moratorium area had more than 50 percent of their street frontage taken up by alcohol licensees. This is a violation of the law. This law was going unenforced, Podgornik said, with up to 90 percent frontage in some blocks of ANC1B. Raymond responded that this was not the case in ANC2F.
“I have a lot of problems with this,” Raymond said. He added: “I want to reserve judgment until after the town hall.”
Move the Zone North?
ANC2F ABRA Committee Chair John Fanning asked if it were possible to move the moratorium zone north so no part of it fell in ANC2F. Podgornik explained the law limited petitioners to asking for circular zones either 600, 1,200 or 1,800 feet in radius; no other shapes or sizes were possible. Furthermore, by law the center point of a petition’s circle must fall on the property of a current liquor licensee. Moving the center north would cause it to fall in the middle of a residential neighborhood with no liquor licensees.
“Your moratorium, it’s an intrusion into this neighborhood,” Fanning said. “We want to keep the vibrancy going.”
At the beginning of the meeting, ANC2F also heard a short presentation from Capital Pride. The group asked for support for the upcoming Capital Pride Parade. The parade will occur on Saturday, June 8, starting at 4:30 pm.
It will follow a slightly different route through 2F this year, turning north at the corner of 14th and P Streets NW, instead of south as previously. It is planned that 14th Street will be closed up to U Street for the parade. The board voted to endorse the request for appropriate street closures.