From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F voted against the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium in a strongly-worded resolution at its monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, April 3. The vote was 7-0. Commissioner Greg Melcher, ANC 2F-06, was absent and did not vote.
ANC 2F, which covers the Logan Circle area and runs west to 15th Street NW, became the second ANC to recommend that DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board reject the moratorium petition. It joined ANC 6E, which voted in February. ANC 1B will be the third ANC to vote on the moratorium this evening, April 4. The remaining ANC within the borders of the moratorium, ANC 2B, plans to vote on the moratorium at its May 8 monthly meeting.
Wording of Resolution
ANC 2F Chair Matt Raymond (2F-07), wrote the resolution, among which were these three points:
- WHEREAS, Community sentiment is strongly opposed to the moratorium, as evidenced by comments at the above-referenced meetings, as well as contacts from individual constituents, and an online petition with 1,196 signatures as of April 3, 2013; and
- WHEREAS, ANC 2F welcomes the presence of liquor-licensed establishments, having endorsed the findings of the ARTS Overlay Review Committee, which stated that “restaurants and bars are an important ingredient in having a vibrant ARTS District: they contribute foot traffic to the arts and retail uses, and play an important role in achieving a vibrant and safe nighttime street environment”; and
- WHEREAS, The petition advances a number of dubious claims about issues such as crime rates and enforcement of existing zoning regulations under the Uptown ARTS Overlay;
Raymond observed at this ANC 2F meeting was the third in a row that had addressed the moratorium. Debate and comment on the moratorium, both between commissioners as well as between commissioners and the public, was brief and business-like before the vote.
The commission had plenty of other work to do. It voted unanimously to enter into a settlement agreement with the soon-to-open Black Whiskey on 14th Street NW, as well as unanimously supporting a renewal of the liquor license for Rice Restaurant, also on 14th Street.
Another unanimous vote was to continue the exemption for the Whole Foods Market on P Street to the Ward 2 ban on the sale of single containers of beer. The previous exemption for Whole Foods went into effect in May 2007. It was planned as a trial period, to run until October 31, 2007. However, after the trial period, no one remembered to renew the exemption. Any sales by Whole Foods of single beers since October 2007 have been, technically, illegal.
Discussion of Zoning Laws
A large portion of the meeting was given over to a presentation by Harriet Tregoning, Director of the DC Office of Planning. This office is spearheading a major rewrite of DC zoning laws city-wide. The zoning code currently in place was adopted in 1958 and contains outdated references to penny arcades and telegraph offices. Since then, it has acquired a patchwork of confusing revisions and updates.
Tregoning addressed three areas of particular interest:
- Parking: Much of Borderstan will be designated a “transit area”. This is generally defined as a area with easy access to Metro (ten minutes’ walk) or a major bus route (five minutes’ walk), and includes the 14th Street and Massachusetts Avenue corridors. Car parking requirements for new apartment buildings and offices within this area would be eliminated entirely. Bike parking requirements will no longer be linked to the number of car parking spaces in a building.
- Accessory dwellings: Proposed city-wide changes will make it easier for many single-family homeowners who live in their house to convert part of their property into a single “granny flat” if they wish. However, Tregoning said this change will not effect the ANC 2F area greatly, since much of the area does not fall into zoning categories that will benefit from this change.
- Corner stores: Proposed city-wide changes will allow new corner stores to set up. Under the current zoning rules, new corner stores are not allowed – only existing corner stores may continue operating. New corner stores will be subject to many conditions, including size, working hours, alcohol sales, signage, and others. But, like the changes concerning accessory dwellings, the zone categories most prevalent in ANC 2F will not be effected by this change. Tregoning said only a small section of 13th Street qualifies under current rules. This section is occupied by multi-story apartment buildings, which would not be convertable under the proposed rules.