From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
The liquor licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont held an additional listening session on the proposed 14th and U liquor license moratorium yesterday evening, April 17. About 20 people attended.
If you subtract ANC Commissioners, citizen members of ANC 2B’s liquor licensing affairs committee, members and supporters of moratorium petition originator Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), former commissioners, spouses of commissioners, and Borderstan, the total number of citizens who got listened to was less than eight.
The meeting was co-chaired Commissioners Kevin O’Connor, 2B-02, and Noah Smith, 2B-09. O’Connor is the head of ANC 2B’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Committee, which handles liquor licensing affairs. Smith’s district partly falls inside the proposed moratorium zone.
At its May 8 meeting, ANC 2B will decide if it will join three other ANCs in voting against the moratorium petition.
Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance Presentation
- The SDCA was given a chance to lay out its case once more. Joan Sterling, SDCA president, repeated her contention, made at the March 20 town-hall-style listening session on the moratorium and elsewhere, that DC law has changed in regards to how many liquor licensees in an area constitutes an “overconcentration.”
- It was formally 18, Sterling said, and now the law merely says “several.” This interpretation of DC law has been disputed by moratorium opponents.
- One of the citizens who was listened to confessed that he no longer lives in ANC 2B. He has moved from ANC 2B to the corner of 14th and Belmont, in ANC 1B. “When a moratorium happens, here’s what happens. Fifty to 250 thousand dollars goes into the pockets of current liquor licensees,” he said. He called instituting a liquor license moratorium “rewarding bad behavior. To legislate this is to me really unhealthy. It’s not the way a free society should be doing these things,” he said.
- An ANC 2B resident from the 1800 block of Corcoran Street spoke against the moratorium. “A moratorium is too drastic a step to take,” he said. “It doesn’t make a distinction between good and bad players.”
- Later, another man, identifying himself as a 12-year resident, also recommended that ANC 2B vote against the moratorium. Speaking about the two other liquor license moratoriums now in place in the Dupont Circle area, he said: “The moratoriums have been a factor in displacing the gay community.”
Not the Tool to Fight Crime, Noise
- Later, speaking about the crime and noise associated with a concentration of taverns and restaurants, Smith said: “A moratorium is not the tool to fix these problems.” He then asked, “What will happen the day after the moratorium?”
- SDCA Secretary Elwyn Ferris replied, “I don’t know if it will alleviate the problem, but it will not aggravate the situation.”
- A woman with a baby said that neighboring ANC 1B was at fault. “I’m totally for the moratorium. ANC 1B is very dysfunctional, not like [ANC2B] Dupont Circle. There is only one tool left to put a break on what is going on. There are lot of new families on the U Street corridor who have the same opinion as myself.”
- A former ANC 2B vommissioner said about the moratorium: “It’s a safety net thing. It can just be there and not be a force for good or bad. A moratorium is protective of individual rights.”
- Another former commissioner said: “People who are affected by noise need our protection. This is a tool whose time has come.”
Everyone Agrees: Enforcement is a Problem
- Partisans of both sides seemed to agree that troubles getting effective law enforcement on existing rules is a big part of the problem.
- One person complained that, when there is a concentration of liquor licensees near one another, police will not act on noise complaints because they say that they cannot determine who is the offending party.
- There was a discussion of another example of ineffective law enforcement, concerning the rules governing the Uptown Arts-Mixed Use (ARTS) Overlay District, which say that more than 50 percent of the frontage in any block in the U Street area cannot be liquor licensees.
- Enforcing these rules requires coordinated action between multiple DC agencies. This does not occur frequently. (See 14th & U: Approval for More Bars, Restaurants Expected.)
O’Connor closed the meeting by saying there would be no vote that evening. He said that he might try to convene a liquor licensing affairs committee meeting before May 8. This is the date of the meeting when ANC 2B will decide if it will join three other ANCs in voting against the moratorium petition.
Other ANC 2B commissioners in attendance were Stephanie Maltz, 2B-03; Kishan Putta, 2B-04; Abigail Nichols, 2B-05; and Chair Will Stephens, 2B-08.