Opinion Divided at Dupont East Liquor License Moratorium Hearing

by Borderstan.com May 22, 2013 at 8:00 am 1 Comment

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.


Dupont East Moratorium, which includes 17th Street,  went into effect in 1990.  (Luis Gomez Photos)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont listened to the attendees divide evenly for and against extending the Dupont East liquor license moratorium.

More than 30 members of the public attended the listening session at the Chastleton Ballroom on 16th Street last night.

Of these, I counted 12 people speaking in favor of continuing the liquor license moratorium in some shape or form. Eleven people urged ANC 2B to allow the liquor license moratorium to lapse.

Length of Residency

Opinion about the moratorium generally seemed to correspond to length of residency in or near the moratorium zone. Several long-term residents spoke in favor of extending the moratorium. Newer arrivals more frequently urged ANC Commissioners to let the moratorium expire.

This moratorium is also known as the 17th Street moratorium, and includes most of 17th Street between P and S Streets NW. It is set to expire on September 23 and has been in effect for 23 years. The most recent renewal of the Dupont East moratorium occurred in 2010.

DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board will ultimately decide the fate of the moratorium. It may extend the moratorium, allow it to lapse, or modify it. Groups of individuals and civic groups, independently of the ANC, can petition the ABC Board to have it extended. However, the ABC Board is legally bound to give an ANC opinion “great weight.” ANC 2B seems to be aiming to have a resolution prepared for ABC Board consideration before the expiration of the current moratorium.

A Restaurant Compromise?

There was one compromise that seemed to have some traction at the meeting. This was to continue a moratorium on tavern liquor licenses, but to lift the moratorium on restaurant liquor licenses. Commissioner Kevin O’Connor, 2B-02, first brought this idea up. O’Connor is the chair of ANC 2B liquor licensing affairs committee.

He mentioned recent work by ANC 2B to modify the Dupont West (a.k.a. “P Street”) liquor license moratorium (document here) to allow unlimited liquor licenses for restaurants. Subsequently, some partisans in both the pro- and anti-moratorium camps mentioned this as a minimally-acceptable alternative to their favored point of view.

Both sides claimed large numbers of non-attending supporters. Those speaking against the moratorium cited a petition containing more than 400 signatures of local residents collected at the time of the 2009 renewal. Pro-moratorium advocates claimed they spoke for the “silent majority” of the neighborhood.

Second Listening Session June 24

Commissioners repeated their timetable for Dupont East liquor license moratorium work. It is unchanged. Local residents will have another chance to comment at a second listening session at the Chastleton Ballroom on Monday, June 24, at 7 pm. Representatives of the police and DC’s liquor licensing agency have been invited to give input at this meeting.

On Wednesday, August 7, ANC 2B’s liquor licensing affairs committee will publicly present its a draft proposal for the first time. The full ANC will consider the committee’s proposal at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 14.

In response to an attendee’s suggestion, ANC 2B has pledged to set up a dedicated email address for residents who wish to comment on the Dupont East moratorium but cannot make it to the listening sessions.

Other ANC 2B Commissioners in attendance were Stephanie Maltz, 2B-03, Kishan Putta, 2B-04, Abigail Nichols, 2B-05, Leo Dwyer, 2B-07, and Noah Smith, 2B-09.

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