From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
At its second listening session on the East Dupont liquor license moratorium last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont released a list of moratorium-related questions and asked concerned residents to submit their comments electronically on all or some of them. The group email address for the commissioners is: 17thStCommissioners [at] dupontcircleanc dot net.
The Dupont East liquor license moratorium is often called the 17th Street Moratorium.
- How has the 17th Street moratorium positively or negatively impacted your vision for the neighborhood?
- Do you have concerns about licensed establishments in the neighborhood and do you think a moratorium appropriately and effectively addresses them?
- What is the single primary concern in the neighborhood that a moratorium is currently addressing?
- If restrictions on the number of restaurant licenses were lifted, do you think the ANC should implement a policy attempting to limit the operations of new restaurants, including hours of operation?
- What are your specific expectations/desires if the moratorium expires?
- How do you suggest the ANC vote in this matter?
- If you favor letting the moratorium expire, are there any restrictions that you would want the ANC to attempt to achieve by other means, e.g., size, outdoor service hours, indoor service hours, security plan? Any restrictions that would be specific to particular addresses?
- If you favor extending the moratorium as it is, what specific concerns do you have about what would happen in the absence of a moratorium?
- If you have lived near 17th Street or have visited 17th Street for a long time, describe how things have changed since the moratorium went into effect in 1990. Describe specific situations that have been improved or not allowed to increase as the result of the moratorium.
- If you are willing to see additional restaurants or no restrictions on the number of restaurants, are there any restrictions that you would want the ANC to attempt to achieve by other means, e.g., size, outdoor service hours, indoor service hours, security plan? Any restrictions that would be specific to particular addresses?
- Identify vacant retail spaces in the East Dupont Moratorium Zone (see map) and describe what sort of occupant you would like to see and your ideas about how residents could assist the realization of your vision?
The listening session was sparsely attended. Many seats were empty. I heard four people who were not familiar faces from previous meetings on various liquor license moratoriums express their opinions. Of these, one declared himself for preserving the moratorium as is. He identified himself as a long-term resident of the area, a profession economist, and a former ANC Commissioner.
“Passing laws and changing policies is not always the answer,” he said.
Two newer residents, both women, said they wished to see the moratorium scrapped entirely.
One man remarked on the longevity of the 23-year-old moratorium. “We need to hang it up if we haven’t thought of alternatives by now,” he said.
Fred Moosally, Director of DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), gave a short talk on liquor license moratoriums at the beginning of the meeting.
About the timing of ANC 2B’s decision, Moosally said, “The sooner we get something, the better.”
If no action is taken, the moratorium will expire on September 23.
“The Board won’t decide to extend [the moratorium] without a request,” Moosally said. This means ANC 2B would have to get any request to ABRA quickly after its regular monthly meeting in August, when it plans to address the matter.
Community groups may also file independent requests to extend the moratorium.
At the May listening session, there was talk of scrapping the East Dupont moratorium for restaurant licenses only. As a result, at this session, there was a discussion of how to prevent restaurant licensees from turning their establishments into de facto nightclubs or taverns. Moosally said ABRA was the enforcer for violations of license terms, and could issues citations and fines. ABRA will also send investigators into restaurant licensees to check if food is really available, if they receive complaints.
However, Moosally admitted it is often a lengthly and time-consuming process to prove restaurant licensees are not operating according to the terms of their license. Restaurant licensees cannot have more than 45% of their total revenues from alcohol sales, but ABRA requires four full quarters of data to take action.
The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to an invitation to address the meeting.
ANC 2B Commissioners in attendance were: Kevin O’Connor, 2B-02, Stephanie Maltz, 2B-03, Kishan Putta, 2B-04, Abigail Nichols, 2B-05, Leo Dwyer, 2B-07, and Noah Smith, 2B-09.
From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
The liquor licensing (ABRA Policy) committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont will hold a meeting tonight, June 24. Time is 7 pm in the ground-floor ballroom of the Chastleton Cooperative (1701 16th Street NW).
The meeting will be the second of three listening sessions on the possible extension of the East Dupont Circle Moratorium Zone, also known as the 17th Street Moratorium. The ANC asks that members of the public come and let ANC commissioners know their opinion on the moratorium, which is set to expire September 23.
Representatives of the Metropolitan Police Department and DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) have also been invited to attend the meeting.
According to a new blog post on ANC2B’s website, the moratorium was put in place in 1990. It was renewed in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. It currently limits the liquor-selling establishments in the zone to two liquor stories, two grocery stores, 16 restaurants, and two taverns. No nightclub licenses are permitted in the moratorium zone.
There are currently five liquor license moratoriums in DC, including East Dupont Circle. No liquor license moratorium, once in effect, has ever been completely repealed.
After consulting community opinion, the ANC may make a recommendation to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on this matter. The ANC may recommend continuing the moratorium or modifying it. Under law, the ABC Board must give ANC opinions “great weight,” but it is not obligated to agree with ANC opinion.
ABC Board decisions on liquor license moratoriums are normally approved by the DC Council and signed into law without modification.
At a meeting of ANC 2B’s liquor licensing affairs committee meeting on June 19, ANC 2B Committee Chair Kevin O’Connor said, based on his observation of the ANC Board’s reaction to the recent debate on the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium, the Board would be unlikely to agree with a resolution to continue the moratorium without modification.
“An ‘as is’ moratorium would be dead on arrival,” he said.
If the ANC decides to let the moratorium expire, it may simply choose to take no action. However, community groups may independently petition the ABC Board for an extension of the moratorium.
At the previous listening session on May 22, opinion was divided on the moratorium, with nearly equal numbers of speakers for and against. A compromise solution to lift the moratorium on new restaurant liquor licenses only was discussed.
If you can’t make the meeting, the ANC is also encouraging people to send their comments by email to 17thStCommissioners [at] dupontcircleanc dot net.
There will be a final listening session on Wednesday, August 7. It is planned that the committee’s draft proposal will be made public at this meeting. After further public comment, the full ANC will then consider the proposal at its regular monthly meeting the following week, Wednesday, August 14.