by Borderstan.com May 23, 2013 at 10:00 am 11 Comments

From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.

"17th"

17th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last century, back in 1990 — before many of us were even born — the then residents of Dupont Circle were just beside themselves. They were deep in the throes of fighting a war. Their neighborhood was under attack.

Something simply had to be done to stem the rapid and unrestricted investments made in their community by evil, cash-hungry, noise-making, trash-piling restaurant and bar owners.

These greedy, profit-piling, pillagers came in — most of them foreigners — and started leasing and buying up empty, sometimes abandoned storefronts. They began, through years of hard work, clever financing, mutually beneficial partnerships, and other arrangements commonly employed by the “business community,” to transform them into money-making ventures.

Some succeeded, others failed. Some are still open for business. Most served a popular intoxicant, a liquid found throughout the world, an ancient substance with unknown properties: alcohol. What was worse, the owners of the storefronts, building, basements and the like also found themselves motivated by the much touted American dream of feeding their families, and making an honest buck.

So in one selfish act after another, they threw the deep love they were supposed to feel for their neighbors by the wayside, and they sold out, they rented space, or sold their land to these horrible people — to these bar owners. It just makes me sick.

That war begun 23 years ago has raged on, leaving a trail of casualties in its midst. Many of those residents are now dead. Those who survived are now 23 years closer to death, these veterans and heroes.

Though what one can imagine required the all-day efforts of countless retirees, the residents decided to take real action. Why fight each and every evil business person head on, why write so many letters, and voice so many complaints? That would have taken much more diligence than these sound-haters could muster. Even if they had time for it, which they did, why admit it?

Wasn’t it better to pretend they had to get up for work the next day? Well, of course it was. Rather than address the uncooperative, cash-rich, booze-sellers, why not abuse an element of DC government put in place after Home Rule was instituted in 1974? Why not manipulate the system granting Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs ( they even sounds flaccid ) “great weight” in the granting of liquor licenses?  What better way was there for small group to influence entire neighborhoods?

In their lame fury the residents succeeded in beating down the wrong adversary. You see, rather than face the current threat, rather than engage in a conversation hoping to negotiate a peace with the existing “business community,” the restaurateurs and bar-owning scum of the era — those who caused them annoyance beyond convenience — they decided, rather than fight what was, they would wage a battle into the future, they would prevent more businesses from daring to open new alcohol selling businesses on their streets.

Not in their back yards, no ma’am. No, never again.

As they could not win against what was already there, the residents would prevent new businesses from opening. Brilliant! The new investors would be punished for the sins of their ancestors. Sounds fair.

Thus was born the East Dupont Circle Liquor License Moratorium, although it’s commonly called the 17th Street moratorium. It has come up for renewal every five years since 1990 — it is up for renewal in 2013 because the decision was made three years ago to review it again this year instead of waiting five years.

I walk past their success everyday. Empty, unpainted, uninhabited storefront after storefront bedazzled with fading “For Lease” signs. What a beautiful sight it is, their success. The little group of residents got exactly what they wanted. Their victory against progress took the shape of a moratorium, a theoretically temporary cessation in the granting of more liquor licenses, the success of which is obvious.

Twenty-three years later there are fewer restaurants and bars on 17 Street — while moratorium-free, business friendly 14th Street has been transformed into a thriving community. This moratorium, set to expire on September 23, after four extensions (each supported by ANC 2B) of it’s original sell-by date has severely handicapped competition. It has made the idea of opening a new business on 17th Street near to impossible — and the impact of that is real.

A quick stroll down from R street to P street will leave one wondering in just how much laundry, and pill popping our community engages in. Pharmacies, and dry cleaners outnumber restaurants. The lateral expansion of two highly rated, critically acclaimed restaurants was a highly contested, and costly affair. Both Hank’s Oyster Bar, and Komi were finally allowed to expand to buildings adjacent to their existing locations, but not before hearings, and meetings, and “listening sessions,” all designed to address the same complaints of the past, from the same five people — complaints that were never directed at either restaurant to begin with.

Whether or not this moratorium is allowed to expire is anyone’s guess. Eventually it will, but when? In five more years, when another five storefronts are empty? Residents and businesses must realize that the future of the neighborhood in which they live and operate in is at stake. Our street’s bars and restaurants have each been open for years — their owners and operators have proved themselves to be valuable contributors to the community. Any suggestion otherwise is insulting.

On our street the reality is, longevity is the rule. Annie’s, the Paramount Steakhouse has been serving burgers here since 1948. The Trio restaurant predates even that.

Jr’s Bar has opened their doors — and their checkbook — for our community since 1985!  Floriana Nestore bought the failing Mercury Grill in 2001, re-branding it Floriana, and it continues to thrive in the hands of her son. Generation after generation has proven themselves to these people, but it never seems to be enough.

Maybe as I age I will need enough medication and artwork to see the benefit of another pharmacy, and a third frame-shop on my street. But until then, I find myself hungry for something better. I guess I’ll walk over to 14th Street to find it.

The next ANC “listening session” will take place June 24 at 7 pm at the Chastleton Ballroom, 16th and R NW.

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

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

"moratorium"

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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by Borderstan.com March 8, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

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

"Sevilla"

Dito Sevilla and his dog. Sevilla is a candidate for the ANC 2B-05 seat. (Courtesy of Sevilla)

Full disclosure: Sevilla is a Borderstan contributor.

Dito Sevilla is running against Abigail Nichols in a special election to fill a vacant seat on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B. The District 05 seat became vacant when former Commissioner Victor Wexler resigned.

The election is Wednesday, March 13, from 7:15 pm to 9:30 pm at the ANC 2B/Dupont monthly meeting at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW. You must be aregistered voter in ANC 2B Single Member District (SMD) 05 to vote.

Sevilla’s full name is Eduardo Sevilla Jr. His father and grandfather were both Nicaraguan ambassadors to the United States. He has been bar manager at Floriana Restaurant, on 17th Street NW since 2004. Before that, he owned a small business.

Borderstan: Where can potential voters go to find out more information about you?

As a DC native and 17th Street resident for more than nine years I hope I have been able to forge lasting relationships with many potential voters. If anyone, voter or not, needs further information, they are encouraged email me questions or concerns and I will personally reply to each of them.

"special election"

Click for a larger map of ANC 2B-05. (DC Citizen Atlas)

Borderstan: What motivated you to run for this position?

Sevilla: As they say, all politics is local. One can only live in a place for so long before one must do what is required to better it. I love this neighborhood, and I love my neighbors.

I think the residents of 2B-05 have made terrific brand ambassadors for the kind of culturally diverse, economically sound, young and not-so-young area in which we live. Washington offers so much to potential new residents, and 2B-05 has many of those on display.

A vibrant restaurant scene, a good amount of retail and just enough nightlife offerings coupled with safe, clean, well cared for streets allow home prices to soar. To maximize that appeal is probably the most important factor in my decision to seek the burdens of office.

Borderstan: What sets you apart from the other candidate?

Sevilla: What doesn’t. She knits during meetings, and I don’t attend them. I suppose whichever of us wins, our habits will have to change.

Borderstan: Why should people vote for you?

Sevilla: Essentially, voters will choose between the past and the present, between the status quo and progress, between moving forward, or standing still. I am a candidate who is able to balance the concerns of our residents and our commercial neighbors. I understand that we must work together to fortify our community and forge common sense plans to continue improving the way of life of our residents without hindering the growth and vitality of our business community.

Borderstan: What is your favorite thing about the neighborhood?

Sevilla: To pick one would be a disservice to another. What’s not to like? The joys of a quiet Sunday morning, a long walk along one of our clean, safe streets, my neighbors — these are all reasons to smile, but it is the variety of architectural and historical landmarks that truly have my heart. I’m a preservationist at heart and it pleases me deeply to see our community band together to respect the architectural masterpieces of centuries’ past.

Borderstan: What is one thing that you would like to change about the neighborhood?

Sevilla: To pick one would be a disservice to so many others! In all seriousness, trash collection has become a comedy of errors in our community. The congestion caused by the collection of a myriad of different receptacles from both private and commercial locations needs to be streamlined, and efficient schedules should be created. There is simply no need for an area as small as ours to use over a dozen different companies with over a dozen different trucks clogging our streets to collect garbage seven days — and in some cases nights — of the week.

Borderstan: What is your opinion, generally speaking, about liquor moratoriums?

Sevilla: Generally, I don’t speak about liquor moratoriums.

Borderstan: What, if anything, should be changed concerning on-street parking for residents in your district?

Sevilla: The rules and requirements found on the back of “EMERGENCY NO PARKING” signs used by residents to move, or during times of construction should be enforced. Not a day goes by that they are not used improperly. They are found attached to trees, left up long after expiration, edited by residents… it is a mess, and it causes congestion and creates unnecessary hassles for residents looking for parking spaces.

I believe that parking spaces are first and foremost the benefit of the residents of the neighborhood in which they are located. Visitors to our businesses are encouraged to utilize public transportation, including of course the Metro, which is within walking distance of all parts of 2B-05.

Borderstan: How many ANC2B meetings have you attended since January 1, 2012?

Sevilla: None.

Borderstan: Where were you on the evening of February 13, when the last ANC2B meeting was held? Why?

Sevilla: Unfortunately, for the purposes of attending evening meetings I can offer no quarter. Until I am elected, my current work schedule will overlap meeting times.

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by Borderstan.com March 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm 2 Comments

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

Abigail Nichols is running against Dito Sevilla in a special election to fill a vacant seat on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B. The District 05 seat became vacant when former Commissioner Victor Wexler resigned.

"special election"

Click for a larger map of ANC 2B-05. (DC Citizen Atlas)

The election is Wednesday, March 13, from 7:15 pm to 9:30 pm at the ANC 2B/Dupont monthly meeting at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW. You must be a registered voter in ANC 2B Single Member District (SMD) 05 to vote.

Nichols has lived on 18th Street NW in Dupont Circle for 33 years. She is on the ANC 2B Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Policy Committee. Nichols earned a Ph.D. in Economics and Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and worked for 20 years as a policy analyst and manager at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Nichols is treasurer of the DC chapter of the League of Women Voters and the co-founder of the Alcohol Sanity Coalition DC.

Borderstan: Why is this election important?

Nichols: The Advisory Neighborhood Commission advises the District government and the Council on many issues. These include traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor license, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation, and trash collection. In many cases there is a formal process for requesting this advice, but the ANC can lobby the government on any subject.

(Courtesy Abigail Nichols)

Abigail Nichols is running for ANC 2B-05. (Courtesy of Nichols)

In my experience most residents benefit from the work of the ANC but do not get directly involved. I was in that position until alcohol businesses moved in directly across from our condominium for the first time. That experience working with the ANC’s and several excellent commissioners made it very clear to me how important it is that the right person be in the job when you need him or her. Residents should not take who their commissioners are for granted. Paying attention now can help later when they need help.

Borderstan: Where can potential voters go to find out more information about you?

Nichols: I have a website and you can write me at ACNforANC2B05[AT]hotmail.com

Borderstan: What motivated you to run for this position?

Nichols: It’s a natural progression in service to my community that began with protecting my large condominium from the excesses of club central. It’s fun to get to know the people living in my single member district and the issues related to government that interest them. The topics the Commission considers — zoning, historic preservation, schools, alcohol licensing, and community festivals interest me. ANC 2B has an excellent reputation and I want to join it.

Borderstan: What sets you apart from the other candidate?

Nichols: I don’t know Mr. Sevilla. I know I’d be an excellent representative, and it’s hard to believe he is better prepared. Voters should ask both of us about the positions we already hold and whether we have any conflicts of interest that might affect our ANC service. How would we handle such conflicts? One thing I’ve learned is that commissioners must be nonpartisan so I will have to drop active campaigning in party politics.

My preparation includes 1) successfully negotiating several settlement agreements with alcohol establishments, 2) several years’ experience with ANC procedures, 3) testimony and meetings at the DC Council, 4) selling the transferable development rights of my church in a million dollar business development deal and 5) education in economics including urban economics and a career in policy analysis.

Borderstan: Why should people vote for you?

Nichols: I am prepared, I will be able to devote time to service, and my instincts are to listen and gather facts before making decisions. I will be diligent in bringing forward and voting on ANC business and will help residents find the right place to go in DC government for other kinds of issues they face.

Borderstan: What is your favorite thing about the neighborhood?

Nichols: I love the fact that I can do so much by foot: post office, bank, library, church, groceries, restaurants, etc. Then, if I do need to go further afield, there is great transportation to other parts of the city and even to other cities. I love the old buildings. I like the people who live here; they like the neighborhood for the same reasons I so. I like remembering that my parents met each other in long-demolished rooming houses whose addresses are now in ANC 2B-05.

The single member district (SMD) for which I am running is not the typical DC SMD. The whole of the District of Columbia is divided into single member Advisory Neighborhood Commission districts that contain about 2,000 residents. Districts differ in the number of businesses they include.

Some SMD’s may have no businesses at all, but the ratio of businesses to residents in this SMD is huge. 2B-05 runs from 15th Street Northwest west to 17th with a bit of 18th Street NW and south from Q to Pennsylvania Avenue. We have museums, retail stores, bars and restaurants, churches, professional services, service facilities like the Jewish Community Center, and the YMCA, organization offices and parks.

Most residents have other near-by residences, but Presidential at 16th and L and the Palladium at 1325 18th Street NW, are apartment/condo buildings, which aren’t close to other residences and are surrounded by business. Other residents also live in apartment buildings like the Berkeley and the Richmond on 17th, 1 Scott Circle and 1500 Massachusetts Avenue. But the district also includes some townhouses and detached homes as well.

Borderstan: What is one thing that you would like to change about the neighborhood?

Nichols: I’m grateful to those who work to nurture trees. I’d love to see trees thriving again in all the areas where we’ve lost trees.

Borderstan: What is your opinion, generally speaking, about liquor moratoriums?

Nichols: I realize that a moratorium on 17th Street is expiring this fall, and that I will need to learn a lot about the history of the moratorium and how it currently affects business and residents. Voters can be confident that I will diligently study the issue and talk to residents before making any decisions. Interested residents should organize like-minded people to make sure their views are heard. Newcomers may not even know that this is an issue and will be surprised how concerned longtime residents will be about this.

Borderstan: What, if anything, should be changed concerning on-street parking for residents in your district?

Nichols: Good question. I haven’t thought about this because I live above a commercial garage and park there. I intend to represent the whole SMD so I will learn about parking and resident problems.

Borderstan: How many ANC 2B meetings have you attended since January 1, 2012?

Nichols: I’ve attended most meetings of the ANC for the last four years. Attendance is a good way to keep up on the neighborhood issues and activities.

Borderstan: Where were you on the evening of February 13, when the last ANC 2B meeting was held? Why?

Nichols: I was there. I attended the ANC meeting to hear the announcement of the special election in which I am running in and what was said about its logistics, to respond to the chairman’s invitation and make a short speech about my candidacy, and — because I was on the agenda — to discuss a new alcohol license application that affects residents.

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by Borderstan.com March 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm 2,206 1 Comment

The ANC 2B/Dupont Circle ad hoc committee on the Dupont East Liquor License Moratorium (also known as the 17th Street moratorium) has produced a draft report. The committee will present its recommendations to the full ANC on Wednesday, March 11, at the commission’s monthly meeting.

ANC 2B-04 Commission Jack Jacobonson chaired the special committee and he has details on the committee’s recommendations on his blog. The full post from Jacobson’s blog is also below.

(more…)

by Borderstan.com February 3, 2009 at 10:48 pm 1,053 0

Luis Gomez, One Photograph A Day.)

Cairo Liquor at the corner of 17th and Corcoran NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez, One Photograph A Day.)

Here are two takes, two wrap-ups, two reviews… on the Monday night public meeting on 17th Street NW and the liquor license moratorium that expires at the end of March:

Note: ANC 2B Commissioner Jack Jacobson chaired the Monday night meeting on 17th Street. He represents district 4, which includes most of West Borderstan. From Jacobson’s posting on the meeting:

This will not be the only community meeting on the issue, and I was so excited that the dialogue was civil and constructive. In addition to other public meetings on the issue, I will be hosting my own meeting within my SMD to garner input from my constituents on 17th Street and the moratorium, and look forward to recieving community input from even more of you.

To make your voice heard on the 17th Street moratorium issue, please email comments to [email protected], and please include your full name and address, or your business name and address, when submitting testimony. The public comment period closes on February 11 at 7:00 p.m.

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