A Shaw bar can’t serve alcohol until at least next month after police said a manager punched a customer and hit another one with a bottle.
Oove lounge at 1853 7th St. NW will have the liquor license it has used through Mesobe Restaurant suspended until at least Jan. 6, when the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is scheduled to hold a hearing on the brawl. The bar hasn’t opened since Dec. 14.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told the ABC board she closed Oove that day for posing “an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public.”
The panel has ordered a representative from Odessa to appear at a special January hearing meant to demonstrate whether the bar’s owners are qualified to receive the liquor license they sought to obtain for the lounge in September.
The hearing appears to stem from the closure of faux-speakeasy The Speak, which investigators say operated without a valid liquor license underneath Odessa’s space at 1413 K St. NW. Odessa’s owner, Ajiboye Laosebikan, also owned The Speak and helped sell alcohol without a liquor license in the months between May and November, according to D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
A controversial outdoor tavern won’t be coming to Shaw after all.
The proprietors behind the restaurant and bar, which had tentatively been called Naylor Stables, have recalled their liquor license application to open a new tavern at 1322 9th St. NW “due to lack of support from the neighborhood.”
According to the original liquor license application from August, the tavern would have been a “vibrant community gathering place serving kitchen-garden produce, District-made beers and spirits … grilled meats, hearth baked breads and pastries” with outdoor seating for more than 300 people.
(Updated at 10:50 a.m. on Aug. 31) D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board announced on Monday it had voted 6-0 to adopt proposed rules that would lift the liquor license moratorium in West Dupont for all businesses except nightclubs.
The rules heavily modify the current moratorium and extend it for a period of three years.
Though the original moratorium was due to expire on May 17, the board voted on May 13 to extend it for a period of 120 days, during which it would take testimony from members of the community.
West Dupont residents gathered to discuss lifting the moratorium during a public hearing on July 22.
ANC 2B Commissioner Daniel Warwick, 2B-02, called on the board during the hearing to lift the moratorium on new restaurant, bar and tavern licenses, but extend it for nightclubs. He argued on behalf of his commission that lifting the moratorium on nightclub licenses could be disruptive to the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood.
Warwick also noted that the only way for new businesses to enter the neighborhood is to purchase existing licenses, which are not always available. Warwick added that his ANC was concerned that the moratorium created a secondary market for liquor licenses that would discourage art galleries, distilleries, breweries, wineries and multi-purpose facilities from opening.
Former ANC 2B Commissioner Karyn Siobhan Robinson testified that the moratorium, including the ban on nightclubs, should be lifted entirely. Though Robinson acknowledged that nightclubs could sometimes disturb the peace, she argued that market forces prevented such businesses from flourishing in the area. Furthermore, Robinson said that maintaining the moratorium artificially inflates rent and prices for retailers.
But some residents who testified at the July 22 hearing said they did not support lifting the moratorium wholesale.
One resident said that several local businesses pose problems relating to noise and litter, and that lifting the ban on new nightclubs and taverns would only make the problem worse.
Another resident, whose balcony overlooks an alleyway, testified that he has witnessed patrons of a West Dupont business using drugs, urinating and “fornicating.” That resident agreed that lifting the ban on new tavern licenses would only increase that kind of behavior.
Though the ABC Board wrote it was “sympathetic to [residents’] concerns about the social ills that accompany a vibrant nightlife,” the board added that neighbors should discuss any problems with taverns with their ANC and utilize the ABRA hotline and online complaint submission form.
“The Board makes clear that it will not tolerate tavern licensees who operate in such a manner that their operations create a nightclub atmosphere,” wrote regulators. “It
cautions all licensees to understand that West Dupont is a unique neighborhood. As such, the Board will give great scrutiny to any licensing request that profoundly changes the nature and character of the neighborhood.”
The board added in its decision:
The Board appreciates the balance that must be struck between the interests of the residents in the neighborhood, and the interests that promote a nightlife economy. The Board recognizes that a diverse, dynamic and safe dining and entertainment environment is part of the fabric of the District, and yet, nightlife activity needs to be carefully managed in order to reduce antisocial behavior, noise, public disturbance and other problems.
The Board applauds the ANC’s efforts to solicit the community members’ perspectives on positive steps to transform the West Dupont’s neighborhood and improve urban vibrancy. Like the ANC, the Board believes that if managed properly, a thriving and safe nightlife can act as an economic engine by attracting new businesses and restaurants, diversifying the range of cultural offerings, creating employment opportunities, and increasing tourism. To this end, the Board is in agreement with the ANC that a new direction for the West Dupont moratorium that allows for responsible growth is warranted.
Though the rules are effective immediately, they are still subject to a 30-day public comment window and must also receive final approval by the D.C. Council.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group is one step closer to opening a new restaurant at the Atlantic Plumbing development (2112 8th Street Northwest) near the 9:30 Club and U Street corridor.
A new document from ABRA reveals the restaurant group, which also owns Birch & Barley, ChurchKey and several other local restaurants, has applied for a Class C liquor license for its new restaurant, Hazel.
Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s director of public relations, Megan Bailey, confirmed that the new restaurant will arrive in the “late fall.”
“Hazel will open in the Atlantic Plumbing development in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood,” she told Borderstan via e-mail.
The restaurant, a concept by former Tallula chef Rob Rubba, will feature a 38-seat dining room, a 38-seat patio and a 16 seat bar connected to the patio.
“Rob’s menu will feature his style of progressive American cuisine, combining flavors from around the world with traditional and contemporary techniques to create dishes that are refined, distinctive and satisfying,” Bailey said. “Complementing the menu will be a beverage program from Greg Engert, Jeff Faile and Brent Kroll.”
Photo via JGB
(Updated at 3:41 p.m. to correct name misspellings, add additional statements from Dacha, and accurately reflect the ANC voting process)
Shaw beer garden Dacha has hit a roadblock in its proposed 600-person capacity expansion.
The 6E Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) voted to protest Dacha Beer Garden’s request for an expanded liquor license and capacity during its monthly meeting at Shaw Library last night.
In March, Dacha asked the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to allow it to expand its capacity to 600 people, up from its current capacity of 126.
The 3 to 2 vote — commissioner Alfreda Judd abstained — came after one of Dacha’s litigation attorneys, Scott Rome, and deputy general manager Nina Liggett gave a presentation to the packed basement room in Shaw Library.
Rome said Dacha is facing nine incident reports — eight for capacity violations — but emphasized the lengths co-owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin have taken to soundproof walls and reinforce fences.
“Even if we consider your application, how in the world are we going to have any control since you don’t obey what you are allowed to have now?” 6E05 Commissioner Marge Maceda responded. “How can we assume that you’re going to stick within the limits that you are able to have if we increase it?”
Both Rome and Liggett proposed that Dacha would build another fence and increase wall insulation for soundproofing if the 600-person capacity request was approved.
Some Shaw residents who showed up to the meeting publicly expressed concerns about what the increased capacity might mean for the neighborhood.
Katie Peters and husband Brian said that even though they support Dacha’s sound abatement efforts, the noise level already disturbs their sleeping infant and toddler and will only get worse if capacity increases.
But 7th Street NW resident David Abensour was not convinced the nightly noise comes from Dacha.
“My window is literally between Dacha and Uptown and I can tell you after midnight the noise doesn’t come from Dacha,” Abensour said.
Liggett said today by phone that she believes more than 50 people came out to support the beer garden, and that she wanted to address the commissioners’ concerns after the meeting, but was not able to due to time constraints.
“We wanted to give time for the community to talk,” Liggett says. “Unfortunately, I did not get to deliver a rebuttal at the end [because the library was closing].”
After hearing a long list of community comments — with several still in line to speak — 6E01 Commissioner Alexander Padro motioned to vote on the standing protest Dacha received from the commission’s ABC subcommittee last Thursday.
While Padro unwavered in his opposition, some anticipated upsetting their constituents.
“No one who represents a group of people wants to anger any segment of that group,” said 6E02 Commissioner Kevin Chapple. “But sometimes you have to.”
The council voted against Dacha’s proposed expansion by a vote of 3 to 2.
After the vote, Rome announced that Dacha would like to keep discussions between the business and residents open.
Rome also requested 6E ANC appoint a representative to work with Dacha when it comes to neighborhood issues and future expansion. He pointed out that Commissioner Padro repeatedly declined to speak with Dacha, to which Padro said he refused because Dacha would not work with the area’s civic association.
“We hope to move forward,” Liggett told Borderstan today. “Our ABRA hearings are coming up. We’ll prove our side. We take decibel readings every night and we are well below what is D.C. law,” she said.
The ANC has until Aug. 3 to file a formal protest against Dacha’s application.
Mural photo via Facebook.com/DachaBeerGarden
A popular Northern Virginia restauranteur is one step closer to opening a restaurant in Shaw.
According to public hearing notice documents released today by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), Ma’s new restaurant, Freehand, has officially applied for a liquor license for an “upscale restaurant” in the mixed-use development called “The Shay” at 1924 8th Street NW.
The new restaurant will include a sidewalk cafe and seating for 99 patrons, and will be open until midnight every day, according to the notice.
Though details regarding the opening date are still sparse, Ma told the Washington Post he expected the new restaurant to open some time next year.
Photo via TheShay.com
(Updated at 3:29 p.m.) Popular Adams Morgan bar Madam’s Organ was fined $500 yesterday for leaving its windows open while a live band played there one year ago.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said in an order released yesterday that the 18th Street NW hangout was being fined specifically for violating a settlement agreement brokered in 2008.
“The doors and windows of the establishment will remain closed from 12:30 a.m. until closing when live music is being played,” reads the original settlement agreement, which is also included in the order.
According to the report, an Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) inspector personally observed a live band playing “directly in front of one of the establishment’s ground floor windows” between 1:30 and 1:33 a.m. on June 22, 2014.
In April, Madam’s Organ General Manager Carlos Wilcox testified at an ABRA hearing that he “personally closed the windows during the performers’ first break of the night,” and that the band’s drummer “needed air and cracked a window.”
Madam’s Organ owner Bill Duggan admits the drummer did crack open the window slightly. Why?
“He opened the window to let [a] fart out,” says Duggan. “He cracked it open for five minutes, then the inspector showed up.”
“Twenty f—–g years with not one violation and this is what they came up with,” Duggan says. “People get stabbed and shot in these other establishments. In ours, someone farts and cracks a window and they spend a year on it.”
According to the order, Madam’s Organ has 30 days to pay the fine, but Duggan says an appeal may be in the works.
Photo via Flickr/Adam Fagen
A recently released Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) report has shed new light on an alleged assault that caused D.C. police to order Marrakech Restaurant (at 2147 P St NW) closed for 96 hours earlier this week.
According to the report, which seems to vindicate Marrakech of improper conduct, the fight that broke out among several men inside the restaurant around 2 a.m. on last Saturday was “quickly defused” by members of the restaurant’s security.
The initial notice of closure, as first reported by an anonymous reader on PoPville, said that Marrakech may have violated D.C. Official Code when a bouncer allegedly put a male patron into a chokehold and dragged him from the building while breaking up a fight. It also alleged that restaurant management failed to “report the incident to the 911 system” after it occurred.
The ABRA report details exactly what led to several patrons being ejected from the restaurant’s “Aura Fridays” event early Saturday morning.
According to the report, a patron (named as C-1 in the report) was dancing when he bumped into another patron (C-2), causing C-2 to spill his drink.
C-1 agreed to purchase C-2 another drink, at which point C-2 and “several others” began punching and kicking C-1.
C-2 was then ejected from Marrakech by security. He later reported to police that he was choked and dragged while being ejected by a bouncer.
But the ABRA report says that claim is unsubstantiated. Security camera footage taken from the night of the incident shows a bouncer flagging down D.C. police with a flashlight just two minutes after the scuffle began. And neither the camera’s footage, nor a report given by Officer Herbert Rose, a D.C. police officer at the scene, indicated that the bouncer choked or dragged anyone in the restaurant.
Furthermore, Rose said in an interview included in the ABRA report that he “has no idea why MPD would close the establishment, nor why there was no investigation conducted prior to making that decision.”
“Officer Rose stated from what he observed,” continued the ABRA report, “Marrakech Restaurant appeared to do everything within regulation regarding MPD and ABRA requirements.”
The report concluded that Marrakech was in compliance with its ABRA licenses.
At an ANC 2B meeting last night in Dupont Circle, it was announced the closure notice would be allowed to expire, and that Marrakech would be allowed to reopen.
MPD was not available to comment at the time this article was published.
Photo via Twitter.com/Marrakech_DC
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.
How much significance can you put into questions and remarks by government officials at a public hearing?
That’s the big question as DC’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board held its public hearing about the proposed 14th and U Liquor License Moratorium yesterday afternoon, May 22, at the stifling and sweaty Reeves Center (14th and U Streets NW).
The familiar forces repeated their arguments for and against the proposal, with moratorium petitioner Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance joined by its friends and supporters on one side, and representatives of the four Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) that had voted against the moratorium, and their supporters, on the other.
Members of the ABC Board posed questions and made statements to local residents testifying about the proposed moratorium. Like reporters observing Supreme Court Justices questioning lawyers about Obamacare, observers were left to wonder how much the Board members’ questions foreshadowed its future decision.
ABC Board chair Ruthanne Miller and Board member Mike Silverstein are representatives of Wards 3 and 2, respectively, on the seven-member board. Questions and statements made by these members indicated they were not immediately ready to approve a new moratorium. However, the two other attending members of the board — Donald Brooks (Ward 1) and Nick Alberti (Ward 6) — did not participate as actively in the discussions, giving no clue to their inclinations.
Skeptical on Non-liquor Business Crowd-Out
For example, several supporters of the moratorium said the proliferation of bars and restaurants in the U Street area was driving out other types of business. In reply, Miller said she knew the neighborhood had furniture stores, pharmacies, and many other types of businesses.
“Lots of your neighbors would love to have what you have,” Miller said.
Addressing the same point, Silverstein said, “There are going to be economic dislocations no matter what you do.”
ABC Board Improvements
During testimony, a moratorium advocate remarked ANC 2B/Dupont‘s anti-moratorium resolution had criticized the ABC Board’s administrative branch, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Agency, and called for greater transparency. This seemed an attempt to place moratorium advocates and the ABC Board on the same sides of the argument, arrayed against ANC 2B and moratorium opponents.
Miller had the resolution found and the relevant portions read.
At the end, she said, “Is that all? I’d like to see ways in which the ABC can be improved.”
Silverstein: Popular on Twitter
At another time, according to Twitter, Silverstein said the U Street neighborhood had said the moratorium “seems to come out of the factory of bad ideas”.
Another Twitter post noted that Silverstein had called U Street “a place the US President can take the President of France” for a chili dog. In the same breath, however, Silverstein also characterized U Street as a place where someone can throw up on your shoes, according to another Twitter post.
Last Chance for Public Comment
There is still time to submit written comments according to an ABC Board announcement:
“If you are unable to testify and wish to comment, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements must be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel, Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 400 South, Washington, D.C. 20009, no later than 4 pm on Friday, May 24, 2013.”
BIN 1301 Wine Bar will be a new restaurant serving Mexican food at 1301 U Street NW. The owners have created an online petition looking for community support for obtaining a liquor license.
The new restaurant will occupy the location of U-Scream Ice Cream & Treatery. The new restaurant will have a seating capacity of 36 inside and 35 for the sidewalk patio.
If you would like to support Bin 1301 just head to the online petition. The petition invites you to sign if you think a place like this will enhance the neighborhood by providing a unique place to enjoy a glass of wine, learn more about various wines, and relax with friends.
From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
The protest by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B against the liquor license application of the aspiring proprietors of the Fainting Goat Tavern was rejected on March 21, according to public documents.
In a letter to ANC1B Commissioner Marc Morgan (ANC Secretary and commissioner for district 01), DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) said that the protest letter had been denied “because of failure to file a timely protest.”
No one from ANC1B appeared at the ABRA Roll Call hearing on March 25 to contest the denial. The purpose of Roll Call hearings is only to identify the parties that have standing as protestants. A separate hearing is scheduled for May 15 to discuss the substance of the protests.
ANC 1B Serves U Street Area
The Fainting Goat’s proposed location is 1330 U Street NW, the former location of Urban Essentials. A petition in support of the Fainting Goat’s liquor license application appeared on the web site Change.org on March 14. ANC1B voted to protest the application at a contentious March 7 meeting. Borderstan reported on March 18 that the ANC’s protest documents had apparently vanished on their way to ABRA.
1B-12 Commissioner Zahra Jilani in a March 22 email explained the circumstances which led to the impression that the documents had disappeared. She said, “I was told to send the letter on behalf of the commission, but that a text email was fine. I believe this was due to a miscommunication between our ANC and ABRA. I sent the letter the night before the deadline, but I was told the next day by ABRA that it was in the wrong format, which is why they told you they hadn’t received it. Once aware of this, I let the commission know and we sent it in the correct format to ABRA.”
Information on the ABRA website says that protests against liquor licenses can be faxed or emailed. All email protests must be sent as a PDF document and signed. These two methods are the only ways to officially file a protest with ABRA.
ANC1B may still appeal ABRA’s decision at the May 15 hearing. If they do, they must show “good cause” for missing the deadline to the ABC Board, according to ABRA records supervisor William Hager. He also said that, in the past, tardy petitioners had shown “good cause” in cases where inclement weather or government shutdown had occurred at petition deadlines. Hager would not speculate on whether ANC1B’s current circumstances might be considered “good cause”.
“Requests of this nature are entirely left to the discretion of the ABC Board,” Hager said in an email.
The Fainting Goat still must face two protesting groups at its May 15 hearing: the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance and a group of 14 residents, most of whom live on Wallach Place NW. However, if ANC 1B does not successfully appeal the rejection, the Fainting Goat may have a better chance at finally obtaining the liquor license. The law stipulates that ABRA must give “great weight” to an ANC opinion. Citizen group petitioners do not enjoy this level of influence.
From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
Sentiment ran almost 6 to 1 against the proposed 14th and U Streets liquor license moratorium at last night’s town hall style listening session. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) 1B (U Street), 2B/Dupont and 2F/Logan all sent members to attend the meeting at the basketball court of the Thurgood Marshall Center on 12th Street NW to hear what the public had to say.
About 160 people attended the event, filling every chair, then sitting and standing against the walls. My final count was 47 people testifying against, 8 for and 3 neutral. Of the 47 people testifying against, only two identified themselves as not living in or near the moratorium district. On Twitter, other witnesses put the count at 48 against, 8 for; 46 against, 9 for; and 41 against, 7 for.
ANC chairs in attendance were Tony Norman (1B-10) and Matt Raymond (2F-07). All three commissions sent the chairs of their respective alcohol licensing affairs committees: John Fanning (2F-04), Jeremy Leffler (1B-02) and Kevin O’Connor (2B-02). At least 10 other commissioners from across the three ANCs attended as well.
There are currently five liquor license moratorium zones in DC: Georgetown, Glover Park, Adams Morgan, Dupont West (21st and P NW) and Dupont East (17th Street NW). The 17th Street liquor license moratorium is due to expire in September 2013.
Leffler called the meeting to order at 7 pm and Commissioner Noah Smith (2B-09) explained the meeting guidelines. The original plan was for each speaker to have two minutes to address the listening commissioners, but due to the overwhelming response, the time was cut back to 90 seconds. As a result, the meeting finished at planned 9 pm time.
Before citizen testimony period, the attendees heard remarks by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Berman of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), Sgt. Iris Beistline of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Joan Sterling, president of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), the group petitioning for the liquor license moratorium. SDCA membership is limited to residents living between 12th and 15th Streets and S and U Streets NW.
- ABRA had found that SDCA satisfied the minimum requirement for filing the moratorium petition, Berman said. He also said that the other group who signed the petition, the Residential Action Coalition, had not qualified for standing before ABRA, and would no longer be considered a petitioner. However, the SDCA may continue the petitioning process before the ABC Board, which will next consider the matter on May 22.
- In answer to audience questions, Berman said that the normal term for moratoriums was five years, but could be renewed. He then said that, once enacted, no liquor license moratorium had ever been dissolved.
- Beistline said the MPD could not supply relevant crime statistics because there were none available. A new computer system was being put in place, she explained, and some statistics were still inaccurate.
- Sterling then pleaded the SDCA’s case for the moratorium. She noted the difficulty in getting the DC government to enforce the law concerning the percentage of street frontage that can be given to liquor licensees on any block. (The Uptown Arts District Overlay limits the square footage of ground-floor storefronts serving food/drink on each block to 50% of all square footage facing the street on that block. The percentage was increased to 50% from 25% in 2010.)
- Sterling also noted that there are now 16,000 combined seats in the establishments of the liquor licensees in the zone. She said that, since the zone had well over 18 liquor licensees, it met ABRA’s definition of an “overconcentration” of licensees. “Moratoriums are temporary,” Sterling added.
Testimony from Attendees
After Sterling’s statement, the floor was turned over to the public. “Let’s keep this civil,” Leffler reminded. People lined up in an orderly manner to speak. Nearly every person stated his or her name and address or ANC district. Here is a selection of comments:
- “I oppose the moratorium. I vote and I’ll remember.”
- “This process draws in thousands and thousands of man-hours. It’s a complete waste of resources. Six people made us come here. It’s time to reform the system.”
- “I have been awakened at all hours of the night by music I can literally sing along to.”
- “I’m strongly opposed. I love the vibrancy. It’s just awesome.”
- “The moratorium is too blunt an instrument.”
- “There’s no actual evidence that the moratorium will lead to prosperity.”
- “A lot of people are saying that there are other solutions. What? Will someone pick up my trash?”
- “Why stall development in the neighborhood?”
- “Remember the Georgetown moratorium. It didn’t fix the noise, the parking, the litter.”
- “A moratorium is not right. Hold each bar and restaurant responsible.”
- “It’s anti-small business, anti-competition. I’m inalterably opposed.”
- “It’s good to see people getting involved.”
- “It’s kind of a joke that we’re here tonight.”
- “I like vibrancy.”
- “My fear is stagnation in the community,” said a man identified on Twitter as the owner of DC9 nightclub. He went on to say that retail space should be encouraged, ways should be found for rents to be lower, there should be tax relief, and ABRA should be convinced to work on “bad apple” liquor licensees.
- The only sign of incivility occurred toward the end when one man, a moratorium supporter, decided to take aim at the newly opened Matchox restaurant at 14th and T NW. He disparaged the restaurant and its food, much to the surprise of other attendees.
“That was fantastic,” Jeremy Leffler said after the final testimony. “I’m impressed by the turnout, passion and research.” To conclude the meeting, each ANC briefly outlined their next steps.
- Leffler said that ANC1B’s liquor license affairs committee would meet tonight, March 21, at the Thurgood Marshall Center. A vote on the proposed moratorium is on the agenda. The committee’s recommendation would then be considered when ANC1B has its regular monthly meeting on April 4 at the Reeves Center.
- Raymond said that ANC2F would have its regular monthly meeting on April 3 and a vote on the moratorium would be on the agenda.
- O’Connor said that ANC2B would consider the issue on its May 8 meeting, before which he hoped to have one or two more listening sessions.
On Wednesday, February 6, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F will hold its regular monthly meeting. Only this meeting will include a topic that has received a lot of local attention: liquor license moratoriums.
Commissioner John Fanning, chair of ANC 2F’s ABRA Committee, will lead a discussion regarding the proposed liquor license moratorium for 14th and U streets NW. ANC 2F covers the Logan Circle area.
Additionally, the meeting will address the Sunday parking ban in some parts of ANC 2F. A representative from DDOT will be on hand to explain the proposal to consider Sunday parking restrictions and to take questions from the commission and the community.
The ANC meeting is open to the public and will take place Wednesday, February 6, at 7 pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Thomas Circle.