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.
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.