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by Borderstan.com March 26, 2013 at 9:00 am 10 Comments

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @rookerysf.

"moratorium"

Pick the moratorium you want to support. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Jeez, what do you have to do to get something banned around here? Bans and moratoria are falling on tough times. There’s the defeat of the large soda ban in New York City. Protests against the nudity ban in San Francisco (yes, public nudity was perfectly legal there until two months ago).

And now, closer to home, the proposed moratorium on U Street liquor licenses meets an icy reception at a recent neighborhood listening session.

People don’t like banning things. It seems so final. So severe. No nudity in public places — not just “let’s reduce the relative amount of nudity.” So harsh. Even a moratorium sounds draconian. Five years? Where will I be in five years? Will alcohol even be legal in five years? No one knows for sure.

That’s why I’ve come up with a list of proposed moratoriums that I think could actually pass with flying colors. Nothing too restrictive, just those things that we’ve had enough of. See what you think:

The following eight things, in three categories, shall be prohibited for a period of no less than five years from today.

Food and Drink

  1. Beet and goat cheese salads: Yes, they are delicious. But there’s no other way to make beets taste good? And if there isn’t, can you serve us something else? It’s been on your menu for ten years…
  2. The word “artisanal.” After years of abuse, the privilege of using “artisanal” to describe a food, craft or other noun shall be revoked until further notice. To be honest, the blanket use of the term (artisanal croutons, artisanal gelato) is kind of making us foodies sound like jerks.
  3. Cocktails costing more than $10. A few places that make really nice cocktails have now made it acceptable for everyone to start charging $12+ for a drink. The other night I ordered what appeared to be a Greyhound except the bartender repeatedly slapped a single basil leaf between his palms and then delicately placed it on top. So I basically paid a $2 premium to have my basil spanked. No more!

Fashion

  1. Wearing Uggs in public. Yes, I know they are warm. So are Snuggies and Russian ushankas, but no one wears those outside. This is DC, not Siberia. (And while we’re talking about comfortable clothing that should be severely curtailed, I second Dafna Steinberg’s piece on yoga pants).
  2. Wearing bicycle helmets without buckling the chin strap. Nothing better conveys the message, “I care about my safety, but in a weirdly ambivalent way,” than not buckling your helmet strap. I see these people way more often than I’d expect. Do they not realize this defeats the purpose of a helmet and yet still gives them helmet hair, so it’s really the worst of every possible option?

Social Media

  1. The phrase “retweets are not endorsements” on Twitter profiles. Is there anyone who says “You know what? My retweets are endorsements! Every single one!” No. So let’s all agree to ditch the disclaimer. (P.S. we also know that you are tweeting your own views and not those of your employer… but disclaimers don’t actually mean you can’t get in trouble, FYI)
  2. Facebook status updates that tell me how much you have recently exercised. All updates such as “8.5 miler today — feeling great!” shall be immediately banned until further notice.
  3. Complaints about “spoilers” because you haven’t watched a popular show yet. The entire internet does not have to be quiet until you catch up on your DVR. Sorry.

I really think I’m on to something here. Enforcement may be an issue, though…

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by Borderstan.com March 21, 2013 at 6:39 am 12 Comments

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

Lining up to testify at listening session. (David McAuley)

Neighbors line up to testify at Wednesday night’s town hall meeting on the proposed liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U corridor. (David McAuley)

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.

Opening Statements

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.

Next Steps

“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.
One after the other neighbors lined up. (David McAuley)

Attendees lined up to speak at Wednesday night’s town hall. (David McAuley)

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by Borderstan.com February 14, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

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

"ANC2B"

ANC 2B  discussed growler sales the the 14th and U liquor license moratorium. (David McAuley.)

At its meeting last night (February 13), Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B‘s discussion on the controversial 14th and U Liquor License Moratorium was limited to procedural issues. No public comment, for or against the proposal itself, was solicited or accepted by the committee. No members of the public attempted to speak about the moratorium during the part of the meeting when the Commission addressed it.

“Look for public meetings in late March,” said Kevin O’Connor, commissioner for ANC 2B-02, and chairman of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Policy Committee — referring to a previous proposal to hold a joint committee meeting of the ANCs that fall within the boundaries of the proposed moratorium. This proposal for a joint committee was first passed as a resolution at the meeting of Logan Circle area ANC 2F on February 6. It was discussed and characterized as a “super-committee” at the U Street area ANC 1B meeting on February 7.

“It sends a better message if we coordinate,” O’Connor also said.

Commissioner Noah Smith (ANC 2B-09) said that calling the joint meeting a “super-committee” was inaccurate. He said that the joint meetings should be considered “listening sessions”, in which the commissioners will hear the opinions of the community. No votes would be taken at the joint meetings, Smith said.

Smith also disagreed with an opinion expressed by supporters of the moratorium. Supporters, said Smith, had asserted that local communities would not be effected if it did not fall within the proposed boundaries of the moratorium. Smith said that communities near the proposed moratorium will be effected as well.

Dupont Circle is currently the site of two existing liquor license moratoriums, one at Dupont West (centered at the corner of 21st and P Streets NW), and the other on 17th Street NW. The 17th Street liquor license moratorium is due to expire in September 2013, according to the committee.

Earlier in the same meeting, ANC2B voted unanimously in favor of widening the availability of growlers in the Dupont area. Owing to a gap in DC’s recent omnibus ABRA legislation, local liquor and grocery stores in certain parts of DC were not allowed to sell growlers without local ANC permission. ANC2B’s vote means that all liquor and grocery stores in its jurisdiction that have already received permission to sell single units of alcohol in other forms will now be able to sell growlers as well.

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by Borderstan.com February 11, 2013 at 9:00 am 5 Comments

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

"ANC1B"

The ANC1B meeting last Thursday night. (David McAuley)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B briefly discussed future action on the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium at its regular monthly meeting Thursday night (February 7). It also heard input from one of the leading advocates of the moratorium. ANC 1B includes the large bulk of the U Street area.

1B Alcoholic Beverage Commission Chairman Jeremy Leffler (1B-02)told his ANC1B colleagues Thursday night that he had received a “leaflet” proposing a multi-ANC “super-committee” on or about March 20.

The ensuing discussion seemed to indicate that ANC 1B wished to participate in the super-committee meeting if held. There was no official motion or vote on the meeting or any other aspect of the moratorium.

The proposed super-committee was first proposed and approved by Logan Circle area ANC 2F at its regular monthly meeting, held the previous evening (February 6). In addition to members of ANC 1B, the committee may also consist of ANC Commissioners from districts 2F, 2B, and/or 6E, all of which fall within the area of the proposed ban, a circle 1,800 feet in radius from 1211 U Street NW, the location of Ben’s Next Door.

ANC 2F commissioners have said that, before a meeting can be held, each participating ANC must pass a resolution in favor of a joint ANC meeting.

Shaw-Dupont Citizens Alliance President Joan E. Sterling spoke briefly in favor of the moratorium. Sterling is one of the two signers of the official moratorium petition to the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Sterling said that 80% of the moratorium district fell within the bounds of ANC1B. She also said the current number of establishments in the entire proposed moratorium district was well over 100. DC law says that a moratorium can be requested if there are over 18 establishments serving alcohol in a district.

No one at the meeting spoke against the moratorium. The DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has not set a date for hearings.

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by Borderstan.com February 6, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"Hamilton"

Michael Hamilton. (Courtesy Michael Hamilton)

In January, a group of residents in two small community associations proposed a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor — an initiative that started a new chapter in an ongoing debate amongst local businesses and those residents in favor of further development.

In the moratorium, the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Residential Action Coalition (RAC) request a circular zone be established that extends 1,800 feet (about 1/3 of a mile) from 1211 U Street NW — the location of Ben’s Next Door and adjacent to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant.

At the end of the January, we published an article about a locally-run website that popped-up in response to the proposed moratorium, called In My Back Yard DC (IMBY). We recently chatted with the man behind the website to hear about his motive for establishing the site, as well as his plans for the future of the platform.

Michael Hamilton moved to DC about two-and-a-half years ago and currently lives in Columbia Heights. He works in an administrative position at a 501(c)(3) downtown, which he assures us is not at all related to the alcohol, restaurant or development industry.

Hamilton officially launched his website on January 24 and currently has 480 members. He says he launched his site after reading the initial moratorium post on Borderstan.

“I bought the domain and created the site that day,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t plan to publicize it very much until I had recruited a hundred members and selected a few people to join me in leadership positions. However, people discovered the site and it started attracting attention from bloggers.”

Hamilton says he established IMBY because he believes that allowing development in the District is important in keeping the city affordable and exciting.

“DC is growing quickly right now, so what gets built and where (it’s built) will affect the city and region for the long term,” Hamilton said. “If the NIMBYs have their way, DC will become increasingly expensive as the population rises faster than the housing stock. If we go down a different route, and allow home builders and entrepreneurs to meet consumer needs, we can have a District that’s both more affordable and more interesting.”

However, Hamilton is sensitive to ideals behind the residents who do not want to see more development in the neighborhood and in the city, in general. He acknowledges that they have a lot at stake as new restaurants, bars and development communities are built around them.

Hamilton says his next move is to select people for the IMBY executive board.

“My goal in the short term is to use the site to coordinate an effort to fight the proposed liquor license moratorium for U Street. In the longer term, I plan to use the site as a place to write about development and land use regulations, and to comment on issues affecting IMBYdc members,” he said. “We will also speak at hearings and file petitions with various government entities involved in the entitlement  and licensing processes.”

“I’d like District lawmakers to acknowledge that while the NIMBYs may be vocal, they don’t speak for the entire community. As the overwhelming response to IMBYdc demonstrates, there are a lot of people who are happy when they have more options for to choose from. A good first step would be not approving the liquor license moratorium for U Street.”

According to Hamilton, those who sign-up for the newsletters, offered on his website, can expect to read the latest news on the issue. Hamilton says he will also use the newsletters to coordinate new projects.

“For example, if there’s a new building going up I will recruit members who live in that ANC for their perspective and work with them to file petitions and make statements at hearings,” he said.

Originally, IMBY started as an anonymous site. However, that is no longer the case. Hamilton recently published his full name on the site, and, of course, is now talking to the media.

For the time being, Hamilton is running the site by himself. Once all the leadership positions for the initiative fill-up, he hopes to have some additional help with expanding the  site.

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by Borderstan.com February 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"ANC"

ANC 2F covers the Logan Circle area. (DC Board of Elections)

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.

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by Borderstan.com January 30, 2013 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

"moratorium"

The proposed liquor license moratorium for 14th and U Streets NW.

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

The heated debate over liquor licensing between some local residents and neighborhood businesses is nothing new to the Borderstan area. However, a recent push from two neighborhood groups to establish a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor added fuel to the already lit fire.

The proposed moratorium appears to be the reason behind a new anti-NIMBY website, In My Backyard. This site, whose owner is only given as “Michael,” is “a group designed to counter the small-but-powerful NIMBYs in your neighborhood,” according to a message on the landing page.

“What an amazingly stupid idea,” wrote one commentator, in reference to Borderstan’s piece about the proposed moratorium, posted January 22. “Let’s distort the market and discourage further development. If these people need something better to do with their free time, maybe they could do some volunteer work around the area. I’m sure there are some kids who could use tutors.”

Another commentator wrote, “Harming and estranging local small businesses takes away both their incentive and the financial wherewithal to meet the expense burden of sustaining a business-oriented entity such as a BID.”

One commentator posted a link to an opposing petition on the matter. So far there are 775 supporting signatures. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th Uand Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.)

Of the 22 commenters on Borderstan’s story,  none spoke in favor of the moratorium.

In My Backyard

In My Backyard says, “It has been too easy for small groups that do not represent most DC residents to derail any kind of new development in DC,” says the website’s homepage. “With just a few signatures and some complaining, these groups successfully stop businesses and homebuilders from serving the needs of DC residents. It’s my opinion that DC will be better off with more options for consumers, not fewer.”

According the website, its primary function is to submit petitions and comments to City Council, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and the Alcohol Beverage Control Board in support of the new developments that “can provide homes and jobs for our growing community.”

So what say you, Borderstan? Are these comments and is this website representative of the majority of the neighborhood’s feelings? Or is the issue of liquor licensing a divided issue in the neighborhood?

And “Michael,” email me — we’d like to interview you.

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by Borderstan.com January 22, 2013 at 8:00 am 25 Comments

"moratorium"

Click for a larger image: The proposed 14th and U liquor license moratorium zone.

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Two citizen groups have filed a petition with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to establish a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor.

The Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Residential Action Coalition (RAC) request that a circular zone be established that extends 1,800 feet (about 1/3 of a mile) from 1211 U Street NW — the location of Ben’s Next Door — and adjacent to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th U and Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.)

Borderstan was unable to find a website or Facebook page for RAC — only a listing for the organization with a T Street address. The signer for RAC on the petition letter was Kathryn A. Eckles while SDCA President Joan Sterling was the other signatory.

The proposed zone would be a circle, and extend as far as Clifton Street NW to the north, R Street to the south and have 8th and 15th streets as the east and west boundaries, respectively.

The zone includes blocks in Wards 1, 2 and 6 and portions of all four Borderstan area Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and four Metropolitan Police Service Areas (PSAs). The four ANCs impacted are 2B (Dupont Circle), 2F (Logan Circle), 1B (which includes U Street and Columbia Heights) and a small section of 6E (Shaw).

The filing by SDCA and RAC cites 107 liquor licences in the proposed zone, with another twelve in the regulatory pipeline or planning stages (see the full list submitted with the filing). The petitioners argue that the density of licenses in the area have “imposed extremely stressful conditions” on residents; specifically noise, crime and parking problems. The second factor is that growth of licenses in other areas of the city — where new businesses may be needed — has been stunted. SDCA unanimously voted to endorse a moratorium at their August 2012 meeting.

Once ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board determines that the petition meets all the criteria for consideration under DC Law, the Board will hold a public hearing to review the petition. In addition to public testimony for or against the petition, the Board will request comment from affected ANCs and Councilmembers, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Planning, among others. The DC Council would also have to approve the moratorium.

The ABC Board has several options after hearing testimony and comments. Grant or deny the request in its entirety. Grant in part by enlarging or decreasing the size of the zone, or limiting the moratorium to one class of liquor license. There are currently five liquor license moratorium zones within DC: Georgetown, Glover Park, Adams Morgan, Dupont West and Dupont East.

SDCA was founded in 2012 and includes blocks near the center of the moratorium zone. RAC was founded in 1981 and serves residents in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which would include about three blocks at the southwestern edge of the proposed moratorium zone.

The filing of the moratorium petition by SDCA and RAC comes just days after Mayor Vincent Gray officially enacted major changes to laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol sales. Among the changes in the law is a provision that would dismiss any liquor license protest by a group of five or more residents if an applicant reaches an agreement with their ANC.

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by Borderstan.com May 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,236 22 Comments

"Borderstan"

The intersection of 14th and U Streets NW. What does the future hold for one of the city's most desirable locations? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Matty Rhoades. You can email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.

Borderstan first learned earlier this spring that a new neighborhood organization was being formed, one whose mission was to change the course of the rapid pace of development along the 14th and U corridor — including a possible push for a liquor license moratorium. (For another view, see Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.) Moreover, changes are being considered to DC’s zoning laws as recently noted in the City Paper’s Housing Complex blog.

The new Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) held its first meeting May 21. The boundaries for membership in SDCA are from 12th to 15th Streets and from S to U Streets NW. Joan Sterling is president of the board of directors and some of the other names on the board are familiar to people who follow neighborhood politics and community organizations — Elwyn Ferris (partner of ANC 2B09 Commissioner Ramon Estrada) is secretary, and Doug Johnson and Craig Brownstein of U Street Dirt are on the board of directors.

The entire 14th and U corridor has been undergoing rapid change in the past decade, with numerous residential-retail complexes still under construction, from S Street past Florida Avenue NW; the strip of 14th below S Street saw the first wave of new construction on empty lots earlier in the decade. One such complex just getting underway is the Lous at 14th and U Streets NW (see Plans Unveiled for the Louis at 14th/U; Will Remake Famous Corner.) Another project, spanning 14th from S to Swann Streets is expected to be completed this fall. Demolition work will soon begin on the project at the southeast corner of 14th and Wallach NW. And there are more projects under construction or on the drawing board (13th and U NW, for example).

Not surprisingly, not everyone in the area views the changes — or the trajectory of the development — in quite the same way.

SDCA Organization’s Message Points

The membership application for SDCA is quite blunt in terms of the message points it drives home to potential members, with the following Q&A on the membership applicaton:

Q: Finding it increasingly difficult to park?
A: Local developers are being granted variances from the required parking regulations!

Q: Is late night noise and disturbance increasing?
A: New establishments are requesting operating hours till 4 and 5 AM!

Q: Are you concerned about the drastic increase in street crime?
A: Three stabbings of local restaurant patrons in the past year!

Q:  Did you know that new development almost caused us the permanent loss of our Post Office.
A: A vocal group of citizens (our members, and our neighbors, just like you) fought it, and saved it!

Q: Are you aware that new legislation could strip away the legal standing residents have in alcohol licensing?
A: The right to negotiate a reasonable Voluntary Agreement may be permanently eliminated!

Interview with SDCA President

Borderstan asked SDCA President Joan Sterling about the new organization, its priorities — and why its members felt the need to form the organization instead of working through three neighborhood organizations in or near the 14th and U corridor.

Borderstan: What is your organization’s top priority as of now?

Sterling: Shaw-Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) views this neighborhood as a residential community, a historic treasure, an educational center, and a vital component of the District of Columbia’s retail and tourism economy. The association seeks to maintain a unique mix of missions for the community, while seeing that the views and interests of residents and homeowners are well represented in the neighborhood’s continuing evolution. DSCA’s mission is to preserve the historic character, quality of life, and aesthetic values of this area with a particular eye toward protecting the interests of the neighborhood’s residents and homeowners. We all welcome the new businesses and the exciting development. At the same time we also have some concerns about the impact of that growth on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

As a newly incorporated organization we are very busy with membership and organizing our committees in a way that will reflect the varied interests of the members. We have had a lot of feedback regarding things such as parking, new development, new retail, improved daytime activity in the neighborhood, and concerns related to the significant late night activity that borders the residential areas.

Borderstan: Are you actively pushing the DC Government for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U area?

Sterling: That is one of the options that the members have discussed as a possibility to get a little ‘breathing space’ while trying to find a way to improve the implementation of the ARTS Overlay and Comprehensive Plan for the neighborhood. We hope to work with both Councilmember Graham [D-Ward 1] and Councilmember Evans [D-Ward 2], along with the Office of Planning, BZA [Board of Zoning Adjustment], ABRA [Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration], DCRA, DDOT and the other agencies that all have a piece of the puzzle. We are interested in having a vibrant and safe community during both the daytime and the evening hours. (Editor’s note: The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) lists five moratorium actions in DC. The neighborhoods with liquor license moratoriums are Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Glover Park, Dupont West and Dupont East (17th Street NW).

Borderstan: How would you respond to Bryan Martin Firvida’s claim that liquor license moratoriums are ineffective?

Sterling: It’s an interesting position to take considering Mr. Firvida provides no data that supports that opinion – the petition language is long on hyperbole, but short on facts. Existing Moratoria have been renewed which would indicate that, in the areas that have them, the residents are happy with the results. Moratorium zones as defined by ABRA can only be in a radius of 600 feet, 1,200 feet or 1,800 feet. Implying that because online petition signatories are in a particular zip code means that they live in a moratorium zone is far from accurate. It does not correctly reflect the very small sizes of ABRA defined zones compared to the much larger areas covered by zip codes.

Signatures of approximately 600 DC residents is just not reflective of those residents that are directly impacted by the current over-concentration of licenses in this particular small area. We are very interested in all ideas that can actually be implemented to help alleviate the problems that residents are experiencing and are eagerly awaiting Mr. Firvida’s alternate suggestions. We are aware that Mr. Firvida has authored other online petitions such as D.C. Council and the D.C. Taxicab Commission: Make “Red” the standard color for Taxicabs in Washington, D.C.

(Editor’s note: Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues. )

Borderstan: Why did you decided to form a new organization instead of working through existing community associations, such as the U Street Neighborhood Association, the Logan Circle Community Association and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association?

Sterling: We felt that we needed a residents association to address the things that are of interest to our neighborhood. Because the area straddles two different ANCs and two Wards it made sense to start an organization that could represent the neighborhood in a more cohesive way. Both the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Logan Circle Community Association represent residents in different areas than SDCA. The residents in those areas are clearly ably represented by their associations and we hope to follow their examples.

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by Borderstan.com May 22, 2012 at 11:00 am 0

"Beer Wine Neon Sign""Borderstan"

Online petition against moratorium closing in on 700 signatures. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at [email protected]

Last month, Borderstan posted an article on a potential Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license moratorium in the 14th and U Street / MidCity neighborhoods. The article highlighted an online petition, started by Bryan Martin Firvida to oppose a moratorium, which would make it more difficult, or impossible, for new businesses to obtain liquor licenses.

More than 660 supporters have signed the petition since its inception. According to Martin Firvida, 66% of the petition’s signatories live in the zip code impacted by the proposed restrictions (20009), and 82% of supporters live in 20009 and surrounding zip codes. In total, 93% of all signatories live in DC.

“An ABC License moratorium is an ineffective way to deal with the many quality of life issues that exist in the neighborhood and unfairly places the burden and responsibility of the many issues of our vibrant neighborhood only on our local businesses that happen to hold alcohol licenses,” states Martin Firvida’s petition. “No one is saying that serving alcohol doesn’t create issues, however blaming alcohol for all of the issues of a neighborhood and targeting only alcohol is short sighted and ineffective.”

Martin Firvida explained to Borderstan that he started the petition as a way for neighbors to proactively express support for our neighborhood and for taking a comprehensive approach to managing the many quality of life issues that face any dynamic neighborhood in the District, something that a moratorium simply does not do.

Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues.

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by Borderstan.com April 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment

"Borderstan" "U and 14th Street NW", Luis, Gomez, Photos, liquor, licenses, DC, nightlife

The 14th and U corridor has become of DC’s most popular destinations for restaurants, music and clubs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Late last week, on April 25 news of an online petition opposing the possibility of an Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license moratorium in the 14th and U Street / MidCity neighborhoods landed in Borderstan’s email box. Bryan Martin Firvida created the petition on the site Change.org petition on Wednesday and it is already has almost 400 signatures as of Monday morning.

Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues.

In their comments, the petition’s signers overwhelmingly expressed their support for the growth, diversity and development of the U street area. Former president of the U Street Neighborhood Association, Martin Firvida, a resident of the U street area,  appears to have created the petition as a preemptive measure to the possibility of a moratorium.

Martin Firvida told Borderstan, “I set up the petition as a way for my neighbors to both proactively express their support for our neighborhood, and for addressing the issues we face in a smart and comprehensive way, while also registering their opposition to an ABC license moratorium. Just like any of the vibrant neighborhoods here in the District, we have a complex mix of quality of life issues that can really only be effectively managed through ongoing collaboration — which is accomplished by bringing residents, businesses and government to the table to work together. A moratorium does none of that.”

Another factor at play in the area is a current zoning restriction, which limits the total square footage of restaurant, club and lounge storefronts to 50%. This restriction was raised from 25% in 2010, and is part of an arts overlay district that was put into place a number of years ago.

The 14th and U/MidCity neighborhoods could prove to be a tricky area to navigate for any community group hoping to build support for a moratorium. The area includes blocks in Wards 1 and 2, at least three different ANCs (1B, 2B and 2F) and just as many neighborhood associations.

Five Moratoriums in Effect

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) lists five moratorium actions in DC. The neighborhoods with liquor license moratoriums are Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Glover Park, Dupont West and Dupont East (17th Street NW).

The moratorium discussion and process begins at the level of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) or neighborhood association. Martin Firvida’s petition states, “Once again, we’re hearing the idea of a Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) License (a/k/a “a liquor license”) Moratorium being discussed for the Greater 14th and U Street Neighborhoods.”

The commercial corridors of 14th and U Streets have seen rapid residential development in the past few years and have, as a result, drawn many new restaurants and bars. New businesses that desire an ABC license must navigate their way through the choppy waters of the public protest process. In most cases, businesses end up signing the now ubiquitous “voluntary agreement” or VA and agree to limited hours in serving alcohol in order to expedite the process.

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