From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The onerous process of obtaining a DC liquor license is a common complaint among business owners — although you might find more varied opinions among some residents. The process often involves reaching a formal Voluntary Agreement (VA) between a business, groups of residents, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and community organizations — which often set limitations on hours of operation, serving of alcohol on outdoor patio areas and more.
There are 1,586 liquor licenses of all types in DC, according to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The battles over liquor licenses in the Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods are more easily put into perspective when you look at the numbers — what wards, ANCs and areas have the most liquor licenses.
Most of the Borderstan area is in Ward 2 (Dupont-Logan) while the remainder is around the U Street corridor in Ward 1. This explains why the agendas of ANCs 2B, 2F and 1B often include long lists of items related to liquor licenses.
Given the proximity of our neighborhoods to downtown DC, and the booming residential-commercial market in the area, the numbers really shouldn’t be surprising. The area has some of the city’s most vibrant commercial districts — Connecticut Avenue, 18th Street, 17th Street, 14th Street, U Street and 9th Street NW.
Licenses by Ward
Statistics from ABRA show how dominant our locales are in the ranks of DC’s watering holes: Ward 2 is home to 40% of all the city’s liquor licenses, followed by Ward 1 with 16%. In third place is Ward 6 (Capitol Hill) with 15%. It’s important to point out that Ward 2 includes Georgetown, in addition to Dupont-Logan and areas south of Dupont Circle. Ward 1 also includes Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. Other DC Wards: Ward 3 has about 11% of all licenses; Ward 5 has 7%; Ward 4 has 6%; Ward 7 about 3%; and Ward 8 about 2.5% of all the city’s liquor licenses.
Licenses in Local ANCs
A look at number of licenses by Advisory Neighborhood Commission level is more revealing. ANC 2B/Dupont is home to 14.44% of all liquor licenses in the city (229) — keep in mind that the boundaries of ANC 2B extend well south of Dupont Circle and reach Pennsylvania Avenue at some points.
ANC 2F (Logan Circle and a big chunk of 14th Street NW) has 111 liquor licenses, about 7% of the city’s total. ANC 1B has 91 licenses, about 6% of all licenses in DC — 1B includes the U Street corridor and large swath of territory to the north plus Howard University. Together, these three ANCs are home to 431 of 1,586 licenses, about 27% of the city’s total. Throw in ANC 2C/Shaw and you have another 7% of all liquor licenses in DC.
How many are in ANC 1C, home to Adams Morgan? That ANC has 84 licenses, about 5% of all the DC liquor licenses.
The exact numbers are as follows:
|ANC||# ABC Licenses||% of All DC Licenses|
|ANC 1B (U Street corridor and Columbia Heights)||91||5.74%|
|ANC 2B (Dupont Circle)||229||14.44%|
|ANC 2F (Logan Circle)||113||7.12%|
|ANC 2C (Shaw)||111||7.00%|
That means more than one-third of all DC ABC licenses are held by businesses in Borderstan. So why do I end up at the same two bars every weekend?
- 14th and U: Petition Opposes Possibility of Liquor License Moratorium
- 14th & U: Approval for More Bars, Restaurants Expected
- 14th & U: The Arts Overlay, Quick Action, a Reader Poll
- ABC Board Says Hank’s Oyster Bar Can Expand
- ANC 2B Approves Limited Changes to 17th St. Moratorium
- ANC 2B Committee Report on 17th St. Liquor Licenses
From Matty Rhoades
The U.S. Census Bureau released D.C.’s results on Thursday. The big buzz was that (1) D.C. gained people for the first time since 1950 and (2) the black majority is on the verge of disappearing, with only 50.7% of residents now being African-American. There were huge gains in the number of whites and smaller gains in the numbers of Latinos and Asians living in D.C. Citywide, African Americans are about 51% of the population, Latinos are at 9%, Asians at 3% and non-Latino whites are at 35%.
D.C. now has more than 601,000 people, a 5.2% increase from 2000 — but still far below the city’s peak year of 1950 when the Census recorded 802,000 people in D.C.
Growth in Wards 1 and 2
Locally, Ward 2 — the bulk of the Borderstan.com coverage area — grew the fastest with a 16% population increase, from 68,000 to 79,000 people. This means it will have to lose people – certain blocks will have to be moved to other Wards — some eastern parts of the Ward could go to Wards 5 and 6. However, some northern chunks of Ward 2 could possibly go to Ward 1, which grew at a much smaller 3.9% rate.
Logan Circle. Census Tract 52.01 is a great example of how Ward 2 gained so many new people in the past 10 years. The tract’s boundaries are 14th Street NW on the east, 16th Street on the west, Massachusetts Avenue on the south and S Street on the north. The tract registered a 33% increase, going from 4,559 to 6,077 residents. It’s easy to figure out how this happened: the new rental and condo buildings on the 1400 blocks of P and Church Streets NW, plus additional units on the west side of 14th Street and on the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue.
After challenging incumbent Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) in last year’s Democratic primary, Bryan Weaver is running for an At-Large Council seat in the April 26 special election. The seat opened up when Kwame Brown was elected Council Chairman; Sekou Biddle was temporarily appointed to the seat and is running for a full term. Since a number of Borderstan readers reside in Ward 1, we interviewed the two candidates who live in Ward 1, Patrick Mara and Weaver.
The profiles of Mara and Weaver are meant to provide readers with some insights into both candidates — with an emphasis on the personal as opposed to the political. Both Mara and Weaver are among the seven candidates scheduled to appear at Tuesday evening’s candidate forum at the Church of the Holy City, 16th and Corcoran Streets NW, at 6 pm.
Borderstan: When and why did you first move to D.C.? Where have you lived in D.C.?
Weaver: I moved to D.C. in 1991 to attend Howard University. One could argue that as a resident of Adams Morgan, I live on the border of the Borderstan area, but before moving to Adams Morgan with my wife, I lived in Columbia Heights and Pleasant Plains.
Borderstan: Favorite thing about living in the neighborhood? Least favorite?
Weaver: Diversity of people, diversity of businesses, the fact that it’s a total walkable community and there are some great places to eat. My least favorite thing would be losing some of the more unique businesses like HR-57, and that we’re still dealing with high rates of muggings and property crime.
Editor’s note: The following interview with Patrick Mara has been in the works since he won the Ward 1 seat on the DC State Board of Education last November 2. We were interested in learning more about the first Republican elected to a major office in D.C. since Carol Schwartz served on the City Council and current Councilmember David Catania switched his party affiliation to Independent.
Mara is now running for an At-Large Council seat in the April 26 special election. The seat opened up when Kwame Brown was elected Council Chairman; Sekou Biddle was temporarily appointed to the seat and is running for a full term. Since a number of Borderstan readers reside in Ward 1, we also have an interview with Bryan Weaver scheduled; Mara and Weaver are the only two candidates in the race who live in Ward 1.
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Borderstan: When and why did you first move to D.C.? Where did you live before moving into the Borderstan area — what brought you to the hood?
Mara: I permanently moved to D.C. in the spring of 1997 to work for the late Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. I previously lived in Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill. I bought in Columbia Heights in the spring of 2004 on 11th Street between Kenyon and Lamont. This was following the closure of Knob Hill and just prior to the opening of Wonderland — a weekday neighborhood favorite.
I love Columbia Heights because of the rich diversity of the neighborhood as well as the convenient placement of metro and bus. Although there was a much smaller Giant at the time, there was a new supermarket coming in (“New Giant”). I continue to not own a car, so public transportation and supermarket options are very important to me.
Borderstan: Favorite thing about living in the neighborhood? Least favorite?
Mara: You could pretty much spend your entire life within a five block radius of Columbia Heights without ever having to leave. There are restaurants, the historic Gala Theatre, a big supermarket, schools and retail. It’s a livable, walkable community. What I’m most concerned with is that D.C. strongly discourages small business development in the city. We definitely need to do a better job of incentivizing small independent businesses.
Garden District Won’t Reopen This Spring
A hat tip to 14th & You for reporting that Garden District won’t reopen for business this spring after owner Joe Carmack posted the news on the store’s website. The business was in bankruptcy in November 2009, but Carmack reorganized and moved the store across the street to the current location last year. The original location was the site of the soon-to-be Standard hamburger place on the northeast corner of 14th and S Streets. (Garden District also briefly had an indoor plant store where Estadio is now located, at 14th and Church.) A certain member of the Borderstan team reports that he will sorely miss being able to walk over to 14th and pick up plants for his garden. Garden District was open for 10 years.
Worst Week in Washington, Solved? Mayor Gray Decides Background Checks Needed
By all accounts, the Gray Administration has had a tough week or two between vehicles, terminations and police in tiny buildings. We applaud his move, reported by the Post, to now require background checks for political hires. Or, in their words, “it is clear that the approach was not thorough enough to address all relevant issues and questions for Excepted Service appointments.”
Our reader poll this week is for Ward 1 Democrats: “Who’s your choice for City Council?” Yes, there’s a contest this year for the Ward 1 City Council seat: three-term incumbent Jim Graham is being challenged by Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith. (Poll is in the right nav bar.)
While DC conventional wisdom has Graham winning the September 14 primary–which is normally tantamount to winning the November general election–both Weaver and Graham are running spirited campaigns.
Graham was the second openly gay member of the DC Council when he was elected in 1998, following David Catania (I-At Large). If he wins his Democratic primary, he will face a different kind of Republican on the November 2 ballot: Marc Morgan, who is also gay and African American.
U Street Girl recently did wrote some short profiles pieces on the three Democratic and one Republican candidate running for the Ward 1 Council seat. Check them out (they’re good quick reads) before you vote in our reader poll.
- Graham, Smith and Weaver: A quick primer on Ward 1 dem candidates
- Marc Morgan: A quick primer on Ward 1 repub candidate
Voting on September 14
- Not sure if you live in Ward 1? Check your voter registration card or click here for a Ward 1 map.
- You can also put in your address and find your voting precinct at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) website.
- Not sure if you registered at all? You can also check your registration online with BOEE.
- Remember that DC has closed primaries. You must be a registered Democrat, Republican, or Statehood Green party member to vote in the September primary election. (Mayor Adrian Fenty’s campaign tried to convince BOEE to allow DC’s 72,000 registered Independent voters to vote in the September 14 primaries, but were unsuccessful.)
- It’s too late to change your party affiliation, but you can still register in person at the BOEE office or register at your polling place on September 14 (remember to bring ID). You have through this Friday, August 27, to register in person at BOEE. After Friday you must register at your polling place on September 14.