“I’m still dismayed that residents are intent on suppressing economic development in this otherwise underutilized area of the city for the sake of their own street parking conveniences.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Andrew Pasko-Reader

“Dear PoPville,

Vocal residents in Langdon and Woodridge have successfully lobbied for a liquor license moratorium in the vicinity of Echostage, Stadium Club, Bliss, The Scene, etc. There will be a 30-day public comment period once the notice is up on the DC Register.

While I’m glad the radius is only 600 feet from the intersection of Bladensburg Rd. and 24th Pl. NE, and not the 1800 feet frequently requested, I’m still dismayed that residents are intent on suppressing economic development in this otherwise underutilized area of the city for the sake of their own street parking conveniences.”

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) approved proposed rules on September 7, 2016 in response to community petitions for a limit on certain liquor licenses in the Langdon Park and Woodridge communities. The proposal is not yet in effect as it is still subject to a 30-day public comment period.

The proposed moratorium would extend 600 feet in all directions from the intersection of Bladensburg Road and 24th Place, NE. Within the zone, two restrictions would apply for a three-year period. First, the proposed rules would place a limit of three class C nightclub and multipurpose facility licenses in the zone. Second, the proposed rules would not allow new entertainment endorsements to be issued to restaurants and taverns in the area.

In making its decision, the Board considered all of the public comment it received on the issue, including community concerns regarding noise, litter, parking and public safety issues stemming from nightlife establishments already in the area. In addition, the Board considered concerns raised by businesses, which cited the need for continued economic development in the area.

In order to strike a balance between the concerns of residents and businesses, the Board modified the requests originally proposed by ANC 5C, the Langdon Park Community Association, The Greater Woodridge-Gateway Leaders’ Group, and residents of Woodridge, Langdon Park and Gateway Communities. The proposals generally requested prohibiting the issuance of certain alcohol licenses for taverns, nightclubs, multipurpose facilities, and restaurants with entertainment endorsements within an 1,800-foot radius of the corridor for a five year period.

77 Comment

  • Residents not wanting to give up street parking in their residential neighborhood, I am shocked

    • I mean, sure, it’s *largely* residential, but that ignores the fact that every part of the city where people live is not terribly far (sometimes, not at all) from commercial areas as well. There is always spillover.

      I don’t have an issue with the residents raising concerns and saying in exchange for a liquor license, the commercial businesses need to have plans for parking that don’t negatively impact residents. That’s fine. But I’m guess if these were commercial establishments the neighbors frequented, they’d feel differently. To me, an easier way to enforce this is more residential zone-only parking. Venues can get their liquor licenses and residents can get their parking saved.

      • The problem with this is a) having to pay for a residential parking permit, and b) not being able to have friends visit as easily as they otherwise would.

        • It’s $35 for a parking permit in dc. it don’t get cheaper than that!

          • And the “friends visit” thing is nonsense – we have two guest passes that allow anyone to park in my neighborhood (regardless of plate) without ticket Additionally, you can march right down to your local MPD to get a temp pass as well. So that argument does not really hold.

  • Right, because concerns regarding noise, litter and public safety issues have absolutely nothing to do with this.

    • +1000 public safety

    • Ehhhh… in my experience having more people around because of more retail/other development makes a neighborhood safer.

      Litter also seems like something that perhaps be managed with minimal investment.

      • The trash mostly comes from the trash transfer station nearby. I doubt the clubs bear more responsibility than the trash transfer station. If anything, they suffer from it. Especially the smell. All the more reason not to make the area less attractive for investment.

    • To Anon: How did you get two guest passes? Please advise.

  • Maybe Langdon doesn’t want to become Logan Circle

    • Union Market, Ivy City and the huge marketplace on NY Ave are all under development, residents probably do not want to become the next Logan Circle or 14th St and would rather remain residential in nature given the detached homes and park feel in that area. There is also shopping at Dakota Crossing so the retail needs are currently being addressed.

      • If residents manage to freeze their neighborhood with its low density and massive public park while a wave of development rushes over them, they will gain a lot. If the neighborhood develops and their land is contested for denser housing, they will gain a lot. Given that people who own homes there are good to go no matter what, we should probably let market forces do what they’re going to do and not let blanket bans like this influence things. The narrative tends to portray long-time residents as victims and I just don’t see why.

        • What does that even mean to let “market forces” do what they are going to do? We live in an urban area chock full of laws and regulations regarding zoning, land use, business practices, you name it. The larger principle is whether or not those who purchased property and have been residing in a particular area need to unquestioningly yield to the commercial demands of as-yet-established new businesses. At the end of the day, property value is about overall quality of life and not just the number of bars or restaurants within walking distance.

    • Langdon should be so lucky.

    • Langdon stands zero near-term (say in the next 20 years) chance of becoming anything close to becoming Logan Circle. I think the residents just don’t want any more “trashy” clubs opening in the near vicinity.

      • Uh, ignore that second “becoming”

      • lol one persons trash is another persons good time but I hear you. Why didnt they just petition the clubs themselves. At one point Stadium was shut down when the owner violated, that would have been an opportunity to petition its permanent closure. Im sure that they bring in loads of tax revenue for the city

        • Oh, sure. I’ve enjoyed my time when I’ve visited Echostage, but I wouldn’t want to live next door either. I don’t live anywhere close to there, so I personally don’t care what happens in that area, but I can certainly relate to the residents who don’t want any more such clubs around them.

          • +1

            I agree. I have had enjoyable moments over there as well but I wouldnt want to live by all of that personally.

          • Next door is a stretch. There are train tracks and a bridge dividing these areas from the residences. The problem is that people cross the bridge to park, which reduces parking around the homes and does lead to noise as people walk to their cars after a night of partying.

        • We are petitioning individual clubs as they file for new licenses. However, it has become a game of “whack a mole”…plus, for those who haven’t been through the ABRA process, it is an extremely time-intensive process to protest any individual license.

          • Wait. So a lot of entrepreneurs recognize the same viable business opportunity and a bunch of people who aren’t willing to start their own business keep trying to block them because they deem the businesses less-than? You must be really proud of yourselves.

          • Wait. So some neighbors think that there are businesses that are lessening their quality of life and, while completely in their democratically given right, they are protesting it, and you think they should STFU? you must be really proud of yourself.

      • Yeah and 20 years ago, I was told by neighbors when I moved here to “stay west of 16th Street as it gets dangerous” – U Street did not exist, Columbia Heights did not exist, H Street was a burned out hell hole, Downtown was “rub and tug” joints and a few seedy bars, 14th Street was a burned out mess, Logan a mess, etc. Sorry but you have not a clue.

    • Logan Circle, well known for its multiple strip clubs and massive EDM venues

      • Yeah but 20 years ago Logan Circle was a scary place – the only bar was Vegas Lounge and a few other small scale places…”Whole Paycheck” was a burned out garage that hosted Leather Weekend for the gay community. I brought my then NYC-born girlfriend (now wife) to a party at 14th and P and she was scared out of her mind. Nobody has any clue how development will roll in DC over the next 20 years but I will give you a clue it is not in places “already there” like (Logan, Shaw, Columbia Heights, H Street, etc…). Furthermore alot of scketchy businesses came and went as Logan was finding it’s place…weird dance clubs once littered the same blocks that now host some of the best restaurants in DC now…I get it you have lived here all of maybe a decade but please put your crystal ball down.

        • There is an image burned into my memory of a really rough looking junky prostitute standing knock kneed, lit up on the stoop of a building on a block with no working street lights trying to get the coke/heroin out of the finger of a latex glove. This was around 9th and N or something.

        • Actually development does tend to congregate around areas that are already somewhat developed. And anyone not from DC would laugh their a$$ off at the notion that H Street or Shaw are “already there.” This is a symptom of DC’s ridiculous tendency to extrapolate things out by a decade or two. Pay no mind to the weekly homicides and drunks sprawled out on the corner. There’s a trendy tapas place and an organic grocery going in, so we’re good.

          • It’s all relative. Do you honestly think a city – any city really – is going to get by without homicides? What utopian world do you think you live in?

            Also, what differentiates the “drunks sprawled out on the corner” from the drunks just leaving El Centro’s brunch or Nellies?

    • Yeah, Langdon is in no danger of becoming Logan Circle. I think you mean:
      “Maybe Langdon doesn’t want to become SW Waterfront circa 1995.”

  • houseintherear

    PoP, I’m curious as to who wrote this to you… it doesn’t say the person is a resident in the area. Just strikes me as suspect.

  • NIMBYers gonna NIMBY.

  • Nearby resident here as well. Stadium club, and to a lesser extent, echostage, have been disasters for the neighborhood bringing crime, reckless driving, noise at all hours, To imply that our opposition is “parking” is ludicrous and dishonest. Parking is not an issue, as those locations have plenty of surface lots and street parking in the industrial areas.

    Not against development, and no one would oppose a liquor licence if it was a restaurant coming in, just against strip clubs that have been continuous magnets for violence.

    • There are many residents with many different concerns, but parking and traffic have always been a major factor. They are actively opposing the Eritrean Cultural and Civic Center now, which is a business that’s operated elsewhere in the city with no complaints and across-the-board positive reviews. The complaints have almost entirely centered around parking concerns.

      • Yeah except for the 300 cabs that the ECC will bring – I lived by their last location in Shaw/MVSquare – neighbors were fine but man oh man every one seemed to own a cab business.

      • Have you been involved with this complaint process at all? I assume not. If you had been, you’d know that our concern stems from the type of license they’re now seeking, which would enable them to operate as a nightclub, when they did not have this type of license previously.

        • I have followed these conversations in several listservs and parking is always the backstop. All the other issues are certainly a factor, but to dismiss parking as the primary factor is extremely dishonest. To imply only people involved in a protest should have an opinion on a protest is to dismiss anyone who disagrees. It’s not like a handful of vocal dissenters would have made a difference in the submitted petitions no matter how many meetings they went to. OP did not claim that the moratorium did not have majority support within the community.

  • What am I missing here? 600 feet from that intersection doesn’t even reach into any residential areas. Its all industrial.

    • You’re missing the point of the moratorium, which is to limit new businesses in that area. While the moratorium does not extend into residential areas, it prevents new businesses from obtaining a liquor license within that area. The goal is that the number of nightclub/nightlife establishments is capped to keep clients of those places from using nearby residential streets to park. Why would the moratorium be in the residential area where you cannot open a commercial establishment?

      • My point being that since the 600ft zone does not extend all of the way to the residential area. You could still put a liquor establishment even closer in the area between the 600 foot buffer and residential area.

    • ABRA indulged the request, but what they awarded was watered down and worse than nothing. OP shouldn’t complain.

  • That is one fantastic getup pops is sporting.

  • I’m normally the first to send NIMBYs to hell but this is actually a good thing. That area is already saturated.

    • I think the more accurate statement here is that this area is already saturated with bad actors. Because it’s somewhat isolated and industrial, it could host things like music venues that are beneficial to the city and to the area. Unfortunately, quality venues that maintain a high standard for patron conduct are not the bulk of what exists there now. Echostage is usually fine (though it does have its shows that are problematic), but the Stadium Club, Bliss, and others have caused serious trouble.
      That said, I’m not a huge fan of the blanket ban. Making it harder to get nightclub and entertainment licenses would be fine (require detailed security and capacity control plans plans with proof of funding for necessary staff, require detailed sound abatement plans developed by someone with the actual skills to make it work and – again – funding for the installation, etc.). Banning new licenses altogether practically guarantees that this remains an industrial wasteland with the existing problems for the next 5 years, at least. It also doesn’t address the problem of venues getting one-off licenses and operating as clubs (like the stealth “DC Dragons” club).

  • I think there is substantial confusion on OP’s part about what this moratorium actually would prevent. This moratorium DOES NOT prevent new business or alcohol licenses (in fact, the community has been trying to grow with new restaurants). This moratorium is aimed to stop nightclubs (or businesses purporting to be legitimate, but then operating as a nightclub, like DC Dragons) from developing in the area, which frankly is over-saturated with these types of establishments. Before commenting on this or questioning something that residents doing to benefit the community as a whole, I urge everyone here to learn the facts before spouting off incorrect or inflammatory information.

    • “Oversaturation” would depend on the market and is therefore a self-correcting problem. No intervention necessary.

    • Who is the arbiter of business legitimacy? Neighborhood associations? What’s the criteria? Having an entertainment endorsement does not make a business illegitimate, and it’s an unnecessary restriction you’re imposing on any potential businesses (“you can be a restaurant, but you have to choose between serving alcohol or ever having even an open-mic night ever”). The industrial buildings are perfect for entertainment-type uses delivered alongside services like restaurants residents could enjoy, so this moratorium is a loss for the neighborhood and city.

      • Thanks for your comments. The types of noise, litter, and most importantly, crime, do not stem from innocuous activities like an “open mic night.” I’m confused about why you think having a plethora of nightclubs is a great thing for any part of the city. We’re truly dealing with a quality of life issue.

        The other thing I don’t think commenters on this thread understand is that there are many different types of alcohol licenses in the city. This is an important point — the moratorium is not seeking to prevent all types of licenses – only those that would allow the growth of nightclubs (which cause the previously-mentioned noise, litter, crime, etc.). If you’re curious about becoming educated on this point, ABRA is hosting a community training next week that will address the different types of licenses and ways that DC residents can participate meaningfully in the licensing process.

        • I am not the one with comprehension issues. The moratorium “would not allow new entertainment endorsements to be issued to restaurants and taverns in the area.” The example I gave is a baby (restaurant that might want to serve alcohol and also host open-mic nights) being thrown out with the bathwater (“nightclubs”). This is the risk of blanket bans, and I am not convinced that the reward (the status quo of trash transfer stations and other industrial facilities) is worth that risk.

          • Thanks. I again urge you to actually participate in the training process that ABRA offers and to get involved in these activities, instead of hiding anomalously behind the internet. If you actually read the draft regulations, you’ll realize your interpretation is incorrect.

          • I have seen how dissent on these topics is treated on the listservs. No thanks.

          • clevelanddave

            Anon, then don’t let the facts get in your way of your unfounded observation. Residents absolutely have a right to determine how the character of their neighborhood is changing, that’s was zoning is for. Just because a business owner/investor/developer wants to come in and operate a business/develop a building/make an investment that creates noise, increases trash, is a factor in obnoxious/criminal behavior and otherwise disturbs residents ability to live in peace and quiet- and then probably go home to their safe and tranquil street- is a tremendously reasonable thing, IMHO. If that is the definition of NIMBYism, then so be it.

          • @Woodridge Res: this isn’t that hard. If there is an ABRA license class that anon’s notional restaurant could operate under that is not barred by the moratorium, just say what it is. Why so many words to handwave at a distinction buried in a class and legal text that your sure exists? I know what knowledge looks like, and that’s not it.

          • “Residents absolutely have a right to determine how the character of their neighborhood is changing, that’s was zoning is for.”
            DC’s zoning laws, mostly enacted in the 1950s, were designed to racially segregate the city after the previous mechanisms of segregation were struck down by the Supreme Court. So you are correct, but I wouldn’t bring it up while arguing for the moratorium.

          • Diffanon, what’s your evidence for this assertion re. D.C.’s zoning laws?
            The Supreme Court’s decision in 1948 meant that restrictive housing covenants could no longer be judicially enforced… but many covenant-restricted neighborhoods in D.C. had begun integrating much earlier than that.
            I don’t know what role zoning laws would have played in keeping west-of-the-Park D.C. largely white… but much of east-of-the-Park D.C. was already integrated by the late 1950s anyway.
            I agree with ClevelandDave.

          • Perhaps that was how zoning was used in the past, but that’s not really an apt comparison here. The examples that GGW is citing from the 1950s are cases where city planners wanted to change the historical/existing building fabric (e.g., rowhouses with alley dwelling behind them) to match their perceived ideal (highrises of the kind that were built in SW under “urban renewal”).

    • While the current moratorium doesn’t prevent tavern and restaurants liquor licenses, the proposal from the community association was to ban all liquor licenses. ABRA exercised some judgement and went with a less extreme version, but the intention of the neighbors was to block all establishments that would serve alcohol.

  • Love the photo!

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