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Neighbors Having Serious Problems With Mood Lounge in Shaw

by Prince Of Petworth July 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm 111 Comments

A reader shares a letter and some follow up re: Mood Lounge located at 1318 9th St, NW (in the former Be-Bar space):

Councilmember Evans,

Does the MOOD Lounge have permission to operate on Sunday through Thursday nights? Because their website indicates they are only open on Friday and Saturday nights, and these are the only two nights of the week we as neighbors are subjected to torture on a regular basis…. I know this is not standard for them (as they have not operated on these nights in the past), but tonight is a Thursday night (a work-week night, for those of us in the surrounding neighborhood…) and the music is blasting, the patrons are lined up out front (and I took pictures) and they are operating as any other nightclub that is not in a residential neighborhood.

I’m really beginning to lose my patience with this operation and with the complete inaction by local government officials to address this problem…. I know that in other neighborhoods I have lived in that the City Councilmember wouldn’t put up with this.

Councilmember Evans – HOW WILL YOU FIX THIS??? As a citizen in your ward, I rely on you to handle issues like this in this neighborhood that affect the quality of life for your citizens. PLEASE RESOLVE THIS ISSUE – either by closing this nightclub in a residential neighborhood permanently or by forcing them to abide by the Voluntary Agreement that they accepted when they obtained the rights to this club (which, for the record, as a new operator, should have been renegotiated with the local residents).

Furthermore, I want to encourage you, as a sleepless resident, to introduce legislation (which if you don’t have time to write, I am happy to write on your behalf since I cannot sleep and have nothing better to do with my time…) that invalidates any prior ABRA license and VA for any new owner or lessee of a property which previously held one in the District. Furthermore, I am happy to introduce legislation that bars ABRA from granting CT or CN licenses within 300 feet of a residence, as such licenses are incompatible by definition with a neighboring residential community. I am confident I can validate this concern through a petition of residents in your ward.

Time after time, future owners have presented issues in every Ward that were not anticipated (and therefore legislated against or fought in a prior VA) with prior owners of said license. You may be sleeping soundly when this email is sent, but I am not. And that is a problem. As my City Councilmember, I am asking you why I cannot get a resolution to an ongoing problem with noise complaints, drug sales, prostitution, and loitering from a nuisance bar that is 75 feet away from my home. An answer to myself and all CC’d on this email would be appreciated. If the shortcoming is in the law, I would appreciate a civics lesson in how as a citizen I can improve the relevant laws to increase the quality of life in my own neighborhood. If the shortcomings are in the enforcement of the existing laws, I would appreciate an answer about why the Councilmember we voted to keep in this position cannot resolve a simple ABRA issue relating to REPEATED BLATANT VIOLATIONS OF THE LAW.

Why is it every single time I overstay my meter by 60 seconds I get a ticket from the parking authority (and have to pay the fine or get booted) and yet this business repeatedly throws up the middle finger at city hall and gets away with it???? Double Standard???

Responses after the jump.

CM Evans’ response:

Dear All,

Let me begin by saying that I agree this is an unacceptable situation that has been going on for too long and I look forward to working with the relevant agencies to get this matter resolved as soon as possible.

As for your suggestion about legislation, enacting legislation takes time. It would need to be discussed, as it would impact the entire city. It may seem like a good idea in light of what is going on with Mood Lounge, but 99% of ABRA licensees are good, lawful businesses who live within their VA and city regulations and to put in blanket legislation that would affect the entire city has repercussions that at least need to be looked at before laws are enacted. I met with the neighbors at a BANCA meeting in the neighborhood only two weeks ago, and brought Fred Moosally from ABRA along to talk specifically about Mood Lounge and what can be done LEGALLY to get it closed. I will continue to stay on top of this, and do whatever we can, legally, to see that this business operates within the law, or is closed.

With that, I ask Fred Moosally: why has this license, which was issued for a bar, located in a neighborhood, been permitted to turn into a nightclub? They do not have the license to operate as a nightclub, which clearly they are—that is evident to anyone, and therefore, they should be closed immediately.

Jack

Mr. Moosally’s response:

Councilmember Evans,

ABRA is committed to working on this issue as well. ABRA investigators will be monitoring the establishment tonight and will be meeting with some residents in an effort to help address these issues. ABRA will continue to check the establishment for possible violations; however, any enforcement action taken by ABRA must be taken within the confines of the law.

Fred P. Moosally

Director
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

The OP tells me:

“It’s at 40 emails now – and no, things have gotten worse. As of this last weekend, they’re open Sunday nights (and well into Monday mornings) as well. Worse, ABRA sent inspectors out at 8pm, even though we clearly told them problems don’t start until 10 or 11.

I’ve told Councilmember Jack Evans that it’s time to rewrite liquor laws to clarify that a CT license cannot be used as a de facto nightclub in a residential neighborhood. So far, no response….”

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