Do You Oppose a Liquor Moratorium for 14th/U Street? Sign Here

by Prince Of Petworth April 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm 30 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

From a Change.org petition:

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 here in the District of Columbia.

Please sign this petition and express your support for our vibrant 14th and U Street and MidCity neighborhoods by saying “NO ABC License Moratorium for Greater 14th & U Street/MidCity Neighborhood!”

Our neighborhoods today are a vibrant mix of residents, businesses, and services and continue to grow and flourish. There are many other more effective ways to manage multi-use districts like our incredible neighborhoods. An ABC license moratorium is a short sighted and ineffective “solution” to what really is complex mix of many quality of life issues.

Only by bringing together residents, local businesses of all types, government, public safety, and developers, to work together to address all of the quality of life issues can we plan and work toward the common goal of making the Greater 14th and U Street and MidCity Neighborhoods safe and vibrant places to live, work, and socialize.

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. 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.

Only five (5) ABC Moratoriums exist today in DC, and all of the neighborhoods with moratoriums continue to struggle with the same issues that the proponents of the moratoriums said they would solve. These same neighborhoods now also struggle to attract new development, residents and business as well as to keep their neighborhoods vibrant and full of the mix of residents, retail, and services they desire (and even once had).

If you oppose a liquor license moratorium you can sign here.

  • me

    Wait. This would mean that no additional liquor licenses would be granted, or what? (Forgive me, I’m slow today.)

    • 9th St

      It means that new grocery stores and restaurants couldn’t sell alcohol. So no Trader Joe’s at 14th and U St I’m sure. It would mean no new taverns or liquor stores as well.

  • Liquor license moratorium: No. Stringent rules and enforcement regarding crowds and noise: Yes. The experience here in West Dupont from our moratorium is it did not prevent one particular establishment from causing so much noise and other trouble in the neighborhood for 5 years (until they finally had their license put into safe keeping and not able to serve booze/run their nightclub). ABRA did everything it could to keep violations of the Voluntary Agreement from being officially recognized, thus preventing relief to neighbors. ABRA’s being dysfunctional is a far bigger problem than the number of licensed estabilshments. Get on your ANC Commissioners and Council Members cases to do a ground-up overhaul of ABRA/ABC so it is accountable to residents, not establishments.

  • ET

    The problem is that the only business opening in the city seem to be food establishments and many of them use selling booze to stay afloat. I know the theory is that if they have a moratorium than other types of business will move in but that is more a theory than what may actually happen.

    Don’t love that it seems that even dry cleaners have liquor because there are so many places that have it, but I don’t think moratoriums are the way to go. If their goal is to have a mix of establishments, I don’t think alcohol moratoriums will necessarily mean other types of places will move in. It is expensive to open a place, any place, and despite foot traffic many people shop online so stores selling “stuff” may not make enough to stay in business from those that come to the store.

  • classic_six

    “Only five (5) ABC Moratoriums exist today in DC”

    Could some bright soul here please enlighten me as to which are the 5 ABC moratoriums that exist today in DC.


    • anon

      Off the top of my head (apologies if some of these don’t exist anymore):

      Dupont Circle (P Street west of the circle)
      Dupont Circle (17th Street)
      Glover Park (tho I think the moratorium there was softened recently)
      Adams Morgan

      Georgetown’s was lifted in 2010. Barracks Row voted down a moratorium last year. H Street I think is considering one but it doesn’t have much chance of success because of fairly vehement opposition.

      • bryandc

        There’s only 5 in all of DC >> ABC Board Moratorium Actions http://bit.ly/JxDhkM

        • East Dupont Circle
        • West Dupont Circle
        • Adams Morgan
        • Glover Park
        • Georgetown

        I see that the “Adams Morgan Boogeyman” issue has been raised in the comments below. Which is fitting, and worth noting that Adams Morgan has a moratorium in place, one that has done little to address the many different issues that must be managed in an on ongoing basis, but now Adams Morgan residents and businesses struggle with the effects of the moratorium that drives up the value of existing licenses and real estate and actually makes it harder for new business or services (and many existing businesses) to try to open in the neighborhood.

        • classic_six

          Thanks so much to both bryandc and anon for posting this information. Obviously I knew about the moratorium in Adams Morgan – heh.

        • Identified

          I do hope you realize that was snark. If not: #snark

        • Enos

          Yep. Adams Morgan has been an absolute failure.

  • Anonymous

    Moratoriums are awful ideas.

  • Anonymous


  • Identified

    No. I want U St/14th St to BE the next adams morgan.

  • 9th St

    My understanding is that this would also include grocery stores (at least that is the stated intent of the people spearheading this moratorium). So the Trader Joe’s being able to come to 14th and U St. would be in question.

  • styglan1

    Just signed the petition because I agree with its spirit and intent – that being said, I’m on the Columbia Heights and Meridian Hill Park listservs and heard nothing of this. Can someone forward along the ANC name that is proposing this? My ANC has published nothing on this to date.

    • bryandc

      To date, nothing formal has been proposed to an ANC or to the ABC Board, rather a several people have presented this idea to the ANC 1B ABC committee and elsewhere.

      The moratorium process is not a short or easy one; but the petition exists as a proactive way for residents to register their opposition to this short sighted and ineffective “solution” and express their support for better options that actually address the multitude of quality of life issues that face ANY mixed use neighborhood anywhere here in D.C.

  • ClevelandDave

    Unlike other posters generally, in favor of it. Already enough drunks here- don’t need any more liquor stores, bars, etc. Wonder if a partial moritorium is possible- wine and liquor sales only (ie Trader Joes yes, liquor stores, bars, no). A little liquor greases the wheels and gives a place dynamic energy- too much ruins quality of life for residents, increases/attracks crime, and tends to trash a place- Adams Morgan would be a great example.

    • Did you mean wine and _beer_ sales only?

      Otherwise, I don’t see how you’d get a combination that would permit Trader Joe’s but rule out liquor stores.

  • Anonymous

    I’m 100 percent in favor of a moratorium. Where can I sign THAT petition. NO MORE BARS IN THIS AREA. All they do is let yuppies get drunk and pee in yards and make noise, or worse, let people from outside DC come in and get into horrible fights on the sidewalk outside clubs up and down U Street. We have so many bars to choose from in this neighborhood, we don’t need anymore.

    • bryandc

      you do realize that a moratorium would actually do nothing to address any of the issues you listed, right?

      • Anonymous

        It would stop the bleeding, and keep more wounds from being opened.

    • Go back and read what I said about a moratorium not making things better. Consistent and persistent enforcement of the laws is what is really needed…something that does not happen in this city because too many residents choose to not get involved in their communities and make officials and agencies do their jobs, or think that bitching about things on the Internet will magically fix things.

      • Jose

        I think the experience with West Dupont (aka 17th Street) makes the point in favor of a moratorium. While you say that it did nothing to stop the problems associated with one particular establishment, if there wasn’t a limit on the number of clubs, you can be sure that others would have opened, thereby adding to your problems.

        For those of us that actually live near 14th & U, the number of bars, clubs, and restaurants is just continuing to increase. These places, for the most part, are owned by people who don’t live in the neighborhood. They cater to a bunch of people who come here to party, and the crowds treat the surrounding blocks as their own personal playground. The noise, trash, crime, and rodents that come with these types of places does nothing to enhance our quality of life.

        I strongly favor a moratorium, but it may be too late. The neighborhood is rapidly turning into Adams Morgan.

        • Incorrect. The West Dupont Moratorium is centered on P Street from the Circle to 22nd, NOT the 17th Street one. And it is an absolute fallacy (predicated on a deliberate falsification) that more ABC establishments will create more problems.

          As I have said in various other posts, the demographics here in West Dupont differ considerably from other areas, namely that it has more grad student and 30+ professional types who are not into partying all night. We have some issues with a few of the bars at times, but those establishments by and large have been cooperative and responsive about resolving complaints. Marrakesh Palace, on the other hand, snuck in their disco, and for years ABRA and the ABC let them get away with violation after violation of both the laws and the terms of their Voluntary Agreement, and dismissing neighborhood complaints (including many substantiated by police reports). This was just 1 establishment out of about 2 dozen licenses in the 2 block stretch.

          If all those other establishments can either not create problems in the first place, or work with residents to resolve those that do crop up without the need to drag-in our ANC and CM, MPD, and some lawyers for good measure, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the problem is on the rules and enforcement side, not simply the number of establishments. The process needs to be changed to require certain types of applications receive majority resident approval instead of the current approach of “it gets approved unless there is ‘too much’ vocal opposition.” Furthermore, the exclusionary policies and practices of ABRA and the ABC must be redeveloped so that resident complaints are no longer trivialized or dismissed “because the establishment and/or [their] inspectors do not agree.” A perfect example of how dysfunctional the system is, that liquor store that was selling to minors FOR YEARS after being alerted to it by residents and police from 2 juristictions, did not receive so much as a warning letter until Andrea McCarren from channel 9 did that expose. Even then it was weeks before they finally hauled the owner in. And the place is still allowed to sell!

          Another fallacy that went into justifying the various moratoria was that it was to ensure that there would be a diverse mix of retail, not just restaurants. Well, WHERE is that diverse mix? In West Dupont, we lost 3 long-time anchors: the hardware store, the florist, a deli, and a clothing store. What were they replaced with? Eateries. What went in where 2 of those eateries relocated from? Another eatery. What else do we have too many of? Dry cleaners (WHY do we need 4 of them within a 1 block radius of 21st?). What do we not have? Any of those “other” kinds of shops that cater to a neighborhood that we were *guaranteed* would open up if the moratorium was approved. How about a green grocer, butcher, baker, dairy or coffee/tea shop? Nope. You want that stuff, you go to Firehook, Marvelous, TJ’s, Safeway or Whole Foods. (Sorry, but Starbuck’s does not qualify as a real coffee or tea store.) So we have a furniture store and a formal wear shop. They are way overpriced and have an extremely limited selection. The “fad” type shops like Red Velvet and fro-yo parlors are gone in the wink of an eye. Vento was doomed by the realizaiton they were welcome as a restaurant but not as a nighttime hipster party spot.

          With all the supposedly “socially responsible” people in this and other moratorium neighborhoods, the failure to attract and support those kinds of businesses instead of bars and restaurants absolutely cannot be blamed on too many ABC establishments. The people in the neighborhoods who actually want and will support community-serving retail are first lied-to to garner their support, and then marginalized as being “old,” “out of touch with reality” or “ignorant” for demanding it. No. It is the very people who make the most noise against the propagation of bars and restaurants who turn their backs and then welcome them with open arms as they prevent any alternatives from having a chance.

    • classic_six

      Please think of Adams Morgan when you contemplate favoring a moratorium. By putting in place this moratorium, it has done nothing to improve noise, pee, fights, etc. (quality-of-life issues) for the neighborhood or its residents. It has, however, made it much more costly and difficult to change the face of the neighborhood. Are you sure that being pro-moratorium will bring all the peaceful changes for which you are hoping?

  • JoeEsq74

    Two questions:

    Is there a chance that a moratorium causes a new bar / restaurant to take a chance on opening further East (Bloomingdale, Eckington) or North (Petworth)? That might be a good thing. I don’t think it will hurt U Street. It seems to me the sidewalks are more crowded every Spring.

    I assume a moratorium would make existing liquor licenses more valuable (which could be a ‘reward’ for businesses who came in early.) If a restaurant sells, the liquor license transfers, is it possible that the cost of a license gets so high that only deep pockets (chains?) can move in going forward?

    • classic_six

      Might that, in part, explain what happened to Georgetown? Could it be the direction that Adams Morgan may one day be headed (fate of Georgetown, except without the charm of the neighborhood, million-dollar homes and quaintly-charming streets)?

  • Mr. Zilch

    A moratorium is a terrible idea, at least for the here and now. This area is not yet done developing, a moratorium now would suffocate development.

    RESIDENTS! Ask yourselves ” Do I really want to be eating/drinking at the same restaurants in this area for the next 10 years?” A moratorium would create a monopoly, causing the price of goods to rise while decreasing the quality due to lack of competition.

    With careful planning and good dialogue between residents and prospective businesses the Adam’s Morgan nightmare can be avoided.

  • Anonymous

    TJs has already signed to go into 14th and U. A friend of mine who works for the company toured the space and said it will be similar, but a bit smaller than the foggy bottom location. I’m sure they manage to snag a liquor license, moratorium or not (ie: from a place going out of business) between now and when the store opens, well over a year away.

    I have to agree with others that moratorium appears to going about the problem the wrong way.

    • Diskothek

      Can you ask your friend who works at TJs to champion bringing one to the DC USA complex? ;)

      Re: moratorium … the libertarian in me thinks this is a bad idea. There are other ways to deal with the consequences of lots of drunks, but limiting the number of establishments that can sell is not the way, IMHO.


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