Monday, April 15, 2013

Proposed Moratorium Captures Attention of Residents and Businesses in the 14th and U Corridors

The Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance has filed a petition with the Alcohol and Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) to establish a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U corridors.  ABRA has certified the petition and has scheduled a hearing for May 22. 

A listening session sponsored by the three affected ANCs was recently held at the Thurgood Marshall Center.  The northeast corner of ANC 2B is included in the proposed 1800 foot radius affecting the 1400 blocks of S, Swann, T, and U Streets and a small part of the eastern end of the 1500 block of U Street.

The residents group filed the petition to “give the neighborhood a chance to drive towards a more sustainable living model for all the residents. We are teetering on the verge of the same problems that have plagued Adams Morgan and forced them to institute a moratorium,” said SDCA President Joan Sterling in her opening remarks at the recent listening session.

She advises everyone that the moratorium idea is not new because previous ANC 1B Commissioners like Peter Raia had advocated for such a moratorium because there has been a proliferation of alcohol licenses. The ABRA definition of overconcentration is defined in their regulations.  The proposed moratorium zone is considered a “portion” of the neighborhood and is drawn using an1800ft. radius.  The regulations say that overconcentration in a portion is 18 establishments of a combination of all classes of licenses, or 9 of one class. New legislation was passed last December  that has now lowered the threshold from 18 to requiring only “several” in a portion. 

“The number of licenses in the proposed portion when we filed was 107 and this has reached approximately 120 currently, with others in the pipeline,” reported President Sterling.  In total, there are over 16,000 alcohol seats in the proposed moratorium zone (with higher numbers when you consider their occupancy).    

She notes that moratoriums are temporary, giving the neighborhood a chance to “catch its breath” and work toward filling the area with the services and amenities that we all need to remain long term residents.

There is always talk about how to attract new businesses to the area, and many suggestions are given. This discussion has been going on since Georgetown, Dupont, and Adams Morgan put moratoriums in place. So far nothing has been done to get those incentives instituted.

Unfortunately, most of the incentives suggested are dependent on the District Government to support and implement.  But in the mean time we need to fix the problem we have now with the over concentration of liquor licenses, to the exclusion of the other business and services we all need.

Moratoriums and incentives are not mutually exclusive – it will take both to drive the improvements we all need to live sustainably in this vibrant and diverse neighborhood.