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Capitol Hill liquor license moratorium: ANC to talk about whether they want to talk about it

December 6, 2010 - 01:45 PM
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Barracks Row drinks
Barracks Row might start talking about a liquor license moratorium. (Photo: Samuel Corum)

Before we begin, let us be clear: No one has yet formally proposed a liquor license moratorium for the Capitol Hill neighborhood's bustling Barracks Row corridor. So continue to breathe normally.

That said, ANC 6B is hosting a panel discussion tonight to gather input and begin a discussion about whether Capitol Hill might ever want to, at some point in the future, start talking about enacting a moratorium.

"I am not advocating that Capitol Hill should have a moratorium," says commissioner Norman Metzger, who is chairing 6B's Special Taskforce Retail Mix committee. "All I'm trying to do is to help the community be more informed."

That may be, but even Metzger acknowledges the mere act of scheduling such an event is a bit controversial. "When you mention moratoriums here on the Hill, people sort of react in horror," he says.

Metzger says he put together tonight's panel, which will feature remarks from ABRA Director Fred Moosally, ANC 2B's Jack Jacobson (Dupont Circle), ANC 1C's Mindy Moretti and Bryan Weaver (Adams Morgan), and ANC 3B's Jackie Blumenthal (Glover Park), because the ANC has recently been inundated with new liquor license application requests. "There was also this feeling that retail stores were being pushed out," Metzger says.

That set of circumstances recently led the commission to enact a new blanket policy to protest every single liquor license that comes before it. It's not a wholly unique position for an ANC to take (a protest doesn't necessarily mean the ANC wants to deny someone a license, but rather gives them standing to negotiate stipulations before the ABC Board), but it has led to some hand-wringing of late over the future of Barracks Row. Fliers distributed within the community in and around Eight Street SE in recent weeks come emblazoned with such classic D.C. bugaboos as, "Do We Want to Become 'Adams Morganed?'"

So Metzger is hoping tonight's panel will at least allow the subject to be broached, but in a purely informational way. The three commissioners will share their experiences with enacting and keeping moratoria, and Moosally will explain what different kinds of moratoria exist and how they work.

"I look at what other parts of the city are doing, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, 17th Street, and they all have moratoria, and they all renewed them, so I'm wondering, what makes them so bad?" Metzger asks.

Tonight's event runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Brent Elementary, located at 3rd and North Carolina SE.





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  1. Petrarchster Petrarchster

    Jason P

    Dec 07, 2010 - 09:24:01 AM

    A moratorium is not an answer, it's only a reaction. This pattern is happening everywhere in the city, restaurants are the only places that can afford the high rents. How many thriving independent retail stores are there? The city gov would have to be the one to give a helping hand, through things like tax incentives for small businesses, etc etc, but in this economy that is going to be the last priority. Capitol Hill should feel grateful that some good restaurants have come in and try to focus now on trying to stop the area from becoming Starbucks and Potbelly land like so much of the city.

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  2. bossmanalex bossmanalex

    Alex B

    Dec 06, 2010 - 02:54:56 PM

    "Adams Morganed," what a joke. The reality is, there will never be any significant retail on Barrack's Row as these neighborhood idealists want. The few stores there are leaving or will be soon because their business models are dying (video rentals) or the market has dried (urban clothing); for new entries, the existing space isn't ideal, and there isn't enough parking to accomidate the needed shoppers to pick up the rent (if you think they cry now, try proposing a parking garage in the area). Yes, there are some that fit right in with a lower density residential neighborhood (CH Bikes), but by and large, it just isn't an ideal retail area. I know there are some who are obsessed with this idealistic "livable walkable" Capitol Hill, which isn't such a bad thing...but there isn't the population density to support anything other than small bars and resturaunts. Its a fact of life, you need the parking infastructure in place. And back to the "Adams Morganed" thing, you also need more parking for it to ever become anything close to that. Adding a few more bars in place of dying retail establishments isn't going to turn the neighborhood into anything more than it already is.

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