Housing Complex

Moratorium Floated For Boozy Barracks Row

Incoming: Noodles and kabobs. (Lydia DePillis)

Incoming: Noodles and kabobs. (Lydia DePillis)

Some Capitol Hill residents have watched with alarm as more restaurants and bars have flocked to vibrant 8th Street SE, replacing long-time retail establishments. Most recently, the darling pet shop Chateau Animaux announced it would sell its building to not one but two restaurants: A Moby Dick House of Kabob, and a noodle place called Nooshi.

For the last several months, a "retail mix committee" of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B has been thinking about the problem: How to retain neighborhood services like pet shops and dry cleaners, when bars and restaurants can pay much higher rents? The Barracks Row zoning overlay limiting eating and drinking establishments to 50 percent of street frontage only covers the blocks south of the expressway; most of the core commercial zone can have as many liquor licenses as it can hold.

Last night, Commissioner Norm Metzger laid out next steps. Starting in December, a series of public meetings will contemplate various potential remedies. First up: A moratorium, which would set a cap on the total number of licenses allowed. It's the most blunt instrument neighborhoods have at their disposal to limit the impact of alcohol, and many have taken that step; Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, and Glover Park all have caps in place. Councilmember Jim Graham recently raised the idea of slapping a moratorium on U Street.

It's not a done deal, of course. "The take-home message from this is not that we are advocating for a moratorium on Capitol Hill," Metzger cautioned. But there will be loud voices in favor. In fact, two people at last night's meeting rose in support of a temporary freeze on new licenses while the Commission decides whether it wanted to endorse a full moratorium (which can only be imposed by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration).

"We didn't choose to live in an Adams Morgan-like environment," said one woman, "which I think we can all agree is a bad thing."

  • http://www.flickr.com/ Mr. T in DC

    I'm sick and tired of the NIMBYs in this city. Moratoriums or caps on bars and restaurants aren't needed, aren't good, and don't work. Just look at the negative effect one of those overlays has had on Cleveland Park. They're artificially propped up a vacuum cleaner store and a lamp store that nobody uses, and kept other storefronts vacant for years when quality, sit-down restaurants would have been willing to move in. Aargh...

  • Mike

    God forbid this city gets more fun....I really wish this city would become more like Hoboken nj

  • typical

    ANC's need to be abolished.

  • Rick Mangus

    First if those so-called concern citizens near Barracks Row would of supported retail there, then maybe they would still be retail, but they didn't. Two, as far as moratoriums they are a load of crap and Graham is a idiot! Three, 'typical' you are right the ANC's should be abolished. The majority of the people who sit on them are like crazy little war lords and busy bodies, who have let power go to their heads!

  • Pingback: Yglesias » Preserving Retail Mix

  • Spaceman

    Heaven forbid they lose the darling upscale pet store and have to walk down a full block to Pawticulars for another pet store. I'm all for keeping places other than bars and restaurants open, but two pet boutiques in a block stretch is a little ridiculous

  • Trulee Pist

    I object to your characterization that "For the last several months, a 'retail mix committee' of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B has been thinking about the problem."

    Ridiculous! ANC-6B never thinks, never acts, they just yap and yap and yap, and when residents try to get a word in edge-wise, they slap the uppity residents down.

    in January 2009, when this ANC was electing officers and getting organized, the minutes tell us, “Several Commissioners noted that further exploration and potential action is warranted regarding the impact to the area from the number of restaurants and bars on 8th Street SE.” Then they did nothing....

    A year and three months later, in April 2010, “Commissioner Jarboe, chair of the Special Committee on Retail Mix, submitted a Work Plan for the Committee covering the next several months. The Committee plans to hold four public meetings during which various topics will be discussed. A draft Committee report will be issued for public comments in mid-September 2010 and then submitted to ANC6B for approval at its regularly scheduled meeting in October 2010. “

    Those “four public meetings” Jarboe promised to hold? He actually held exactly none.

    In the meantime, the retail mix situation continued to deteriorate, while ANC-6B fiddled.

    Residents are annoyed at ANC-6B's lack of effort on this and so many other big issues on which this ANC has failed to hold public hearings or really, to do anything

    * no hearings on re-routing Pennsylvania Avenue SE, a ridiculous folly residents had to shout down without any help from the scared-of-its-shadow ANC;

    * no public hearings on what the community wants for the community center being built at enormous public expense at the Old Naval Hospital,

    * nothing from ANC-6B as the Hill East "development" languishes and falls apart, and most amazing of all,

    * ANC-6B's "action" to deny the Hine Jr. High developer a public ANC hearing the developer was requesting to discuss plans with the community, which ANC refused to allow until after the election. Everywhere else, the ANC has to haul the developer in to discuss things with the community. In ANC-6B, the ANC slams the door in the face of a developer who wants to meet with the community, and blocks that meeting!

    The one thing ANC-6B did do on its own was the ANC's proposal to designate Barney Circle an historic district. Embarassingly for the ANC, CM Tommy Wells had to step in the day before the Historic Preservation Review Board scheduled vote on Barney Circle to ask insist the vote be postponed because the ANC, our dear representative of the residents, had failed to communicate anything about this to many of the residents of Barney Circle. How much more disfunctional can you get?

    Annoyed residents learned of an obscure provision of ANC-6B's by-laws (never used in the past 10 years or more) allowing citizens to serve on ANC-6B committees, and a highly respected, well-known volunteer named Larry Janezich volunteered to serve as his SMD's volunteer on the ABC committee. ANC-6B recruited another volunteer to block Janezich from getting that citizen member slot and helping them out.

    So you think Commissioner Norm Metzger is going to hold "a series of public meetings will contemplate various potential remedies. First up: A moratorium, which would set a cap on the total number of licenses allowed"? Maybe he will, maybe he won't.

    But if ANC-6B is ever going to get off its ass and do anything, we need new commissioners. There are no fewer than 22 candidates running for the 10 ANC seats in ANC-6B, far more than almost any other ANC in the city--a measure of citizen disgust with the do-nothing ANC-6B. Larry Janezich, thank goodness, is one of those candidates.

    I know it's too much to ask, but I wish City Paper would haul off and send a reporter over to see why so many people are running for ANC and what the campaign is all about.

    Get a new ANC-6B on November 2, then we'll see action, hopefully reasonable and effective action, on the retail mix on 8th Street and all the other issues this ANC ignores.

  • blogo

    As a 6B resident, I must concur. Even if the ANC has a point, they have zero of my trust. It is just a bunch of old busy bodies.

  • Trulee Pist

    +1, blogo

    Please vote Nov. 2 and tell your friends to do the same.

    We have 22 candidates to choose from, most of them exciting, well-intentioned young people and experienced, effective volunteers who get things done in the neighborhood and now are running for ANC. No reason any of those old busy bodies you refer to should be on the ANC next term, if you and your neighbors do something about it.

    Talk it up. Come meet the candidates at Eastern Market North Hall. Then vote for a new ANC-6B on November 2.

    When: Wednesday, October 20, 6 – 8 pm
    Where: North Hall of Eastern Market (7th Street & NC Avenue).

  • Scott Kratz

    As a resident of Barracks Row, I am concerned about the rapid loss of retail & services that support what Tommy Wells calls a "5 min. neighborhood" where one can walk to get most of your daily needs while supporting local businesses. The last thing we'd want is to lose a barbershop, bike store or cleaners as we've already lost our local vet & now a pet store. I would support a temporary (1 year) moratorium for new liquor licenses along 8th street from D to I street as the ANC and neighbors investigate longer term solutions such as tax abatements for retail / services or an overlay.

...