Young and Hungry

U Street NW Liquor License Moratorium Rejected


Looks like the bar and restaurant explosion in the 14th and U streets NW area won't be slowing down anytime soon.The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted unanimously this afternoon against a proposed liquor license moratorium that would have capped the number of alcohol-serving establishments within a circular 1,800-square-foot area. The proposed moratorium is the second ever to fail in D.C.

"U Street has blossomed with new businesses we need to continue the rejuvenation," said ABC board member Mike Silverstein.

The moratorium was proposed by a neighborhood group called the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance, which had hoped a moratorium might curb parking, noise, and rat problems as well as encourage more retail diversity. But the group was met by fierce opposition by other neighbors and business owners who argued that a moratorium would kill the neighborhood's vibrancy and growth.

The U Street, Shaw, Logan Circle, and Dupont Advisory Neighborhood Commissions all voted against the moratorium. Even Mayor Vince Gray said he opposed it.

"This is not a popularity contest," Silverstein said. "But we can neither ignore the welfare of the residents nor the will of the public."

Silverstein said that in the mid-1990s, the U Street area was in a "deep sleep," as many business remained closed decades after the 1968 riots and because of the U Street Metro station construction. "Some people who live here who moved in before or just after the Metro construction see that deep sleep as the benchmark for peace, order, and quiet. And this board member does not."

Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance president Joan Sterling took issue with that assessment after the meeting. "That's clearly not true," she told Y&H. "We've all been here through a lot of the revitalization, which we supported. But at some point, there has to be a balance."

Sterling says she was not surprised by the board's decision. "It wouldn't surprise me that there's been political pressure on this as an issue," she said, mentioning the mayor's statement.

While the liquor board acknowledged that some neighbors experience disruptions to peace, order, and quiet, it believed other tools exist to address the concerns raised in the moratorium petition. One of those tools is the ability for neighborhood groups to protest an establishment's liquor license in order to work out a settlement agreement that dictates things like hours and patio seating. Sterling says her group will continue to protest liquor licenses in the area.

"They've clearly said that's our only option," Sterling says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Urban Pioneer

    Joan Sterling is to be charitable, disingenuous. She has obviously ripped a few pages from that miscreant Marilyn Grove who tore the fabric of the DuPont Circle community apart in pursuit of her own agenda. Grove has died but the damage she did lives on.

    If 300 people showing up at a community meeting and voicing opposition at at a 60 to one ratio over the proponents suggests politcal pressure to Sterling she has, if little else, mastered the art of stating the obvious. Its called democracy Joan.

    Sterling and her cronies tried everything, phony citizens groups, intimidation of elected officials, even passing some fool off as some kind of ANC Chairman Emeritis to make this thing fly and it was resoundingly defeated

  • NIMBYs Haz a Sad

    Sterling admitted on Kojo that she would have liked the moratorium to go into effect in 2008. The audio is out there. Come on, 14th has changed dramatically for the better over just the last five years, and Sterling says she would have denied licenses to all the amazing places like Matchbox, Ted's Bulletin, Le Diplomate, hell what were any of the places that were even open in '08? And yet she also claims she and her little group aren't opposed to the development?

  • Corky

    Why don't these teetotaling prudes move back to freakin' Kentucky if they don't like city life? These nimby's med into the Dupont area a few years back and began harassing all of the bars, restaurants and clubs, driving many out of business. It's about time the city stopped caving in to this nonsense. It's a CITY! Get used to it!

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  • NYC

    "amazing places like Matchbox, Ted's Bulletin, Le Diplomate" I feel sorry for you that you think what those places serve is food. With any luck we'll get an Applebee's soon and you'll just be in heaven.

  • LoganRes

    Totally agree with all the above comments. We as citizens of DC should demand that Sterling and her group pay back the city for all of the tax dollars spent from the office of zoning, DCRA, ABC board, and the unpaid ANC board who spent tens of thousands of hours on answering her constant complaints and requests for information.

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  • umm

    Matchbox is a bit chainy. But knocking Ted's Bulletin and Le Diplomate? I question your palate.