Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Round 2 in the H Street Liquor License Cap Mtgs


Tonight is the second of three meetings examining whether to (at some future point) institute a cap on liquor licenses on H Street. One key question is, if such a cap shall exist, at what point should it take effect. The concerns are primarily two-fold:

1. preventing the Adams Morganization of H Street;
2. ensuring that rampant liquor licenses don't price out all retail along the Corridor.

The meeting is tonight 7-8:45pm at Sherwood Recreation Center (10th and G) the ANC 6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee (ABL). Full details over at the Hill is Home.


Anonymous said...

I wont be able to make the meeting tonight, so i'll weigh in here, and hopefully someone will read my views and take them into account:

First, H St. will never be Adams Morgan (AM) because the buildings are too small. Even Rock and Roll Hotel, probably the largest property on H would be a small place in AM. You could pack every place on H full of sweaty hipsters and it would have a fraction of the people who frequent AM on any given night.

Second, and I know this one will be controversial because it is DC, but how about letting supply and demand dictate retail vs. restaurants? Seriously, who would rather have a building sit empty that could be a restaurant, bar, tavern, etc, because of the off chance that some retail may come in there some day? Is there any evidence at all, even anecdotal, that there is a demand for retail either from a retailer's, or a shopper's standpoint? At the point where someone thinks that retailing will provide a better value to their potential customers than liquor licenses, someone will make that leap with the dozens (hundreds?) of empty or underutilized spaces on H St.

Not to sound too cliche, but this is a solution in search of a problem.

Maggie said...

Restaurants/bars are what's driving the H Street revitalization. Limiting their growth limits H Street's growth. ANC, get out of the market place. Do something useful like get us a dog park.

Hill North said...

In my opinion, it is the bars and restaurants who have been willing to take the risk to invest in H Street that have been an essential ingredient in driving the amazing growth we've seen over the last few years. At this time, it would be an absolute shame to block someone who is willing to take a vacant run-down storefront and improve it. There are too many vacant properties and too much demand for additional restaurants to add restrictions at this time.

I am also concerned that a cap would create a monopoly for existing bars and restaurants. A little competition is a good thing. By restricting competition, there would be less incentive for existing establishments to provide good service to both the customers and the community at large.

Some would say they want more retail, not more bars and restaurants. I want more retail and less bars. However, more retail won't come about without more density. If you want more retail (and less bars), pushing forward with more mixed-use residential development like the now seemingly stalled H Street Connection redo and other similar projects is the smart move not punishing those who wish to invest now. Lets encourage new retail not add roadblocks to those who wish to start new restaurants when we are just now becoming a real dining destination.

It wouldn't surprise me if parking issues aren't driving some who may push for a cap. I think there are other more appropriate ways to deal with parking issues than to potentially stall development along the corridor through a cap. Lets install more performance parking, improve RPP, weed out unmarked parking areas, or push harder for better transportation options instead of punishing folks who wish to start a business. I choose to live in the city and sometimes we all can't park right in front of our house as if it were the suburbs.

tiffanyc said...

with the rent prices, most place need a alcohol license to make it a sustainable business. i don't worry about us becoming adams morgan. i worry more about us becoming u street/columbia heights with huge, boring condo buildings filled with more twits.

we could use more retail in the balance, and i'm in favor of initiatives to draw some here, but supply and demand should ultimately determine the retail/restaurant balance.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that it is the bars and restaurants that are causing commercial rents to skyrocket. It seems to me that rent prices are artificially inflated as a result of so many commercial property owners holding out for the proverbial gold at the end of the rainbow. Vacant and blighted buildings should be taxed at a far higher rate to incentivize these property owners to do something with their buildings rather than just sit on them and hope to one day sell them for $10 million.

Anonymous said...

Until every blighted and empty storefront on H street is filled, we should not be having this conversation. I am all for encouraging new retail investment but that should never come at the expense of other investment. I would rather be known as an entertainment destination than a place that is sketchy and run down. (I met an out of town friend for dinner last night and those were the adjectives he used when he arrive.) Seriously, who would compare Kalorama or other neighborhoods around Adams Morgan to ours right now? Outside of late night nusainces, it is one of the better neighborhoods in the city.

I love the neighborhood as it is, but we shouldn't try to limit its growth.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear. Let H Street find its own identity, be it through the development of new bars and restaurants or retail. There is no need to stifle growth and force a faux-Pleasantville neighborhood - one of the charms of H Street is the initiative small business owners have taken to give the neighborhood its own character.

As a resident with the occasional desire for a solid night's sleep, it would be nice if we could continue to maintain the 2 am (3 am?) quiet hours, but otherwise, I quite like my neighborhood and support diversity of business development.

Anonymous said...

People don't support the retail that we do have. The flower shop is struggling. Both kids clothes stores closed, The excellent Stella Blue shop closed.Even the Muslim incense-T shirt-shoes place is moving to a lesser location than the corner of 13th & H. Look at the grief that the 7-11 had to go through to open their doors.

I'm sure that you have an excellent reason not to buy, but don't blame retailers for not trying. A license cap will only make Joe Englert a verrrry rich man.

diane said...

Let me say this as I have only lived here for 11 years..The kids shop that was a resale place on H near 13th wasn't even open the hours that they had posted on their little sign. I tried to go on several Saturdays during what should have been her business hours (again per the sign) only to find the placed closed tighter than a drum. I am not sure of the loctation of the other store I am sorry to say. Some of the shops that sell women's clothing are geared towards those that weight around 80 pounds and are not over 18 years old.
And don't please jump all over Joe, he did start this ball rolling...and where would we be without place decent to eat, let alone a great variety, empty buildings used by crack heads, alleys overrun with rats..the area has improved in the years I have been here...granted there is noise outside when the bars shut...but it isn't the fault of those bar owners, people just talk loud and voices carry much further at night. I, for one say...thanks to all of the new owners. People used to ask me how I can live where I do saying awful when I tell people where I live..they say "cool" great spot.

curmudgeon said...

The meeting last month was very educational -- it was a shame that more people didn't attend. The head of ABRA was there, who provided lots of info about the difference between a moratorium and a cap/ban, and the different kinds of each, the size/shape of the area that must be covered by one, as well as when one would get one. I had had in mind that if we wanted, we could get one well in advance of when you might think it appropriate (e.g. "we've got 23 now, and that's not an issue; but more than 50 would be, so let's put in a cap at 50 that we'll revisit later"). That's now how it's done. If you're considering a restriction now, from ABRA's perspective it's to apply soon; and once it's in, you've got it for several years (can't remember how many, my notes aren't here). That's one thing that soured me on the idea right now. I'm glad we're having the conversation, but I don't think such limits are needed very very soon.

Also present were two commissioners from other ANCs: one from the 18th Street/East Dupont area, where a moratorium exists, and one from Barracks Row, where one was considered and rejected. Their insights were pretty interesting.

One thing mentioned by the panel that I think is worth emphasizing is that moratoria/bans/caps are not the only way of influencing the direction of growth. More detail in the zoning overlay is also a route, and one could imagine less unintended consequences than an ABL limit.

I hope folks make the meeting tonight.

curmudgeon said...

Oops. "That's now how it's done" should have been "That's not how it's done."

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the first comment. This is so premature. I really wish I could attend but strongly believe that we should do everything in our power to encourage growth in our area. It's not like there are strip clubs popping up. Some of the best restaurants in the city are popping up every month. Why push it away?

And keep in mind, I live on 13th and Wylie and was woken up at 2, 4, and 6 am Sunday morning by drunk people. I'm not isolated from the drawbacks of the many places that serve. However, I think it is extremely premature to start selecting the type of growth we allow in our neighborhood. We're not there yet.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the ANC for getting ahead on this issue and trying to educate us all about it.

I'm on the fence--probably there will be need for some community intervention to avoid becoming Bourbon street, but I don't think we're there yet.

I do assert that the CAPACITY and NATURE of new establishments is more important than the total number of establishments. Having lots of little neighborhood-focused bars and taverns, like we have now, is manageable and fun. Things change fast when the giant clubs catering to NOVA and MD come in. That was my experience living in both U St. and AM before they got bad.

Same with Bourbon street. It's not the restaurants, jazz clubs or small bars that make it largely unlivable, the problem is the factories pumping neon light and slinging 32oz hurricanes at college kids. I am for any process that makes room for positive community involvement.

Anonymous said...

I am with the vast majority of the comments here. And, also, will not be able to attend tonight. It is VERY premature to be discussing this. Someone said it earlier but I will reiterate-- the biggest complaint that residents have about the development so far is also a relatively easy fix that the city has control of--PARKING. There are a number if smaller viable city owned lots that could be available to the public including the Auto-Zone lot, and the lot behind the RL Christian library.

Anonymous said...

Give the existing bar owners a monopoly and double/triple the value of their liquor license with the stroke of a pen? Who is behind promoting this discussion?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:49pm: I know the allure of conspiracy theories is really strong; but the ANC-6A ABL Committee has been having this conversation off-and-on since early 2007 at least, when everyone (including the Committee, chaired back then by Mary Beatty) agreed there was no imminent need. So far as I can tell, people are just motivated by a desire to be proactive.

Hillman said...

An overlooked constituency here is the property owner on H that hasn't had the good fortune to get out of a long term lease or whatnot to develop their property.

Who are we to arbitrarily tell them they weathered the bad times but now we are going to artificially limit the value of their property by deciding that since they weren't the first Cinderella to the ball that they are out of luck?

I favor restricting property owners rights as a last resort and ONLY if there is a real problem.

I don't see such a problem.

As for retail.... Folks, let's face it. This aint 1985. I'm not going to a cutesy storefront for much of anything. Not when I can get it from for half the price and have it delivered at my convenience.

Other than neighborhood needs like dry cleaners, maybe fresh flowers, and various grocery needs, the age of storefront retail is pretty much dead. Sure, some will survive, but they are going to have to work VERY hard to compete against the internet and the suburban chain stores, both of which will have lower prices and more selection.

Only a few niche stores will survive.

Assuming they will all flock to H Street, which simply doesn't have that much residential density, is sortof silly.

Anonymous said...

@5:06:00 PM


Anonymous said...

Quiet hours? really?? Could you be more selfish? You know not everyone is necessarily on the same schedule as you. If you are a light sleeper rather than attempt to shut down the entire city for your convenience maybe you could just buy some 75 cent foam earplugs at CVS.

Also, I agree with the consensus here and would not like to see any cap put on liquor licenses. There are plenty of empty store fronts for everyone right now.

Trinidaddy said...

I'll support whatever irks the NIMBYs and keeps this neighborhood from becoming populated by hyper, self-centered Cap Hill types. And this is my backyard as well.

Jesse said...

Late to the party, but Hillman @ 5:10 hit the nail on the head. Retail is dead; Service is in.

Someone open a coffee shop that caters to parents of kids with ADD. I'll buy a $7 cup of coffee and a $20 bagel to let my rugrat run wild in your establishment for 20 minutes...once he gets old enough.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there something called the h street overlay designating each section of H street into residential, commercial and nitelife. What happened to this idea or was it just something to sell the stakeholders to get their consent on increase zoning density? DC is full of plans that mean nothing.

Anonymous said...

Re: 7:59's comment. Doesn't the overlay inhibit mixed-use development. Rather than segregating the different uses, it might make more sense to have all types of building uses throughout the corridor.

Alan Page said...

they explained the h street overlay in the moratorium meeting. it basically gives a density bonus to developers who built projects in accordance with overlay, which essentially means you get to build more (i.e. bigger return on investment) if you follow the overlay. want to build a mime school with five stories of artist housing on top? do it in the 1300 block of H.

Anonymous said...

@11:24:00 AM. True but they enacted it anyway. The part that favors high density development is followed but the segregation part is ignored. Hopefully like this moratorium talk.

Anonymous said...

@6:27 PM. By "quiet hours," I meant the time that the bars close. It's reasonable to have a standard closing time and last call. Clearly, if I was expecting to hear only crickets and whippoorwills in the night, I wouldn't be living on H Street.