A look at what's going on in Trinidad, on H Street, and in the larger area north of Capitol Hill.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Longer Hours for Patios and Roof Decks on H Street Get Voted Down

Patios & rooftop decks draw crowds on H Street. Some owners want to keep them open later.

Last night, the ANC 6(A) Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meeting was dominated by a discussion over a proposal to extend operating hours for patios and rooftop decks on H Street to 2am Sunday-Thursday and 3am Friday-Saturday (hours are currently limited to 11pm from Sunday to Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). The meeting took place at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Ave NE) and virtually every seat in the space was taken. The overwhelming consensus from neighbors present was opposition to the proposal to extend hours, mostly due to noise concerns, although a few neighbors and venue representatives such as Joe Englert spoke out in favor of the proposal. In response to statements that the proposal to extend outdoor hours could lead an observer to infer that he was a bad neighbor or insensitive to noise concerns, Englert offered noise reduction solutions to area homeowners and noted the impact of his financial investment on H Street itself. Representatives from Cusbah and Dangerously Delicious Pies were in attendance at the meeting as well.

Neighbors from Linden Street, Wylie Street, and 11th Street, testified to various noise experiences under the current hours for patios and decks (including at least one neighbor who noted that noise mitigation efforts at Little Miss Whiskeys had ameliorated prior noise issues). With the overwhelming number of community members testifying against the proposal, the Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee proceeded to make a motion to keep hours the same and all but two members of the committee voted in favor of this motion (two of them abstained). Of those who testified, there was some complaining about the lack of family restaurant options on H, to which Joe Englert responded that there were such options, such as The Argonaut. A Dangerously Delicious Pies representative also mentioned the family friendly nature of his pie shop. There were also some calls for H Street bars and restaurants to be more involved in the community, to which Englert responded by explaining how he had been fined for attempting to offer discounts across several of his H Street venues, because this charity effort was characterized by ABRA as a pub crawl (which is prohibited under current voluntary agreements under which Englert's venues have all agreed to operate).

District Cuisine also offered a summary of the meeting.

I got there too late to hear discussion of soon-to-open sports bar Sin Bin's proposal to operate its summer garden with similar hours (ending at 2am Sunday-Thursday and 3am on Friday-Saturday), but I imagine that was opposed as well, judging by how longer hours were being opposed throughout the latter part of the meeting.

The takeaway from all this is: no longer hours for patios and rooftop decks on H Street. What do you think of the outcome and where do you stand on the issue?

* Full disclosure: As I testified to in the meeting, in response to my noise complaints, Englert paid for the installation of a sound deadening solution for the rear windows on my home, which faced one of his establishments. I still testified against later hours, as even with this soundproofing effort, I can still hear noise late at night from the bars, usually through my skylight, but occasionally even through the "sound deadening" windows.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a shame. These bars are the single reason why H street is what it is today. Leave it self entitled nimby's to look out solely for their own interests instead of rewarding the forward thinking nature of these earnest businessmen.

Dec 18, 2013, 1:57:00 PM

Blogger pat said...

I think that mitigation would be the way to go.

The restautants and bars are big drivers of developement for this area.

I'm over on Benning so we have our own issues.
I think i would prefer bar music to the folks who wander our streets.

Dec 18, 2013, 2:56:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm Pat, you still have those same people wandering the street, plus the drunk bridge & tunnel crowd throwing up everywhere and looking for their car.

Dec 18, 2013, 3:39:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Joey

Dec 18, 2013, 5:42:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bars have no regard for the home owner neighbors. It must be nice for the owners to go home to their quiet home where they don't have to hear the sound of bottles being dumped into outdoor trash cans at all hours.

Dec 18, 2013, 9:39:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, I was not able to be at the meeting, but does anyone know why they went for the whole enchilada of using the outside space until closing instead of negotiating a new agreement with the ANC or seeking some middle ground on the Hours? For some of the places I could see adding one hour or allowing them to keep it open but not allowing outside beverage service or the taking of beverages outside after a certain hour. I have to believe that one of the big reasons for seeking later hours is to have someplace withing the establishment for people to smoke, which wouldn't.

Dec 18, 2013, 9:51:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that they went for the whole thing with the thought that they would gain a little. However, that strategy just made them appear untrustworthy and really pissed their neighbors off.

Dec 19, 2013, 4:44:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meeting seemed to be based on what people felt and not what is really going on and what is best. 20 people showing up for a meeting with an ANC that has over 2,000 residents is hardly representative (1%) but getting people involved is always hard. There should be a compromise between residents and business owners based on each location and not a blanket policy. It would be later than 11pm on weekdays (suggest midnight) and later than midnight on Friday and Saturday (suggest 1am) but not 3am. Residents are enjoying a lot of investment done by business owners. The neighborhood is still in a very fragile state. It has taken a decade or more of planning, investment, and hard work. Something Shelonda Tillman, a candidate for Tommy Wells Ward 6 Council seat, seems to not know her history of the area. The noise can be an issue but if done in cooperation it can be reduced and mitigated. It is a city and not a small town in Nebraska so you will always have ambient noise from buses, trucks, people, police/fire (trolley) at all hours of the day. Many of the comments were off topic and had nothing to do with rooftops, summer gardens, and sidewalk cafes. People wanting more family places and retail should invest in the neighborhood and open a place if that is what they want. The urinating/defecating in the alley happens day and night. People working during the day are not around so it goes unnoticed and unmentioned. During the day it is people hanging out on the streets with no job and at night it is restaurant goers (many who live in the area and are our neighbors). Either way, day or night, it is usually the business owners cleaning up after them. Why, because many of the business owners live and employ people in the neighborhood and are good people. Comments like “there [is] no reason for people to be drinking or even out after midnight” shows that person is not the neighborhood demographic. http://dcist.com/2013/12/visual_shows_how_millennials_really.php Comments saying crime has gone up can be substantiated by MPD reports which show it has gone down. Noise complaints can be substantiated by MPD and ABRA which show there have not been many complaints to MPD or ABRA for H Street business in the ANC6a area. This city is polarized on everything when issues like this can be solved by cooperation and having data to understand what is going on.

Dec 19, 2013, 8:48:00 AM

Anonymous h st ll said...

"* Full disclosure: As I testified to in the meeting, in response to my noise complaints, Englert paid for the installation of a sound deadening solution for the rear windows on my home, which faced one of his establishments. I still testified against later hours, as even with this soundproofing effort, I can still hear noise late at night from the bars, usually through my skylight, but occasionally even through the "sound deadening" windows."

- wow, that ain't hip hop. Sad

Dec 19, 2013, 9:05:00 AM

Anonymous MyBabyDaddy said...

I hear drunk bums screaming at each other sometimes outside on the sidewalk at 1am. I wonder if they can pay me for some soundproof windows so I can then complain that I can still hear them through the skylight.

Dec 19, 2013, 9:38:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually ANC6A represents about 16,000 residents. Each commissioner represents about 2,000 residents. This meeting was held by a committee of the ANC.

The meeting was open and well publicized. There was even a happy hour for the "let the bars have their way about everything" crowd at Rock & Roll Hotel prior to the meeting.

The bars picked this fight, and they lost this round.

Dec 19, 2013, 10:14:00 AM

Blogger Alan Page said...

@h st II,

If you want to meet up to have a freestyle battle "8 Mile"-style, I'll gladly embarass you. Pick your place, I'll show you what's hip-hop. LOL.

Dec 19, 2013, 10:27:00 AM

Blogger Alan Page said...


I didn't ask for sound deadening (not soundproof) windows, they were offered to me. Big difference. I said that to emphasize Englert's willingness to work with area neighbors. Even though, in the long run, the problem wasn't entirely solved, the effort was appreciated.

There is also a huge difference between an argument, which is temporary, and music/noise being heard every night of the week from an establishment that entered a voluntary agreement not to create noise on that level. Your drunken bum analogy, thus, does not work at all here. Unless you enter into signed voluntary agreements with bums, which would be unique.

Dec 19, 2013, 10:36:00 AM

Anonymous MyBabyDaddy said...

I guess my analogy wasn't the best but I was trying to point out the futility of expecting peace and quiet in an urban environment. Since I don't live on Linden or Wylie, I am not as sensitive to these issues so my point is moot anyway. But personally, I'd rather listen to the loud din of a bar outdoor patio than 2(or more) crazies screaming obscenities at each other and breaking bottles. Trade offs everywhere, c'est la vie.

Dec 19, 2013, 11:23:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of the patio/rooftop hours, you will still have the noise and people leaving the bars. Nothing you can do about that.

Dec 19, 2013, 12:09:00 PM

Anonymous H st neighbor said...

Maybe the complaining neighbors will finally be happy when some of these businesses end up failing and closing up shop since they can't generate enough revenue to pay their rent,employees and taxes w/ sales before 11pm. Empty store fronts don't make any noise I hear.

Dec 19, 2013, 12:09:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: How many happy ANC6a residents have to show up to balance out the few squeaky unhappy residents out of the 16,000 in the ANC?
Answer: It doesn't matter, the ANC does whatever it wants to.

BTW I think their goal is empty storefronts.

Dec 19, 2013, 3:15:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

regardless of how much credit you want to give, or not give, to the bars that opened early on and in recent years, the completion of the rail line, coupled with the opening of legitimate anchors such as Giant and Whole Foods, will give H street all the momentum it needs going forward. If the bars can't turn a profit without a solid contingent of dude-bros yelling off their roof decks at 3am, businesses that can will soon take care of those empty storefronts.

Dec 19, 2013, 3:34:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a neighbor on G Street I didn't expect a slew of restaurants or bars to open or even a trolley to start up when I moved here... Though I wasn't able to attend Tuesday night I did email my opinion to an ANC member ahead of time.

I'm wondering if people opening businesses are counting chickens before they hatch, hoping in their business plans that they will be able to have late outside hours? A large percentage of businesses do fail. Hope is no plan. I don't think it is fair to put business failure on local resident's back for not wanting weekend nights without it seeming that a party is in their house. A business needs to be viable under the current conditions... with no road blockages going such as when H Street was dug up to put in the tracks or late hours.

I go to businesses on H Street as often as I can but when I hear neighbors talk about hearing people on bar decks late at night or being awakened by H Street patrons making noise outside homes later at night I don't like it. If Joe Englert is reading this... I do go to Argo probably more than any other rest/bar H St. and probably bring out of town guests with me 1/3 the time. Then it's Belgian beers after that, also with guests. Pies... not so much though I can definitely see hitting that after a visit to the Hotel.

Dec 19, 2013, 3:36:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

apologies for my grammar but you get the gist

Dec 19, 2013, 3:38:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live a half block off H and didn't hear about the meeting until the morning of (though the moms on the hill list serve). And so while I'm sure the bars did encourage their patrons to attend the meeting, they weren't blanketing the locals asking them to attend. Add to that the fact that it was raining and the meeting was held during the last week of school prior to the winter break and you can begin to understand why the families that would be directly impacted weren't attending en masse. we don't want music blasting on an rooftop deck at 3 am much like you probably wouldn't want construction done next to your house at 3 am (which by definition would be impeding growth and development). I don't understand why our position is so controversial.

Dec 20, 2013, 9:21:00 AM

Anonymous h st ll said...

"If you want to meet up to have a freestyle battle "8 Mile"-style, I'll gladly embarass you. Pick your place, I'll show you what's hip-hop. LOL."

Wait, what? If you feelin' froggy then jump manne.

Dec 20, 2013, 10:44:00 PM

Blogger Tom said...

UNBELIEVABLE. Apparently since the ANC has such broad, discretionary powers over private businesses and commerce, I wonder if they would pass a "regulation" that does not allow any home owner who opposed later hours to reap a windfall profit when they sell their homes since any increase in home prices is 100% directly related to the bars. How many people would have moved to this sh*thole of a corridor if it weren't for Joe Englert? Seriously!

Dec 28, 2013, 6:03:00 PM


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