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[DCNC] Community Associations Continue To Attack

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Community Associations Continue To Attack Nightlife

Recently, Neighborhood Alliance for Balanced Growth , an umbrella organization formed with the support of anti-nightlife groups such as the Logan Circle Community Association (“LCCAâ€), Dupont Circle Citizens Association (“DCCAâ€) and Kalorama Citizens Association (“KCAâ€), along with 10 or so other groups, have issued a letter arguing for more control over the ABC-licensing process. The D.C. Nightlife Coalition (“DCNCâ€) does not dispute that in the past neighborhood groups and community associations have done quite a bit of good in cleaning up the streets, lowering crime, and bringing problem businesses into compliance with ABC law. However, since those days, the neighborhood groups have become increasingly anti-nightlife and, while invoking the successes of the past, have sought for even more control over every square inch of the District. While not to disparage the good they have done, or continue to do in other areas, we cannot allow these groups’ extent of influence hijack the ABC-licensing process.

Assuming a level playing field between protesters, ABC licensees and their proponents, DCNC supports reasonable agreements made between businesses and neighborhood associations that deal effectively with trash, vermin, crime, rowdiness, and excessive noise. But when unbridled control of every aspect of all that goes on inside and outside ABC-licensed establishments is allowed – as is the case under the current system – these groups have shown a willingness to restrict activities that are constitutionally protected and should be beyond their authority to prohibit. For example, no group should be allowed to ban live music, deejays or dancing, especially without specific evidence of wrongdoing – which is exactly the current horrible state of affairs in D.C.

DCNC does not advocate, as the letter suggests, that we “restrict [the neighborhood association’s] ability to participate†in the process. In fact it is we, the nightlife proponents, who are unable to participate in the process. Current law only recognizes protesters and leaves out those who would wish to support a license applicant in a “voluntary†agreement dispute. Our inclusion in the process in no way restricts their ability to participate.

The letter asserts their knowledge of the economic contributions of nightlife businesses. How can that be when they support provisions that would prevent an owner from selling their ABC license that is intrinsically tied to the overall value of that business? Owners often have their life savings invested in these licenses. Yet these provisions would rob the owners of thousands upon thousands of dollars. The amount of tax money the city would lose is many times more than it would collect if another 7-11 or check cashing store opened up in its place. Not to mention, the jobs ABC-licensed businesses create often pay over three times that of a mini-mart.

More importantly, less bars and taverns are not what people want. The Logan Circle ANC (2F) and LCCA famously ignored the results of their own partly financed survey in which a majority of the residents in Logan Circle are not only unopposed to more nightclubs, but actually prefer more restaurants, bars and taverns in their neighborhood.

So why should we as citizens care? Because it at these establishments where our favorite nightlife activities occur. Dual use restaurants, bars, taverns, and nightclubs are homes to live music, deejays and dancing all over the city. And by placing substantive limits on the restrictions allowed in “voluntary†agreements, we protect the right to participate in these activities.

The letter goes on to rehash Councilmember Jack Evans’ (Ward 2) tired old fear of restaurants “morphing†into nightclubs. Again, what is the point here? Are these citizen’s associations worried about not being able to find a place to eat? Hardly. They know, as well as we do, that changing license’s categories (such as from restaurant to nightclub) in the District is nearly impossible. In fact, in moratorium zones, such as Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan, it is impossible because the transfer from a restaurant to a bar is prohibited under the moratorium. Thus, their arguments to enforce food sale requirements, some of the strictest in the country, are intended solely to exert their already excessive control or otherwise force nightlife establishments out of the neighborhood and to further destroy nightlife in the District.

Lastly, the call to action at the end of the letter is a subtle jab toward efforts to create an email campaign that, as they characterize it, seeks to “encourage non-residents of the District to voice their support.†We now see in plain daylight these unrepresentative neighborhood associations undermining the recent campaign to bring nonresidents into the District – a campaign that has cost District residents almost $500,000 to date. This attitude is exactly what will stagnate the District’s revitalization and push the District further into debt and farther away from economic stability and meaningful government services.

We hope the newly formed Neighborhood Alliance for Balanced Growth and their signatory members take another look at the reforms they are suggesting and realize that this constant power-grab shames the meaningful and worthwhile efforts of these civic associations. Today’s actions by such groups diminish their credibility, once deserved, by encroaching more and more upon our constitutional rights, artistic interests, economic stability – all done while ignoring the very residents they claim to represent.

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the only people who bother with these associations are old folks who have too much free time. why do they get all the power?

as a logan circle resident, i'm all for more restaurants and bars. tell me where to yell and i'll do it (once finals are over).

btw, logan tavern (across from whole foods) is pretty good.

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Originally posted by scratchapella

i know it was a few weeks ago, but how'd the dc council hearings go?

It went well. Barrett and I got yelled at by CM Cantania, but then we met with him the following week and sosrted things out.

The Regs were passed by the Council 11 - 1 with only Sandy Allen voting against (wooot, props to Sandy). We got the 14e referendum removed - a horrenous rule that let basically anybody drag out an ABC protest for years. (Incedentally, Adrian Fenty tried to re-institute it and was resoundly defeated 11 - 1. Any Ward 7 members on CP? Don't vote for Fenty!)

Right now there are some more amendments to the Act before the Council, the most germaine to our cause being the definition of a "restaurant". This is the old arguement that at night restaurants "morph" into nightclubs - and total bullshit.

more DCNC info to come, plus our first ever DCNC Constituent Poll. Make sure you are all signed up so you can recieve it by email and give us your input.

http://www.dcnc.org/join.pl

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