Petition to Place a Moratorium on Liquor Licenses in the 14th and U Street Corridor Denied

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board cited the “revival” of the area.

Photograph by Flickr user Steve Snodgrass.

Good news for restaurateurs and bar owners with their eye on the 14th and U Street
corridor: The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has officially denied a petition for
a moratorium on new liquor licenses in the neighborhood. The board determined that
such a measure “is not in the public’s interest” after reviewing cases on both sides
and evaluating figures related to the area’s growth in recent years.

“Data collected by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration shows the 14th
and U Street corridor has undergone a revival,” reads a statement by the organization.
“Property values are appreciating, the violent crime rate has decreased, and residents
and businesses alike are being attracted to the area. There was no evidence that additional
ABC-licensed establishments will have an adverse effect on the neighborhood.”

While all four Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the area opposed the moratorium,
the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance actively petitioned ABRA to impose a five-year halt
on the issuance of new licenses and the transfer of existing ones in an area encompassing
an 1,800-foot radius from Ben’s Next Door.
The group also sought to cap the number of new taverns in the area (essentially bars
that can also offer entertainment), limiting them to ten, and to cap nightclub licenses
altogether for the five-year period. The Alliance summarizes its reasoning on its
moratorium fact sheet:

“In areas with a high density of alcohol licenses and further high demand for applications
for new licenses, adjacent residential neighborhoods can be severely impacted by crime,
noise, trash, lack of residential parking, traffic, safety, and congestion, as well
as the possibility of declining property values. Moratoriums help limit further impacts.”

Other bodies, like the ANCs, argue that such concerns can be addressed with less drastic
regulation, such as increasing police presence and the number of street lights in
the neighborhood. New concepts like the Fainting Goat Tavern—which is now in development
and slated to open in November—were caught in the crossfire
and temporarily delayed.

We’ve contacted the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance for comment, but no one was available
at the time of this post. We will update when we receive a response. For more information
on the board’s decision, you can review the notice on ABRA’s website.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.