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In a refreshing and heartening display of flexibility, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B voted last night to lift the prohibition on new restaurant-class liquor licenses in the moratorium zone west of Dupont Circle.
After a series of meetings, a committee of the ANC produced a report evaluating the current moratorium, which expires later this month. While the report’s drafters rejected the idea of opening the zone up to more bars—reacting in particular to “one actor” within the zone, belly-dancing spot Marrakesh Palace—they found that the neighborhood would be strengthened by the addition of more restaurants. To that end, the ANC’s resolution to extend the moratorium for another three years includes a modification that would get rid of the cap on CR/DR licenses, currently set at 21, altogether.
In addition, they want to shrink the zone to exclude One Dupont Circle, the American Council on Education-owned building where Ping Pong Dim Sum has been planning to open for months (they also had to dispatch with another antiquated rule against filling in arcades).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that ANC 2B is declaring open season for serving booze—commissioners will still demand that restaurants sign voluntary agreements that will confine their hours of operation. But it is at least a recognition that absolutely limiting the number of liquor licenses can squelch neighborhood vibrance, and even be counterproductive, by jacking up the price of entry so high that only large chain restaurants can enter.
Also encouraging: Down on Barracks Row, the ANC’s Retail Mix Task Force decided not to move towards a moratorium, but instead work with more flexible techniques to control noise and parking problems.
Huzzah for rational and progressive hyperlocal governance!