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The group of Dupont residents who frequently jaunt through their neighborhood streets with sound meters are apparently not wasting their weekend nights in vain. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ruled this month that Dupont’s Ozio Restaurant & Cigar Lounge will no longer be able to have live bands perform on its roof. The establishment on the 1800 block of M Street NW must now also enclose its rooftop while a DJ is playing.
As I detailed in a feature earlier this year, the Dupont watchdog group—-the D.C. Nightlife Noise Coalition—-has long complained that bars like Ozio are unreasonably loud and ruining the neighborhood for nearby residents. Ozio, they said in a statement protesting the renewal of the lounge’s liquor license, is “blasting 101 decibels of pounding, pulsing, DJ spun music into historic Dupont Circle.” (D.C. has a legal limit of 60 decibels, as heard from outside a venue, in a commercial zone at night, the level of a normal conversation. The group took the sound reading from Ozio’s roof.)
The ABC Board ultimately decided to renew Ozio’s liquor license, but prohibited the establishment from “generating amplified sounds that may be heard in a residence or dwelling.”
“The Board’s ruling in the Ozio case, in particular the provision that the Ozio must close its roof when DJ’s are playing music, is a victory for long-suffering Dupont Circle residents,” said Sarah Peck, a founding member of the coalition, in a statement. “The Board’s message for club operators is clear: outdoor music near where people live must be controlled. Clubs must close their windows, doors, and roofs, and turn music down to legal, non-disturbing levels.”
In its ruling, the board was careful not to give too much credit to the noise coalition and said it gave “minimal weight” to the unofficial sound readings submitted by the Dupont residents and the venue itself. The board says while it found that Ozio was causing noise disturbances in some nearby homes, it said there was no evidence that the noise coming from Ozio could be heard in the Palladium, the apartment building at 1325 18th Street NW where Peck and other members of the coalition live.
It also ruled that Ozio is not hurting property values in the pricey neighborhood.
The lawyer for Ozio, Michael Fonseca, says the establishment does not think the decision is reasonable, particularly the provision that prohibits it from playing music with the roof open. He says it will appeal the decision in the coming days.
The Board’s full decision cab be read below:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.