City Paper Widget

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ANC2B Endorses Reduced 17th Street Liquor License Moratorium in 4-4 Tie Vote

An obscure quirk in local regulations may prolong the life the 17th Street liquor license moratorium.

The vote by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont was a 4-4 tie on a resolution to recommend the continuation of a reduced version of the current moratorium. Under normal parliamentary procedure, such a tie would mean that a motion (in this case, a motion to continue a reduced version of the moratorium) would fail. However, the ANC2B city-wide bylaws for ANCs state that, in the case of a tie, the chair of commission will have, in effect, an extra vote to break a tie. In this case, ANC 2B chair Will Stephens (district 08) cast the deciding vote.

The vote on the resolution recommending continuation of the moratorium was:

For: Stephens, Abigail Nichols (05), Kishan Putta (04), and Kevin O'Connor (02).

Against: Leo Dwyer (07), Mike Feldstein (01), Stephanie Maltz (03), and Noah Smith (09).

Not voting was Commissioner Mike Silverstein (06). Silverstein works for is a member of the ABC Board and recuses himself from all votes on liquor licensing matters. In this case, Silverstein was attending an ABC Board meeting and was not at the ANC meeting.

The resolution now goes to DC's Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board, which will make the final decision on the moratorium.

The resolution as passed has two significant points that mark the continued slow decline of the power and use of liquor license moratoriums. First, the resolution recommends that the liquor license moratorium be lifted completely for restaurants, legally defined as establishments that make more than half their revenues from food. Second, the moratorium will run for three years, instead of the possible maximum of five. See a draft of the resolution (.pdf) here.

Debate over the moratorium was long and took up most of the meeting. Before the debate on the resolution described above, Abigail Nichols put up a rival resolution requesting a 90-day emergency extension of the moratorium while the ANC looked into the matter further. The motion went down to defeat by a vote of 7-1, with Nichols as the only vote in favor. Similarly, a separate motion by Nichols to make the moratorium that passed five years, instead of three, died when there was no second.

The ANC meeting was held last night (August 14) at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Some background on this story is available here.

Further reporting on activity from this meeting will follow.


  1. One note in an otherwise thorough summary: The requirements for a restaurant are more detailed than offered. An alternate revenue calculation of $2000 per seat per year was specifically added to ABC law several years ago to accommodate restaurants which also contain a bar area and derive a significant amount of revenue from such or, for example, are more a "lounge" environment offering both food and drink (and oftentimes entertainment). This was necessary to reflect the actual operation of food-serving establishments which are restaurants in activity and definition, but that does not punish them for deriving significant revenue from alcohol sales. Otherwise, a large number of restaurants would not have been able to comply with the revenue requirements of the law by a purely arbitrary measure.

  2. silverstein does not work for the abc board. he is an appointed member and retired journalist.

    1. You are right. I've corrected the article. Apologies.

  3. The citywide ANC bylaws does not say that the chair is the deciding vote in the event of a tie. ANC 2B bylaws say this. There is a question of whether this clause in ANC 2B bylaws is in violation of the Home Rule Charter.

    1. This reader is also correct. See Article V, Section 3 here:

      I've edited the article. Apologies.

  4. I'm not seeing the images on this or the first post (they show up fine on the third post).

  5. Fixed - permanently I hope. Thanks for heads up.