|ABC Board Chair Ruthanne Miller speaks about the plan|
"There will be increased noise checks starting this Thursday in many areas, including this neighborhood [i.e., Dupont Circle]", said Fred Moosally, Director of D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). "Business will not be informed beforehand."
The task force
The task force will respond to complaints the same night, Moosally said. Those found in violation of D.C. noise ordinances will receive a written warning for a first offense. A second violation would be result in a $1000 fine. A third violation would result in a $2000 fine. After that, violators who are holders of liquor licenses may be in danger of losing that license.
The task force will operate from Thursday to Sunday evenings only, from 10pm until 3am. Moosally said liquor licensees will receive a letter reminding them of the increased enforcement. The letter will also be posted on the ABRA web site.
ABRA is also working on a fact sheet to explain D.C.'s noise laws in plain English.
Moosally also announced a hotline for noise complaints. The number is 202-329-6347. This hotline will work outside of normal business hours only, starting Thursday.
ANC2B Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06) said there was a problem of "one hand of the government not knowing what the other is doing."
Silverstein is also a member of D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.
The enforcement of noise ordinances is hampered by a confusing patchwork of jurisdictions. For example, if noise from a nightclub comes from amplified music from a nightclub, it is an enforcement problem for ABRA. However, if the noise comes from heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment, it is an enforcement problem for the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). People yelling and screaming on the streets, or excessive noise from private homes, is a matter for the police. This is why a multi-agency task force is necessary.
The target of the task force will be liquor licensees and other businesses that are open late, not private individuals or homes, Moosally said.
A member of the audience asked: "How long will this go on?"
"We'll have to see how it goes," Moosally replied.
A group of nightclub owners came out to make sure their case was heard. They were reassured they would not be victimized by the process.
"The hospitality industry generates $400 million in taxes," Silverstein said. "It is the second biggest industry in D.C. after the government.... Maybe the third biggest, after corruption."
"We respect the residents but we also respect the business people," said
Correction: The director of ABRA is Fred Moosally, not Mousally. Apologies for the error.