Divided ANC6b Votes for De Facto Barracks Row Moratorium

Divided ANC6b Votes for De Facto Barracks Row Moratorium

by Larry Janezich

Last night, a divided ANC voted to protest a new liquor license application for Xavier Cervera’s proposed 8th Street Latin tapas restaurant, Pacificos.  Cervera, who proposes a $1.5 million renovation of Capital Video’s, offered to scale back hours of operation and occupancy, to address noise concerns with barriers and sound proofing, and to lead a Barrack’s Row effort to promote patron parking in the lot under the freeway.

The Commission voted 5-4-1 to protest the license on the basis of peace, order, quiet, parking and over concentration.

Commissioners voting to protest:  Dave Garrison, Carol Green. Ken Jarboe, Kirsten Oldenburg, Mary Wright

Commissioners voting not to protest:  Francis Campbell, Neil Glick, Will Hall, Mike Patterson

Commissioners abstaining:  Norm Metzger

At least two commissioners – Garrison and Metzger – signaled they might be willing to live with over concentration if ways could be found to deal with peace, order, quiet and parking issues.

To that end, outgoing ANC Chair Garrison said the commission was looking for “a third way” to deal with licenses, not just to protest or support.  He said he was anxious to see what the Retail Mix Task Force recommended, alluding to the Task Force’s consideration of “guidelines” for the new ABC establishments which could be written into voluntary agreements governing their operation.  The Task Force is scheduled to issue an interim report prior to the ANC’s February 2011 meeting (see previous post)..

Incoming ANC6b 02 commissioner Ivan Frishbery stated during Public Speakout that he thought creating a de facto moratorium outside the regular process was not a good idea and did not have wide support within the community.  He said he would bring suggestions to the ANC in January to initiate addressing neighbor’s issues.  He said that this was not to undercut the work of the Retail Mix Task Force, but an effort to allow the Commission to begin work as soon as possible on ways to deal with these concerns.

In other action, the ANC voted 7-3 to support Bavarian Beer Garden’s application for a tavern license at 8th and L Streets, contingent upon reaching a voluntary agreement on hours of operation and entertainment.

Commissioners voting to support:  Francis Campbell, Dave Garrison, Carol Green, Will Hill, Ken Jarboe, Kirsten Oldenburg, Mary Wright

Commissioners voting to protest:  Neil Glick, Norm Metzger, Mike Patterson


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12 responses to “Divided ANC6b Votes for De Facto Barracks Row Moratorium

  1. RT

    Who cares what lame ducks have to say?? Let’s have the incoming commissioners change the vote, please. It’s the NIMBYs last gasp, before the new blood comes in.

  2. Eric

    One strike against further progress on 8th street and score one for abandoned buildings.

    Also, sorry for the construction company scheduled for the $1.5 million project. I’m sure they weren’t excited about the work during a recession.

  3. Hill_Feller

    Anybody know why Comm. Metzger abstained?

  4. Metzger said if the ANC had been asked to act on Pacificos prior to its rejection of liquor licenses for Nooshi and Moby Dick, “we might be having a different conversation. Under the circumstances, I can’t vote yes and I can’t vote no.” I took this to mean that he favors the project but felt constrained to not undercut the ANC’s previous opposition to the two other licenses, part of the reason for that opposition being over concentration of businsses on the block serving alcohol.

  5. Steve

    The vote represents my views. Landlords on 8th Street can and are jacking up rents because of the success of the federal grants in increasing foot traffic. Non-restaurant retail gets priced out. Barracks Row is becoming Restaurant Row. I’ve lost my walk accessible veterinarian. I’m losing my non-corporate video store. Non-alcohol-serving retail operates at a tighter profit margin. The landlords who can raise the rent don’t care what goes in there. There is no accountability for the increased revenues they can draw off the federal investment. Owning land is not a retail business. As Restaurant Row fills in, auto traffic will increase. Parking gets tighter. More dumpsters with more food wastes invite more rats.

  6. The Politburo

    @Steve: I don’t understand. You express a l lament about losing businesses that you like. But retaining businesses that *you* like is not a generalizable way to run an economy. We tend to pool the preferences of people in general, which we measure by market rates. Apparently people like restaurants more than non-corporate video stores. If you’d like to give the landlord the difference in revenue, I’m sure he would have the video store remain there for you.

    Do you think it’s unfair that their property value is higher because of “federal grants in increasing foot traffic”? I’m not sure I know what the reference is, but I’ll grant it. Is it also unfair that property owners in the area get higher property values because of it? By analogy, should residential property owners have to sell their properties at a discount to compensate for the “unfair” advantage they’ve received relative to other neighborhoods?

    If there are argument to regulate the businesses going in there, those aren’t the winning ones.

  7. Steve

    @Politburo, I understand the your about about how markets operate. My point is that a liquor license in effect operates like a subsidy because it increases the revenue that can be drawn from a property. Whether its a locally owned video store (or a veterinarian) whose business model isn’t subsidized by a liquor license, or a restaurant whose does, the concentration of restaurants still transforms and diminishes the retail nature of Barracks Row. In making the point about “businesses”, I tried to distinguish the actual business from the landlord, in the same way that I would distinguish your lumping together of residential property owners and residents who occupy the residences they own versus those who provide rentals. I didn’t propose that anyone sell their properties to disgorge the windfall of the increased property values, but rather I was responding to the suggestion that the “free market” transformation of Barracks Row into Restaurant Row is not really free because of the public franchise granted by liquor licenses.

    • Stan Olshefski

      @Steve –

      You’re correct in that the liquor license process creates market distortions, but you actually misplaced the subsidies.

      By restricting a business from obtaining a new license, two subsidies are created:

      1) Existing licensees are protected from competition, driving up the prices these businesses charge and the values of their businesses and licenses.

      2) All commercial retail renters (whether they operate restaurants, professional service firms or retail stores) benefit from reduced competition for the prime rental locations. By limiting the types of businesses (particularly businesses that would rent in the current market) you’ve effectively created a price control on rent.

      Meanwhile, we continue to lose out due to the reduced tax collections from the reductions in sales, income and the reduced property valuations. Our city has a massive, growing deficit and people throughout the city are doing the darnedest to prevent a turnaround.

      Now, this is where is gets fun, typically when you create these barriers to entry you get a certain type of business to fill the void created by the market distortions — corporate chains (that you don’t want).

      One reason chains prosper in this environment is that many of them excellent legal counsel well practiced in navigating zoning codes and use restriction boards (ANC boards).

      Again, bravo!

  8. Steve

    @Stan, I assume that “bravo!” is sarcasm and demonstrates that you are very clever.

    To eliminate all barriers to business, do you propose eliminating restrictions on liquor service (other than to maximize the City’s revenue on the license itself) because it operates as a rent control? Anything beyond the costs of the license must be the work of people throughout the city doing their darnedest to prevent a turnaround, right? With the fun you’re having, maybe the ANC should advocate to eliminate all barriers to entry to attract the national retailers and maybe even the type of local business that could generate even greater revenues than large scale retail or restaurants (whether property, sales, or income taxes, or just privilege taxes in the form of license chargers) for example, OTC betting or strip clubs. Maybe even a gun dealer. I’m certain that a market analysis would demonstrate that the neighborhood is under-served for liquor, gambling, and guns. Those revenues could lift the City (and particularly Capitol Hill’s crippled housing market) to tackle the massive deficit.