NEWS: Minutes from the April 16, 2014 ABRA Policy Committee Meeting

Committee Members In Attendance:

Commissioner Kevin O’Connor (2B02)

Commissioner Noah Smith (2B09)

Commissioner Abigail Nichols (2B05)

Commissioner Stephanie Maltz (2B03)

Soft Closings

Business Comments:

  • Soft closings are designed to address concentration issues when bars let out – if they don’t all let out at the same time, there may be less incidents on the streets at night.
  • The concept has been endorsed by Councilmembers in the past and by groups such as MADD, as it allows for a period for people to sober up after drinking.
  • Other cities, such as Boston, have recently decided to extend hours to address this issue
  • Businesses would have little incentive to stay open later with out support
  • Feedback from MPD may be helpful

Committee Comments:

  • Unsure how the concept would impact public safety and noise.
  • In the past, the ANC has granted soft closings to establishments as test cases. There has not been enough evidence to support a conclusion for or against.
  • There concern that businesses may not be motivated to stay open the extra time if granted.
  • The committee, overall, looked favorably at exploring more soft closings in the neighborhood.

Action items:

  • The ANC will work with Skip Coburn to identify businesses on a block that may be interested in trying soft closings to help determine if there is an impact.
  • If businesses are interested, the ANC will suggest to ABRA to try a limited test of soft closings on a particular block for a period of 3 months to determine the impact on the neighborhood. Businesses would be placarded but would not incur any fees from the proposed experiment.


Follow-up: ABC Establishment Promoter Licensing Act of 2014

Alternative language was presented by the public, which would alter existing law and place the onus and responsibilities of hiring of promoters on the establishment.

The Public and the committee were skeptical about why responsibilities should be split between promoters and establishments.

The Committee believes that advocating for a business-support position within ABRA would help address many of the technical questions posed about promoters.

It was decided that the ANC would take no action on the ABC Establishment Promoter Licensing Act of 2014.

Noise Task Force Update

ABRA is set to release results of the Noise Task Force on April 28. As such, discussion was tabled.

Protest Updates

Bistro Bistro (2B01): Renewal granted after refilling application. The ANC contests whether it was properly notified.

Midtown (2B05): Hearing date April 23

Dirty Martini (2B05): Protest Hearing held April 10

Rose Bar (2B05): Mediation May 2

Public Bar (2B06): Substantial change application withdrawn after new Settlement Agreement filed.

18th St Lounge (2B06): Roll Call April 21

Bar Code (2B05): Protest date postponed

Chi-Cha Lounge (2B08): New Settlement Agreement signed.

Other Business

Heritage India (1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) seeks changes to Settlement Agreement. They wish to change provisions related to their entertainment endorsement. The Committee agreed to make changes in exchange for including information on a Security Plan in the Settlement Agreement. To be added to the May 2014 agenda.

Local 16 (1602 U St NW) seeks changes to its Settlement Agreement regarding how noise provisions are restricted/enforced. The Committee agreed to delegate negotiations to Commissioner Will Stephens and study the request.