As you know, two restaurants in our neighborhood, Vegetate and Queen of Sheba, have been unable to obtain liquor licenses because they are within 400 feet of a corner of the playing field behind Seaton Elementary School, and there are no restaurants or taverns already in place within that boundary, just liquor stores. Under the current law, more liquor stores are allowed to open near the school, but not sit down restaurants that serve alcohol. The only way to ensure that new restaurants throughout the city can open in commercial areas that are near schools, like the 1400 though 1600 blocks of 9th Street, NW, and serve beer, wine, and liquor, is to change the law.
Toward that end, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans has introduced legislation that would grant the ABC Board the authority to issue a license to restauants or taverns within 400 feet of a school, even if there are no grandfathering restaurants or taverns in place. New establishments would have to apply and meet all the requirements, as well as address any copmmunity concerns. The text of the legislation can be found at:
http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/images/00001/20060405134217.pdf. This bill is simply intended to ensure that restaurants and taverns can apply and be issued licenses on commercial streets that are being revitalized and are near schools, and that as charter schools move into commercial districts, that there are no prohibitions against granting liquor licenses to restaurants and taverns near them.
A public hearing on this legislation, Bill 16-0696, will be held on Friday, June 23, 2006, at 10:00 AM in Room 412 in the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, chair of the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee, will hear testimony regarding this bill. If you support having restaurants and taverns on commercial streets that are near schools, like Vegetate and Queen of Sheba, I ask that you consider attending the hearing and also testifying. The more people who demonstrate their support for this bill by coming to the hearing, the better. Please wear a white shirt or blouse, so that the Council members know that you are there to support restaurants. White ribbons will also be available for anyone who isn't wearing white.
If you are so inclined, you may testify as well. If you plan to testify, you should call John Adams at 202-724-8198 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will have three minutes to speak at the hearing. If you can’t attend the hearing, you can submit written testimony to the Council members on the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee, as well as Committee staff member John Adams.
For information on who to contact on the Council or for a sample letter, please contact Alex directly.