Vince Gray and Barracks Row

One of my campaign volunteers just had face time with Vince Gray out in front of Watkins.  She took the time to lobby him to strengthen ABRA, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration, and voluntary agreement enforcement, citing problems on Barracks Row.  He responded that he’s been hearing similar complaints throughout the city.  It seems as if he’s made up his mind to make some new appointments…and now Barracks Row is on his radar!

Thankful Baptist: Problem Fixed!

We heard there were problems with voting this morning up at Thankful Baptist–total confusion, and wrong ballots being handed out.  We filed a complaint with the Board of Elections and, as of 9:30 a.m. this morning, the problem has been fixed.

If you voted before that time and believe you recieved the wrong ballot, please email me at:

Happy voting!

Important Message from Save VA Ave Park

Barracks Row Main Street Supports Eliminating Green Space on the Hill

The Save Virginia Avenue Park group wants to alert everyone who cares about preserving green space on Capitol Hill and supports protecting the Virginia Avenue Park that the Barracks Row Main Street organization (BRMS) has endorsed the Marines’ plan to bulldoze over the green space at the Virginia Avenue Park (including a community garden and dog park located there) to turn it into additional Marine barracks.

The BRMS represents great businesses on Eighth Street.  The Save Virginia Avenue Park group is shocked to learn that the group representing merchants on Capitol Hill supports efforts to eliminate green space and a community garden and dog park located there and used by so many Capitol Hill families.  The BRMS has no jurisdiction over the park and should not have a say in the matter because the park is situated outside of Barracks Row.  But, we have learned that at least one of the developers proposing to take the park for development is also on the BRMS board.

If you care about preserving green spaces and preserving community gardens and dog parks on Capitol Hill — let the member merchants and BRMS leadership know you that oppose them supporting plans to bulldoze over the precious green space still left on the Hill.  Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back.

The Save the Virginia Avenue Park group is not against the Marines needing more space, but we do oppose their plan to take away a large public park.  There are other options on the other side of the freeway for new Barracks space — such as a parking lot and space inside the Navy Yard.

Consider reaching out to the BRMS leadership and member merchants to let them know how disappointed you are that they support taking away green space:

BRMS leadership:

Contact Info: James Dalpee, Executive Director, Barracks Row Main Street

Sharon Bosworth, Events and Marketing Manager

BRMS merchants who have public email addresses:

Full list of BRMS merchants (no emails provided):

Also, consider signing the Save Virginia Avenue Park petition and becoming a Facebook friend.  We need as much community support as possible!

Thank you!

The Save Virginia Avenue Park Group

Update on Virginia Avenue Park

I just learned that Barracks Row Main Street has endorsed the Marines’ plan to build on VA Avenue Park.  One of the developers involved recently joined the BRMS board.  BRMS is reported to be working closely with a group of developers including Sealander, Leon Kafele, and Madison Marquette.

Possibilities for Barracks Row and Problems with ANC6b

Residents have complained about late night noise and rowdy behavior associated with patrons of Barracks Row.  I have tried to find out more about possible remedies, including the alcohol moratorium.  I want to share the information I have found in a clear and helpful fashion.  I also want to be frank in saying that I believe that the current ANC, including the current incumbent serving ANC 6b-04, have not been as helpful to the residents experiencing these problems as they ought to be. 

Alcohol moratoria exist in several areas of the city, and two additional areas—Barracks Row and U Street—have recently expressed an interest in reviewing them either through an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) or their councilmember.  (Here is a link to FAQs put up by the Glover Park Citizens Association regarding their moratorium, with secondary links to the actual agreements throughout the city:

Our ANC 6B has relegated consideration of a possible moratorium to the Special Retail Mix Taskforce.  We already have resident members appointed to that committee, and I encourage a neighbor of Barracks Row to volunteer and accept appointment to that committee

A decision on a moratorium would be issued by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) Board, as are other regulatory decisions, such as alcohol licenses, and revisions or suspensions of these.

ABRA’s burden of proof for protesting a liquor license is on the protestors.  There is an extremely helpful powerpoint presentation on exactly what ABRA weighs when it considers a liquor license protest (I am sending it in as an email attachment to contacts and will create a link to it on my website on Monday).  Incorporated citizens groups that have certain membership criteria, like the Glover Park Citizens Association, carry weight with ABRA, as does police opinion and a paper trail of police reports.  Five residents or more can also protest a license, and the presentation sets forth the criteria for doing so; an ANC may do so as well.

Moratoria carry an even greater burden of evidence.  It is ABRA’s bluntest tool and they generally impose it on a wide area (5 block radius) considered deeply problematic in its entirety.  The only ABRA moratorium that I know of which is limited or discrete in some sense is the current moratorium on the sale of singles (also supported by the police.) 

I have not investigated this matter fully or to my complete satisfaction, but I do not at this point know of a record of police reports, etc., that would lead me to believe that ABRA would consider a moratorium for Barracks Row at this time.

At the same time, my research has suggested that there is a city-wide crisis in the crafting and enforcement of the so-called Voluntary Agreements, the specific and tailored agreements negotiated as part of securing a liquor license.  Our neighbors to the north, ANC 6A, recently voted to protest ABRA’s dismissal of several Voluntary Agreements they had successfully negotiated.  Foggy Bottom’s ANC recently voted to refuse to support renewal of a rowdy establishment with a history of fights, including one fight with the police, and ABRA still found the ANC’s logic “flawed.”

A realistic remedy to the problems of Barracks Row—one that we can pursue right now—is to demand a return to more stringent enforcement of Voluntary Agreements and to elect an ANC that will represent the residents’ voice in the negotiation and renewal of these.

On the eve of election day, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of our elected officials.  We should not squander it.  To that end, I have emailed presumptive Mayor-elect Vince Gray and I encourage you to do the same:  My email, copied below, stresses the importance of returning to strenuous enforcement of Voluntary Agreements and expresses my desire to see the appropriate language for these clarified, as well as the appointment of an ABRA Board member familiar with our current problems on Capitol Hill and sympathetic to residents’ concerns.

I also believe the ANC, including the ANC Retail Mix Taskforce, should investigate appropriate zoning tools to attract more retailers by limiting the percentage of restaurants and taverns (as they are called) in a specially designated area like Barracks Row.

Why hasn’t our current ANC informed us of the appropriate mechanisms to protest a liquor license?  Isn’t part of their function to facilitate our interaction with the city and its manifold bureaucracies?  If elected ANC Commissioner, I would supplement the information on this with links to existing Voluntary Agreements.  I would advocate that ANC6b adhere to its 1999 Guidelines for protesting liquor licenses, which insures ANC refusal to support renewals if the conditions of the Voluntary Agreement have not been upheld.  The effectiveness of these guidelines depend upon recording resident complaints effectually – something our current ANC has not pursued.  Finally, I would take the Retail Mix Taskforce and resident involvement in it seriously, and not just use it as a campaign tool to fend off the criticism and mounting concerns of our Barracks Row residents.  It is inexcusable that this “Taskforce” was dormant for so long.  There are tools at our disposal less severe and more achieveable than a moratorium, but we must have a motivated ANC in order to use them to good effect. 

I have given this issue thought, but I do not know as much about it as I would like to.  I welcome your comments.


To the Democratic Party DC Mayoral Nominee and Council Chair Vince Gray:

 I write to express my serious concern about the current lack of alcohol Voluntary Agreement enforcement  on Barracks Row, Capitol Hill, as well as to add my voice to ANC 6A’s recent vote to protest the confusion over ABRA’s abrupt departure from standard Voluntary Agreement language and their subsequent delay in clarifying what they would like to see.

Voluntary Agreements are important tools to ensure public safety and order, but only if they are enforced. I am dismayed by the current situation on Barracks Row and I sympathize with residential neighbors who have voiced serious noise and public disorder complaints. 

 I urge you to remedy this situation upon election and assumption of the Mayor’s office.  I strongly encourage you to appoint a Board member to ABRA who is familiar with Capitol Hill and sympathetic to residents’ concerns.

 Yours sincerely,

 Larry Janezich

What’s Wrong with Our ANC

As a resident, you have no way of knowing how your commissioner voted on any given issue, or why they voted the way they did.

How can this be?  Well, a combination of two things.  One was the closed executive meetings–a dubious practice contrary to the sunshine laws that the ANC was forced to abandon in the wake of the activism of Barbara Riehle and myself.  Incumbents justified the closed meeting as nothing sinister–and I agree, as far as it goes; it was, they said, merely an attempt to get the “messy” deliberation out of the way prior to the open general meeting.  As far as I know, residents are still not provided with a digest of these meetings.

Second, the ANC meeting trancripts–often posted weeks after a meeting–do not record commissioner votes by name.  (Votes are recorded as a numerical tally.)  How did your commissioner vote on the controversial Barney Circle meeting (see post below for summary)?  You would have to be there at the meeting to know.  How did they explain their views?  You would have to hope they decided to state these at the meeting and that the transcript, months later, would reflect these views.

If you stop to think about it, this falls well short of the accountability that residents deserve.  Why should you have to become an expert and devoted researcher and expend your time just to figure out what your ANC Commissioner should be telling you in the first place?

It’s time for the ANC to record votes by name.  In addition, if elected, I would use this website as a platform to explain to why I voted the way I did.  You’re busy.  I want you to be engaged and informed, not discouraged and turned away.

A good day to Vote!

There’s a chance of rain on election day, but skies are sunny and clear right now.  Come by today or Saturday to vote at Hine…the last 2 days of early voting.  Remember, tomorrow morning is Take Your Child to Vote on Capitol Hill…Vote fearlessly!