Another Moratorium Bites the Dust – This Time 17th Street

The 17th Street Liquor License Moratorium has officially bit the dust after 23 years. After a split 3-2 decision by the ABRA Board this week, all liquor license types are now officially available for new licensees on the charming street in Dupont (full disclosure: Barred in DC lived on the street for 5 years); there are no caps on any types of licenses, including taverns and nightclubs.

Restrictions on granting any nightclub licenses as a part of a revised moratorium were sought by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, one ANC commissioner, and a local resident, but only two ABRA members supported doing so. Instead, the majority of the ABRA Board sided with the opinion given by the ANC 2B (which voted 4-1-2 earlier this year not to seek renewal of the moratorium), agreeing that a “new direction” was warranted for the street.

The ABRA opinion stated

ANC 2B, in concert with the DCCA, residents, and the industry have been able to work
together over the years to address many of the negative consequences associated with taverns and nightclubs. Like the ANC, the Board believes that if managed properly, a thriving and safe nightlife can act as an economic engine by attracting new businesses and restaurants, diversifying the range of cultural offerings, creating employment opportunities, and increasing tourism.

The Board also agrees with the ANC that many of the concerns raised by the proponents of a moratorium can be addressed by utilizing the protest process or entering into settlement agreements with terms that benefit the industry and neighborhood alike. Additionally, the Board will always exercise its authority to place conditions on licenses where it is appropriate to do so.

The moratorium had been weakened already in 2014 where restrictions on restaurant and liquor store licenses had been lifted (possibly paving the way for the beer/wine-selling Safeway).

Only four moratoriums remain in DC (Georgetown’s restrictions since 1989 were lifted in 2016:

  • West Dupont;
    • Since 1996
    • Expires in 2019
    • No night club licenses
  • Adams Morgan
    • Since 2000
    • Expires currently Sept 2018
    • No new tavern licenses
    • No nightclub licenses period
    • Limit of 10 total tavern licenses
  • Glover Park
    • Since 1999
    • Expires in 2022
    • No new tavern or nightclub licenses
  • Langdon Park (near Echostage at NY Ave NE)
    • Since July 2017
    • Expires in 2020
    • Limit of 3 nightclub/multipurpose licenses.
    • No new entertainment endorsements for restaurants and tavern licenses



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