Gray cools neighborhood tensions over alcohol issues

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Mike Silverstein, ANC commissioner and ABRA member, Mayor-elect Gray and David Alpert of Greater, Greater Washington
Mike Silverstein, ANC commissioner and ABRA member, Mayor-elect Gray and David Alpert of Greater, Greater Washington
Billed as a “chat” with soon-to-be-mayor Vincent Gray, Monday’s “members only” meeting of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association proved to be a love-fest when over one hundred members warmly applauded the Mayor-elect
  DCCA President Robin Diener and Mayor-elect Vincent Gray (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) DCCA President Robin Diener and Mayor-elect Vincent Gray
for his support of continuing "voluntary agreements" between establishments that sell alcohol and the neighborhoods they inhabit.   The agreements, mutually agreed-upon accords between the businesses and their communities over noise, trash and crowd control, are considered highly successful by neighborhood groups in Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and across the District. 

But concerns have arisen in several neighborhoods over indications that current administration officials have ignored or given lip-service to neighborhood concerns while favoring business interests over all else.
 
The Dupont meeting took place in the Belmont Mansion with its the magnificent Christmas tree and full holiday decorations. Gray was clearly impressed and asked whoever did the décor to “be at my place in a week.” 
    
Gray quickly adjusted to the grandeur and launched into a talk on citywide issues, followed by a Q & A session led by DCCA
 Davis Kennedy, publisher of The Current Newspapers and Chairman Gray (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Davis Kennedy, publisher of The Current Newspapers and Chairman Gray
President Robin Diener.  Diener specifically asked Gray about a statement by Charles Brodsky, chair of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, that he, Brodsky, did not know how to “value” a family’s sleep “over the revenue that would be generated” by a liquor-serving business. “He actually said that?” Gray asked. “They’ve really lost sight of who we are,” he added to a round of applause. “Our residents are the heart of our city….I don’t support attacks [on voluntary agreements].  We need revenue but at what sacrifice,” he said to more applause.
    
On other citywide issues, Gray stressed his messages that everyone will have to sacrifice in the face of the District’s dire financial state, that he is committed to education reform, that he looks forward to a productive working relationship with his successor, D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown, and that the Council is encouraging development in eastern areas of the District through changes in the Comprehensive Plan.
 
The meeting adjourned but Gray continued to chat informally with the attendees as the warm, holiday mood spread to the wine and refreshments served in the spacious dining room next door.

DCCA members at Belmont Mansion await mayor-elect Gray (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) DCCA members at Belmont Mansion await mayor-elect Gray

0 Comments For This Article

Peter Rosenstein

The reality is that Charles Brodsky's statement was taken out of context when given to Mayor-elect Gray. It is clear that when people move next door to one of the business strips in Dupont Circle- either Connecticut Avenue, P Street or 17th street, they need to understand that there will be some noise coming from the establishments they live next door or close to. These business strips are what attract people to the neighborhood. They make Dupont Circle the vibrant place it is.

I am all for controling the amount of noise but Charles Brodsky is right when he says that we cannot totally hamstring businesses as they provide a large amount of the taxes the city collects. We should be asking some of the people who want to overcontrol business and are onstantly fight business if they are willing to increase their tax bill in exchange for limiting a business. I would assume in most cases the answer will be no.

Voluntary agreements are fine, but they need to make sense. There are other ways to ensure that business hours and limits in patio seating etc. can happen. The limits can be put directly in a liquor license and we need to make sure we use that avenue and others when we work with a local business that is trying to open or expand.

It is inappropriate to challenge every business that opens just for the sake of a challenge and we need to work on the law to see that doesn't happen.