The power of ABC licenses

Jim our great leader sent out an email a few days ago alerting us to the fact that three places in the TC are renewing their liquor licenses. The 5C board may consider protesting all the licenses. I have mixed feelings about it.
One of the places is C&B Incorporated, or Walter Johnson’s Liquor Store at 1542 North Capitol Street, N.W. (Application No. 70552). That’s the liquor store at the corner of Florida and North Cap. Where all the people hang out. Some of them waiting for a bus. Some of them not.
Another is Moon Liquors aka K&S Liquors at 322 Florida Avenue, N.W. (Application No. 60771) Sometime back one of the residents had a problem with that place. She (and some others) reported drug dealing occuring in the parking lot and there where all sorts hanging out. Well the place was sold and under new ownership an arragement was worked out. Since then, I don’t see people hanging out on a regular basis. They now hang out and sell drugs at the shuttered (maybe to open soon, who knows) 4th St. Dry Cleaners. A few feet over.
Lastly, is Sunset Liquors, 1627 First Street, N.W. (Application No. 60657) across the street from the Florida Ave park, where the homeless men hang out. It has been mentioned that we would solve a lot of the loitering problems and the drinking problems occurring in the park if the liquor store wasn’t there.
As I mentioned, I’m torn. I’d like to think that I do support small independent businesses. On the other hand, I’d like to make the Florida Ave park a dry park, as well as the little island on North Cap and Florida. The most hostile thing would we to deny a small business the one thing that allows them to exist, the ABC license. But if the liquor stores which are all along Florida Ave (K&S @ 4th & FL; Sunset @1st & FL; Walter Johnson’s @ North Cap & FL) were to go away, some problems with public drunkeness, littering, may decrease. When asking some city personnel (cops) how would we clean up the FL Ave park, the answer was get rid of the liquor store.
I guess in my letter to my ANC guy I’ll say that I would prefer a change in what the business sells (no more silver 211, I’m sick of seeing those cans in treeboxes)over plain old denial of their license. Other neighbors may feel different, and they will need to write their own letters to their ANC guy or gal.

11 thoughts on “The power of ABC licenses”

  1. It is absurd that the dumbass cops said to get rid of the liquor store to clean up the park. How about arresting litterers and loiterers? They did it in NYC 15 years ago. It was the little “quality of life” things that caused NYC to turnaround immensely. I have a big problem denying those stores liquor licenses to get rid of litter and loitering when a constant police presence would do it. The bums will just go buy liquor somewhere else and still loiter and drink. The loitering and drug use will always be there as long as the cops do nothing no matter where the liquor store is. The park is inviting and the current police allow it to happen. If the cops were there simply enforcing simple “quality of life” laws like public drunkeness, urination, loitering, and littering, a better result would be achieved. But, I would expect as much from the dumbasses who patrol around here.


  2. You read angry.
    The liquor store is just too convenient to the park. Yes, the loiterers could buy there drink elsewhere but they would have to walk over a couple of blocks for it instead of just across the street.

  3. I think getting rid of the pay phones is also a good idea. Who uses pay phones except drug dealers (or buyers) anymore?

  4. Most of us on SQ 507 are opposing Moon/KS/RK liquors (322 Fl Ave) because of the following:

    1)They do nothing about the drug dealers that use their store property for dealing. The cops can’t be everywhere, & this area is considered the “nice” part of 5th District. So if we have to call the cops 10 times a day, the people that run the store could contribute as well. In fact, last week’s shooting victim was hanging out there an hour before getting popped. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

    2)I have personally called 911 to report a violent drunk on 4th ST, only to see him go into the store &
    be sheltered while the police drove by & looked for him. They shelter violent drunks just to make a buck by keeping them drunk. If that’s the kind of independent business you want in your neighborhood, then let’s just open official crack dens, brothels or something that sells weapons. I really don’t care if “the little guy” goes out of business if he’s just in the neighborhood to exploit people w/o contributing anything.

    3)They host/tolerate drinking parties in their parking
    lot with increasing frequency…currently 3 to 4 per
    week. Mari, I don’t know the last time you walked down that alley, but since we go there every night to feed the cats, we see the parties all the time.

    4)Due to the hole in their back fence, these partygoers & others use the back of the store as a
    bathroom & fill the alley with litter. Again, we see this all the time.

    5)This month, the back of the store caught on fire, requiring DCFD to come & put it out. I don’t know if
    this is because of problems with the store, such as wiring, or cigarettes from the partygoers, but I think its a sign of things to come if this continues.

    These bums are very location-centric. The liquor store on RI & 5th doesn’t have these problems, because the folks running it don’t tolerate it. These alcoholics buy a bottle, go outside & drink it, pee it out in the alley or sidewalk, & then go back in & repeat the process. If the store were gone, they would go to the next nearest one & set up shop there.

  5. Is protesting (preventing?) a liquor license renewal a tactic to get the stores to agree AND ABIDE to a new standard of practices in selling alcohol or is it to shut the stores down? The reason I ask is that I definitely think something needs to change– that’s for sure.

    I would like to see neighborhood retail flourish and I’m afraid that if the liquor stores close we’ll see more carryouts or another liquor store pop up. Or just more uninhabitated buildings.

    It seems like if the police would enforce open container and littering laws, many of our complaints about the liquor stores will erode. If it’s no longer easy to sit and drink outside, I imagine much of the related crime would drop too. People would head elsewhere to hang out.

    How hard is it to stop people with open containers and ticket them? I have dozens of friends that got popped for that in college. I guess it’s a matter of police priorities in the ‘hood vs. a college town.

    When do we get a broken windows police strategy for DC? That’s what I want to know.

  6. Truxtonian,

    That liquor store ALREADY has been operating under such an agreement, negotiated with the ANC the last time their license came up for renewal. One of the key points was that they keep the rolling shutters on the 4th ST side up during business hours so they can monitor the activity on their property & take corrective action as needed.

    Jim Berry knows all the stipulations, but the last time I talked to him about it, he mentioned they had violated all of them except putting some “no loitering” signs on their exterior wall.

    Once again, this comes down to residents doing something about it, because the system won’t. Keep in mind, even if MPD cites these people, they’ll probably just ignore it. And if they get arrested, they are such a low priority given DC’s revolving door justice system, that they’ll be back out the same or next day.

    I know what you’re saying about it seeming easy, but I’ve found that trying to compare the ‘hood to the rest of the world just doesn’t work 🙂

  7. In the last PSA meeting, Lt. Welch said that there are several ways of dealing with drinking in public.

    1. ask the person to pour out the contents.

    2. arrest him/her for open alcohol container offense.

    (there may have been other options but he didn’t mention them/I didn’t hear them)

    the number 2 method takes a lot of time (away from the street) so cops have to make a judgement call and resort to # 1.

    I really don’t mind #1, as long as the cops would actually get out of thier cars and engage the offenders. I think that in the case of non-violent public drunks, this might be effective enough and save precious police man hours.(In fairness to the MPD, my repeated calls e-mails have been resulting in more officers on foot, at least in my part of town)

    in the TC website, someone mentioned that liquor stores aren’t bad, but that lousily run liquor stores are the problem. I agree. It seems to me that one should not run a liquor store if one isn’t willing/able to control misbehaving customers within the store and immediatey surrounding it. This is true of any business. One should expect a certain type of clientele when getting into a business like this, otherwise,they should have opened a candy store instead.

  8. correction”

    “the number 2 method takes a lot of time (away from the street) so cops MAY have to make a judgement call and resort to # 1.”

  9. Toby,
    Thanks for the update about the 4th & FL store. I was under the impression that the problems they had were resolved. I’ll take your word for it as there are only certain alleys I will go through. Of course keeping the shutters up won’t matter if the window is already blocked with beer and booze ads.

  10. Toby,

    Totally agree. I thought the one at 4th and Fl had an agreement. Clearly it’s not working so it’s an example of a site that should lose the license.

    It seems to come down to the fact that 5C is opposing these liquor licenses NOT because everyone opposes liquor stores… instead, this is because these are the most flagarant violators of the law. The 4th and Fl Ave one also is apparently ignoring the previously agreed upon stipulations (other than the one that is the cheapest and least threatening to their business).

    I didnt mean to say that I oppose closing any of these liquor stores. I was raising the issue of whether people want all liquor stores closed or just the really problematic ones. It’s clear that this is about closing the ones that are contributing the greatest to the quality of life problems and crime in the ‘hood.

  11. Hey, believe me…I’d love a classy liquor store like the one in Cleveland Park by Ardeo or the ones in Logan/Dupont, but that’s just not going to happen with these three.

    I just got an email forwarded to me by a former resident of the area who was involved in the negotiation of the previous agreement w/ the 4th/FL store. He relates his frustration that they were unable to close it last time, & that they haven’t lived up to the agreement. He suggests that this time we make removal of the bullet-proof glass a condition of remaining open. The argument being…if we have no protection from their clientele, why should they? Maybe they’ll call the police more often when they can’t hide behind their shield.

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