This blog was born on January 28, 2008 as a DuMont contract holder using the pen name Mediocre Bad Guy aimed to build an online community of residents both present and future. Just three short days later a Madrigal Lofts resident using the pen name Madrigal Blogs became an author for the blog. Early postings talked of Architecture, buildings lost forever, DuMont rumors and Peapod grocery shopping.
In mid March I finalized my condo hunt and chose Madrigal Lofts to be my new home. I responded to Mediocre Bad Guy’s open invitation and joined the team. Other commitments have dramatically scaled back the involvement of our original two contributors to the blog. However since I took full adminstrative authority in June and commited to a frequent and dependable posting schedule the site traffic has more than tripled. I am also proud that and we’ve recently added Yale Loft’s resident SteamingMyLaundry to the team.
Below are some highlights from the year.
Open for Business
The Promise of More to Come
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
A few of my other fave posts
Stats via Google Analytics:
Top Referral Sites
- Life in MVSNA
- Renew Shaw
- DC Blogs
- Greater Greater Washington
- District Chatter
- DC Metrocentric
The Most viewed posts
- 5th & I Public Meeting recap
- 7th & Hell
- Safeway Flickr Stream
- Shattered Windows at City Vista
- MVSNA endorse Single Serve Moratorium Exemption (Most comments)
I’m back from hiatus with a links roundup.
- Zenith Gallery, a future tenant at 5th and Eye, will close their doors in Penn Quarter this upcoming March (hat tip: PQLiving).
- The Lifein MVSNA blog picks up a story from WaPo that points out MVT is in the center of Inauguration Ball ground zero. Eight of the Ten balls take place at the National Building Museum, Union Station and the Convention Center.
- The NYE celebration at Lux Lounge (649 NY Ave NW) will be hosted by Washington Wizards players Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison, Andray Blatche and Juan Dixon.
- District Chatter unveils a new feature called The Real Trannie Hookers Of MVT.
- District Chatter also breaks the scoop that Smart Bike is coming to the Mount Vernon Square/Convention Center metro.
- Prince of Petworth offers some NYE options.
image from District Chatter
Kudos to the people who are spending their Saturday cleaning the trash off the empty lot at 4th and L. It looks like they’re doing a great job. But with nothing to stop people from using the lot to feed the homeless, why won’t their efforts be wasted?
The Washington Post unveils the Charter Bus Parking plan.
With the exception of some residential areas, all curbside parking will be set aside for buses; streets will be restricted to charter bus, transit bus and official inaugural vehicles, he said. In the downtown area, there are 11 north-south streets between 11th and 21st streets, and almost all blocks of K, L, M, N, O and P streets will be for charter bus parking. In the second area, streets bounded on the east by the Union Station railroad tracks north to Florida and New York avenues NE, west to Sixth Street NW and south to Massachusetts Avenue will be for charter buses. The charter bus restrictions will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 20. Other vehicles parked on the streets after that will be towed.
The streets of the Triangle east of Sixth Street NW fall under these Charter Bus restrictions.
Washington Business Journal staff reporter Missy Frederick follows up on the buzz about Little Buddha coming to 455 Mass Ave. Frederick reports that the plans are for a full scale 9,600 s.f. Buddha Bar rather than a scaled down Little Buddha.
“To sign a deal for a 9,400-square-feet restaurant in this market is really amazing,” said Bill Dickinson, senior director of brokerage for The Rappaport Cos., who represented the landlord.
The street-level Mount Vernon Triangle location has a soaring two-floor space that provides room for Buddha Bar’s dramatic decor, such as a large gold Buddha statue, among other accents.
Buddha Bar probably will not occupy the location until late 2009, Dickinson said.
Hat tip to Q Street News
UPDATE (1/3/2009): I’ve removed the embedded video because Internet Explorer was automatically playing it when ever readers loaded the page.
Happy Holidays to everyone.
Before I take a brief hiatus I wanted to point out a posting on DCist today recapping an event Top Chef and Good Stuff Eatery owner Spike Mendelsohn had at the Sixth and I Synagogue Sunday night.
From now until sometime on Saturday I’m enabling the comment moderation feature. That means comments will not be posted instantaneously. I have no intention to censor anything but name calling or ‘why don’t you move’ comments. Please try to be constructive in comments about the Single Serve Moratorium and I encourage you to consider posting using an identity. A blogger or gmail account is not required. See the posting “How to be less anonymous” for tips.
Below is an excerpt from Cary Silverman’s testimony before the Committee on Public Works and the Environment. Cary is the current MVSNA president and at the time Cary was running for the Ward 2 City Council position. He clearly states these are his personal views not those of any organization he is affiliated with. But I am bummed out when I attend MVSNA meetings and he’s not remotely challenging the community to consider the downsides of exemptions. The conversations have been framed to be pro-business.
My testimony today represents my personal views. I am not representing any organization.
FAIR, EFFECTIVE, SOUND POLICY
I would like to address head on some of the frequent questions and concerns raised as to whether this legislation is needed, as well as its fairness and effectiveness.
- Why do we need a single sales ban when the conduct stemming from singles, such aggressive pan handling, littering, public drinking, and public urination, is already illegal?
Unfortunately, every resident knows that these quality-of-life crimes are very rarely enforced. At best, a passing officer will request that the violator move on. A ban on single sales eliminates a major source of these problems. It is readily enforceable. It will have a real impact. Moreover, it will reduce the need for citizens to repeatedly call 911 for such matters and allow officers to focus on other crimes.
- Why not just continue the current practice of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and community associations entering into voluntary agreements with individual stores to prohibit single sales where there is a problem?
The voluntary agreement process does not work with respect to single sales for three reasons.
- First, due to the nature of the process, it pits residents against small business owners, which is very unfortunate and strains community relations. It takes neighborhood residents away from their jobs. It requires small business owners to hire lawyers and go to hearings.
- Second, applying a prohibition to one business but not another two blocks away places the first at a competitive disadvantage. I have watched this play out in Chinatown, where residents have tried to simultaneously negotiate voluntary agreements with three businesses, to little result but a lot of sweat and hearings.
- Third, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has historically not been receptive to voluntary agreements banning the sale of singles for individual establishments. In some cases, after numerous hearings and status conferences, the best result the ANC is able to obtain from the ABC Board with respect to well-documented problems is a requirement that the licensee package singles in clear plastic bags.
- Won’t the market eventually phase out sale of singles as neighborhoods change?
I do not believe that any community should be subject to the problems associated with the sale of single beverages. Moreover, in any neighborhood, there is a strong incentive to sell singles. They are highly profitable and come with an addicted customer base. The cost is imposed on the surrounding neighborhood.
SCOPE OF THE PROPOSED PROHIBITION ON SINGLE SALES
I would also like to address the scope of the proposed ban. In my view, the prohibition should be enacted citywide and it certainly should include all of Ward 2. There are three reasons why.
- It treats small business owners equitably and fairly. Single sales are highly profitable and come with an addicted customer base. Just as voluntary agreements prohibit individual licensees from selling singles place that business at a competitive disadvantage with those nearby, so too do limited bans. As I mentioned, MVSNA is on the border of Wards 2, 5, and 6. A customer could simply walk from Mount Vernon or Chinatown to a corner store on First Street NW or North Capital to buy a single, taking their money elsewhere.
- It will place a higher burden on the communities not covered. There is no imaginary wall between stores east and west of 15th Street NW. Should the Ward 2 legislation pass, I would be surprised if some of those who currently drink on 14th Street and 11th Street do not simply walk over to 17th Street or go a few blocks north into Ward 1.
- There’s no good reason to exempt certain areas. I would like to ask you, Council Members, to consider the question in this way: If singles were already prohibited in the District, would you have introduced legislation authorizing their sale? Or consider it this way. The District does not permit corner stores to sell individual cigarettes for fifty cents for a multitude of good reasons. Why should the city permit the sale of singles for a dollar? Even if an area currently does not have a single-sale licensee, would it want one? Why are we legislating this issue on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis? Will the combined effect of this year’s legislation effectively create “public drinking zones” in Ward 5 and parts of Wards 1 and 2? Why not cover the entire city?
You can read more on the Cary For Council site including:
Christopher, thanks for your comment. A few thoughts. First, the problem of singles may hit some areas harder than others, which doesn’t mean, in my opinion, that we should legislate in a way that pushes the problem around. Ward 2 has the highest concentration of liquor licenses. Combine that with the fact that Ward 2 and the downtown area also has the greatest concentration of homeless individuals and homeless services. Now throw single sales in the mix.
But Ward 6 also has its share of single sale problems. The Chinatown Market, in Ward 6 just off the Ward 2 border, has been the subject of neighborhood complaints for years for its high volume of single sales and the effects resulting from it.
In another area of Ward 6, residents worked for over a year to obtain a moratorium from the ABC Board from September 2006 until they finally received approval in July 2007 – it took effect this past October. According to the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the area, about 98% of the people he spoke with supported the ban (ed note: link now busted). The Ward 6 moratorium covers 7 blocks between the 700 and 1400 Blocks of H Street NW. In reaching their decision, the ABC Board cited chronic problems with respect to litter, loitering, public drunkenness, public urination and criminal activity. According to his website, Ward 6 Council Member’s position: “A moratorium will go a long way to address some of the chaos and crime afflicting H Street, NE. On top of that, the neighborhood is tired of people using the streets, alleys and treeboxes as public urinals and trashcans. To realize the promise of H Street, this is a necessary step to bring back order and stability and make it a thriving asset for the neighborhood.” DCist did a little poll after the ABC Board approved the H Street moratorium. Only 27% of those who responded supported keeping singles around.
It doesn’t make sense to deal with this problem piecemeal, requiring residents to fight it out establishment by establishment, block by block , neighborhood by neighborhood. There’s little argument to be made in support of single sales of alcohol, just like there’s no good argument for single sales of cigarettes. If singles sales of alcohol were not legal today, could a compelling argument be made for making it legal?
PQLiving tells us Balducci’s Really, Really NOT Coming To PQ, Really!
I know that some in lower PQ still prefer to have a closer option that the City Vista Safeway. Others just want more niche items and prepared foods. So far I shop primarily at the new Safeway but still make 1 or 2 small trips to Harris Teeter a month specifically to shop from their prepared foods selection. So I will be excited when the new Harris Teeter in at Constitution Square in NOMA opens in two years. The possibility of a Wegman’s in Hilleast (near RFK) sounds good too!
How many of you are shopping for Groceries exclusively at the Safeway?
This past Saturday I toured the Class A & B ABC licensed establishments in the Mount Pleasant commercial corridor. As I outlayed in my previous posting on Mount Pleasant, the neighborhood has had a single sales ban which both the community and ABC businesses have overwhelmingly supported the continuance of.
The commercial district spans roughly 3/10 of a mile along Mount Pleasant Street NW between Irving St NW and Park Rd NW. While the corridor was bustling the mix of businesses suggested the area was certainly not too affluent to be comparable to areas around the Triangle. In addition to the popular Heller’s Bakery, Radius Pizza and Dos Gringos Cafe you’ll find a dollar store, check cashing store, thift shop and multiple laundromats.
On the map above I’ve highlighted the two Class A in red and five B ABC licensed establishments in blue.
Do any businesses sell singles?
None of the liquor or convenience stores sold singles of beer or malt liquor. There are no exceptions negotiated via voluntary agreements. 7-11 has a convenience store on this street but it does not sell any alcohol. I briefly entered into a few of the carryout places like El Pollo Sabroso and did not see single beers for sale in those establishments. Mt Pleasant has clearly stuck to the intent of the law.
What do they sell?
Among the seven convenience and liquor stores I visited the was not much universal overlap in brands being sold. Some, like the Bestway Supermarket, stuck mainly to 6-packs of the staples like Budweiser and Corona. A few of the other stores sold more variety including Magic Hat, Allagash, Abita, Dogfish Head, Hoegarden, Boddington, Brooklyn Pilsner, Shiner Bock, and Kirin Ichiban. For stores that carried Heineken and Guinness the smallest packaging was 4 packs of 14.9 ounce cans priced roughly at $7.99. Only one store carried Steel Reserve (Mt Pleasant Deli) but did so in 6-packs of 12oz cans. I did not see any Sapporo or Chimay for sale. I’m not clear why there was no Sapporo for sale as it is available from distributors in 6-packs.
How did the businesses adapt?
I was fortunate enough to carry on a conversation with one of the store owners. I will leave the name of his business out of the blog posting as I didn’t explain to him I was asking questions to publish anything. But I will share this information with any MVSNA BoD or ANC member who would like to talk to him first hand.
I approached the store owner and shared with him that my Ward had recently passed a Single Sale Moratorium and that ABC licensees around my neighborhood were applying for exemptions. I explained that I was touring Mt Pleasant to learn how the stores adapted and what product mixes they presently carried. I also commented on how I was pleasantly surprised to see that only one store I entered had a security partition. I asked him if he could share some thoughts on how the prohibition on single sales worked for the commercial corridor and his store.
Summarizing his comments: He was afraid to change back in 2000 and initially opposed the idea. He acknowledged that before the ban many of the litter, public drunkenness, public urination and safety issues the proponents of the ban pointed to did plague the neighborhood. He suggested that many of the stores had security partitions back in 2000. He noticed improvements in the neighborhood within the first year. By 2003 he had removed his security partition and in 2005 he completed a remodel. He thinks the ban was instrumental to a revitalization of the corridor but can relate to how change can be scary.
This tour did increase my resolve that the wide and strong Single Sale Moratorium is worth fighting for. The Mt Pleasant success story is very compelling to me. Not only did the Class A & Class B ABC licensed businesses survive without selling singles, they became better stores.
The Mount Pleasant neighborhood in DC has had a prohibition on single sales of beer and malt liquor since the year 2000. As exemptions to the Single Sale Moratorium are being considered in Wards 2 and Ward 6 we can look to evidence from the case study Mt Pleasant has created to make informed decisions.
Now that 8 years has passed, how do residents and local businesses feel about the prohibition of single sales? Did the prohibition lead to the desired quality of life affects while still allowing local businesses to prosper?
The MtPleasantDC.org website, which hosts a highly active message board that contains over 5,800 topics and 20,000 postings recently used their home page to poll the community on Single Sales. The poll asked “Do you support a continued ban of the single sales of alcohol in Mount Pleasant?” Results demonstrated that 92% of voters wanted the ban to continue.
Earlier this year the Northwest Current (Feb 20, page 9) featured an article entitled “Single Sale Moratoria: Other Neighborhoods Can Benefit From What We Learned in Mt. Pleasant.“
Bans on single sales of beer and malt liquor are in place in Ward 4, on H Street, NE and still in place in Mt. Pleasant, the first location in the city to seek this relief from the ABC Board. Now comes the news that similar prohibitions may be sought in Wards 7 and 8.
The decision to seek a prohibition on single sales of beer and malt liquor was an easy one for those of us interested in alleviating the visible symptoms of this problem such as litter, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and public urination, and the pall these symptoms cast over a small local business strip.
Achieving implementation, however, was much more difficult. Local merchants were concerned about loss of business. Some neighborhood activists claimed such measures just shunt the problem to other neighborhoods. Mt. Pleasant has now had a ban on single sales for almost 8 years in its off-premise Class A (spirits, beer and wine) and Class B (beer and wine only) ABC establishments. None of these stores has gone out of business. In fact, every one of these businesses supported another 5-year extension of the moratorium at the most recent ABC Board hearing on renewal in 2005.
Positive testimony for renewal came from Mt. Pleasant ABC license-holders, residents, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Ward one Councilmember Jim Graham’s office. The Mayor’s Clean City office reported on visible improvements to quality of life issues since the moratorium was established. MPD reported a substantial drop in quality of life crimes directly related to the ban of single sales (676 in 1999 compared to 193 in 2007). The Department of Public Works reported a tremendous reduction in the number of beer bottles and cans to clean up. This made their job easier and allowed them to address other trash issues in the neighborhood. Residents testified to an improved quality of life; in particular, the reduction of beer bottles left in front of their homes and in their alleys; they felt more comfortable walking around the neighborhood; they noticed a tremendous reduction of people drinking in public, less public urination, less panhandling, less exposure to a disagreeable, unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle for our children. Residents felt it made a very positive difference, especially in their willingness to walk and shop on Mt. Pleasant Street.
Our ABC-licensed business community has shown improvement by sprucing up its stores, stocking better wines and cheeses, introducing other cuisines and improving displays. Where these businesses previously made money selling singles to a troubled clientele, they are now serving more residents who previously avoided their stores.
While the moratorium on single sales in Mt. Pleasant certainly isn’t the panacea to all of our neighborhood problems, it clearly has improved our quality of life.
The Mt Pleasant case study suggests that both the residents and ABC Class A and Class B license holders agree that the moratorium has been successful and want the program to continue. The community supports the continued moratorium at a 92% rate and in 2005 the local ABC license holders voted to extend the program another 5 years.
UP NEXT: My tour of Mt Pleasant Liquor and Convenience stores including feedback on the moratorium from one honest and frank liquor store owner.