MVSNA endorses Single Sale Moratorium exemption
Last night at the December MVSNA meeting the membership discussed and put to vote a Single Sale Moratorium (SSM) exemption for Good Libations (1201 5th St NW).
Many lobbied the council to pass this Single Sales Moratorium in Wards 2 & 6 as it has been an effective tool in other cities for reducing trash, public drunkenness, public urination and loitering. The District also has a proven success story as the Mount Pleasant neighborhood has employed this ban since 2000.
The legislation was approved by the DC Council in October prohibiting the sale of single containers of alcohol; specifically, single containers of beer, malt liquor, and ale, as well as spirits in bottles of half pint or smaller. Emergency enactment went into effect for ANC2C, ANC2F and the 6C09 Single Member District (SMD) of Ward 6. It is estimated that the bill will be enacted for the remainder of Ward 6 in February.
The MVSNA membership discussion centered on whether to endorse Good Libations’ request to ABRA for an exemption to the moratorium. The ABRA is given several criteria by which they must make their decision, including considering:
- great weight to the position of the ANC
- impact of an exemption to the effectiveness of the overall ban
- one year track record on violations of the licensee
- licensee community participation
- clear and convincing evidence that there has been no negative impact of single sales in the community
Prior to the meeting the MVSNA board drafted a proposed Voluntary Agreement (V/A) as a focal point for the discussion. MVSNA President Cary Silverman introduced the agenda item and provided Good Libations owner Ron Greene the opportunity to talk on behalf on his business. Members then had a chance to speak both for an against the exemption. MVSNA Recording Secretary Jefferson Parke has many of the positions captured in the meeting notes.
Many of the positions were emotional anecdotes rather than facts or objective statements for instance “I’ve seen a lot of young neighbors buy singles of Heineken at the store.” So? How does that prove they would not buy a 6-pack? And of what relevance is young? Sifting through some of that filler you can find that MPD has attested that no violations have occurred at the business and close by neighbors have not witnessed any ongoing loitering problems.
In the end the membership voted on the exemption:
Motion to approve the voluntary agreement, without an alcohol percentage specified, without a refrigeration clause, 20 oz minimum, and with a one year renewal clause: 17 in favor, 3 in opposition, 1 abstention (count of hands)
I was one of the 3 in opposition. My position is that nothing in the Voluntary Agreement the MVSNA is proposing protects the community from hobo brews from being sold. They simply trust Ron Greene to continue to not tailor his product offerings to vagrants. Subsequent exemption applicants who meet the objective criteria like zero MPD violations may not inspire the same “trust” Ron does. But since “trust” is not an objective criteria it is not defensible and crys of “unfair” will roar through community and ANC meetings over the next several months. This is a slippery slope we’re on. It’s bigger than one corner. It’s bigger than the mild convenience of buying a single vs a four-pack of beer…
I’ll write more on this over the coming days. One plan of mine is to tour the liquor stores of Mount Pleasant this Saturday to see how they adapted to the Single Sales Moratorium in which their community is now on their EIGHTH year. I know… surprising… singles were banned but the world didn’t end…
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