Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ANC 5C votes unanimously * not * to support the Big Bear Cafe liquor license at this time

I attended tonight's predictably contentious ANC 5C meeting held at Trinity University.

Here is the executive summary of what you all really want to hear about: the status of the liquor license pursuit by Bloomingdale's Big Bear Cafe at 1st & R Street NW,

First, be advised that Big Bear's application for a liquor license was withdrawn.

After much public testimony by residents in opposition and support, ANC 5C07 Commissioner Barrie Daneker read aloud a resolution stating that ANC 5C cannot support the the liquor license application by Big Bear Cafe for a number of stated reasons (which are not stated here).

All of the commissioners present -- except for ANC 5C03 Commissioner Stu Davenport, who recused himself from the vote and did not participate in the discussion -- voted unanimously to support the stated resolution opposing the pursued liquor license at this time.

Edgewood resident Michael Henderson took copious notes which I hope will be available later this evening. I will update this blog entry with the link to Michael's meeting notes for more info.


  1. The meeting tonight showed how poor and week our ANC is. Our commissioners who are supposed to represent their cinstituents are purely speaking on their own behalf. ANC should be a mediator to find common grounds between disagreeing parties, and not completely shut down one ide and support the other. Our ANC should not embarras themselves by passing a resolution (11 page document)- of transcripts from tha ABRA handbook. Its there and you always have to follow them regardless. Why the vote- i dont get it.
    Also, minutes before, the chair said plain and clear how the ANC has gone on record to support the firehouse restaurant without limitations. It makes no sense to support one business but preotest the other, located less than a block away.
    - What I gathered all in all, is that none of the commissioners had any idea what they were talking about. What they are doing is hurting the neighborhood and espacially small businesses, which are the stronghold of our economy.
    - Lastly, If the DC government and the office of the business develeopment have included bloomingdale in their "high priority business development areas", how does the ANC go and vote against such development? Over PUBLIC parking?

  2. Did you not hear the parts in the resolution that exposed how bb has ignored or flouted the law thus far. If they do that as a coffee house, what abuse would bb wreak as a bar?

    The ANC acted admirably because they did not ignore the pattern of blatant law breaking that bb has engaged in

  3. to the commenter above, how is the Big Bear ignoring and flouting the law? From what I can tell they operate as a coffee shop. What's wrong with that?

  4. given the facts, the anc did the right thing.

  5. Clearly the residents of the neighborhod prfer alcohol be consumed and disposed of on neighborhood sidewalks in little black plastic bags.

  6. @Tom A. If you want to spout asinine, ignorant comments, please provide citations. There has been an ongoing battle against liquor stores (When was the last new store license was approved?)

    I think the initial approach of BB to approach this as a matter of right ended up biting them

    1500 B/O first

  7. Well, most of us don't understand why a perfectly nice cafe shouldn't serve alcohol or why the ANC wouldn't be supportive of this, unless they themselves had some kind of agenda where they decided they wanted to put someone in their place. The sort of behavior on display from the ANC board was outrageous: in a place with quality of life issues, they decided to stomp on a positive force that has improved quality of life in the neighborhood.

    Not only that, but patrons of the BBC were compared to street drunkards. The hostility on display from a family-owned small business was, frankly, stunning.

  8. Frustrated from South BloomingdaleWednesday, July 21, 2010 11:35:00 AM

    It is very unfortunate that Bloomingdale is in 5C, which is clearly made up of a majority of anti-small business, anti-progress commissioners. If ANY of these commissioners were held accountable via vote in Bloomingdale (03 & 04), they would be gone in a heartbeat for their shenanigans on this issue. Oh by the way, BBC is located in Bloomingdale.

    There may be some who take issue (and in some cases oppose) BBC's application, but there is CLEARLY overwhelming support for the application throughout Bloomingdale, and to a lesser extent Truxton Circle and Eckington. So to have commissioners from outside of our neighborhood telling us what is best for us? Frustrating is an understatment.

  9. Frustrated: this is a huge problem. We basically have commissioners from a completely different part of the city deciding not only that they're going to dictate the terms of business in our neighborhood but THEN turn around and claim that their opinions represent the feelings of "the community" when it comes to BBC. The ANC doesn't represent Bloomingdale. The commissioners who actually represent Bloomingdale and the interests of Bloomingdale were in favor of the license.

    Basically what you have is the rest of the Ward 5 commissioners deciding to take out their hostility on Bloomingdale and then, perversely, claiming to be acting as Bloomingdale's representatives.

  10. Does anyone know what laws BB has broken?

    Also, Scott, I'm assuming when you say that the BB license was withdrawn it was done by BB themselves. Why?

  11. I agree w/ "JustMe" and would like to add that the notion that our "Advisory Neighborhood Commission" for Bloomingdale had a meeting at Trinity U. That is not our Neighborhood!

    Maybe there are some neighbors who are going all NIMBY about the parking on R street, but I have yet to speak to anyone who actually lives in Bloomingdale who opposes the Liquor License.

  12. DC politics, as usual. The remarkable thing about this is that anyone is actually surprised by the outcome.

    Give it another decade; Bloomingdale may actually be a viable, integrated community by then.

  13. Can someone post the names of the ANC commissioners who voted no (i.e. all other than Davenport and Salatti?). Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the meeting.

    It's time to start organizing against their re-election.

    -2nd Street Resident

  14. Can someone please explain where the lines for this ANC are, and who exactly is in a position to vote them out? I live at 3rd and T NW- is my ANC rep on the board? I am shamefully ignorant of how this all works, but this farce is enough to get my attention.

  15. @Anon anc.dc.gov has information. Also, educate yourself on what exactly the motion meant. I'm not sure of the exact process, however please be aware that a lot of the legal steps are not as them seem. IE, often to get a voluntary agreement (which everyone wants) requires a protest from the ANC.

    1500 B/O first

  16. Edgewood resident Michael Henderson took notes at last night's ANC 5C meeting, which he typically does. His notes from last night's meeting have been posted at the EdgewoodDC.org website. Here is the direct link: http://edgewooddc.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/anc5cjuly20_2010.pdf .

    You are invited to read his notes for greater insight into the Commission's unanimous vote on the motion to oppose, at this time, the Big Bear Cafe's liquor license.

  17. Also, Lydia DePillis of the Washington City Paper Housing Complex column posted her entry last night: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2010/07/20/anc-5c-votes-against-big-bear-cafe-liquor-license/ .

  18. Regarding the withdrawal of the Big Bear Cafe liquor license -- as I understand, it was the Big Bear Cafe that withdrew the liquor license request.

  19. I was interested in hearing the news presented by Brian Brown. It would be terrific to see the firehouse developed into something nice. We went to the new Ray's on East River the other day...perhaps it will be something like that. Could you let us know what restaurants are currently owned by Brian Browns' restaurantaur? thanks, Karen

  20. Exiting this horrible neighborhoodWednesday, July 21, 2010 3:23:00 PM

    I have been living in this neighborhood for two years now, and had hoped it would be a bright spot of development in DC. Sadly, events like this continue to take place. If the residents around Big Bear want to complain about having non-residential activity (complaints of foot traffic, public parking, etc) then fine. But that is not a neighborhood I want to live in. I will move on and invest my money and time in communities that are looking forward, not clinging to their status quo. In 10 years when the previously deplorable H street corridor is a bustling center of activity and business, Bloomingdale will live on as the dirty slum neighborhood of the past.

  21. I'm very sorry to hear that was the ANC decision and hope that this is not the end of the story. A handful of neighborhood eateries/pubs that extend into evening hours would bring life and security to the neighborhood.

    From my perspective, parking and noise are legitimate concerns to be mitigated and negotiated rather than justifications for halting responsible business development in Bloomingdale.

  22. Stop blaming the ANC. The issue is the white kids wanting to live in an "edgy" neighborhood. It's just nice enough for them now, and they don't want to lose cool points and have the neighborhood get any nicer. It's been gentrified juuuuust right.

    I'll be leaving by the end of the summer as well, you can have it. I'm sick of looking at you smug a-holes. And I hate the BBC. Went there once, waited 20 minutes to get to the front of the line. Some skinny jeans vacant retard behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy when I said "one medium coffee to go." He then told me it would be 5 minutes and turned around and walked away. I took my money off the counter and never looked back.

  23. I'm an average looking, clean-cut white guy and I went into BBC once to get a coffee. The kids behind the counter ignored me. I literally tried to spend money there and I wasn't allowed to do so.

    Anyway, the national November elections are going to bring massive change to that big white building with the dome that stands near the end of North Capitol St. The infusion of Republicans, along with the stagnant economy, are going to ensure that DC remains a regressive, sub-par place to live. (its a great place to work though!)

  24. YUCK. Fear of change once again triumphs over rational progress. What we need to do in our neighborhoods is INCREASE foot traffic. Countless studies on public safety show that the more people there are walking around throughout the day and night, the safer a community is. A few old-time residents are selfishly protecting their parking spots to the detriment of their overall community. "Drive In, Drive Out" neighborhoods are not places that prosper. They are places that attract criminals who prey on the few people who actually walk around and alcoholics who know they will be left alone to loiter on our street corners because no decent citizens are out walking, enjoying their neighborhood. It is an easy formula: bring businesses that increase foot traffic into the neighborhood, thereby increasing folks going to and from the business, which, in turn, increases the comfort level of neighbors who want to walk around and feel safe.

    So disappointed with this whole process!

    -LeDroit Park resident ('cause, yeah this affects me too!!)

  25. I was disappointed in the conduct of the meeting last night as well. I'm not sure what was gained by allowing neighbors to get further annoyed at one another if the resolution was already decided.

    I was also disappointed in the comments by the "against" contingent, who provided only examples of how life would be terrible after a liquor license for Big Bear. One of the ANC commissioners said that these neighbors had presented suggestions for solutions to their concerns- why didn't we hear those suggestions? (Maybe they're posted somewhere- I am late to this party, I admit) Some of the examples that the commissioner brought up about 8th street might actually work here- soundproofing, designated parking- sounds great! Or at least a way to get some balance.

    I am also disappointed in the alleged conduct by the Big Bear cafe- if they truly have been operating illegally all this time and have not followed the law (as frustrating as I know DC permitting can be) then they deserve to have people expect them to straighten up. Anyone who is planning to start a business should be very well-versed in the steps to be taken- it can't be done in a half-a*&ed manner. And it can only do you good to involve the community in your plans- people react much more positively if they feel like they're part of the process.

    It's really a shame because I like this neighborhood a lot, and I think that adding a couple of sit-down restaurants and bars will add a desperatley needed dimension to the area. Hopefully there's a way to come to an agreement, and hopefully the ANC will be a tool towards finding that common ground.

  26. these are the accusations against BBC:
    zoning violation
    multiple abra violations.
    occupancy violation without fire marshals approval
    improper notification of residents for late night events
    loud music at those late night events.
    no permit for outside space
    use of city trash removal services when private trash service is mandated for business.

  27. list of anc5c smd and reps:

  28. Stu is a sly one

    He lies about meeting with neighbors on the Immediate block but did not. I live on the 100 block of r and i have never heard from him---not once

    He operates without permits and with out any respect for the law. He has never contributed to the welfare of the block he operates on. His illegal victory garden out fro is an eyesore and rats nest. He uses city trash removal and it overflows. He fuels the argument with bullies who use the race card

    He smiles in your face and rarely says anything negative or positive but there always immediately follows any challenge to his business with a flood of nasty lies from his supporters

    His wife divorced him because she could no longer withstand the hypocrisy. He is in over his head as a business and is a man child playing business owner but does not think or know the same rules apply to him. Inevitably his coffee shop will fail and that's a shame--- we will miss the good of big bear but not the divisiveness he has brought to our front yard. He no his bullies and attack dogs will blame the old timers for losing his business but the real death knell will actually be a result of his inability to manage his business like a real businessman. Without stirring the pot, he does not have the skill set to run a licensed hot dog stand let alone a place that serves booze and all of the responsibilities that come with that

  29. glad I don't live in bloomingdaleThursday, July 22, 2010 10:14:00 AM

    jbr: How can BBC be accused of "multiple ABRA violations" when they do not own a liquor license? You can't be in violation of an entity that has no jurisdiction over you--which the ABC Board would not, since BBC is not a liquor license holder.

    What is the zoning violation of which you speak?

    As far as many of the other complaints--no notification of late night events, noise too loud, etc. Well, there are city ordinances that deal with that type of thing. What law requires BBC to provide notice of late night events?

    This type of complaining is why Bloomingdale is such a stagnant neighborhood. I'm surprised anyone wants to try and open a business there--in spite of what appears to be a majority of restaurants who *want* more commercial activity, the anti-business zealots are more than happy to make life miserable for prospective business owners. There are too many other neighborhoods in the city who would be more than happy to accomodate more restaurants, bars and coffee shops. If I were a prospective business owner, I'd be looking at one of them, rather than a neighborhood that's peppered with individuals who seem to have a vested interest in ensuring that dilapidated commercial corridors remain dilapidated. After all, this is the same neighborhood where residents tried to block the opening of a dry cleaners because, well, there was already one there.

  30. @all--The community is 5c and is made up of 12 SMD's so this is our neighborhood...it is not all of ward 5. Also I represent Bloomingdale too and I vote to oppose the applicaiton based on facts.
    @glad I don't live in bloomingdale--if you serve booze with out a license at an event then it is a violation of the ABRA laws. BBC has had events there serving booze and it has not been proven that a license was obtained for those events. The zoning violation is for use and for occupany. BBC has operated at points without the proper zoning occupany and publci permits are required by law.

  31. @TheCommiss

    You can serve alcohol under a catering license at a location that does not have a liquor license.

  32. I would like to start a campaign fund to defeat Gigi Ransom and Barrie Danneker.

  33. why the hell is having a business in DC so convolutedly complicated?
    that is the real story here. why do ANC's not assist a business that is trying to exist?
    we should not have to fight the government to make a living.

  34. glad I don't live in bloomingdaleThursday, July 22, 2010 3:44:00 PM

    @TheCommiss: Fine and dandy, but I've seen nothing that proves any of these allegations. Nor, its sounds like, have you. By way of example, caterers carry liquor licenses that permit the sale and/or distirbution of alcohol at a location that does not have a liquor license. Can you tell me if that was the case here?

    As to public space permits, yes a permit is required to operate an outdoor space, but occasionally hosting an outdoor event hardly strikes me as the kind of egregious violation that necessitates the non-support of BBC's liquor license.

    I'm also curious as to where you live. It seems that the most vocal opponents of the BBC are those that live nowhere near it. You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but it's hard to believe that this decision your ANC made is truly within the best interests of the community, or represents the popular will of the community.

  35. glad I don't live in BloomingdaleThursday, July 22, 2010 3:46:00 PM

    trotsky: ANCs behave at times like HOAs on steroids. I hope, for BBC's sake, that Stu is able to navigate a way around this obstructionism.

  36. What many of you don't realize is that the ANC commissioners will likely receive a lot of support from their political base during the next election cycle PRECISELY BECAUSE they railroaded Stu and the BBC. They scored big political points with this.

    The St. Martin's housing project will broaden that political base, as well.

  37. Take the lesson of Mike Benson: Owner of Cafe St. Ex, former owner of Bar Nun, original restaurateur partner for the Firehouse, a former Bloomingdale homeowner and, oh yeah, a white guy.

    He bailed. Out of the firehouse, and out of DC. (is that redundant?)

  38. You know, the best neighborhood businesspeople have a political sense as well as a business sense. They know that setting neighborhood people off against each other is not a good business model in the long run, regardless of who is right or who has the most support (and who can make the most online noise is not necessarily the best indicator). In that vein, forwarding emails to internet blogs seems impolitic.

    And then there's WeLoveDC, which is "covering" this while being mixed up in the middle of it at the same time... a bit like if the owners of the Washington Post made a neighborhood dispute front page news because it happened to affect them. But the Washington Post still tries to maintain at least the appearance of integrity.

  39. @glad I don't live in bloomingdale said-- I am very well aware of a caterers license, and a one day event license also. It may have been the case, it was mentioned by the community and BBC provided no further details. Nor did BBC provide deals on it's public space permits, nor infomation on occupancy. I have requested A FOIA from DCRA and DCOZ, BZA. This iwll allow the entire community to know exactly the issues involved here and ensure that everyone gets the real information, especially since there is a Sept Zoning Commission Hearing on BBC request for a zoning change to c-a-2 which isn't looking good, which will spell death to thier application.

  40. Umm Commiss - the only thing the "entire community" will know is that you have some sort of out of control personal vendetta against BBC.

    I notice that you claim to represent Bloomingdale, could you let us know in what capacity? Are you an ANC member?

  41. The best thing "The Commish" could do to represent my interests is step in front of a bus.


  42. @ Bloomie...I look both ways!
    @ Devoe...I am in deed a commision in 5C