Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stu's response


See this Email thread passed along by Stu Davenport.


FYI, this was a response I sent to a resident Tom Bridge, after he posted comments made by Commissioner Ransom in a local list-serve. Feel free to publish.

-Stuart


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: stuart davenport
To: tom @ welovedc.com
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 10:37:38 PM
Subject: Re: [Brookland] Fwd: Big Bear Cafe: Now Including Occupancy Permits- 2006 & 2010

Tom-

If you have any questions please let me know.

Gigi knows that the ANC missed the July 12th deadline to file a protest, and they therefore have no standing in the BBC application. She was informed of this ABRA requirement in early June/July before the deadline, and then was reminded by ABRA the day of the ANC vote.

The below information supplied by Gigi is incorrect. The application with the Office of Zoning was not for a change of our existing use, but for a map amendment to ``correct the non-conforming status`` of the building. This does not affect the legality of the cafe as it operates now - it affects how the cafe can be treated in the future. It ensures that no-one can take away its commercial status, and it allows the cafe to operate without requirement of special exceptions (BZA, etc.).

The BBC had a certificate of occupancy for 8 seats in 2006, for a grocery/deli. By definition (in 2006), a deli was a place with prepared food, and a restaurant was a place with sit-down seating. Because we were allowed seats we were then able to get a restaurant license when we opened in 2006 and operate as we do now - as a restaurant.

The main problem was that we could only get 8 seats when we opened, and we told the ANC this in 2007 when we asked for support in bringing our cafe into compliance. This is documented in the minutes. During the process, however, I was able to get the increased seating through a zoning/structural/building review through a Certificate of Occupancy building permit and we completed the construction work in 2008. In spite of Gigi`s claim that she does not feel the cafe space is big enough for the increased seating, load calculations were done by the structural review coordinator as well as fire code review coordinator at DCRA. The work was also fully approved by the DCRA zoning administrator, mechanical engineer, electrical and plumbing engineers, etc.. With this approved building permit we then did not need to pay the large fees to file our map amendment case.

I reviewed these issues with Com. Bonds and Gigi, and filed a full detailed report with the ANC when Gigi requested it in June. To this date, she and Barrie Danneker continue to state the facts incorrectly to the ANC, the public, and the press.

My mistake was to not file the final documents for the final C of O after all work was completed and approved with the building permits. In April, 2010 we informed the ANC and ABRA that the documents still needed to be filed and ABRA said it was not a problem in our application. They did require that it be filed before our application could be approved in the preliminary review. This was done April 23, 2010. Around the same time we decided to file the map amendment case with the office of zoning because it was also a requirement in our application, and also because negative statements were being made by Com. Danneker and Com. Ransom to the public through the Washington City Paper website. Our ABRA reviewer had no problem with the fact that the map amendment was not complete and would take time.

As you can see, the process has been complicated.

I have given Gigi multiple reports on all of these facts, but she continues to present the facts incorrectly.

She also filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance and I was told to not participate in the conversation or communicate with the ANC in any deliberation or ongoing discussion. She then documented in the final ANC Resolution protesting the BBC that I was not responding openly to ANC requests.

Also, we passed out fliers door to door before completing our ABRA application, and held a community meeting on May 18th with residents who raised concerns (which contradicts the ANC claim that we did not reach out to concerned residents). I also notified the residents when the placards were posted on May 28th (which was our only legal requirement for public notification). We then presented to numerous civic associations and to the residents at the ANC meeting and we all agreed at the direction of Chair Anita Bonds to a June 2nd deadline for a voluntary agreement. The neighborhood group then did not respond to numerous requests, and the deadline passed. The group then protested the BBC license just before the July 12th petition period deadline.

There are numerous accusations - including not having a private trash service (under contract since 2006), not having an alcohol license for wine tastings (covered under an ABC caterer`s license), not having permits for music (which are not required in DC law), and not having a DDOT permit for outdoor seating (permitted by DDOT, and fully insured during a full sidewalk cafe permit application process).

The facts in the ANC resolution as stated were inaccurate.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns and I will do my best to address them.

You can reach me at studavenport@gmail.com

-Stuart



On Jul 21, 2010, at 3:22 PM, Gigi Ransom wrote:

Mr. Bridge,

There you go deflecting again, instead of facing the facts and truth, and addressing the issue in its proper perspective, trying to continue a controversy that doe not exist. The previous market was ``grandfathered in`` during the 50s when the Zoning system was established. I have provided you w/documented proof:

1) per the Office of Zoning notice that the BBC had just filed on June 1, 2010, for the mapping amendment for the ``change of use`` after being in operations since 10/2006;

2) the Occupancy Permit of 10/2006 shows what the zoning was for the prior business; and,

3) the Occupancy Permit of 4/23/2010 some how shows an increase in occupancy from eight (8) in 2006 to suddenly 49 in 2010, without any renovations, expansion of the cafe.


The section from the zoning application reads:

``The property that is the subject of this application consists of Square 3103, Lot 800 in Northwest Washington, D.C. (Ward 5) at 1700 1st Street, N.W. The property is currently zoned R-4. There is C-2-A-zoned property across from the property on both 1st Street and on Florida Avenue. The Applicant proposes a map amendment to rezone the subject property to C-2-A. According to the Applicant, the building has been residentially- zoned, but used commercially, since 1905. `` Meaning, from 2006, he had not done it to date.

Stu had a responsibility to get the zoning changed once he assumed the building and created the cafe. No excuses.

I must point out that I am disappointed that you did not identify yourself in your original post as a journalist, which Ms. Clark later brought to my attention, that you had a reponsibility to research the issues raised to provide a fair and balanced article on the matter. Even if there was a commerical zoning for the market, the use changed to a cafe, and Stu still had to request the change, period.

There are good, reasaonable people who live in Brookland, many who I know, some I have worked and/or testified with on issues. This attempt to insult their intelligence, the majority who I can say have a far better knowledge and understanding of DC Zoning regulations than you, is demeaning.

Gigi Ransom


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Tom Bridge
To: ``Brookland @ yahoogroups.com``
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 2:43:02 PM
Subject: [Brookland] Fwd: Big Bear Cafe: Now Including Occupancy Permits- 2006 & 2010 [3 Attachments]

Also sent along at the request of Ms. Ransom. Note that it carries the same operative phrase: used as commercial since 1905.

Tom




Begin forwarded message:

From: Gigi Ransom
Date: July 21, 2010 2:37:31 PM EDT
To: Tom Bridge , Glennette Clark
Subject: Fw: Big Bear Cafe: Now Including Occupancy Permits- 2006 & 2010

Pls. provide the same to Brookland list since cc`d in original post. Thank you. Gigi Ransom

----- Forwarded Message ----

From: Gigi Ransom
To: Tom Bridge ; Glennette Clark
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 2:28:13 PM
Subject: Re: Big Bear Cafe

Below and attached. Please share w/Brookland list. Don`t have access from this e-account. Thank you. Gigi

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REGISTER VOL. 57 - NO. 23 JUNE 4 2010
ZONING COMMISSION FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
NOTICE OF FILING
Z.C. Case No. 10-14
(Map Amendment @ Square 3103, Lot 800)

June 1, 2010

THIS CASE IS OF INTEREST TO ANC 5C

On May 27, 2010, the Office of Zoning received an application from Big Bear Café (the ``Applicant``) for approval of map amendment for the above-referenced property.

The property that is the subject of this application consists of Square 3103, Lot 800 in Northwest Washington, D.C. (Ward 5) at 1700 1st Street, N.W. The property is currently zoned R-4. There is C-2-A-zoned property across from the property on both 1st Street and on Florida Avenue. The Applicant proposes a map amendment to rezone the subject property to C-2-A.

According to the Applicant, the building has been residentially- zoned, but used commercially, since 1905. The property currently operates as a commercial deli-style café on the first floor and basement with upper-story housing. The Applicant seeks to retain the upper-story housing and to operate the first-floor and basement commercial use as a commercial restaurant-style café with expanded seating.

For additional information, please contact Sharon S. Schellin, Secretary to the Zoning Commission at (202) 727-6311.
 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REGISTER VOL. 57 - NO. 23 JUNE 4 2010 Pg 04944

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tom Bridge
To: Glennette Clark
Cc: Gigi Ransom ; Brookland @ yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 2:14:17 PM
Subject: Re: Big Bear Cafe

I`d love for some evidence to be brought to bear that the business has been in operation for THREE YEARS in violation of DC law.

Tom



On Jul 21, 2010, at 2:12 PM, Glennette Clark wrote:

Dear Tom,

As a journalist and resident of the Bloomingdale community, I am saddened by the lack of professionalism and research in your article about Big Bear Cafe. Had you bothered to take an objective and unbiased approach to your article, you would have presented both sides of the issue.

It was shoddy work, at best. In the future, to enhance your own credibility, I recommend that you do further investigation into an issue before publishing falsehoods and hearsay.

For the record, Bloomingdale welcomes small businesses that create jobs and enhance the quality of life of the neighbourhood. However, we will not stand idly by while anyone tries to operate in our neighbourhood illegally and without regard for the residents.

Respectfully,

Glennette Clark
Glennette @ gmail. com


Tom Bridge
We Love DC
e. tom @ welovedc.com
Your Life, Beyond the Capitol

44 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Stu,

    Let me just say that I wish you really had a better business sense. If you had only parted with a few dollars and done things the right way, you would have gotten your approval. So please let's not cloud the facts. Own up to your issues and admit your faults in this matter instead of dogging everyone else. You were wrong and you failed to meet what is required of your business. I hope you get it together. As I stated to you at the meeting, get your stuff together and your can apply again. As for your zoning issues, now you have brought so much attention to this issue I don't think you'll get it given that the affect residents just might protest that too.

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  3. Stu, why continue to distort the truth it really tarnishes the name of the Cafe and yourself. Little to anything in your reply is honest.

    A zoning map amendment is a change in zoning for those who don't know.

    You presented 600 petitions from patrons of the establishment not effected residents. Shame on you!

    One simple question: Have you ever operated the cafe in a illegal manner?

    A person who has lost all respect for the owner of and establishment Big Bear Cafe.

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  4. Thank you to all the ANC reps who took out their personal vendetta's rather than do what's in the best interest of the community and small businesses in Bloomingdale. From the tone of the written responses and those expressed at the meeting it was clear that you would have used any excuse to block this application. Three cheers to empty, decaying storefronts, fewer eyes on the street and less ammenities for a neighborhood starved of them already.

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  5. Gigi - I appreciaate that there are "good, reasaonable [sic] people who live in Brookland." Now, here me clearly, IF YOU ARE FROM BROOKLAND STOP MESSING IN BLOOMINGDALE BUSINESS!

    That would be much appreciated.

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  6. why do people continue to avoid the truth Stu violated the law. He's a criminal!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The comments of certain ANC commissioners in this and other forums tell me all I need to know about this dispute. It has *nothing* to do with representing the interests of most Bloomingdale residents. I would vote for any mayor and city council that would campaign on abolishing the ANC system entirely and starting over from scratch.

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  8. How, exactly, did Stu violate the law? Someone please spell this out for me.

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  9. Honestly, this makes the ANC look petty and spiteful. Not one single individual from the ANC has offered evidence that the BBC has been operating illegally--not one.

    For those who do not know, operating as a "non-conforming status" does not mean a business is operating illegally. There are countess residences and businesses throughout the city that currently exist as non-conforming structures, they are not illegal. The Office of Zoning is aware of BBC's operations, and have been since the time it opened. Any discussions related to the Map Amendment are a red herring when it comes to the legality of BBS's operations. That is simply an excuse to deny the support of a liquor license to a business that some high-minded ANC commissioners simply do not like.

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  10. To note, my house is a "non-conforming structure" and it is perfectly legal.

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  11. Next time I see a group of people gathered on the "outdoor patio" or a large crowd in the venue for a special event I'm calling DCRA to report Stu and have him fined. He's not permitted to do either or.

    Or if I see another wine tasting with a bunch of folks gathered on the sidewalks sipping Merlot I'm calling MPD because its illegal to drink in public, in a park or amongst your friends in front of a hip cafe!

    Since these things have happened and as a nearby resident I witnessed them first hand and have pictures I'm reporting BBC anyway.

    Stu, don't forget the residents still have a chance to oppose your zoning change and outdoor patio.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My goodness--what vitriol. Change in the neighborhood is happening, and people can't stop it; people may be able to slow it down.

    I think there are reasons to slow change, especially in a city where there is little affordable housing and low-income residents are being pushed from all sides to leave, to change and to shut up, all for new, higher-income residents. That being said, Big Bear has increased safety, quality of life and community interaction within the neighborhood for many residents who deserve a role in shaping their community as well.

    We ought to strive to find common ground--newcomers must recognize the fact that this is a neighborhood (and a city) with a long history; that every change a newcomer brings is not necessarily in the interest of the majority of the people who live there (read: higher property taxes/rents, being pushed out of local government, etc.). And, the people who have lived in the neighborhood for many years, those who feel angry about newcomers, must recognize that there is no way to stop new people from coming, that the change they bring doesn't have to be intrinsically bad, or criminal in nature, as some posters here have suggested. I want to live in a diverse and integrated neighborhood--economically, racially and culturally. The vast majority of the people who live here do as well. If we use that as a starting point, problems like this can be surmounted.

    -Maura

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anon 5:23: Get a life...

    Stu: A majority of your neighorhood supports you, press forward.

    @Yawper: me too.

    My quick rant: BBC is the best thing that has happened to the neighborhood in years. Crime is down. Homeowner's property values are up - even in a down market (unless you bought at the peak, I suppose). Those are the facts.

    Parking? Give me a break. Move to suburban MD if you're that worried about street parking. We live in an urban neighborhood. Get used to it. Noise is governed by city code. If BBC is too loud after hours, call the appropriate authority.

    Lord let this be over soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I cant find common ground with people who violate rules. Crime is down do to great policing across all of 5D. How dare you give that credit to BBC. You people are jokes.

    If BBC sold weed you guys would support it.

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  15. "You presented 600 petitions from patrons of the establishment not effected residents. Shame on you!"
    I can assure you, 3/4 of those signatures came from neighborhood peoples, as that is who most of our patrons are!

    What it comes down to here is a complete lack of understanding, (I don't think that half of the people opposing this license have EVER been to BBC) which instills fear upon those who will be experiencing the change. This is the cause of quite a bit of rowdiness amongst the ANC. Let me just say, after all of the personal attacks and etc. that have come on to Stu, he is keeping his cool quite well. As an employee of Big Bear, I have had only wonderful experiences with the cafe, our patrons, our neighborhood, and our wonderful owner! We only wish to broaden our horizons, and provide more services for Bloomingdale and those who wish to come visit. This entire fiasco has been solely based on personal issues, and I assure you if you nitpicked the legal issues with any corner store/business in the Bloomingdale area (or in all of DC for that matter) you would find some minor legal mishap, but this would only be done with cruel intentions. Ever seen that movie? ANC=Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Quote from the DCRA website: "The purpose of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is to ensure that the use of a building, structure or land in the District of Columbia is consistent with the Zoning Regulations, and that the provisions of the DC Building Code are followed."

    In other words, a C of O was granted to Big Bear Cafe as a restaurant in an R-4 zone, after having been reviewed and approved by a DC zoning reviewer (among other reviewers). DCRA was cool with this, but ABRA was not. For the purposes of obtaining a liquor license, ABRA requires that proper zoning be in place. So Big Bear filed for a zoning map amendment when applying for the ABRA license.

    Below is the "grandfather clause" that Ms. Ransom vaguely references, but does not actually quote, for obvious reasons:

    2000.4 Any nonconforming use of a structure or of land, or any nonconforming structure lawfully existing on May 12, 1958, that remains nonconforming, and any use or structure lawfully existing that became nonconforming on May 12, 1958, may be continued, operated, occupied, or maintained, subject to the provisions of this chapter.

    2001.2 Except as provided in §§ 2001.11 [deleted section] and 2001.12 [section dealing with antennas on structures], ordinary repairs, alterations, and modernizations to the structure, including structural alterations, shall be permitted.

    She doesn't quote it because it is perfectly LEGAL to operate a business with a CONFORMING USE (granted thru C of O) in a NON-CONFORMING STRUCTURE (incorrect zone). Many businesses operate as such in the District. There was NO legal or regulatory requirement to "get the zoning changed once he assumed the building" as Ms. Ransom states. Again, the zoning map amendment request was made as part of the ABRA requirements to obtain a liquor license. Stu submitted this precisely when he was supposed to. WHICH LAW did the cafe break? What's the crime exactly? Should Stu serve jail time for what he's done? How long should the sentence be for his crimes? See how ridiculous this is?

    Please, quote a regulation and tell us which law was broken, so the community can know the facts.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Loving all of the commenters going on and on about how BBC has "broken all of these rules". What utter nonsense. Show me what rules have been broken. Unless Stu is lying through his teeth, he has addressed the issue of liquor licenses (caterer's license), outdoor events (permit issued through DDOT--which is the correct way to go about obtaining a public space permit) and trash collection (has had a private trash contractor for years). The non-conforming use thing is absurd; he is completely within the law to operate BBC as he has been.

    From where I'm sitting, the neighborhood is changing and a few people can't tolerate it, so they're just lashing out. Tis a shame that so many of them appear to serve on the ANC.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ask stu to let you see his outdoor space permit. There is none. Down with Stu and BBC. change has come. By the way thanks for your interpretation of the law. Stu did not file for the zoning change until this year same year he applied for the map change. So up to 2010 he operated illegally.

    So happy the ANC voted the way they did.

    You all can keep talking but the neighbors within 600ft have spoken and the ANC supported us. Maybe it would have been different if he had actually came and spoke to his neighbors.

    Enjoy folks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Stu went door to door with a stack of letters inviting neighbors along R street and 1st street to a community meeting to discuss the plans and how to best proceed. This was in May. Did you go to that meeting Anon @8:59PM? Now obviously it's possible that in the shuffle of mail you missed his letter, or that he missed your house. But he's also posted his email address on this blog several times. Have you ever emailed him personally to voice your specific concerns, to give him advice on what you'd like to see the cafe do as a community space? Have you ever stepped foot in the cafe to voice your concerns to the staff? You could even probably find Stu there, and speak to him face to face. There are many avenues. I'm sure he'd rather change the cafe somehow in order invite more of the community in, rather than shut down and rent the space to some god-awful corporate entity that will certainly not care about the views of this neighborhood, and will certainly have an army of lawyers to back them up.

    By the way (i looked this up, you can too): a zoning change and a zoning map amendment are 2 different things. a zoning change is not required in this case, and was never requested. a zoning map amendment was submitted as part of ABRA. It's not illegal to operate an approved use, with non-conforming zoning.

    When you say "enjoy folks!" do you mean "enjoy the divisiveness i'm encouraging"? honestly, please explain. This is not a happy situation. I'd love to not see a liquor store go back into this building.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Somehow, this city is full of restaurants and bars that manage to get their licenses, complicated and frustrating as the process might be, without generating a huge internet controversy.

    This all seems blown far out of proportion, driven by bloggers (not the same thing as journalists, by the way) eager to boost their traffic.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "Somehow, this city is full of restaurants and bars that manage to get their licenses, complicated and frustrating as the process might be, without generating a huge internet controversy."

    And yet, somehow, NONE of those are in Bloomingdale. I wonder why that is?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think anon @ 6:59 means "Enjoy your parking"
    - the whole neighborhood has to suffer so a couple of people can have their commute.

    That is the only thing that this is about.

    No one, not for a second, believes that this is about zoning or outdoor space or anything resembling these issues. These are just issues of convenience that the selfish NIMBYs finally hit upon in this round of the debate. Notice a couple months ago no one was talking about this.

    Still I am confident that the best interest of the neighborhood will triumph over a couple people's cars.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Somehow, this city is full of restaurants and bars that manage to get their licenses

    Actually, as anyone who's walked through some of DC's more quiet neighborhoods or watched the Queen of Sheba licensing fiasco unfold, this is not correct. Many neighborhoods have no local restaurant and bar, and many times when a restaurant tries to get a liquor license, it runs into full-bore opposition by local rabble-rousers desperate to draw attention to themselves.

    Business owners in DC are regarded with a lot of suspicion by neighbors in part because the act of trying to make a living by opening a business is regarded as an affront: an underlying attitude of "so you think you're BETTER than me?" and "So you think there's something WRONG with our neighborhood that it needs your new business here?" is generally directed at the business owner.

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  24. It would seem to me, that a small local businesses ought to be given somewhat of a break when it comes to the minutiae of zoning and permits. It would be difficult to find anyone who actually believed that Bloomingdale would be better of without Big Bear's presence.

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  25. It's a miracle to me that Stu has the fortitude to keep pushing forward on this with all of the ridiculous opposition and vitriole spewing his way. What's the solution people opposed to this are proposing- run BBC out of the neighborhood then the next five or six businesses who try to provide desired services to the community? I'm one of the new residents and am so proud to be a homeowner in a diverse neighborhood with beautiful homes and hard working, friendly neighbors. From reading these blogs, it seems like there's a total divide in the community and attitude that new residents should have no say in shaping their community too.

    Stu is trying to make it right now and it seems to me that he's bending over backwards to go through the proper channels, reach out to the community, etc., let the man serve some wine for god's sake!

    If you don't like it and you don't care for his practices, speak loudly with your wallet and just don't patronize his business. If the majority of the community is really so upset about what he's doing, then surely he'll go out of business in a few months but my sense is that this could be really good Bloomingdale.

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  26. It's a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

    "I've got this thing and it's fucking golden, and I'm not just giving it up for fucking nothing."

    barrie blagojavich

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  27. Unless I'm missing something, what I take from this process is that the ANC does not wish to have a bar in Bloomingdale. Lets assume that BBC did violate all of the zoning, permitting, etc. issues that the ANC is stating. If the BBC did correct all of the issues and tried again next year to get the ANC support on a liquor license would they approve it then? My wife and I are interested in opening a small business in Bloomingdale but I am scared that we may face a similar issue if we somehow make a mistake and file some item of paperwork incorrectly. Part of the ANC's responsibility is economic development but can I assume that they do not provide support or advice in this area? Would we be safe to open a business that does not serve alcohol or dry clean clothes or are there other business plans we should stay away from?

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  28. Hey just a practical question- when do residents get an opportunity to vote out people who aren't supporting what they want for the neighborhood (which ever side of this issue people fall on)

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  29. pdf on election info
    http://www.dcboee.org/popup.asp?url=/pdf_files/ANC_Nov_2010.PDF

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  30. @"I cant find common ground with people who violate rules."

    If that really is your creed, you may be interested in the following: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/06/24/local-pol-censured-over-potential-hate-crime/

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  31. I've just read through the blog comments and I can't quite understand why people oppose a liquor license for BBC. I can't imagine that parking would be that big of a problem since I'm guessing that most patrons of BBC would be from nearby. It seems unlikely that many people will be driving in from across town to visis a small cafe with a few types of beer and wine for sale. So, are people really worried about parking? Is that a major issue?

    Some commenters have noted that BBC may have violated some regulations in the past and this suggests a pattern of bad behavior that will continue in the future. But I don't really understand how serving beer and wine could endanger the community. Do people think that BBC will attrack large amounts of rowdy patrons that will get drunk and trash the neighborhoood?

    I'm trying to get educated on this issue, please help me out.

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  32. Oh wait, I get it - the initial comment of "the commish" (who I'm assuming is Gigi, please correct me if I'm wrong) finally makes sense.

    She said "Let me just say that I wish you really had a better business sense. If you had only parted with a few dollars and done things the right way, you would have gotten your approval."

    I was thinking, why does this lady care about a business owner's business sense, but if you read it as "give me a bribe first and everything will be all right" it makes sense.

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  33. I was asked to post this response from Peter:

    Stuart
    I am pleasantly surprised & appreciative to see that you responded to readers and your constituents. While I am not in a position (at this moment anyway) to verify your claim that you operate in compliance with all DC laws, your letter certainly and respectfully refutes serious claims against you in the recent ANC Resolution. And, by your now being on record with your specific refutation of these claims, it should be easier to determine where the truth lies. It also seems you have set the stage for an immediate rejoinder from your fellow commissioners and/or city agencies. Someone is not representing the truth here.

    I must say however, that as a neighbor on the same block as your business, I reject the assertion that a notification flier was delivered---at least I have never received notice of any kind to meet. I can’t recall ever seeing any communications from you regarding your work or accomplishments in our SMD. It seems that other commissioners---like say, Commissioner Salatti—is always touts something he is doing for the community.

    Perhaps others are simply better at promoting their record but it also does not appear that you are lacking coverage of your own---there is always something to read about regarding your business. If you did a count, I bet that Big Bear is the most promoted and mentioned business in Bloomingdale.

    As for you trash collection service, it is often times overflowing into the public alley.. And... If no music or other gathering license is required for your activities as you state, I have to wonder why you would not beat a path to the doors of your immediate neighbors so that you can offer advance notice to these chronic concerns This is a common courtesy any residential neighbor would extend.

    As for your fellow Commissioners, Ms. Bonds is my only consistent frame of reference for the ANC. Ms Bonds has always responded with care to any questions I present about the law or the way the ANC works. While I may not always agree with her, I have found her to be fair & absent of revealing any personal bias on any one issue. This makes it all the more disconcerting that she is being attacked in the blogs for the way she voted on your license.

    Speaking to you as my commissioner and not as a business owner, I respectfully ask that you please 1) First turn to gather input from all of your constituents & your immediate neighbors in the SMD you represent. Your customers’ opinions should rightfully matter to you but not at the expense of those you are suppose to represent. If your customers don’t live in DC then their opinion on taxpayer matters & our neighborhood really should not concern you;

    2) Recognize the important influence you can have over your supporters and openly denounce anyone who engages in ad hominem attacks and name calling.

    3) Apply the current law and use it as a basis for advancing new ideas and plans. For those who do not like the current law or our elected officials, then encourage them to work to change that through the democratic process. The main reason I applaud your letter and the ANC forum and not the blogs is because it happens out of shadows & from nameless people on computers.

    I suspect that if you took this simple and public stand, you would go a long way to gaining trust from your neighbors who support the idea of your coffee shop but respectfully do not want liquor served there.

    I personally wish you and your coffee shop the very best. Quaint shops like big bear, Timor and Windows are a good thing. But, just as it seemed you promoted when you first ran for ANC and re-opened Big Bear as a cafe, alcohol is not conducive to a peaceful neighborhood where we must all co-exist safely. I hope you will explore other ways in which you can increase your profit margin.

    Peter
    100 block of R street NW

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  34. Stu,

    Why don't you scrap the idea of expanding altogether on First Street and open up a new bar on Elm Street where they will apparently NOT be building the Gage Eckington Park anymore because our dear friend Marion Barry has blocked it singlehandedly!!! At least it won't be an unused dirt lot if you open up there. And you will be closer to those of us who desperately want you to get your way and away from the nay sayers who clearly have some problem with a nice, friendly, quality, successful business.

    Seriously though, our area is changing and changing for the better. That's a fact and it needs to be accepted and not battled. Those who are trying to keep this from happening need to look back at what this part of the city was like in the late 90's. We are better off now, because of better policing, because of business owners like Stu and because of the new AND LONGTIME residents who LIVE here, and who support the small local business owners. Good community businesses make people care about the community and take pride in what they have. What's so wrong about that? If you have something to take pride in you will fight for it and frankly Big Bear and every other business here in our area are sources of Pride we should fight for, NOT WITH OR AGAINST!!! I mean imagine what we could accomplish if all this negative attention was channeled into positive projects. Imagine what solutions you all could accomplish if rather than getting together to rail against a business you got together to rail against crime or injustice or drugs! Maybe there are better uses of your time and energy?

    Really people, it's OKAY for us to have liquor stores on every corner with bars on the windows and 5 inch thick glass in front of the cash registers but it is "criminal" to try and serve a little food, beer, and wine at night, in a cozy cafe setting to hardworking residents? You all need to take a cue from the area around Cookie's Corner and embrace the local businesses that sustain our community, rather than trying to shove them out. Maybe pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged and see what life will be like in our area when you ostracize business people and entrepreneurs. Because if you are going to go to war with one business in our community you really ought to go to war with all of them and then no one wins.

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  35. Alcohol makes idiots, losers, and low-life unmotivated nimrods do stupid things, which is NOT conducive to a peaceful neighborhood. I agree, there are still way too many idiots, losers and nimrods in this neighborhood that should NOT have immediate access to alcohol. I see a number of them walk by my house day in and day out and leave behind their low-cost/high calorie snack wrappers (dinner perhaps) in my yard because they're drowning their self-respect with low grade liq, thus erasing the capability to ever offer any respect to others. Half of them certainly aren't teaching that to their kids.

    Those with self-respect, responsibilities and some level of concern about their neighborhood/community aren't going to be the ones urinating on our yards throughout the day. Nor will they be the ones screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the night because they had an ounce too much of that Ajax cut smack, so that the cops have to haul them away to stop disrupting the neighborhood. I think we have enough establishments in the neighborhood that feed the vices of these weak individuals. Maybe it is time to give THOSE that want an establishment to have something to eat in the neighborhood without worrying about being accosted, verbally degraded, etc.... I think a number of us would LOVE to eat something local that isn't from a carry out with a menu that serves General Tso's chicken, pizza, cheese steaks, and spiced shrimp all in one place! IS THIS A VEGAS BUFFET?!?! No, its just your Bloomingdale corner food joint.

    So if the ANC wants to represent their neighborhood, maybe the next small business owner that comes along (who hopefully has all their ducks lined up properly) and wants to receive approval to open up a place that also happens to responsibly serve their customers a beer or wine, they won't go off on their personal opinions, comparisons to other cities, what these privileged entitled long time residents deserve (i think upping their home values that they've ceased to repair for years should be more than they ever need to ask for). From the voice of the community, there are a lot of new residents from all walks of life, gay, black, lesbian, muslim, jewish, anglo, african, european, latin, etc... that have invested in this neighborhood, and they need competent ANC leaders to represent their wants and desires too.

    I think a number of the current ANC chowder heads should keep their personal stories to themselves and worry a bit more about the community rather than act like they are auditioning for some lame reality TV Show, or in some cases think they are Minister delivering the word of God to a large congregation. I could care less about your personal beliefs, struggles, inner demons, family morals/background, etc... I want you to worry more about expressing the pulse of the community. It is like watching a train wreck about to happen... You see it coming, you can't help but listen/watch for a second, but you realize sticking around to watch the end result isn't going to really improve your life in any way.

    I have hope for this neighborhood. Change is too powerful of a force to be stopped by low-lifes or incompetent Commissioners. Maybe even one day we will have a community that not only has a few respectful, welcoming restaurants, but also a community were people don't put buckets and chairs in the street to claim public parking space, or flash your hazards in the middle of the road while you wait for your buddies or quick-fixes to come out, or leave behind your dogs smelly dump, etc...

    It's worth dreaming about....

    F.PL.NW Res.

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  36. Yes, I asked Scott to post my letter but l was asking him to include it in his email not this general message board where it is lost among all of the anonymous posters If I knew this is where he would publish it, I would have posted it here myself

    Scott, Yes you are the manager of this blog and I guess it's your perogative to decide what you highlight or not in your email or who's post you append a warm promotional logo to, BUT you do not have the right to edit mine or other READERS' posts. Its curious that the small part of my original note---the part you did not publish because of "space" issues--includes a reference to this / your blog and the constant pass and polyanna coverage given to bb. Rarely, if ever, did you highlight any posts about the trash, noise, before that these issues blew sky high. Perhaps more coverage of constructive criticism of bb by your blog would have educated other readers about the problems that have been festering all along and you could have helped divert all of this hostility

    Yes i know know my letter was long but if you asked me--instead of telling me you edited me-- I would have wanted to be asked to edit it myself. Be careful about what you role here and sensor folks unless you are prepared to sensor others too In fact if your gonna sensor, please do so with some of the dirty words used by some

    Peter

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  37. If you can't beat em, join em. I say the good people of this community should start drinking and smoking in that park across from BBC at night. Why should derelicts have all the fun. I will bring some Plymouth gin and a nice dry rose. Who's with me?

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  38. Peter, you, like many people, seem to be fairly invested in the idea that all of Stu's customers are coming from outside of the District. Why on earth anyone would travel any significant distance to go to a cafe is beyond me. Why anyone would believe such an outlandish idea is inconceivable. It may surprise you, but those who do not live in the immediate Bloomingdale/LeDroit/Eckington area are actually served by their own cafes. Yes, really: cafes are not uncommon in many neighborhoods, if only because people do NOT want to travel long distances to find one to patronize.

    Also, the neo-Prohibitionism promoted by some people acting as though a nice establishment that serves alcohol is some kind of neighborhood blight on the area is equally ridiculous.

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  39. Just me

    I do t know where all of his customers come from. I do know that there were quite a few who signed the bra petition that came from the burb or outside the smd

    My point wad to suggest that as our commissioner, Stuart start with what matters most to us and not someone else's constiuents

    Peter

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  40. "the burbs or outside the SMD"

    So now 2 blocks away might as well be reston?

    I'm not invested in this argument one way or another, I dont give a damn whether BBC gets its liquor license bc I dont particularly like the place. Progress is natural and this neighborhood is going to improve whether or not people fight it.

    But peter, do not pretend that you bring anymore credibility than any of the other mud slingers. Your agenda is clear and your grasp of the truth seems tenuous at best.

    For the record, there's a store near me for sale (about the same distance away from me that Peter is from BBC) - I'd love for someone to buy it and turn it into a cafe serving beer and wine but none of the 'tude from BBC. My neighbors dont have any NIMBYism. Most of them were here 10-30 years ago and remember how bad it used to be.

    Any takers?

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  41. FYI, calling someone a criminal in a public forum is libelous and doing as an anonymous poster is cowardly.

    The ANC did not serve any interest but their own seething egos in this case. This is outrageous and damaging to the neighborhood.

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  42. Just a reminder to everyone that this is a public forum. When you use it as a way to blow off steam, you may succeed in entertaining people who share your disdain for those on the other side of the argument. But please, PLEASE consider how you are affecting the prospects for resolving this. Whether Bloomingdale becomes a place where diverse people accommodate each other's differences and work to find common ground, or nurture bigotries, is up to each one of us. Clearly we will improve our individual lives and make Bloomingdale a better place to live if we take the first approach. Mistakes are inevitable, and it's easy to slip up online, but can we all try to do better?

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