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Temporium does more for Mount Pleasant than years of VAs

The success of the Mount Pleasant Temporium and the battles to clamp down on liquor licenses in Mount Pleasant illustrate two opposite approaches to community development and commercial revitalization: one positive and constructive, one negative and limiting.


Photo by mckone.jonna on Flickr.

During the month of March, nearly 6,800 people, mostly from Ward 1, visited the Mount Pleasant Temporium, a "pop-up shop" featuring local artisans and performers and funded with a small grant from the DC Office of Planning. Volunteers organized the shop, planned events and promoted it through marketing. The 24-day pop-up shop rang up a whopping $31,000 in sales.

During the same period, the city's ABC Board, the body that grants and revokes liquor licenses, announced three landmark decisions. They released three restaurants from their "voluntary agreements" with a small group of activists, ending a six-year legal battle.

Mount Pleasant has housed an array of artists, musicians, bands, and arts groups. Why for so long did it seem that revitalization has passed Mount Pleasant Street by? The activism behind the now terminated-VAs represents part of the problem, and the Temporium represents part of the solution.

In both cases, a small group of motivated residents turned their attention to the neighborhood's commercial corridor. And in both cases, the city intervened to help them, but with vastly different results.

During the Temporium's 23-day run, over 50 volunteers donated a total of 850 hours of time to the month-long pop-up shop and program of events. Local businesses offered space, free advertising and supplies worth thousands of dollars. The Temporium's success delivered what the best marketing campaign couldn't buy: living proof that creative daytime retail can be successful in this off-the-beaten-path neighborhood.

The Temporium capitalized on a key quality of urban living and created an outlet for some of the more scrappy and local forms of culture and entertainment that happens in the city. Its organizers understood that people love living in cities not only because of the convenience of living close to downtown or because of bike lanes, green space, and transit, but because of the rich and multilayered social opportunities and cultural venues available close to home.

A 2008 Knight Foundation study found that most of its 46,000 respondents chose the availability of spaces for socialization and entertainment venues as the most significant qualities connecting them to their urban neighborhoods.

The Temporium organizers tapped into people's hopes for Mount Pleasant. It brought not only the kind of business mix they want to see, but the kind of community and local culture they want to foster. They partnered with restaurants to publicize and cross-promote the project and the neighborhood. Local DJs, performers and musicians were included and valued.

This approach to community economic development on Mount Pleasant Street stands in stark contrast to the activism behind the now-terminated VAs. Instead of building on their hopes for the neighborhoods, the small group of activists behind the VAs focused on what they most feared: "becoming another Adams Morgan."

Among their chief targets were business models that blurred the boundaries between restaurant, bar, and nightclub. The liquor license protest process provided a powerful tool, not so much to manage issues like noise and trash, but to preclude this allegedly "community unfriendly" hybrid business model.

The liquor license protest process enabled a few neighbors to impose rules through "voluntary" agreements which made it very difficult for most local establishments to operate legally outside the rubric of a traditional sit-down restaurant.

For example, some of the Mount Pleasant VAs strictly prohibited happy hours, even though few people find them disruptive. All Mount Pleasnt VA's also forbade places from offering live music and dancing. VA activists put these restrictions in place, they said, to protect "quality of life" and to keep Mount Pleasant Street from becoming a nightclub district.

But for many Mount Pleasant residents, neighborhood restaurants were much more than places to purchase meals or grab drinks. They were gathering places and cultural venues. The fact that these places blurred the lines between restaurant, bar, and club was what made them so valuable and what fostered such a strong sense of community in what was once DC's most economically and culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Therefore, a large number of people felt the VA restrictions, especially the ban on live music and dancing, cut them off from a unique aspect of Mount Pleasant community life they once treasured: evenings spent at little restaurants listening to mariachi bands and other local musicians.


Lilo Gonzalez performs at a Don Juan's family night, April 26th, 2011.
The VA terminations didn't just happen. It took a grueling seven-year grassroots campaign to reconcile businesses with a few skeptical, but vocal, neighbors.

It's important to note that the whole effort was as much about creating more venues for music and culture as it was about building capacity among local operators to better manage potential negative impacts. Residents seeking to overturn the live music ban worked with businesses to help them plan proactively to minimize potential negative impacts, especially around noise and crowds. Those licensees who wanted out of their VAs conducted noise assessments and implemented sound management plans. Their staff attended extensive trainings in security and responsible alcohol service.

This is just one reason why there was poetic justice when the VA terminations and the Mount Pleasant Temporium coincided. Both show that there is a willingness to work on a civic agenda that's built on hopes for a neighborhood commercial strip as well as one that values, rather than fears, what "entertainment" and communities more traditionally associated with nightlife can bring to the table. The Temporium organizers tapped into this energy. The activists behind the VAs rejected it.

Moving forward, other agencies should follow the Office of Planning's lead and invest political capital into helping neighborhoods attract the kind of community-friendly investment and foster the civic energy that will make DC neighborhood's both more vibrant and livable. Instead of codifying the fears of self-selected neighborhood gatekeepers into the law, we need city leaders to invest in better ways to manage, plan and police mixed-use neighborhoods so they can be both vibrant and livable.

Natalie Avery was the Executive Director of the MidCity Business Association from 2008 to 2010 and worked closely with hospitality operators in the 14th and U area to foster a best practices approach to managing nightlife issues. In 2010 she co-chaired the ABRA Noise Task Force. Currently she is a stay-at-home mom in Mount Pleasant, happy to be raising her children near a commercial strip with lots of nightlife and dining options. 

Comments

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Excellent, excellent.

by Tim on May 9, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

Indeed, Natalie. Thanks so much for this thoughtful piece. We moved to Petworth after years in Mt. Pleasant, but I'm encouraged every time I talk to someone or read someone with a perspective like this in MtP and remember that not everyone is a fun-hating, anti-community zealot who thinks only in negative desires for their neighborhood. (Don't do this, don't become this, don't be this kind of place.)

I'm glad you and your positive vision have found a home in the neighborhood. And always remember that there are WAY more people like you there in MtP than there are anti-everythings. They just tend to scream the loudest. :)

by whiteknuckled on May 9, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

As a resident of MTP. AMEN.

by Johnny on May 9, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

Well put. I especially find a ban on live music and dancing to be just plain mean-spirited and self-defeating. If you have a problem with "noise", vote for decibel limits. Don't try to prohibit culture.

by tom veil on May 9, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport

Maybe I just completely missed it, but what does VA stand for?

by Ryan S. on May 9, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

Sorry I meant what are VA's, I know what it stands for.

by Ryan S. on May 9, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

@Ryan S.
See third paragraph. VA stands for "voluntary agreement". They are agreements between residents and commercial establishments that restrict certain things in order for community support.

So a group of neighbors might say, "we won't protest your liquor license, if you voluntarily agree to be closed by 9p every night."

by Matt Johnson on May 9, 2011 11:51 am • linkreport

@ Ryan "Voluntary Agreements"

by The Brightwoodian on May 9, 2011 11:51 am • linkreport

So which places that the VAs removed?

by Matt on May 9, 2011 12:10 pm • linkreport

great to see LC defeated!!! Welcome back, mariachis!!

by Tina on May 9, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

I cringe everytime I read that some place in the city doesn't want to become "another Adams Morgan." I've lived in Adams Morgan for 25 years, and 18th Street is definitely a less neighborhood-friendly place than it once was. I wish someone would figure out how to get Adams Morgan to be more like Mount Pleasant, or Barracks Row, or places like that.

by Ktriarch on May 9, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

I question the connection between our successful temporium and voluntary agreements. These so called voluntary agreement allowed live entertainment, dancing, and cover charge for over 5 years now and we've been enjoying music and culture for quite some time.

This article is quite a stretch and a head scratcher.

by Maria on May 9, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

@Ktriarch,

The idea is once other neighborhoods relinquish many of their arbitrary restrictions, the pressure on Adams Morgan as the only go-to nightspot will decrease allowing for business diversity across the city. I'd argue that bars in Adams Morgan have exceeded demand, which explains why there are a number of them shutting down and reopening every year.

by cmc on May 9, 2011 12:36 pm • linkreport

VAs are alive and well in Mount Pleasant with v agreements between the ANC, Mainstreet and the Hear Mt. Pleasant folks which restrict hours of entertainment, making them stop on week days earlier than weekends at certain hours, the VA require a night manager after 9pm which is required to post his/her number publicly, establishments are required to maintain logs, clean their sidewalks, can only take their trash out during certain hours, and more horrifically, make them join an organization of hospitality.

Restrictions still exist and I recall recently one establishment being fined $1,000.00 for violating the Hear Mount Pleasant agreement.

by Bill on May 9, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

I believe the places that had their VAs altered (the old ones were canceled and new VAs were put in place) were Don Juan's, Don Jaime's and Haydee's.

I live in Mt. Pleasant and definitely these places have improved. When I moved here Don Juan's was a place my friends and I went to once just to see how seedy it really was (seemed pretty seedy). Now there's all kinds of people there.

I think things have really improved since a few certain people who were the most vocal have moved on.

@Maria I'm pretty sure it's been about 3 years since things like dancing/music were initially expanded, but they've been expanded further.

by MLD on May 9, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

@Maria, here's some history. There was a ban on music and dancing in Mt.P. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2008/04/mt_pleasants_faint_strains_of.html

by Tina on May 9, 2011 1:00 pm • linkreport

If you read this article and thought that it outlined how removing the Voluntary Agreements some how caused the Temporium to happen, you should read it again. That isn't what it says.

The connection between the two is that they both happened in Mt. Pleasant. Natalie's article carefully contrasts the adversarial approach that certain neighborhood associations took in using the Voluntary Agreements that were recently struck down with the cooperative approach that led to the success of the Temporium.

Mount Pleasant has changed a lot in the last twenty years. The neighborhood has come a long way. Voluntary Agreements do still exist all over the city. Trying to shift this discussion to a question of whether Voluntary Agreements are bad is missing the point.

Building our neighborhoods and our city in a way that maximizes potential will involve us working together to leverage our talents and strengths. When we resort to bullying and strong-arm tactics, we create power struggles that inevitably waste precious energy and resources that could better be channeled into something positive for everyone.

"Bill" is right when he notes that even the Voluntary Agreement that was negotiated using cooperative strategies ends up causing business owners to work under certain restrictions. It is unreasonable to require that a business that serves alcoholic beverages have a manager on duty after 9pm? Is unreasonable that the hours of music are more restrictive on weeknights than they are on weekends? I don't understand what is horrific about these things?

by Phil Lepanto on May 9, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

Natalie writes about a correlation between the temporium and VAs but I don't see any relationship, nor how they compare. There are many businesses in Mount Pleasant that don't sell alcohol and who participated in the temporium, like Nana Boutique, one of the biggest hosts of the temporium.

Poetic justice? How can Natalie explain the fines against our restaurants for violating the very VA her organization signed?

Where's poetic justice in that?

by Justine on May 9, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

@Justine

You don't see any relationship at all? The temporium and the change in VAs are both the result of an active group of neighbors working for and with business to improve the neighborhood as a whole. The previous VAs were too restrictive on businesses because they were based on neighbors trying to stamp out any possible nuisance, instead of coming from a point of view where neighbors and businesses work together to create an environment where business can succeed and be responsible community members.

by MLD on May 9, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

MLD; No I don't see any relationship at all. I see Nana Boutique doing a tremendous service to the community. Her business, along with other "non-alcohol" type businesses have improved the neighborhood as a whole.

I also give credit to the actual residents who gave the temporium a chance and came up and spent money.

As to VA's: that's other issue in Mt. Pleasant. What I see in this article is the author wasn't forthcoming with all the facts. She states that "the liquor license protest process enabled a few neighbors to impose rules through "voluntary" agreements..."

But isn't that what Hear Mt Pleasant did? They protested, *and* they imposed rules through "voluntary" agreements?

Talking about what VA was more restrictive than the other isn't, in my opinion, what this article is trying to portray, nor was there a mention that businesses who serve alcohol are still under imposed rules via voluntary agreements via the same group of people that the author is trying to give kudos to.

by Justine on May 9, 2011 1:51 pm • linkreport

hmm. Me thinks Justine had a dog in this fight? MPNA member perhaps? As for Hear Mount Pleasant. Wasn't the whole point to work within the same system that the MPNA was busy exploiting? In any event the group HEAR Mount Pleasant would never have existed if the MPNA hadn't banned music and dancing in the first place.

by Johnny on May 9, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

Justine, the connection ios that the VA regime is an anti-business bullying tactic to harass business owners, while the demise of that regime resulted in businesses getting together to engage in constructive commercial activity. When the culture of VAs is finally marginalized, then these temporium-type establishments can flourish, because no one is afraid of attracting the ire of power-brokers ready to swoop in to try to stop projects that are being done without the approval of special interests waving around a VA.

Temporiums cannot exist within a climate of fear and harassment that accompanied those who demanded a VA for every action ever taken by anyone in the neighborhood.

by JustMe on May 9, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

Good riddance to the VAs discussed in the article, they definitely seemed ridiculous. But I am distressed by the emerging GGW orthodoxy that all VAs are per se bad and that the people who push for them are, as Natalie puts it, "self-selected neighborhood gatekeepers". In the not-so-distant past, the bar at the end of my block was out of control. Drunk patrons yelling, screaming, & fighting at all hours, throwing their to-go cups on lawns, parking in driveways they didn't own, etc. I don't think any commenter here would tolerate that kind of thing and neither did my block. VAs are important negotiating leverage to make the bar owners to listen, even when they don't want to.

by Brooklander on May 9, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

@Brooklander

I'm curious if you think VAs are the best way to fight those kinds of problems you cite, or if they are used because they are the only tool you have available. Couldn't those problems be addressed through other means?

I'm also curious if you consider the very real costs those VAs impose on new businesses.

by Alex B. on May 9, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

I'd rather not conger up history, but rather focus on this article and the intent for its writings.

I have no dog in the fight, Johnny, but just my observation of the facts, or lack of facts, that are presented in this article.

I guess my point, and to follow up on JustMe's comments, is that Temporiums CAN exist with or without VA's as proven in Mt. Pleasant even WITH a current special interest group, HEAR Mt Pleasant, waving it's VA with restrictions, which got a few restaurants fined for violating their VA.

by Justine on May 9, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

@Alex B: Faced with a nuisance establishment that shows no interest in being a good neigbor, I'd say being able protest the liquor license & seek a VA is a pretty good tool to get the owner to listen.

Regarding cost, I'm sure there is a cost to not letting a bar do anything and everything it wants to. On the other hand, I think that the problems I described above are externalities...the owner wants to manage poorly or not at all and shift the cost burden onto the neighbors for trash, excessive noise, etc. So maybe it's all a wash.

by Brooklander on May 9, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

@Justine, so you would favor getting rid of all VAs?

by Tina on May 9, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

@ Brooklander--

I am distressed by the emerging GGW orthodoxy that all VAs are per se bad and that the people who push for them are, as Natalie puts it, "self-selected neighborhood gatekeepers". In the not-so-distant past, the bar at the end of my block was out of control.

This is a good point. VAs are a great tool when they're narrowly tailored to specific, strictly scrutinized complaints. The issue with VAs as they currently exist is they are too broad, too restrictive, too permanent, and too easy to get.

They key phrase here has to be: a temporary, narrowly tailored restriction to alleviate a specific, concrete, and legitimate neighborhood problem. VA requesters should have a high burden of proof to overcome.

by WRD on May 9, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

Brooklander: There is no such orthodoxy. Read, for example, this post.

I support VAs, when used appropriately. No live music is not appropriate. Asking a bar to close its outdoor patio at a certain earlier hour if it's in a residential neighborhood is reasonable.

by David Alpert on May 9, 2011 5:09 pm • linkreport

Note also the leader of MPNA who originally obtained the VAs banning all live music and dancing (in established businesses) fully expected them to be PERManent and non-negotiable

A 2007 quote below from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/11/AR2007041102268.html

"...head of the MPNA, which worked out the no-music agreements with the restaurants, and a former member of the ABC board, Laurie Collins says the bid to undo music bans she brokered will fail....Proud of what she's accomplished, she's confident nothing will change. Voluntary agreements stand in perpetuity. Even if the new group completed its own deals, the board would nullify them, Collins says, because its policy is to enforce the most restrictive agreement on the books.... Because some in the pro-music group are renters Collins considers them "outsiders." "

I'm GLEEFUL to see her defeated!! She clearly set out to abuse the VA system.

by Tina on May 9, 2011 5:40 pm • linkreport

"Tina" -2

your very sad attempt to discredit someone only makes you look desperate. Your post reduces thoughtful conversation. Let's try to stay on the subject why don't we?

I, too, support VAs when used appropriately and it is up to the ABC Board to determine appropriateness and either approve or disapprove VAs.

by Bill on May 9, 2011 6:33 pm • linkreport

@Brooklander: In Mt Pleasant, the new self-selected neighborhood gatekeepers are the Hear Mt Pleasant people, which includes the author of this article. Their VAs are restrictive and restaurants have been fined thousands of dollars for violating their VAs.

The temporium, as stated, took 50 volunteers donating 850 hours of time. It was an event that no sole shopkeeper or even 10 shopkeepers could ever produce again on their own without the terrific help they received from people like Hello Craft, Office of Planning, and the 34 local artisans and crafters who I would bet don't even know what a voluntary agreement is.

by Bill on May 9, 2011 6:57 pm • linkreport

Bill's Words

http://mtpleasantdc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=18321&highlight=music#18321

sorry i disagree--without the va it would be worse--they have made a difference and i suport them. i live closer to don jaimie and i don't have to problems with them as i do don juans. if you read my post i don't mind music, but i dont want nightclubs.

http://mtpleasantdc.org/

Feel free to search for Bill's other statements on music, VAs, Voluntary agreements and the like.

by Mount Pleasant DC Forum Bot on May 9, 2011 8:42 pm • linkreport

Read a classic Bill thread here:

http://mtpleasantdc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=18570&highlight=#18570

by Mount Pleasant DC Forum Bot on May 9, 2011 9:25 pm • linkreport

The "Temporarium" of course has nothing to do with the VA's--it's success had to do with final gentrification of the Mt. Pleasant commercial market. At last! All those 20 and 30 something's with cash to spend want to spend some of it here.

I suppose because it's the last neighborhood strip with any character left, with rents that are "reasonable", so young, hip whites are opening up a few kitschy shops [Nana (vintage like women's clothing) and and Coffee-tea biscotti cafe. More power them. I hope there are many more to come!

So-called storefront "renovation" is about complete, so they will be able to rent some of that LEDC-financed, recently renovated space!

by Lizzy on May 10, 2011 8:23 am • linkreport

@Bill

If you've got some kind of link that talks about the "thousands of dollars" that Mt Pleasant businesses have been fined as a result of HMP VAs we'd love to see it. All I've heard is that there were potential fines for technicalities (not posting the VA in a public space), the ANC opposed those fines and they were never imposed.

by MLD on May 10, 2011 9:38 am • linkreport

Three comments, in response to the above:
(1) As few as 5 residents can get together and impose a VA on a business. Such a "group of 5" will naturally tend to be the most aggressive and demanding folks in the neighborhood.
(2) The approach taken by Hear Mount Pleasant (and the ANC) was to try to replace the onerous MPNA VAs with more reasonable versions, on the grounds that it would be impossible to bring about the termination of the MPNA versions. This approach worked, but of course the new VAs have their own restrictions.
(3) Once a VA is in place, ABRA enforces it, without any collaboration with the VA sponsor. Yes, Don Jaime's was fined for, among other things, a violation of the Hear Mount Pleasant VA, but I understand that Hear Mount Pleasant wasn't told anything about the matter, and they weren't present at the ABC Board hearing. So don't blame the fine on them.

by Jack on May 10, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

I agree Lizzy. Gentrification has certainly contributed to the success of the temporium and probably to the future success of mainstreet.

by Micah on May 10, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

@Bill, Tina is my name. No need for quotes. I think its fairly clear to everyone, including the ABC, that the MPNA, and its leader, abused the VA system and have done quite a good job of discrediting themselves without any assistance from me.

by Tina on May 10, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

@GGW Editors - Someone used my name above to impersonate me in the above comment. This unacceptable. Please correct it.

by Tina on May 10, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

I have deleted a comment from someone impersonating "Tina".

Since many commenters use just their first names, sometimes there's overlap. If possible, we encourage you to pick a unique name.

However, in this case, the new commenter was clearly pretending to be another commenter. This is unacceptable. If you have a point to make, make it in your own words under your own name (or pseudonym), but do not pretend to be someone else.

by Matt Johnson on May 10, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson, Thank you for your speedy action. I appreciate it and the intergrity maintained on the GGW site.

by Tina on May 10, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

I'm so sorry you felt the need to contrast the VAs and the Temporium and to continue the long established Mount Pleasant tradition of neighbor slamming neighbor. Those supporting VAs care nothing for the community or retail on Mount Pleasant St. Those supporting the Temporium are all against VAs???? Or what? Those supporting VAs don't support the Temporium?

Where are you going with this? Can't we all get along? Isn't there a way to alter the tone of the discussion?

by Bonnie on May 10, 2011 1:48 pm • linkreport

+5 Bonnie

by Justine on May 10, 2011 2:24 pm • linkreport

I have looked further into this issue. The false comment from "Tina" was posted by the same person, Bill, who also goes by 'billbraddc' on the Mt. Pleasant Yahoo group, and the one who originally criticized Tina's previous comment (which does not appear to have crossed any lines).

Furthermore, Bill also has been posting under the names of Maria, Justine, Lizzy, and Micah on this thread, apparently to give the idea that multiple people are agreeing (for example, "Micah" posted a comment saying "I agree with Lizzie" even though Micah and Lizzie are both really just Bill.

Bill & your alter egos, our policies state that you must post consistently under one name. You are welcome to continue participating in this forum but you must do so either under the name "Bill" or, if you want to add more to your name, you may switch one time only to something that includes "Bill" such as "BillBradDC" or "Bill B."

If you post under any names that do not contain "Bill" in them, or post under more than one name going forward, I will ban you from further commenting under any name.

by David Alpert on May 10, 2011 2:42 pm • linkreport

The contrived smooshing together of the Temporium and the VA agreements isn't even apples and oranges, it's more like kumquats and toasters.

To those who dismiss the VAs, you've probably never lived near a nightclub posing as a restaurant and the accompanying 2:00 AM drunken ambiance of screaming, fights, and required police presence. And no, I'm not talking about Adams Morgan, but 14th & Q before it become the WholeFood-sia it is today.

I think all too many of those who dismiss/attack the VAs (and, and I'll add for good measure, Mt. Pleasant's designation as a historic district)fail to recognize that it's the success of these measures that helped improve the neighborhood and its quality of life.

by Josh on May 10, 2011 2:55 pm • linkreport

@Josh, I think the article and most commenters don't dismiss VAs and agree that VAs, when not exploited, are useful in the abscence of a better system. (See todays post 'Dupont ANCs cafe guidelines...' for an example of a better system).

The criticism is with the ease at which VAs are exploited. I viewed this article as a celebration of the coinciding of the success of the Temporium with the undoing of the VAs in MP that were viewed by many as most draconian, lacking in compromise and the spirit of collaboration, and purposefully exploitive of the systems with weaknesses. I thought the point was the Temporium and the new VAs embraced collaboration and negotiation whereas the old defeated VAs did not.

by Tina on May 10, 2011 3:47 pm • linkreport

^"...systems' weaknesses"

by Tina on May 10, 2011 3:51 pm • linkreport

I've lived in Mt. Pleasant for just over 10 years and when I moved here I was absolutely flabbergasted when I found out the terms of the "voluntary" agreements. (Seriously, no live entertainment? Of any kind? Ever? Not even a guy strumming on a guitar?) I put "voluntary" in quotes because in reality the business owners had little choice but to acquiesce to the demands, otherwise risk have their liquor licenses protested and possible losing them. Even a "traditional" restaurant relies heavily on wine and liquor sales to turn a profit, and losing a liquor license would almost certainly spell the end of that establishment.

As to the VA's themselves, I think most residents don't have any problem with VA's that are limited in scope--in fact some of the requirements were quite sensible and reasonable--but the process was exploited by a small group of residents who went way, way overboard in making unreasonable and excessive (some would say "punitive") demands on neighborhood businesses that ultimately backfired by scaring away any other potential new businesses and came close to killing our business district.

by John B. on May 13, 2011 1:27 pm • linkreport

The VAs were ridiculous restraints on MtP's development. I'm a professional musician, I lived in MtP for 16 years, and, aside from concerts in the zoo and Lamont Park, did not play a gig in the the neighborhood until a couple years after leaving DC. Meanwhile, I was driving to U Street, Arlington, and all over the metro area to play. Other neighborhoods got the entertainment cash. They also had enough pedestrian traffic to reduce crime. Healthy neighborhoods have all sorts of businesses, including entertainment.

by John on Jun 15, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

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