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GLAA advises D.C. Council on gay businesses
affected by proposed stadium
|Tuesday, November 09, 2004 9:42 AM
|Remember the gay businesses affected by proposed stadium
We are writing to let you know about GLAA's concerns regarding the displacement of gay-oriented businesses from the Mayor's proposed baseball stadium. There are several adult-oriented gay establishments in the unit block of O Street, SE, directly under the footprint of the proposed stadium.
The gay clubs are in that area because they were exiled there in the early 1970s by Police Chief Jerry Wilson, who told them that if they located in that rundown warehouse area, the police would not harass them. Fairness would seem to demand that if the City sent the clubs there to begin with, it should make adequate arrangements for satisfactory relocation if it is now going to evict them.
We strongly believe that in an international city such as ours, people should be able to choose adult entertainment for themselves. That will be impossible if the few existing establishments serving our community are forced off their existing land and cannot relocate elsewhere. Unfortunately, in addition to zoning problems and the possibly prohibitive costs of finding suitable new space, there are bluenoses in town who cannot stand the idea that somewhere somebody is enjoying entertainment of which they themselves disapprove. Without a firm commitment from the city to help them, the dislocated businesses will be doomed.
At our October 25 meeting, we were given the Mayor's pitch for the new baseball stadium by two District officials -- Toni Griffin, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization, and Susan Vener Linsky, Special Assistant in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. In response to our concerns about the displacement of the gay-oriented businesses, they offered only vague oral assurances that the Mayor would work with the affected businesses to help them relocate.
Washington Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro has informed us that a source at the zoning board told him that the zoning board is strongly biased against sexually-oriented establishments. The fact that we are talking about law-abiding and tax-paying businesses of long standing does not appear to matter to those officials. This shows the need for a strong managerial hand from the Mayor and not mere lip service. Any policy friendly toward our concerns which is not matched with firm follow-through will be undermined by those in charge of zoning, regulation, and licensing.
As you make your decision on the different stadium proposals, we urge you to keep in mind the serious adverse consequences that the Mayor's proposal will have on several legitimate, tax-generating businesses serving the gay community.
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.