GLAA submits testimony on Graham bill for relocation of clubs displaced by ballpark
Related Links

Bill 16-589

D.C. Council

Same-Sex, Lies & Videotape (Washington City Paper) 08/12/05

Activists slam surveillance by Cada Vez opponents (The Washington Blade) 07/29/05

ANC and Cada Vez are ready to rumble (Metro Weekly) 07/28/05

GLAA statement on Cada Vez dispute 07/26/05

GLAA testifies on obscene video games act 06/15/05

D.C. Gay Clubs' Vanishing Turf (The Washington Post) 06/08/05

Kameny wants Council to relocate gay clubs (TWB) 12/31/04

GLAA advises D.C. Council on gay businesses affected by proposed stadium 11/09/04

Summersgill testifies on proposed ABC regs, urges removal of Section 905 11/19/03


GLAA is a Lambda Rising Affiliate! Click here and we'll get a commission on every item you purchase.

GLAA submits testimony on Graham bill for
relocation of clubs displaced by ballpark


GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

Testimony for the record on

“The One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark Amendment Act of 2006,” Bill 16-589,

Delivered to the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

January 31, 2006


Dear Chairman Graham:

We are sorry that we cannot attend today’s public roundtable in person, but please accept this as testimony for the record on Bill 16-589, “The One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark Amendment Act of 2006,” by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), the oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization in the country.

We thank you, Mr. Chairman, for introducing this bill. We also thank the bill’s nine co-sponsors, Councilmembers Brown, Evans, Mendelson, Schwartz, Barry, Catania, Fenty, Gray, and Cropp. Since the community meeting that you and six other councilmembers attended on this issue nearly a year ago in the affected neighborhood bordering South Capitol Street, we have waited for someone to step up to the plate, as it were, to introduce a measure to resolve the problem of businesses in the club zone being displaced by the ballpark.

This bill will amend Chapter 3 of Title 25 to permit, on a one-time basis, licensees that permit nude dancing and are displaced by development on or near the new ballpark footprint to transfer within one year of the effective date of this act to transfer to various specified zones. For the purposes of this testimony we are relying on the text of the bill as posted on the Council’s website.

For GLAA, the bottom line is that the city, which is causing the dislocation of these businesses, is honor bound to do what is necessary to guarantee them the ability to move together to another location and reopen there if they so choose.

We have a few concerns about what the bill does, and what it fails to do. First, the amendment states that “if a licensee is currently located in a CM or M-zoned district in, or within 200 yards of, the footprint of the ballpark, within 1 year of the effective date of this act, a license may be transferred to … A location in any commercial zone, subject to approval by the Board.” We regard that final phrase, “subject to approval by the Board,” as problematic.

Mr. Chairman, we elected the Council and the Mayor, not the ABC Board, and we expect the Council, in cooperation with the Mayor, to craft a firm solution and not give the ABC Board – nor indeed the Zoning Board, which also has relevant jurisdiction – what amounts to a veto by other means. We need the Council to pass a bill granting a one-time waiver of all the laws and regulations that stand in the way of the desired collective relocation of the clubs. To ensure that the relocation actually happens, the Council should provide the specific instructions necessary to prevent either the ABC Board or the Zoning Board from suiting itself and disregarding the wishes of the Council.

We are attaching to our testimony a list of zoning sections of the DC Municipal Regulations (DCMR) from which exemption is needed for the one-time move contemplated by this bill. There may be others. We urge that the necessary exemptions be made explicit by the Council.

Another concern we have is that the present bill leaves out the non-ABC-licensed businesses in or near the ballpark footprint. The situation calls for a single, comprehensive legislative solution. The bill should therefore be expanded to provide for the relocation of all the displaced businesses serving our community, not just those with liquor licenses.

That being said, we respectfully disagree with those in our community who are unwilling to accept any restrictions whatsoever or any new location that is not near a Metro station. We regard as a red herring the recent argument in the gay press as to whether the affected businesses should be permitted to move near schools or churches. Let us keep in mind that the clubs do not need to move everywhere in town, they only need to move somewhere in town. We have no wish to antagonize other constituencies needlessly, and we have been given to understand by those who have investigated the options that suitable locations are available that would not raise such gratuitous controversies. We therefore recommend that you consult the affected businesses and property owners as you prepare the list of one-time DCMR exemptions.

Regarding the concern about accessibility, many successful businesses are not near a Metro station. Indeed, the clubs facing displacement began their residence in that neighborhood before the Green Line was built. It was entirely fortuitous that they enjoyed proximity to Metro for so long. Many in the hospitality industry have found creative solutions to accessibility concerns, such as arranging for shuttle bus service between their businesses and transportation hubs. We suspect that similar arrangements can be made in this case as well, and we urge you and your colleagues to provide assistance on that score as needed.

Again, we thank you, Chairman Graham, for starting us on the road to a real solution for these tax-generating businesses that face displacement through no fault of their own. Our primary concern is for their customers, who should be able in this international city to choose adult-oriented entertainment. We appreciate your efforts to prevent the city from inadvertently eliminating legitimate entertainment options by its own failure to plan.


Sincerely,

Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs

Enclosure

cc: Committee members and co-sponsors

[Note from Rick Rosendall: GLAA’s overall position on the bill is one of qualified support. In the interest of reaching a solution, we have indicated our willingness to compromise over issues like proximity of the clubs to churches and schools, an issue that was discussed in a recent story in the Washington Blade. We therefore expect that a few of the DCMR sections in the list attached to our testimony will likely be left out of the exemptions to the municipal regulations that we are requesting, assuming that Mr. Graham (who chairs the D.C. Council’s Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) and his colleagues agree with GLAA that the one-time exemptions to relevant sections of DCMR should be made explicit in the bill.

[As I said in a brief email exchange with Council Chair Linda Cropp prior to the public roundtable on the bill, "We want as comprehensive a solution as possible, to keep it real, but in that same spirit we want to work with you all to get something through without a major throw-down if it can be avoided (or at least kept to a minimum)."

[And as I said to Jim Graham in another email exchange, "The list of DCMR sections we provided is as comprehensive as our research yielded; but we expect that it may be trimmed here and there based upon your consultation with the affected businesses...."]


Appendix A.  Zoning Sections of DCMR from which exemption is needed for one-time move of businesses displaced by ballpark development.

Title 11 Zoning, Chapter 7 Commercial Districts

744     SEXUALLY-ORIENTED BUSINESSES (C-3)
744.1     A sexually-oriented business establishment shall be permitted in C-3-C Districts as a special exception only if approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment under § 3104, subject to the requirements of this section.
744.2     No portion of the establishment shall be located within six hundred feet (600 ft.) of a Residence or Special Purpose District.
744.3     No portion of the establishment shall be located within six hundred feet (600 ft.) of a church, school, library, playground, or the area under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Fine Arts pursuant to the Shipstead-Luce Act, approved May 16, 1930 (46 Stat. 366, as amended; D.C. Official Code § 6-611.01 (formerly codified at D.C. Code § 5-410 (1994 Repl.))).
744.4     No portion of the establishment shall be located within three hundred feet (300 ft.) of any other sexually-oriented business establishment.
744.5     There shall be no display of goods or services visible from the exterior of the premises.
744.6     The establishment shall be compatible with other uses in the area.
744.7     The use shall not become objectionable because of its effect on the character of the neighborhood or because of noise, traffic, or other conditions.
744.8     The establishment shall not have an adverse impact on religious, educational, or governmental facilities located in the area.
     SOURCE:  § 5103.47 of the Zoning Regula! tions, effective May 12, 1958; as amended by Final Rulemaking published at 24 DCR 5144, 5156 (December 16, 1977); and Final Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 9741-43 (December 8, 2000), incorporating by reference the text of Proposed Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 8335, 8402 (October 20, 2000).

750     CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (C-4)
750.1     The Central Business (C-4) District shall be designed for the downtown core that comprises the retail and office centers for both the District of Columbia and the metropolitan area.
750.2     The C-4 District shall be large enough to provide an adequate area for a variety of commercial, retail, and business uses to serve the metropolitan area, but nevertheless compact enough to retain its identity.
750.3     The C-4 District also shall contain high-density residential and mixed use developments.
750.4     Except as provided in chapters 20 through 25 of this title, in a C-4 District, no building or premises shall be used and no building shall be erected or altered that is arranged, intended, or designed to be used except for one (1) or more of the uses listed in §§ 751 through 755.
     SOURCE:  §§ 5104.1 and 5104.2 of the Zoning Regulations, effective May 12, 1958; as amended by Final Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 9741-43 (December 8, 2000), incorporating by reference the text of Proposed Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 8335, 8403 (October 20, 2000).

754     SEXUALLY-ORIENTED BUSINESSES (C-4)
754.1     A sexually-oriented business establishment shall be permitted as a special exception in a C-4 District, if approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment under § 3104, subject to the provisions of this section.
754.2     No portion of the establishment shall be located within six hundred feet (600 ft.) of a Residence or Special Purpose District.
754.3     No portion of the establishment shall be located within six hundred feet (600 ft.) of a church, school, library, playground, or the area under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Fine Arts pursuant to the Shipstead-Luce Act, approved May 16, 1930 (46 Stat. 366, as amended; D.C. Official Code § 6-611.01 (formerly codified at D.C. Code § 5-410 (1994 Repl.))).
754.4     No portion of the establishment shall be located within three hundred feet (300 ft.) of any other sexually-oriented business establishment.
754.5     There shall be no display of goods or services visible from the exterior of the premises.
754.6     The establishment shall be compatible with other uses in the area.
754.7     The use shall not become objectionable because of its effect on the character of the neighborhood or because of noise, traffic, or other conditions.
754.8     The establishment shall not have an adverse impact on religious, educational, or governmental facilities located in the area.
     SOURCE: § 5104.45 of the Zoning Regulations, effective May 12, 1958; as amended by Final Rulemaking published at 24 DCR 5144, 5146 (December 16, 1977); and Final Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 9741-43 (December 8, 2000), incorporating by reference the text of Proposed Rulemaking published at 47 DCR 8335, 8405 (October 20, 2000).


pageok