Adopted Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B – October 25, 2010 Public Meeting           Adopted on November 22, 2010

The meeting started at 7 p.m. at the MPD’s 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW, Chair Yvonne Jefferson (also 4B08) presiding.  Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Idriys Abdullah, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

1)     In a unanimous show-of-hands vote and following a motion from Commissioner Green, the agenda was adopted.

2)     In a 4-1-2 roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Green which included friendly amendments from Commissioners Sydnor and Wheeler, the Commission agreed to protest the application of the owners of Sunshine Bar & Lounge, LLC (formerly “El Tamarindo”) for substantial operational changes at the restaurant, located at 7331 Georgia Ave.,, NW.   The restaurant‘s current closing is midnight, with no live entertainment permitted.

Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Speaks and Jefferson voted “yes.”  Commissioner Abdullah voted “no.”  Commissioners Sydnor and Sloan abstained.

The adopted motion:

WHEREAS, Sunshine Bar & Lounge, LLC (“Sunshine”) has filed an application for an ABC license transfer with substantial operational changes  with the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (“ABRA”), License No. ABRA 085239 concerning 7331 Georgia Avenue, N.W. (“the Sunshine case”) and

WHEREAS, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (“ANC 4B”) finds that:

1.       offering live entertainment as late as 3 a.m. and serving alcohol as late as 2 a.m., as well as changing the name of the establishment from “El Tamarindo Restaurant” to “Sunshine Bar & Lounge,” dramatically changes the character of the business from a restaurant to something that becomes, in effect, a nightclub

2.        persons patronizing the establishment will be parking in the surrounding residential neighborhood during the late night and early morning hours due to very limited private or public parking thereby causing considerable annoyance to the nearby residents and safety concerns;

 

3.       loud music emanating from the establishment during the late night and early morning hours will seriously disrupt the nearby residents’ peace and quiet enjoyment of their neighborhood and residence, and that these concerns are particularly significant because homes are as close as 30-feet from the establishment 

 

4.       the noted parking, safety and noise issues collectively will detrimentally affect the property value of the nearby residences and businesses;

                                                                                                                                             

5.       the hours of operations and activities Sunshine has applied for may attract less desirable customers from other areas in the city and outside of the city and will not serve or benefit the surrounding community.

 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ANC 4B

         1.  protests Sunshine’s ABC license transfer with substantial changes application for the reasons set forth in our findings above and recommends to the ABC Board that the application be denied;

          2.  will continue to work with residents and the applicant to reach a compromise acceptable to all parties

          3.  will withdraw its protest if a compromise is reached and formalized in the form of a voluntary agreement.

          4.  designates ANC 4B01 Sara Green to represent the Commission in this matter and Sam Sharpe to act as the Commission’s pro bono (i.e., without charge) attorney in this matter.

The vote followed a discussion with residents and Sunshine Owner Alganesh Kidane.  Ms. Kidane said she bought the restaurant about three months ago with the understanding that she could operate until 3 a.m. on the weekends.  There is little business during the week. They will be good neighbors. She said she needs the late hours for special events -- a key part of their business.  She would change the name from “Sunshine Bar and Lounge” to “Sunshine Restaurant” if the neighbors want this.

Ms. Kidane, in response to questions from Commissioners Sydnor and Abdullah, said she would work with residents on a voluntary agreement to limit late-night hours and respond to other community concerns.

Several speakers, including Andre Carley, of 9th St., NW and the Vice President of Concerned Neighbors, Inc., and Rosemary Berman, of Geranium St., NW, spoke in opposition to the application.  Mr. Carley said he wanted to work on a voluntary agreement that offered a compromise. He also explained that the existing license never permitted the late night hours and entertainment that Ms. Kidane noted. He also said that his mother heard noise coming from the restaurant as late as 3:15 am on a recent Saturday, a violation of the current license. Ms. Kidane disagreed with this statement.

Several speakers, including Joseph Green, of 7th St., NW, and Carleton Smith, of Fern Pl., NW,  spoke in support.  Mr. Green said the business has financial problems. Neighbors should not assume it will be a nuisance.  Another man, who did not identify himself, said the business will add vibrancy to the community.

Meeting attendees were asked to stand either in support or opposition to the application.  Two residents stood in support.  About 40 stood in opposition.

3. In a unanimous roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission voted to support the renewal of the alcoholic beverage license for Charlie’s Bar & Grill, 7307 Georgia Ave., NW.  Voting “yes” to the motion were Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Sydnor, Speaks, Abdullah, Jefferson and Sloan.

The vote followed a discussion with Judith Bennett, Charlie’s owner.  Ms. Bennett said when she bought the business about 12 years ago she had to remove customers who were selling drugs. She is becoming more of a restaurant and often closes much earlier than the 3 a.m. closing time that is permitted in her license, but always by 2 a.m., and sometimes as early as 10 or 11 pm.

Commissioner Sydnor said he didn’t understand why there was support for Charlie’s but not for Sunshine.  Commissioner Abdullah said the community needs to include all kinds of businesses.  Commissioner Green said that Charlie’s is a business that has been open at that address for about 50 years and its hours predate current ABC laws.

Michael Sindram, of Georgia  Avenue, said the business is a nightclub that generates a lot of noise and people stand out on the sidewalk and are not smoking. 

4.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission voted to support renewing the alcoholic beverage license for Takoma Station Tavern, 6914 4th St., NW

The vote followed a discussion with Owner David Boyd.  Mr. Boyd said his father purchased the business in 1984 and he responds to community concerns.  In response to concerns about crime, he offers rides to pedestrians who feel unsafe on the street.  There are free jazz performances on Wednesday afternoons.

Several speakers praised the business, including Commissioners Abdullah and Sloan and Residents Regina Page, of 4B01, and Michael Sindram.

An unidentified woman said the business needs more crowd control.  Mr. Sindram asked about using the alley entrance.  Mr. Boyd said he has security and a roped-off street entrance area, but he cannot bar people from using a public street.  An alley entrance would disturb the adjacent residents.

5.   In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sydnor, the Commission voted to support renewing the alcoholic beverage for Haydee’s, 6303 Georgia Ave., NW.

The vote followed a discussion with Haydee’s owners, Haydee Vanegas and Mario Alas.  Ms. Vanegas said her business works hard to provide good food, music and dancing.

Haydee’s was praised by several speakers, including Commissioners Abdullah, Speaks and Sloan and Residents Michael Sindram and Wanda Oates, of 4B05.  Commissioner Sloan noted that there was a big concern several years ago when the business became a nightclub, but these concerns have not materialized.

David Creech, of 4B03, and another resident who did not identify herself but said she is a 17-year-resident, commented on the general problem of alcohol-oriented businesses.  Residents are not anti-business but have a right to protect their investment in their homes and should be concerned about businesses without a track record, they said.

6.  In a 6-0-1 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted a motion agreeing to tape record its public meetings whenever possible and whenever possible to post links to the recordings on the Commission’s web page,  including the existing recordings of the April 26, May 24, June 28, August 31 and September 27, 2010 public meetings.

During the discussion on this vote and during other portions of the meeting, there were discussions about opening the Commission’s monthly planning sessions.  Several residents, including Robert Maxwell, of 7th St., NW, Michael Sindram, Callie Battle, of Tuckerman St., NW, Paul Montague, of 3rd St., NW, and Damaris Rodriguez-Feleke, of Aspen St., NW, participated, along with several Commissioners.

Mr. Maxwell, who had submitted a formal request to open the planning meetings, agreed to wait for a response until the Commission received clarification from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on the OAG’s opinion letter.  Mr. Maxwell and Ms. Rodriguez-Feleke said they are most concerned about learning what agenda items are being discussed at planning meetings.  Mr. Maxwell later said he would accept a written summary of issues discussed at planning meetings.  Mr. Sindram and Mr. Montague said they want the meetings opened.

Commissioner Abdullah, who supports opening the meetings, made a motion to open them, but withdrew it.

Other Commissioners commented.  Commissioner Sydnor supported opening the meetings. Commissioner Sloan said opening them is an administrative nightmare. Commissioner Wheeler asked to wait until the OAG clarifies the question. Chair Jefferson and Commissioner Speaks said the Commission will not ignore the issue.

7.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission agreed to write a letter to the Historic Preservation Review Board in support the application of Jack Werner to build a rear addition to his home at 6908 Willow St., NW, within the Takoma Historic District. Commissioner Wheeler shared drawings of the design.  Clarence Wooten, of 6th St., NW, spoke in support of the application.

8.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission adopted the minutes from the July 26, August 31, and September 27, 2010 public meetings, as amended by Commissioner Wheeler.

 

Reports

Treasurer Sloan distributed copies of the Quarterly Report, with back-up documents, and asked that everyone review them for approval during the November public meeting.

Community Concerns

1. Ethel Taylor said she would like to open a business at 304 Carroll St., NW and wants ANC 4B support before the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

2.  Michael Sindram said ANCs have too much money and need to spend what they have on grants. He asked ANC 4B to help resolve a city personnel matter and help those facing foreclosure.

3. Pamela Boucher-Smith, of 7th St., said she has not met her Commissioner and is concerned about trash left following a block party.

4. Callie Battle, of Tuckerman St., NW, said she has not met her Commissioner .

The meeting ended at about 10 p.m.

 

--- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary