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Nude Dancing Bars in Ward 5 - Displaced sexually oriented businesses

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Kathy Henderson wrote a letter to all councilmembers last year on the eve of a vote on emergency legislation to locate adult-themed businesses to Ward 5. Several ouncilmembers thanked her for the letter and then Chairman Cropp pulled the legislation from the agenda. We are not out of the woods yet and must fight to protect our Ward. We deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. Public safety and a good quality of life are just as important in Ward 5 as they are elsewhere in our city.

 

Ward 5 Council Member Harry "Tommy" Thomas is convening a meeting to address this issue on May 16, 2007, at Bethesda Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. I encourage all to attend this meeting and communicate with all members of the City Council about this important issue. We will no longer tolerate being treated like a dumping ground for undesirable businesses. Thank God for Kathy's diligence on this matter. Read her letter and spread the word.

 

February 6, 2007

 

Council of the District of Columbia

1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20004

 

Dear Councilmember:

 

I am writing to denounce tomorrow’s emergency legislation to relocate establishments featuring unclothed dancing, to 1216 Mt. Olivet Road, NE, on behalf of my constituents. Such establishments are a detriment to the communities in which they are located. The unclothed establishments that have been located in Ward 6 for at least thirty-five years presented numerous problems for the First District Police Headquarters and citizens. According to police officials, the area immediately surrounding the unclothed clubs suffered consistently high rates of assaults and thefts from autos. The businesses consistently drained police resources and negatively affected the quality of life for citizens in the areas surrounding the clubs. It is highly likely that a unclothed club located on Mt. Olivet Road, NE will similarly drain police resources at the Fifth District Police Headquarters.

 

The proposed relocation site for the unclothed clubs is an unsuitable site for this type of business, regardless of zoning classification. 1216 Mt. Olivet Road, NE is across the street from Bethesda Baptist Church, numerous residences and Webb elementary School, and a short distance from the District’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. The location is also across the street from the rear of Gallaudet University. I work every day in my capacity as a commissioner with Ward 5 citizens and our police officers and District agencies to change the paradigm for this community. We are struggling to overcome the ravages of crime, particularly prostitution on West Virginia Ave., and we do not need a unclothed club to undermine our efforts.

 

The misguided decision to attempt to locate a unclothed club in our community is an affront to citizens throughout Ward 5. We do not wish to serve as a dumping ground for commercial waste, industrial eyesores that pass for businesses or facilities that no one else wants. We deserve the same right to enjoy safe and attractive communities like our fellow District citizens. We support Mayor Williams’ vision to “lift all communities” and will no longer accept the proliferation of undesirable facilities in our neighborhoods.

 

Finally, I urge you to oppose the emergency legislation that will allow a unclothed club to operate in Ward 5. On behalf of the citizens I represent, thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Commissioner Kathy Henderson, 5B10

DC_Ward_5_Nude_Bar_Location.jpg

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The Examiner did a wonderful article about the possibility of relocating unclothed bars into Ward 5.

It appears that current ABC Law requires unclothed bars to be located in a CM2 Zone. Jim Graham

is proposing a one-time legislation to allow unclothed dancing in a CM1 Zone. There are CM1 zones located throughout the District. Councilmember Graham is not promoting Ward 5 as the location. It appears that businesses want to move to Ward 5 for economic reasons.

 

I am contacting Fred Moosally of the ABC Board to verify this information. His number is 202.442-4355, 4468, 4423

 

I am also contacting Karen Robinson of the District of Columbia Office of Zoning at 202.442-8947

 

 

Read the Examiner article.

 

Graham anticipates resistance to relocating unclothed bars in Ward 5

 

D.C. Council Member Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, wants to help relocate several bars that permit unclothed dancing that were put out when the city decided to build the new Washington Nationals stadium in Southeast Washington.

 

But where Graham sees helping some former business owners, he said he also anticipates a possible “not in my backyard” style backlash from residents in the areas of Ward 5, into which the businesses plan to move.

 

Graham’s Committee on Public Works and the Environment is scheduled to mark up and vote on a bill that would allow for the one-time relocation of the businesses.

 

“There’s always controversy associated with unclothed dancing,” Graham said.

 

The problem is that lighter commercial zones often act as a buffer between heavier commercial and residential areas, officials in Graham’s office said.

 

The businesses are unable to relocate near the stadium because it was rezoned and other areas of the city that would allow them, including downtown, are too expensive.

 

View Examiner Article

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This may help you.

 

Title 25. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation

 

Subchapter VI. Moratorium on Establishments Which Permit unclothed Dancing.

 

§ 25-374. Transfer of location of establishments which permit unclothed dancing.

 

DC ST § 25-374

§ 25-374. Transfer of location of establishments which permit unclothed dancing.

 

 

DC ST § 25-374

 

District of Columbia Official Code 2001 Edition Currentness

Division V. Local Business Affairs

 

Title 25. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation (Refs & Annos)

 

Chapter 3. Requirements to Qualify for License.

 

Subchapter VI. Moratorium on Establishments Which Permit unclothed Dancing.

 

§ 25-374. Transfer of location of establishments which permit unclothed dancing.

 

A license under § 25-371( B ) may only be transferred to a location in the Central Business District or, if the licensee is currently located in a CM or M-zoned district, transferred within the same CM or M-zoned district, as identified in the zoning regulations of the District of Columbia and shown in the official atlases of the Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia; provided, that no license shall be transferred to any premises which is located:

 

(1) Six hundred feet or less from another licensee operating under § 25- 371( B ); and

 

(2) Six hundred feet from a building with a certificate of occupancy for residential use or a lot or building with a permit from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for residential construction at the premises.

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Here is Councilmember Jim Graham's bill

 

COMMITTEE PRINT

COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

MAY 8, 2007

 

A BILL

 

17-0109

 

 

IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

 

_______________________

 

To amend Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code to permit within a time certain, a one-time transfer of licensee establishments that permit unclothed dancing, which were displaced by development in or near the Ballpark footprint, or within the Skyland Development Project site.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark and Skyland Development Project Amendment Act of 2007.

Sec. 2. Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code is amended as follows:

(a) Section 25-374 is amended by designating the existing text as subsection (a).

( B ) A new subsection ( B ) is added to read as follows:

( B )(1) Notwithstanding the restrictions of subsection (a) and (a)(1) of this section, but subject to the provisions in subsection (a)(2) of this section, if a licensee was located in a CM or M-zoned district, in or within 2000 feet of the footprint of the Ballpark, as of January 1, 2006, or was located within the Skyland Development Project site as described in D.C. Official Code § 2-1219.19( c )(1), as of January 1, 2007, then within 1 year of the effective date of this act a license may be transferred to:

(A) A location in any CM or M-zoned district, if the licensee was located in a CM or M-zoned district, respectively, as identified in the zoning regulations of the District of Columbia and shown in the official atlases of the Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia; or

( B ) A location in any CM-zoned district, if the licensee was located within the Skyland Development Project site.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the term "Ballpark" is as defined in DC Official Code § 47-2002.05(a)(1)(A).

Sec. 3. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602©(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (84 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02 (c ) (3)).

Sec. 4. Effective date.

This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602©(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02©(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

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I am already on top of that. Karen Robinson told me to call ANC contact of zoning, Sarah Barton at 202.727-5372. I left a message with her.

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I just spoke with DC Councilmember Jim Graham. Here is his statement.

 

These bars went and found locations. The owners were encouraged not be near schools, churches, or residential areas. There are a whole bunch of business considerations that led these establishments to be located in Ward 5. It important to note that the ABC law has a different set of requirements than the Board of Zoning Adjustments. Arguably, if the bill is approved the establishments will still need to get approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment. People may or may not like them, but they are legal businesses.

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Sarah Barton told me that they do not have any information as of yet. She suggested that should speak with Jennifer Steingasser, of The Office of Planning 202.442-8808 and Sean Madigan 442-7600.

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Jennifer Steingasser, of The Office of Planning stated:

 

All wards have some land zoned CM. In Wards 2 and 3 it is mostly along the canal and would not easily be used for buildings. Only the Zoning Commission can make changes to the zoning regulations, and only after a public hearing.

 

 

According to the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations

 

801.2

Any commercial use permitted in the C-4 District under 5 751, except establishments whose principal use is the administration of massages, sexually-oriented business establishments, and international organizations, shall be permitted as a matter of right in a C-M District.

DC_Ward_5_Nude_Bar_CM1_Zone.jpg

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Hey Luke,

I like the maps. Are they really planning to put a strip bar next to a church? That is like putting the devil next to God. That would never happen in New York.

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Jennifer stated that all the bill is for obtaining a liquor license. The Zoning Administrator, Bill Crews will be the one that will eventually decide if these unclothed dancing bars are sexually oriented. That should be a no brainer.

 

According to District of Columbia Municipal Regulations Chapter 1 Definitions:

 

Sexually-oriented business establishment - an establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock in trade, books, magazines, and other periodicals, films, materials, and articles, or an establishment that presents as a substantial or significant portion of its activity, live performances, films, or other materials, that are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis on matters depicting, describing, or related to specified sexual activities and specified anatomical areas.

 

These establishments may include, but are not limited to, bookstores, newsstands, theaters, and amusement enterprises. If an establishment is a sexually-oriented business establishment as defined here, it shall not be deemed to constitute any other use permitted under the authority of this title. (24 DCR 5144)

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My friends told me about this church meeting? I think the District should allow unclothed dance clubs for the gay community. These owners have the right to put their business where they want. I applaud Jim Graham for creating this bill.

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The Zoning Administrator, Bill Crews will be the one that will eventually decide if these unclothed dancing bars are sexually oriented. That should be a no brainer.

 

You might want to investigate Bill Crews. He attracted national attention for being openly gay, having come out of the closet at a march on Washington in 1993.

 

Formerly a Republican, he claimed "I was a Republican from before the fascists took over. I believe in limited government, but I'm on one side of the Democratic party. I'm pro-choice; I've always been." His father, a United Methodist minister, was killed in a car accident in 1973. Bill Crews was also an active United Methodist after coming out until relocating with his partner to Washington, D.C., in 1998.

 

Crews had run for the Iowa Senate in 1992 but lost a close race by just 56 votes. After moving to D.C., Crews served two terms as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (SMD 6C07) in the District of Columbia neighborhood of Capitol Hill. On October 3, 2005 he began serving as the Zoning Administrator for the District of Columbia.

 

Bill Crews number is 202-442-9554 4576

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You need to understand the history of this bill before you jump to conclusions.

 

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 unclothed 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).

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You might want to investigate Bill Crews. He attracted national attention for being openly gay, having come out of the closet at a march on Washington in 1993.

 

Bill Crews sexual orientation does not have any merit with this issue. My focus is with the legality of this zoning.

 

It is interesting to see how the California Penal Code PENAL CODE SECTION 314-318.6 defines a sexually oriented business compared to the District of Columbia.

 

An "adult or sexually oriented business" includes any establishment that regularly features live performances which are distinguished or characterized by an emphasis on the exposure of the genitals or buttocks of any person, or the breasts of any female person, or specified sexual activities that involve the exposure of the genitals or buttocks of any person, or the breasts of any female person.

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Bill Crews's Public Information Officer (PIO), Karyn-Siobhan Robinson got upset when I asked her to define a "sexually oriented business" and asked me where this story was located. She deemed DCpages not a publication and myself to not be a journalist. Some people still live in the printing press world, rather than the current technocratic age of accountability.

 

The PIO stated that Bill Crews would not make an opinion on what is a sexually oriented business. I then asked if any officials have contacted Bill Crews to make an opinion. She gave a no comment.

 

Dear Mr. Wilber,

 

Thank you for contacting me with your questions. I am going to refer you to our Ward 5 community affairs liaison Eric Rogers. He can be reached at 442-8947.

 

Regards,

 

Karyn-Siobhan Robinson

 

Public Information Officer

 

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

 

Karyn-Siobhan Robinson was kind enough to forward my request to Eric Rogers.

 

I have been informed by our agency’s PIO about your inquiry on the role of the District’s Zoning Administrator (ZA). Here’s a brief synopsis of the ZA’s responsibility. Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

The DCRA Zoning Administrator (ZA) interprets, manages and enforces DC Zoning Regulations and Board of Zoning Adjustment and Zoning Commission orders.

 

The Zoning Administrator bases all decision on the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) which contains the permanent rules, statements and legal documents circulated by District government executive agencies and departments. Title 11 of the DCMR covers zoning.

 

This looks to be a road block on what will happen with this issue.

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I wrote Richard J. Rosendall, Vice President for Political Affairs of The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC.

 

http://www.glaa.org/

 

 

Hi Rick,

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I understand that dance establishments that were displaced from the ballpark were promised by the District government to be given new locations to operate.

 

I have read your statement, "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."

 

Currently, the locations of the dance clubs are located near a school, church, and a mosque in Ward 5. Would you consider supporting the Ward 5 community in moving the dance clubs to a more remote location?

 

I appreciate your consideration in the matter.

 

All the Best,

 

Luke Wilbur

 

Mr. Rosendall was kind enough to respond to my question.

 

First of all, let me make clear that we do not and cannot speak for the licensees, who in fact have not consulted us at all. We are defending the rights of the customers, who have been denied gay-oriented adult

entertainment since the clubs were closed as a result of the city's seizure of the land for the new baseball stadium.

 

As I understand it, the locations of the sites chosen by the displaced clubs meet the distance requirements. They are in as remote a location as is possible and still be located in D.C. Where else could they go? (And again, keep in mind that I am in no position to negotiate for the club owners.)

 

 

Rick R.

 

Here is the latest GLAA release.

 

[Note: Letters like the one below have been sent to members of the D.C. Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment – specifically, Councilmember Mary Cheh, Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (who is a voting member of all standing committees).]

 

 

 

GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON

Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971

P. O. Box 75265

Washington, D.C. 20013

(202) 667-5139

Sunday, May 6, 2007

 

Councilmember Mary Cheh

Council of the District of Columbia

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20004

 

Dear Councilmember Cheh:

 

We are writing to ask your support, as a member of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, for Bill 17-0109, to permit relocation of unclothed dancing establishments displaced by construction of the new baseball stadium. The mark-up and vote on the bill is scheduled for May 8. A recent ruling by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which contradicted the intent of the Council’s 2001 ABC legislation, has thrown the matter back to the Council, and action on this matter is already long overdue.

 

The city’s gay club zone occupied the site off South Capitol Street for more than three decades, after being chased there by then-MPD Chief Jerry Wilson. These are legitimate, tax-generating businesses that have served District residents and visitors for decades in some cases. The city, having caused their dislocation, is honor bound to facilitate their relocation.

 

With the hospitality industry generating a sizable portion of its revenue, the District should allow adult entertainment as part of the mix. Those who disapprove of such establishments can avoid patronizing them, but should not be able to deny that choice to other adults. These few businesses do not need to move everywhere; but they should be able to move somewhere.

 

Mr. Graham’s bill is narrowly crafted to permit a one-time relocation of the dislocated businesses to suitably zoned areas. Please help move the bill forward without further delay. Thank you for your attention to this.

 

Sincerely,

 

Barrett L. Brick

President

 

cc: Jim Graham

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From my vantage point it looks like your councilman Harry Thomas is going to have an uphill battle. The strip club owners seem to have Kwame R. Brown, Jim Graham, Richard J. Rosendall, and the rest of the Council in their pockets. I am willing to my new Lexus that Bill Crews is in their pocket as well. Welcome to DC politics :lol:

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From my vantage point it looks like your councilman Harry Thomas is going to have an uphill battle. The strip club owners seem to have Kwame R. Brown, Jim Graham, Richard J. Rosendall, and the rest of the Council in their pockets. I am willing to my new Lexus that Bill Crews is in their pocket as well. Welcome to DC politics :lol:

 

I think you are wrong. Why do you jump to conclusions? This issue is complex. The city made promises to these establishments. I am just hoping the this can be solved in a civil manner with all the factors clearly understood by the community.

 

Rick Rosendall just responded to my email.

 

If there is a CM - 1 zone that was farther away from residential neighborhoods and places of worship would GLAA be adverse to having them relocated?

 

All the Best,

 

Luke

 

Here is his response.

 

I suppose not, but:

1. The choice of location is not up to us;

2. The property would have to be affordable, suitable for the purpose, with adequate parking space, etc.

3. One of the many onerous restrictions that have been imposed is that the clubs must be at least 600 feet from one another. That rule was imposed after the club zone had long been in place on the site of what is now the under-construction stadium, so those establishments were clustered together and they were "grandfathered" in. Now that they have been displaced, we feel that they should be allowed to cluster together as they were previously, but that is one of the many points on which we have compromised.

 

Our current position represents extensive compromise on our part. There is no good reason why such clubs should not be located near churches. Considering some of the hateful sermons that have been delivered from pulpits in this city, I'd say that far more wickedness has emanated from churches than from adult

clubs. In any case, if a new club zone were created to appease the NIMBYs, and it satisfied the needs of the business owners and the customers, we would be unlikely to object. But we do object to NIMBYism, which amounts to an excessive interference by people in other people's business.

 

 

Rick

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Here is a message sent to me by Carolyn C. Steptoe:

 

One point of woefully incorrect/untrue information is that this area is "remote." Recently, on May 7 Kojo Nnamdi show, Councilmember Graham and NBC commentator Tom Sherwood said at least three times that this area is "isolated," and in Graham's case, he said "it's not fair showing a woman sitting on a porch in a rocking chair; there are no women sitting on porches in rocking chair."

 

This is simply not true whatsover. I was in this Ivy City neighborhood again today to count the number of homes, playgrounds and churches directly on W. Va. Avenue. Not only are there rocking chair on porches, there are backyard BBQ, porch swings, porch furniture, children playing, and people outside their homes. The specific location I visited was the 1800 and 1900 blocks of W. Virginia Avenue; 1.5 blocks from the first 2 proposed locations at 2021 and 2046 WV Avenue.

 

In the 1800 block of WV Avenue alone, the addresses of adjoining houses range from 1800 through 1834. In the 1900 block, the adjouning house addresses range from 1900 through 1962. I was driving and holding up traffic but with the exception of 1 home, all appeared lived in. There is also a church towards the end of the 1900 block; the residences on WV Avenue end at WV and Fenwick.

 

If you go one block behind WV Avenue (the streets are close together), from the 1700 block of Capitol to the 2000 block, there are easily 50-60 homes there. There is also a playground in the 1700 block of Capitol. I was there today at 1:30PM and elementary school children were riding their bikes outside and playing.

 

Unlike what must have occurred with some visitors on WV Avenue, I drove the full span of the block and the surrounding blocks close to the WV Avenue site. People live, site on porches, play in backyards and live in the area one and a half blocks from 2 of the sites. There are also businesses & government agencies (DC gov't parking enforcement, automotive body shops, Current News Paper, Center for Law Enforcement, and others).

 

In the summer especially, I can only imagine how many children and residents will be out during late summer evenings and nights, on their porches, in their back yards and visitings neighbors.

 

With that, the concentration of multiple unclothed bars is unacceptable.

 

This community might be deemed "isolated" in the eyes of Graham and Sherwood but for people who live there - and the elected ANC members, civic leaders and outreach clergy, contrary to the "remote" "isolation" banner being touted -- it is certainly occupied and it is ce rtainly lived in.

 

To state otherwise is incredulous and woefully, woefully untrue.

 

Visit the neighborhood for yourself.

 

Carolyn C. Steptoe

(pardon typos)

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The truth is finally coming out. One of the major strip bar owners, Bob Siegel already purchased properties in Ward 5 Virginia Avenue NE at 2120 West Virginia for $2.6 million, and another down the road at 2046 West Virginia for $3.95 million. Bob Siegal is now pulling certain council member strings to get this bill passed. I told you that this issue was already decided.

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I read the City Paper article Carolyn C. Steptoe sent to me about this subject. Luciana Mashore also sent me a message as well.

 

CONTACT INFO

 

DC Public Official

Email

 

Adrian Fenty, Mayor

adrian.fenty@dc.gov

 

Vincent Gray, At-Large

 

(Chairman)

vgray@dccouncil.us

 

Carol Schwartz, At-Large

cschwartz@dccouncil.us

 

David Catania, At-Large

dcatania@dccouncil.us

 

Phil Mendelson, At-Large

pmendelson@dccouncil.us

 

Kwame Brown, At-Large

kbrown@dccouncil.us

 

Jim Graham, Ward 1

jgraham@dccouncil.us

 

Jack Evans, Ward 2

 

(Chairman Pro-Tempore)

jackevans@dccouncil.us

 

Mary Cheh, Ward 3

mcheh@dccouncil.us

 

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4

mbowser@dccouncil.us

 

Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr., Ward 5

hthomas@dccouncil.us

 

Tommy Wells, Ward 6

twells@dccouncil.us

 

Yvette Alexander, Ward 7

yalexander@dccouncil.us

 

Marion Barry, ward 8

mbarry@dccouncil.us

 

Luciana also wrote this article.

 

MYTH VS. FACT

 

Myth: If Bill 17-109 does not pass, the strip clubs in and near the footprint of the new baseball stadium and in Skyland cannot relocate and will be forced out of business.

 

Fact: Current law already allows for the relocation of strip clubs provided that they must relocate to the same type of zone (CM-1, CM-2, CM-3 or M) as the one in which they currently operate or anywhere

downtown and they cannot be within 600 feet of another strip club. The only problem is that the club owners (some of whom are millionaires!!) just do not want to pay higher lease payments.

 

Myth: All of the strips that will be granted an exemption to relocate under Bill 17-109 have been displaced by the city so the city owes it to them to relocate them.

 

Fact: Of the 6 clubs that would be granted an exemption under this bill, only 3 were directly displaced by the city -- La Cage Aux Follies/HEAT and Ziegfield's/Secrets, which were taken by eminent domain to make way for the new stadium; and Clancy's, which was taken by eminent domain to make way for a new shopping destination at the Skyland Shopping Center.

 

The remaining 3 -- Edge/Wet, Club 55 and Nexus Gold Club -- were not displaced by the city. They were simply located near the new stadium and the owners of the respective buildings decided to sell those buildings to capitalize on the new development and higher land values in the area. This is no different than any other business whose lease is not renewed and now faces higher operating costs because the city is developing. It does not make the city responsible for relocating them.

 

Furthermore, the owners of the buildings that were taken by eminent domain have already been or will be financially compensated by the city at what the court deems to be the fair value of the property.

 

Myth: Because the stadium was built, the Zoning Commission re-zoned the area in which Edge/Wet, Club 55 and Nexus Gold Club are located from CM-1, CM-2 and CM-3 (all of which permit strip clubs) to C-3-C (which does not permit strip clubs) forcing the clubs to have to relocate.

 

Fact: The area in which Edge/Wet, Club 55 and Nexus Gold Club are located was indeed re-zoned CM-1, CM-2 and CM-3 to C-3-C in 1996 long before -- and having nothing to do with -- the baseball stadium, which was not even anticipated at the time. And, although the zoning was changed, it would have been illegal to force the previously existing strip clubs to relocate so they were allowed to stay. Regardless of what one thinks about it, this is the natural consequence of economic revitalization in an area and does not necessitate special legislation.

 

Myth: Approving Bill 17-109 will not affect the relocation of the strip clubs because the Zoning Commission must approve the relocation of any strip club.

 

Fact: Because strip clubs are licensed through the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board, they must follow ABC laws including the ABC law on relocation. Therefore, if the Council does not pass Bill 17-109 exempting certain strip clubs from the ABC law on relocation, there will be nothing for the Zoning Commission to consider.

 

Misleading Assertion: Nothing in Bill 17-109 specifies Ward 5 as the place for the strip clubs to relocate.

 

Fact: Although the bill is silent as to where in the city the strip clubs could relocate, the vast majority of them have already negotiated tentative leases in Ward 5 around the intersection of New York and West Virginia Avenues, NE. In fact, on a recent trip to see exactly were one of the proposed addresses is located, a Councilmember and that Councilmember's staff were greeted by a man at a counter, which displayed a large assortment of condoms and lube. There was a screen dividing the room and behind the screen a P0rnographic movie was being shown. This could definitely be a sign

of things to come.

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This in not about money for the GLAA. It is about fairness.

 

There is no other place to locate. I am willing to bet most of the Ward 5 community does not even care about this issue. Who knows your community might even get more development money from it.

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Here is a test. 2120 West Virginia Ave. NE currently breaking zoning regulation law by showing adult movies.

 

For 10 bucks before 7 p.m., and $15 after that, patrons to his club at 2120 West Virginia Ave. NE are treated to a huge warehouse with all the accouterments Siegel once offered in Southeast. No alcohol is served.

 

After passing through pay station and being buzzed in, patrons can take a quick right past the sex toys into the “theatre,” a large projection-screen TV in a small room that contains four large high-backed benches. At 1 p.m. today, only one patron was taking in the show.

 

See if the police department does anything. I bet not.

 

Fifth District Station

1805 Bladensburg Rd., NE

Washington, DC 20002

Phone: (202) 698-0150 or (202) 737-4404

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