Neighbors, Restaurant Clash over Liquor License in D.C.

Eric Fidler observes how residents of a Washington, D.C. neighborhood fight against the granting of a liquor license to a proposed restaurant, using the emotional health of school children as part of their argument.

Children in close proximity to alcohol could be cause for concern, but supporters argue that the proposed All Souls restaurant in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood should get the go-ahead anyway. The proprietor of All Souls had planned for the restaurant to serve alcohol in a location that was close to the Cleveland Elementary School, but these plans sparked a backlash from a group of protesters who believed that the school children would be negatively affected by observing the sale of alcohol.

After legal fees and discussions, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board) granted All Souls the liquor license, citing a DC Code that lifts a restriction on alcohol sales within 400 feet of a school when another alcohol-vending institution is within that zone. The ABC Board further argued that not granting the license based on the idea that the sight of adult alcohol consumption would be harmful to children would require them to also ban children from being in any situation where alcohol was served, including religious ceremonies or family dinners.

As Eric Fidler points out, people will protest the grant of a new building whether the safety of children is at risk or not. He agreed with Georgetown resident Topher Matthews, who said that people will come up with reasons, such as historic preservation, to take down new construction plans. In the end, Fidler believes that the ABC Board made the right decision to grant All Souls its liquor license.

"For all the complaints about DC's regulatory bodies, the regulatory system worked rationally in this case. The board ratified the agreement with the neighbors willing to compromise. It rejected outright the protest of people who refused to believe the business should even exist."

Full Story: Schools and taverns can coexist

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