DCRA Acts to Ensure Crowded, Overpriced, and Expensive Bars and Restaurants in MidCity DC

One theme I try to hit on this blog is that people ought to do more to inform themselves about their local communities and the rules under which they operate. For example, it’s very common to hear twentysomethings in Washington, DC express a desire for bars to be more plentiful, or cheaper, or less crowded, or better. What’s less common is to hear twentysomethings in Washington, DC talking about the regulatory issues that make these goals difficult to achieve. For example, this:

On April 5th, 2010 Matt LaGrant, DC’s Zoning Administrator, issued a ruling that DCRA will no longer grant Building Permits or Certificate of Occupancies for restaurants, bars, diners, coffees shops and carry-outs along 14th and U streets (plus adjacent commercial side streets) because of zoning regulations restricting the availability of space to eating and drinking establishments to 25% of the linear frontage of the greater 14th and U Street area.


This whole area, which covers 14th Street from P to Florida, U Street from 13th to 9th, Florida Avenue from 9th to 7th, and 7th Street south to Rhode Island Avenue has become pretty vibrant. But it still features many vacant storefronts and more than a few totally empty lots. It’s also a place where there’s clearly a lot of demand for restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. If we let them open, that will be good for customers. It will also generate tax revenue for the city facilitated better services and/or lower overall tax rates. The only real losers will be the incumbent business owners who obviously would prefer to avoid competition.