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Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 02/12/2013

When a moratorium makes sense

When is a moratorium, for liquor or otherwise, useful? When is it not?

Theoretically, local moratoriums on certain types of development can strengthen neighborhoods by encouraging a broader mix of uses. Unfortunately, they rarely work that way. More often, moratoriums are misused by opponents of growth in general, to try to slow or stop change.

As D.C. debates the possibility of a moratorium on liquor licenses on U Street, it’s worth discussing the issue more seriously than yesterday.

The basic truth of moratoriums is that they don’t usually stop things, but rather move them somewhere else. Banning bars doesn’t eliminate demand for bars, it simply pushes any new supply to the next best location. Residential moratoriums, which are sometimes used in fast-growing suburbs, are the same.

So any discussion of a local ban on any particular use needs to consider where that use is most appropriate. It’s not enough to just say “I don’t want more of X in my neighborhood.” We have to plan where we do want that use, make sure it can happen there, and then plan what we want in the banned location instead.

[Continue reading Dan Malouff’s post at BeyondDC.]

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  04:45 PM ET, 02/12/2013

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