A group of Georgetown residents asked the District's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board Monday not to issue more liquor licenses in Georgetown, because the crowds of people who flock to Georgetwon at night are depriving them of what one resident called "a decent human setting."
The Citizens' Association of Georgetown is fighting the liquor license application of Eastland Ventures, Inc., for the "Pierce Street Annex," a California-style cafe and bar to be built on the old Williams Chevrolet property at 3307 M St. NW.
In an emotional plea, actress Dorthea Capella testified that she and other Georgetown residents are "insulted, harassed" by rowdy "mobs of people" who frequent Georgetown's many nightspots and roam about the neighborhood.
Similarly, attorney Courts Oulahan, representing the Georgetown citizens' group, brought out testimony intended to show that the nighttime crowds in Georgetown made parking and firefighting nearly impossible and lowered property values.
The ABC board took the license application under advisement Monday, after two days of hearings. It customarily reviews the transcript of the hearing and issues a decision after about two months.
The Georgetown group has routinely fought all liquor license applications in Georgetown for many years, but several aspects of the Pierce Street Annex case make it an unusual one.
The proposed moderate-priced sandwich restaurant seating 200, it approved, will be one of the largest in Georgetown. And the case aroused unusually strong citizen opposition after a scheduled ABC board hearing on May 13 was cancelled on short notice at the applicant's request.
In two days of hearings, Monday and last Friday, witnesses for the citizens' group painted Georgetown as overrun with liquor-licensed establishments.
"I'm not opposed to every restaurant that sells alcoholic beverages. I do think you have too many. I think you can say, 'Enough is enough.' Somehow we're going too far in the direction of encouraging people to just come in, have a good time and tear the place up," resident Cliff Brody testified Monday.
Other residents related horror stories ranging from yelled obscenities to observed drug transactions.
"It was our unanimous view that one more gin mill on M Street, especially the size of this one, was not what Georgetown needs," said Donald Shannon, the Los Angeles Times reporter who chairs Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3A, which includes Georgetown.
Under questioning by J.E. Bindeman, Eastland's attorney, Shannon described the proposed bar and restaurant as he understood it as simply "three floors of boozing - and probably the roof too."
Traffic, parking and rowdyism were the main problems stemming from the strip of bars in Georgetown that the residents said would be aggravated further by a liquor license for Pierce Street.
Sgt. Clyde E. Rice of the Metropolitan Police Department testified that it took him 10 minutes on May 7 to go from Wisconsin and K to the fire across from the proposed restaurant at 33rd and M. "The fire trucks never did get in They pulled the fire hoses all the way around the corner," he said.
Witnesses for the license applicant said the restaurant would be an asset to Georgetown because, among other things, it would drive the undesirable "winos" from the abandoned Williams Chevrolet property and provide 135 spaces of off-street parking.
Albert B. Moakler, manager of the retail microwave oven store across M Street from the restaurant site, told the ABC board, "The premises are deteriorating because there is no occupation, and it is a collection place for trash and other odd inhabitants of the Georgetown area - unemployed and other sort of unusual characters."
Moakler and a salesman in his store, Clemens W. Heinzmann, praised the restaurant plans because it would improve the neighborhood and provide 135 spaces of needed off-street parking. But under cross-examination, both acknowledged they hoped to sell ovens to the restaurant.
The owners include Jerry M. Hardman, a restauranteur who has managed The Greenery, PW's, Rocky Racoon's and the Paradise Cafe in Washington. He said the restaurant would be similar to three restaurants in California and Alaska. A fifth Pierce Street Annex restaurant is planned for 19th and L Streets NW.
Hardman said the Georgetown restaurant will occupy the ground floor only of the Williams Chevrolet building with an indoor/outdoor cafe and a discotheque. The second floor and roof will be used for parking, and the mezzanine rented out for office space.
Two ABC board members, Arthur W. Jackson and James W. Hill, seemed generally reluctant to accept the protesters' view that they should deny a liquor license for the Pierce Street restaurant because of parking problems. The third board member, City Administrator Julian Dugas, did not attend the hearing.
"We are not police. We are the ABC board. We cannot regulate the neighborhood," Jackson told Cappella after she told him she thought there should be no more liquor-licensed restaurants in Georgetown.