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Gray Opposes Proposed U Street Liquor License Moratorium

Ben's Chili Bowl is a popular hangout in the U Street area, which is a nightlife destination for many local revelers.
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Ben's Chili Bowl is a popular hangout in the U Street area, which is a nightlife destination for many local revelers.

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray has gone on record opposing a proposed moratorium on liquor licenses around the U Street NW.

At Friday's Washington Blade LGBT Town Hall, Gray said that he didn't think that a moratorium for the nightlife destination was a good idea. "I don't support that. I don't know who's behind it, but I don't think they have much support," he said.

The moratorium has been backed by various civic activists that say that the area around U and 14th Streets NW has become awash in bars and restaurants, provoking quality-of-life concerns and crowding out traditional daytime businesses. They've requested that the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board impose a five-year stop on the issuance of liquor licenses in a 1,800-foot area radiating out from 1211 U Street NW. There are currently five moratoria in effect in D.C.

Opponents argue that a moratorium would stifle the neighborhood's vibrancy, as well as artificially inflating the value of existing liquor licenses. At a recent hearing, various members of the ABC Board seemed skeptical that a moratorium was necessary.

The board has not said when it will decide on the matter, but it can opt to accept, reject or amend the proposed moratorium.

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