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Archive for January, 2012

DCRA Issues A Second Round Of Proposed Vending Regulations To Support Food Trucks

Almost two years after publishing proposed regulations enforcing the Vending Regulation Act of 2009 (D.C. Law 18-71; 56 DCR 6619), the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“DCRA”) published on January 20, 2012 a second round of proposed regulations attempting to enforce the statutory requirements of the 2009 Act.  The 2009 Vending Act updated the District’s authority to regulate commercial vending, and authorized the Mayor “to require vendors to vend only from designated locations, to grandfather existing vendors into designated vending locations;  to authorize vending development zones within which alternative forms of regulation of vending may be tested, to authorize the Mayor to charge fees for licenses and other authorizations to vend from public space, to authorize the imposition of civil fines for the violation of this act or rules issued pursuant to this act, and to authorize the regulation of public markets.”

In response to over 2,500 constituent comments submitted about the 2010 proposed regulations, DCRA made substantive changes to the proposed regulations, including exempting mobile food truck vendors from the public space “site permit” requirement that every other vendor must obtain and allowing them to use legal parking spaces.  In essence, the revised regulations relax restrictions on savory food trucks, allowing them to stay parked for longer periods of time when they are not serving customers.  DCRA is soliciting comments on these new proposed regulations.  All persons who wish to comment should submit comments in writing to Helder Gil, Legislative Affairs Specialist, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 1100 Fourth Street, SW, Room 5164, Washington, D.C. 20024, or via e-mail at DCVendingRegs@dc.gov, no later than February 20, 2012 , which is thirty (30) days after publication of the regulations in the D.C. Register.

To see a copy of the new proposed regulations, please click here.

ABRA Daylight Saving Time Extension of Hours Application Due March 1, 2012

The registration form to allow eligible on-premise licensees to sell and serve alcohol for an extended hour, between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., on Sunday, March 11, 2012 is now available.

Eligible licensees are those: a) who do not have a voluntary agreement; or b) whose voluntary agreement does not contain any restrictions on closing hours.  The registration fee is $200, which must be delivered in-person, along with the registration form to the ABRA office by Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

For more information, please read the notice letter from ABRA Director, Fred Moosally.

Three Tips Every Restaurant Owner Should Consider Before Applying for a D.C. Liquor License

There are a myriad of issues to consider when applying for a liquor license in the District of Columbia.  Below are three important, but, surprisingly, often overlooked issues that business owners should consider prior to applying for an alcohol license in the District.

1)      Check Zoning Regulations – Before signing any lease, a business owner needs to make sure the building is located in an area zoned for commercial use and alcohol sales.   In 2010, restaurateurs were caught off guard when the District of Columbia’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“DCRA”) announced that it would begin enforcing the 25% limit on the number of bars and restaurants allowed to operate in the Arts Overlay district of the 14th and U Streets NW area.  According to the DC Office of Zoning, The Uptown Arts-Mixed Use (“ARTS”) Overlay District was established to “encourage retail, entertainment and residential uses that require pedestrian activity; an increased presence and integration of the arts and related cultural and arts-related support uses; a design character and identity of the area by establishing physical design standards and adaptive reuse of older buildings in combination with new buildings; and increased public safety” – in other words, prevent the area from becoming populated exclusively by clubs and restaurants.  When the cap is reached, the DCRA Zoning Administrators will no longer approve occupancy permits for bars and restaurants.   Due to intense lobbying from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (“ANCs”) and business and community groups, the cap for street frontage for eating and drinking establishments was increased to 50%.   With new restaurants and bars opening every day in the area, new establishments need to check available store frontage/special zoning requirements before signing any lease agreement.

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