Gray’s plan to ex­tend hours of night life a volatile is­sue

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Land­lords in Dis­trict night-life hot spots are re­quir­ing prospec­tive tenants to at­test they know what to ex­pect af­ter mid­night when the mu­sic is cranked up and drunken rev­elry abounds along streets out­side their apart­ments.

“That’s the point we’ve reached,” coun­cil mem­ber Jim Gra­ham, Ward 1 Demo­crat, said Thurs­day of the signed agree­ments. “It’s not a good point to reach.”

Mr. Gra­ham, chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Hu­man Ser­vices, out­lined his op­po­si­tion Thurs­day to Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray’s pro­posal to ex­tend bar hours by an hour — to 3 a.m. on week­days and 4 a.m. on week­ends — cit­ing noise and carous­ing that some say al­ready shat­ters any seren­ity in the wee hours.

The mayor’s plan is part of a fis­cal 2013 bud­get that also per­mits stores that sell al­co­hol to open at 7 a.m. in­stead of 9 a.m. and es­tab­lishes ex­tended bar and res­tau­rant hours dur­ing the weeks sur­round­ing the pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tions in 2013 and 2017. In all, the booze-based pitch is pro­jected to raise $5.3 mil­lion in sales-tax rev­enue.

Fred Moos­ally, di­rec­tor of the Al­co­hol Bev­er­age Reg­u­la­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, tes­ti­fied his agency is re­view­ing the pro­posal’s im­pact on in­spec­tors’ work sched­ules and how ex­tended bar hours have af­fected other ma­jor cities.

Own­ers in the night-life in­dus­try sup­ported the mayor’s plan in spir­ited tes­ti­mony be­fore Mr. Gra­ham’s com­mit­tee. They said the ex­tra hour will cre­ate a “soft clos­ing” that al­lows pa­trons to exit neigh­bor­hoods like Adams Mor­gan and U Street in an or­derly fash­ion in­stead of spilling into the streets at 3 a.m.

It also pro­vides a needed cash in­jec­tion to busi­nesses that en­er­gize D.C. streets and have driven up prop­erty val­ues in trendy neigh­bor­hoods, they told the com­mit­tee.

“I don’t know any mil­lion­aire night­club own­ers,” David Karim, owner of Josephine Night­club on Ver­mont Av­enue and Pol­icy Res­tau­rant and Lounge on 14th Street in North­west, among other es­tab­lish­ments.

Club own­ers also say pa­trons are ar­riv­ing later than ever, with reser­va­tions for din­ner at 11 p.m. ri­val­ing those for 6 p.m.

“No­body walks in un­til 12,” Sey­han Duru, owner of Teatro Goldoni on K Street and Cities Res­tau­rant and Lounge on 19th Street in North­west, told Mr. Gra­ham. “We al­most would be dou­bling our sales. It’s not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

Mr. De­laney, 48, has touted his busi­ness record and painted Mr. Gara­gi­ola as be­holden to lob­by­ists while crit­i­ciz­ing the se­na­tor for his fail­ure to dis­close in state ethics forms his years of work as a lob­by­ist in the Dis­trict.

Mr. Gara­gi­ola has in turn ac­cused Mr. De­laney of lack­ing po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, fail­ing to dis­close his fi­nan­cial deal­ings and for once con­tribut­ing to the cam­paign of Rep. Andy Har­ris, Mary­land Re­pub­li­can.

“Peo­ple know where I am on the is­sues,” Mr. Gara­gi­ola said. “With my record against any­one, I’m a nat­u­ral choice for peo­ple.”

De­spite Mr. Gara­gi­ola’s heavy back­ing from state of­fi­cials, Mr. De­laney earned the en­dorse­ment of The Washington Post and such fig­ures as for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and Rep. Donna F. Ed­wards, Mary­land Demo­crat. The rest of the state’s Demo­cratic con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion has sup­ported Mr. Gara­gi­ola.

Mr. Gara­gi­ola said his cam­paign re­search has shown he has a 3-to-1 lead over Mr. De­laney, but the De­laney cam­paign re­leased its own poll Thurs­day say­ing that he has more than a 20-point lead on Mr. Gara­gi­ola.

The poll, per­formed by the Gar­inHart-yang Re­search Group, sur­veyed about 400 Demo­cratic vot­ers.

“Vot­ers have a clear choice in this elec­tion and they are sup­port­ing John De­laney, the job cre­ator,” De­laney cam­paign man­ager Justin Schall said in a state­ment.

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