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