No new permits?

This sounds really, really bad if I’m reading it correctly. For those restaurants that are doing construction and planning on opening, what’s going to happen?

The Mid City Business Association says:

On April 5th, 2010 Matt LaGrant, DC’s Zoning Administrator, issued a ruling that DCRA will no longer grant Building Permits or Certificate  of Occupancies for restaurants, bars, diners, coffee shops and carry-outs along 14th and U streets (plus adjacent commercial side streets) because of zoning regulations restricting the availability of space to eating and drinking establishments to 25% of the linear frontage of the greater 14th and U Street area.  To see a map of the overlay go here.
What the ruling means:
  • Anyone seeking to open an eating and drinking establishment (including delis, coffee shops and carry outs) will need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to seek a special exception.
  • Requiring all new projects to go to the BZA will absorb an enormous amount of business, community and government resources as projects seek exemptions to a rule that is widely regarded as outdated and harmful to economic development.
  • It will stall new projects and prevent existing ones from expanding.
  • It will discourage entrepreneurs from investing in the MidCity area, including underdeveloped parts of the district.
  • It will send a strong message to local, regional, national investors that DC is business unfriendly.
MidCity Business Association’s Response to the Ruling

We will be sending a letter to CM Jim Graham, CM Jack Evans and other city officials asking for their help in obtaining an urgent text change to the zoning regulations to increase the allowance from 25% to 50% of the total area.

We will be continue to work with our community partners including the Logan Circle Communtiy Association and the U Street Neighborhood Association  along with commissioners from ANC1B, ANC2F and ANC2B to develop a constructive and positive response as our community coalition continues to work together to promote positive, balanced economic and community development in MidCity.

UPDATE: 14thandYou (who are much better versed in permitting than me) have written that they don’t think this is a big deal, and will just be an extra beauracratic step. DCist is spinning the story as the Mid City Business Assocation becoming upset that DCRA will enforce rules already on the books.