Video – ANC 5B Comissioners Voted To Protest Brookland’s Finest Liquor License

On Saturday, we posted the agenda for May’s ANC 5B meeting, which was held last night. The agenda listed three items: the Metropolitan Police Department, DC Public Works, and the Office of People’s Council. So, we thought it would be a pretty uneventful meeting. Little did we know that ANC 5B-04 Commissioner Steptoe would introduce a resolution, and the Commission would take a vote, to protest the Brookland’s Finest liquor license by the end of the meeting. From what we understand, the resolution was procedurally sound. Commissioners are allowed to introduce resolutions under “new business”, which is always an agenda item (though not listed on the meeting’s notice – as detailed agendas are not required on those).  For those of you interested, here is a video of the portion of the meeting regarding the Brookland’s Finest liquor license.

The vote resulted on a 3 to 1 decision. Commissioners Steptoe, Jones, and Higgins voted to protest and Commissioner Bridge voted against the protest. Many readers have reached out to us asking how they can support the Brookland’s Finest team and make this restaurant a reality. A member of the community created a Yahoo! Group in the support of the restaurant  – you can join here. Really though, to be profitable, a restaurant like this needs a liquor license. The Brookland’s Finest team has applied to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a ”Tavern” license. At this point, since the ANC Commissioners have voted already, you may write to ABRA directly expressing your support. ABRA will take the ANC 5B vote result into consideration, but they also consider other factors. ABRA can be contacted at: 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400S  Washington, DC 20009. Email: Phone: (202) 442-4423.

You may want to let your ANC Commissioner know how you feel about their vote.  Most of Brookland is divided into 5 Single Member Districts (SMDs), each represented by a Commissioner. As a whole, it is called ANC 5B.   The ANC 5B Commissioners are as follows and the mailing address of ANC 5B is: ANC 5B Office, 1322 Irving Street, NE Washington DC 20017. Here are their email addresses and a map of ANC 5B so you can figure out who is your ANC Commissioner.

(5B-01) Shirley Rivens-Smith –
(5B-02) Ursula Higgins –
(5B-03) Tiffany Bridge  –  5b03@anc.dc.goc
(5B-04) Carolyn C. Steptoe –
(5B-05) Jenese L. Jones –

ANC 5B Boundries 2013
ANC 5B Boundries 2013

29 thoughts on “Video – ANC 5B Comissioners Voted To Protest Brookland’s Finest Liquor License”

  1. Commissioner Higgins,

    I am a constituent within 5B02. I emailed you multiple times in support of Brookland’s Finest in the past several weeks. I never received a single acknowledgement of receipt of those emails nor a reply of any kind.

    I also have received no communication from you by email, constituent mailings, neighborhood fliers, or otherwise about how we, as your constituents, feel about Brookland’s Finest’s ABRA application.

    I recall no comments or invitation of discussion at any SMD meetings for 5B02 regarding Brookland’s Finest.

    And yet, you voted against it during this 5B meeting.

    I feel your priorities are more aligned with the views and desires of fellow commissioners than they are with the constituents you are supposed to represent.

    I’m terribly sorry to discover this. I assure you, you will find very motivated competition during your next election.

    I hope you enjoy the remainder of your time as an ANC Commissioner. Remember, Carolyn Steptoe cannot vote for you when you come up for re-election. And I assure you, I will make it a top priority of every neighbor in 5B02 to know how you voted and to garner support for your opponent.

  2. Cmr Higgins,

    I too am a 5B02 resident and echo every comment made by Brooklander. I also emailed you in support of Brookland’s Finest and never received a reply or acknowledgement. I’d like to understand o. What basis you cast your vote last night in protest of the ABRA license application.

  3. Please don’t waste your time with the email addresses. Speaking from experience, ANC commissioners do not use them. Someone will have to get verified direct contact information if your communications are ever going to reach them. It is disappointing that the community is held hostage by a select few but take the time to get your voice heard by going around them.

  4. I hear ya Jon but it baffles me as to why they even have the email addresses if they don’t use them. Crazy.

  5. Thank you for this update!! Very disappointing that our Commissioners continue to ignore the wants of many of their constituents. I am thankful for Tiffany Bridge supporting this initiative (I am in 5B03) and sent her a thank you email. She has been responsive by email to my husband and I on other items. I sent ABRA a direct email as you suggested with my support. I live one block away on Jackson and 13th and fully support this restaurant and liquor license. I am not worried about parking, noise, or the fact that there are churches in this neighborhood too (as one of my neighbors has said is her concern and why she’s opposed). I welcome a restaurant nearby and hope that they’ll be successful in obtaining this license! Thanks for all the great updates, Shani!!

  6. We too sent Commissioner Higgins an email in support of the restaurant’s application for a liquor license and recevied no reply/acknowledgement of our message. I am particularly concerned if many voices are being overlooked because of a failure to utilize the official avenue of communication. Does anyone have any advice on how this possible “oversight” can be commuincated to the ABRA in conjunction with the protest vote that will be registered by ANC 5B? I for one wish I had sent my message directly to the ABRA and will do so today, but think a cohesive effort might provide a clearer picture of the support that does exist in the community.

  7. You can find a list of all the ANC SMD officials with their personal phone numbers and e-mail addresses at Just select Voter Information, then Candidate Information, then Current Elected Officials and you will find a comprehensive listing by Ward.

    Give ’em hell, people!!

  8. Perhaps an online petition similar to the one that Astrid pulled together for the Pepco greening project could help provide ABRA with a cohesive voice in favor of Brookland’s Finest. I’m not sure how to go about doing that though.

  9. There are some phone numbers listed on the ANC 5B website for a few of the commissioners: You could try calling and letting them know your views. Also, you could try emailing the general ANC 5B address: I don’t remember the timeline for the liquor license, but you could also go to the next ANC 5B meeting. They’re held every 4th Wednesday at 6:30 (except July and August).

  10. Perhaps we could do a petition to provide a more tangible means to quantify the number of residents who clearly support their liquor license?

  11. I’m shocked. Cmr Higgins responded back to my email from this AM asking her why she voted in protest of the ABRA application. She didn’t answer my question but instead stated:

    “Thank you for your email. Please plan to attend the 4PM August 14, 2013 ABRA Protest Hearing wherein all comments & protestants will be formally heard by the ABC Board.

    For your convenience, I have attached a copy of ABRA’s May 10, 2013 Notice of Public Hearing regarding this Applicant.

    Please feel free to contact ABRA (in accordance w/the # on the Notice) if you have any questions on how you may formally participate in the August 14 protest hearing. Thanks again.”

    The attached document contained this:

    Posting Date: May 10, 2013
    Petition Date: June 24, 2013
    Hearing Date: July 8, 2013
    Protest Hearing Date: August 14, 2013
    License No.: ABRA-092010
    Licensee: Brookland’s Finest, LLC
    Trade Name: Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen
    License Class: Retailer’s Class “C” Tavern
    Address: 3126 – 3128 12th Street, NE
    Contact: Andrew Kline 202-686-7600
    WARD 5 ANC 5B SMD 5B04
    Notice is hereby given that this applicant has applied for a license under the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Act and that the objectors are entitled to be heard before the granting of such on the Hearing Date at 10:00 am, 4th Floor, 2000 14th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Petition and/or request to appear before the Board must be filed on or before the Petition Date.
    The Protest Hearing Date is scheduled for 4:00 pm on August 14, 2013.
    Tavern serving American food with a seating capacity of 75 and total occupancy load of 99. Summer garden with 40 seats.
    Sunday through Thursday 7:00 am – 2:00 am; Friday & Saturday 7:00 am – 3:00 am
    Sunday through Thursday 8:00 am – 2:00 am; Friday & Saturday 8:00 am – 3:00 am

    1. Rick,
      I received the exact same response from Commissioner Steptoe to my email I sent her last night (also published on the listserve).

  12. ANC Commissioners email addresses and phone numbers:

    5B01 Shirley Rivens Smith 2000 Upshur Street, NE 20018 635-3138
    5B02 Ursula Higgins 1902 Newton Street, NE 20018 526-5932
    5B03 Tiffany Bridge 1621 Monroe Street, NE 20018 703-763-9241
    5B04 Carolyn C. Steptoe 1257 Lawrence Street, NE 20017 636-8191
    5B05 Jenese L. Jones 3919 9th Street, NE #1 20017 903-7162

  13. Our Commissioner, Tiffany Bridge, responded to us by email right away. She supports the tavern license and opposed the protest. We thanked her for her support. She suggested the best way right now is to email ABRA directly and to stay up to date through this blog on anything else we can do later this summer…attend the meetings etc.

  14. Hi Guys,

    FYI, immediate neighbors (of which I am one) who are in favor of the restaurant but have concerns are working with Brookland’s Finest to hammer out a reasonable agreement between us and the restaurant. There is also a petition limited to those of us who are in the very immediate blocks (“immediate” meaning across the street). All this will be submitted to ABRA. As far a larger petition, have at it, we have our hands full, honestly. And as Rick indicated above, you can also show up at the hearing.


  15. Dear Ms. Bridge,

    As a constituent of 5B-03, I am writing to thank you for your vote in support of Brookland’s Finest. As a long time Brookland resident and mother of 2 young children, I am very excited about the prospect of a new family dining option. Brookland is a wonderful neighborhood that we feel incredibly fortunate to call home, but few will disagree that it sorely lacks family dining options.

    I am personally outraged by the manner in which Carolyn Steptoe introduced a resolution against Brookland’s Finest last night. While I understand that it was within the confines of procedural rules to do so, introducing a resolution on this important establishment under “new business” was a poorly veiled attempt to advance her own personal agenda and that of a select few, as opposed to representing the voice of the majority of 5B constituents. I think you will find that most of my neighbors share this sentiment. We had no notice of the resolution, and no opportunity to voice our support.

    My family lives 3 short blocks from the proposed location of Brookland’s finest, and we sincerely hope that this new restaurant opens its doors very soon. Unfortunately, we also recognize that without a liquor license, it would be nearly impossible for an establishment such as this to survive. The developers of Brookland’s Finest have taken great care to reach out to the community and to address concerns. I believe that they are acting in the best interest of the Brookland community at large, and we welcome them.

    Thank you again for your voice, and most importantly, for your honest representation of our community.

  16. I am wondering who Ms. Steptoe surveryd, and what she considers “the perimeter” of the establishment. I live a block and a half away from the proposed site of Brookland’s Finest (just over 13th on Jackson) and none of my neighbors were contacted by the Almighty Steptoe regarding this proposal, and I assure you there is a majority in support of this measure around me.
    May I suggest a new campaign for the coming ANC election cycle…


    Ms. Steptoe continues to treat this neighborhood as her own fifedom, in which we should be thankful to have the privelage of lving under such a benevolent leader. She was against Menomale…she was against Bethune PCS from moving into the VACANT Slowe school on 14th and Irving…she was/is against 901 Monroe project (which will provide locally focused owned and operated retail options and rental housing that do not belonging to one of the large conglomerated construction and resdential companies). AGAINST, AGAINST, AGAINST…I see a trend. If the boundaries were not redrawn I would have been running against her this coming election. Someone needs to step up! I am now thankful, however, that Ms. Bridge has demonstrated courage, leadership, and great civic pride in supporting and working with Brooklands Finest, and seeing the value of new businesses that are owned by members of this community startign up.

  17. Thank you for posting this — and for making the recording (and making the recording publicly available). During Commissioner Steptoe’s presentation she references several Exhibits. Are the Exhibits publicly available?

    In the resolution it says that “the majority of houses on each of the three unit blocks survey (1000 Jackson, 1200 Jackson, 3100 12th) signed ‘against’ the liquor license application.” I am wondering if the exhibits would show us the data on this — how many for and against — is it a majority of every “house” that is against or only a majority of those she actually contacted. Also, how does a “house” sign something or otherwise express an opinion? (I want to make it clear that I don’t necessarily accept any of this as true, but I’d like to see the alleged evidence that was presented to the Commissioners for decision).

    Also, is the term “living closest to the establishment” a term of art?

    Just my initial questions.

  18. Thanks Mike on 13th. I wanted to add, that myself and neighbors on the 1300 block of Jackson St (one block from the restaurant) were not surveyed or spoken to about this at all. I would think that one block from the restaurant is still close enough to warrant hearing our opinions. I would guess she “surveyed” those she already knew would support her (I know she only contacted the one neighbor on our street she has a friendship with and is also against this). I am not concerned about parking or noise- none of this has been an issue with Menomale or Optimism, which are similarly located by residential housing.

  19. Mike
    I find it interesting those are the blocks she surveyed. According to my rough calculations using google maps, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy, there are more houses on the even side of the 1000 block of irving street that are within 200 feet then there are on the 1200 block of Jackson.

    I believe on the even side of the 1000 block of Jackson there are 6 properties within 200 feet, on the odd side there are 2 houses. On the 3100 block of 12th there are 13 houses, on the 1200 block even side of Jackson there are 2 houses, none on the odd side, and on the even side of the 1000 block of Irving there are 5 houses. There are also two churches, the spa, the therapy center, I believe it is now a church next to the parking lot on the 3200 block of 12th, and maybe the framing shop is within 200 feet.

  20. Cmr. Steptoe refuses to provide copies of the audio recordings she made of the SMD meeting from April where she abruptly shut down the meeting when it became clear that the vast majority of people in attendance did not share her view point.

    Members of the Brookland Community have asked her to share copies of the audio recording. She rudely refuses.

    Members of the Brookland Community have attempted to request these recordings using FOIA. But, Cmr. Steptoe hides behind a statement that the recorder was purchased with private funds (not ANC funds) and the recordings were made with the intent of private use (for her own records as a citizen, not as the ANC).

    Now, here Cmr. Steptoe is at the ANC meeting getting the ANC to vote in support of a protest based on a survey that she organized and claims to have received 31 supporting signatures.

    I have talked with many neighbors in the blocks that Cmr. Steptoe states that she canvassed and they state that they never received a flyer from her and never spoke with her. Many others who did speak with her stated that they voiced support for Brookland’s Finest.

    Cmr. Steptoe used this protest and the signatures contained therein as an exhibit of supporting fact that contributed to the vote by the ANC in support of the protest. As these signatures were provided as an exhibit within a properly called ANC meeting and used as supporting fact for a properly called vote, these signatures, by virtue of the Open Meetings rule in the District, need to be made public.

    As such, I am requesting that Cmr. Steptoe, or any other ANC 5B Commissioner release copies of all exhibits from Wednesday’s ANC 5B meeting, to include the list of protestant signatures/names.

    I ask, in large part, because I have heard mixed stories that many of those signatures/names may be from non-DC residents.

    I support any Brookland Neighbor’s right to protest the ABRA application. That is entirely their right. But, as an ANC 5B constituent and Brookland resident, I would be appalled and angered to find out that an ANC commissioner from our neighborhood was able to obtain a protest against a desirable small business interest in Brookland, and furthermore able to obtain a vote of the ANC in support of that protest if the signatures obtained were not of Brookland residents, and worse yet, were not even District residents.

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