What is a protest?
A written statement submitted to the ABC Board opposing the issuance of, or modification to, an establishment's ABC license. Protests are often initiated in regards to:
- A new ABC license request or license renewal (every three years)
- Transfer of an ABC license to a new location
- Substantial changes to the nature of an operation, e.g. the addition of a sidewalk café, summer garden, extension of hours of operation or additional seating
- Changes in license class (e.g. from restaurant to tavern)
- Application for an entertainment endorsement
Who can file a protest?
• Abutting property owner
• Group of five or more property owners sharing common ground or a group of three or more in a moratorium zone
• Incorporated citizens association
• Affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC)
• DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
For more information on filing protests, please review the ABRA website or contact Sarah Fashbaugh, Community Resource Advisor responsible for all Protest related matters, at Sarah.Fashbaugh@dc.gov.
What happens if someone protests my license application?
The protestants attend a Roll Call hearing. The matter is then scheduled for a settlement conference in which you and the protestants attempt to reach a compromise with the assistance of an ABRA mediator. If mediation is not successful, a Status hearing is held before the ABC Board. Parties may try to resolve protest issues at any point during the process, but if unsuccessful, the matter will proceed to a Protest hearing where both parties present evidence to support their positions.
How do I file a protest?
Protests must be filed in writing and must be received by ABRA prior to the end of the petition deadline. The written opposition must reference at least one appropriateness standard, including (1) adverse impact on the peace, order, and quiet of the neighborhood; (2) adverse impact on the residential parking and vehicular and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood; (3) adverse impact on real property values; (4) over-concentration of ABC establishments. The letter must be signed by the protestants and include each protestant’s full address. Send or bring the letter of protest to:
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, Adjudication Division
2000 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
You may fax the letter to (202) 442-9563, or email the letter to Sarah.Fashbaugh@dc.gov. If emailed, the protest must be sent as a PDF and must be signed.
May a person represent my concerns during the protest proceedings?
Yes, provided that the representative has a signed letter from you giving them the authority to represent your concerns.
What happens at a protest hearing?
In this formal, adversarial proceeding, the applicant appears before the Board to testify as to why the establishment or proposed application is appropriate for the neighborhood. Protestants then testify as to why the establishment or proposed application is not appropriate. Each party has the opportunity to provide an opening statement and examine witnesses on direct, cross, and rebuttal testimony. Parties may submit evidence to substantiate their positions. The Board calls the assigned ABRA investigator to testify as to findings of the protested issues.
When is the Board’s decision on a protest matter available?
Generally, the ABC Board's written decision is made available to the parties of record and to the public within 90 days from the conclusion of the protest hearing.
Are all Board hearings open to the public?