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UPDATED: DC Attorney General Rules Line Hotel in Adams Morgan Not Entitled for Tax Abatement; City Council Acts

As part of its final action on next year’s budget, the City Council on May 28th unanimously adopted a provision stripping out the $46 million tax abatement set-aside benefiting the Line Hotel in light of the AG’s earlier ruling reported below. Somewhat over 50% of those funds, as reported by the Washington Business Journal were reallocated as follows: “$25.5 million in new money to pay for repairs to the city’s public housing, considering that the D.C. Housing Authority recently told the council it likely needs up to $2.2 billion to fund repairs over the next 17 years [, along with a]  small portion, just over $1 million, will be set aside specifically for work on homes in Ward 1. . . .”

On Tuesday afternoon, May 21st, the office of At-large DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman issued a statement, reading in part:

“In response to a request from two D.C. Council members, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has issued a legal opinion concluding that the Bowser Administration does not have authority to waive specific D.C. hiring requirements put in law in order for the Line Hotel to qualify for a taxpayer subsidy worth up to $46 million.

“Earlier this month, the Department of Employment Services (DOES) found that the hotel had not met two of seven specific requirements legislated by the Council but said the agency had the ability to create an alternative compliance plan.”

The Office of DC Attorney General responded as follows:

“The Adams Morgan Hotel Real Property Tax Abatement Act of 2010 . . . grants the Line Hotel a tax abatement if the Hotel meets seven statutory conditions. You asked whether the Department of Employment Services . . . may waive those conditions. We conclude that it may not.” [Emphasis ours.]

[Note: For background, see our July 2018 story. Additionally, we commend the May 21st detailed report in the Washington Business Journal.]

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Reader Comment

First, thanks for your excellent coverage of Attorney General Racine’s fast and decisive response to the inquiry by Council Member Silverman about the Line Hotel people being permitted by DOES to miss several of the rules governing the Hotel’s eligibility for a $46 million tax abatement.  There is much credit to go around: to Council Members Silverman and Nadeau for asking the Attorney General; to Attorney General Racine for a fast and tight answer affirming the legal requirements and informing DOES that they had not been met; and to you for publishing the information and writing a positive editorial celebrating the good news about the myriad accomplishments of the AG’s office. We can all take pride in these results: keep the big guys (and the too-easy-going officials) honest; attention to detail and public service by public servants in the Council and the AG’s office; and honest reporting and commenting.

Keep up the stellar work!

Charlie Ellis
Dupont Circle