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Corcoran Street Safeway’s Beer and Wine Sales Plan Stumbles; ABC Board Rejects Negotiated Settlement

Accompanying images can be viewed on page 1 of the October issue 2017 issue pdf

By P.L. Wolff

The DC Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has so modified a settlement agreement between Safeway, the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2B), the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA), and other neighborhood groups that the parties, on Oct. 10, asked for and received an extension to file a new agreement acceptable to the board — one that will address both the its concerns and still reflect the spirit of the initial settlement.

The board’s unexpected action earlier this month hit a nerve with all parties to the settlement agreement by striking several provisions in particular. First, they took out a limit on beer and wine displays that would have kept these to 46 linear feet of shelf and refrigeration space in the sellable floor area.  Next, the board deleted a requirement that Safeway “ensure beer and wine sales comprise no more than 4 % of total volume of gross receipts on annual basis.” Those provisions, they ruled, are “unenforceable under D.C. Official Code”; further, they “place too many restraints on the applicant’s business operations.”

The ABRA board also deleted a provision that Safeway distribute a five-year “Shared Value” community plan for Dupont Circle, noting that DC code stipulates that “any settlement agreement that requires the disclosure of records, contracts, etc. to [be] unenforceable.”

[Editor’s Note: The text of the initially submitted Settlement Agreement is available by clicking here]

The InTowner learned at its deadline of a plan by the ANC, DCCA, and the other groups to submit a new settlement agreement, probably by Oct. 27, though this could not be confirmed with ABRA because of the late hour. ANC 2B01 Commissioner Amy Johnson told The InTowner that the need for a modified agreement would be the first item on the ANC’s October 11 meeting.

Not objected to are the provisions to “take reasonable measures to ensure” sidewalks along both sides of the store building “be kept free of litter, cigarette butts, and other debris” as well as “taking action reasonable and necessary to prohibit and prevent loitering and panhandling.”

For example, A “Food Not Booze” campaign aimed to block the license altogether was ultimately not successful. But because ANC 2B Commissioner Nick DelleDonne was a supporter of the group, he was censored by fellow commissioners in a last-minute vote, without discussion, at the September ANC2B meeting.

The censure vote of DelleDonne left many attendees in shock, including DCCA President Robin Diener who, after the meeting, told The InTowner that she was shaken that the commissioners would be so opposed to a fellow commissioner who was simply fulfilling his elected duty and working on behalf of constituents rather than falling in lockstep with other commissioners’ pro-business bias.

Nicole Mann, the ANC’s chairperson, would only say after the vote that censure of DelleDonne was deserved because he was not sufficiently respectful of fellow commissioners. She cited the resolution to censure, which alleges that DelleDonne “has repeatedly demonstrated discriminatory and disrespectful behavior towards female ANC Commissioners and representatives of other groups.”

Barbara Donaldson, who represented one group of protestants on Riggs Place, N.W., says, “Safeway has reached these kinds of agreements before —I don’t understand this. Yes, it’s about restrictions on business, but isn’t that the point? It’s disappointing.”


Flyer Denouncing Safeway’s Owners

This flyer alleging connections with Remington Arms and the Trump Administration was being circulated in Dupont East by unknown persons around the time of last month’s annual 17th Street festival.

OCT - Safeway-picXtra(forSidebar)As for confirming the accuracy of the allegations against both Cerberus Capital Management and Stephen Feinberg, we did reach out to Cerberus’ chief communications officer at its New York City headquarters but despite several attempts, our request went unanswered.

We were, however, able to confirm through a Safeway Eastern Division spokesperson that Cerberus is indeed a major player with Safeway, which it acquired several years ago and continues as “part of a consortium of investors that joined together in 2005 to purchase over 600 Albertsons stores that were facing closure. Since that time, the Albertsons team has grown the company through acquisition in partnership with its investors.”