VIA THE WASHINGTON POST:

The D.C. Council is pushing to tighten regulation of pawnshops in the city and give residents a stronger voice in where they open, after a lengthy battle over plans to put a pawnshop in a Northwest Washington neighborhood.

Pawnshop oversight legislation sponsored by council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) won unanimous approval last week as an emergency measure; the council is expected to discuss a permanent measure next month. The action follows a nearly three-month effort by some residents and business owners to stop Famous Pawn from moving into a vacant real estate office in the 7300 block of Georgia Avenue NW.

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Sara Green, a representative for the area on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said a pawnshop would send the “wrong message,” potentially scaring away investors that could bring boutiques, cafes and quality restaurants to the neighborhood and instead draw criminals.

Opponents of the pawnshop say they don’t want it to hurt the redevelopment that is expected on 62 acres of the soon-to-be-closed Water Reed Army Medical Center and the economic boost that it is expected to give the Georgia Avenue corridor. But the legislation contains no specific provisions to prevent the pawnshop from opening.

Doug Orr, chief financial officer of First Cash, the parent company of Famous Pawn, said the company has taken all the necessary steps to get its license and wants to “be a good neighbor.”

“The property was empty, and we’re making substantial investment to effectively clean it and put a thriving local business in the location and serve a variety of customers,” Orr said.

The District’s effort to further regulate pawnshops comes five months after neighboring Prince George’s County approved a law intended to protect consumers from potentially unsafe merchandise by barring the shops — as well as secondhand stores — from selling food, cosmetics and medication. In 2007, Prince George’s capped the number of pawnshops allowed in the county at 31.

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