Whether you think D.C.’s buildings are too dense or not dense enough, you’ll soon have an opportunity to opine.
In conjunction with the Office of Planning and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new campaign Wednesday to solicit feedback from residents as the District moves toward amending its Comprehensive Plan, a 2006 document that sets the framework for the kinds of changes the city’s landscape could see over 20 years. The plan was most recently amended in 2011, and officials are seeking to tweak it again with the rapid population growth D.C. has seen since then. Hence the public initiative [Plan] DC.
“We are creating as many channels as possible for residents to let us know how to amend the Comprehensive Plan to continue to encourage inclusive, resilient growth and a dynamic District,” says OP Director Eric D. Shaw.
One prong of this effort is a new website where urbanists can dive into the various “elements” that govern the type of land use, housing, and transportation D.C. prioritizes for areas across the city. Another is advertising and “street teams” conducting outreach in each of the District’s eight wards. Finally, seven meetings are planned for this year.
As affordability shrinks for many of D.C.’s longtime residents, exercises like the Comprehensive Plan appear less wonky than designed to keep D.C. “inclusive”—a word that comes up often when officials discuss the city’s future. Already, advocates are asking residents to join in the process of updating the city’s long-term planning “rulebook.”
“Where should that additional housing go?” Claire Jaffe, a representative of the D.C.-based Coalition for Smarter Growth, writes in an email. “Around Metro stations and transit corridors, adjacent to existing commercial corridors, on public land, and on former big institutional sites like the Old Soldiers Home. Without real change, we could end up with an even more divided city that only offers apartments, condos, and houses too expensive for most working people.”
The District says it will host an “open call” period for proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan in 2017.