Several organizations and community groups have expressed concerns about the Office of Planning’s (OP) handling of their proposed changes.
What is the Comprehensive Plan:
The Comprehensive Plan, the District’s primary land-use document has three parts:
(1) a framework element (FE) setting out economic and demographic data and setting overall goals for the city’s future – this is analogous to the definitions section of a contract,
(2) citywide elements for urban design, housing, environment, transportation, economic development, etc. and
(3) area elements, including one for Capitol Hill.
A summary of concerns:
In 2017, OP promised that the framework element, together with all proposed amendments to the citywide and area elements, would be presented for public comment, and only after public comment, would all three elements be submitted to the Council for approval. This process would have provided the public the opportunity to analyze the entire Comprehensive Plan and provide feedback. Many individuals and community organizations invested considerable effort into offering thoughtful proposal for changes they would like to see. This includes CHRS comments, also posted to this website.
Instead, OP has broken its promise — it has asked the Council to approve the framework element alone, and if it’s approved, that will control the content of the citywide and area elements.
The Framework amendments that OP has drafted and submitted to the Council loosen density definitions, allowing developers to add two to three stories to the height ranges prescribed for a given area as a matter of right. Moreover, the Framework now emphasizes that the Zoning Commission shall treat Comp Plan provisions as suggestive rather than prescriptive, thereby placing the Commission’s authority above that of the Comprehensive Plan.
If such Framework language is voted into law, court challenges to will be next to impossible because the central planning law will have disavowed its own authority.
The Council is holding a hearing on the Comprehensive Plan on March 20, 2018. Anyone who would like to testify should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relevant documents can be found here:
Office of Planning’s redlined Framework Element is at: https://plandc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/Comprehensiveplan/direcletter.pdf.
Public amendments submitted to the Framework are at: https://plandc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/Comprehensiveplan/Final%20Amendment%20Report_Framework_10.19.2017.pdf
Public amendments submitted to the land use Maps: (https://plandc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/Comprehensiveplan/PlanDC%20Proposed%20Map%20Amendments_January%202018.pdf)