Posted tagged ‘Office of Planning’

District’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period Extended through June 23rd

May 22, 2017

Map showing the area elements of the Comprehensive Plan.

Last week, it was announced on several listservs that the District had extended the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period from May 26th to June 23rd. This provides more time to anyone reviewing the Comprehensive Plan to read it and suggest where it can be improved to meet the needs and goals of our growing city.

I’ve been able to read several chapters and submit amendments already, and while I find the online process a tad clunky, it isn’t difficult to register and submit a proposed amendment.

My suggestion to anyone who may fine the Comprehensive Plan daunting is to focus on the things that matter to you and prioritize those parts of the document first. For example, my initial focus was on the Mid-City Element and the chapters focusing on Land Use, Parks Recreation and Open Space, Historic Preservation, and Arts and Culture. Now with more time, I can on to Infrastructure, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Design.

The full text of the extension announcement is below:

District Extends Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period

Office of Planning will accept public amendment proposals through June 23

(WASHINGTON, DC) – During the “Open Call” period of the past two months, the DC Office of Planning has received hundreds of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposals from stakeholders across the city.  Based on conversations with a variety of stakeholders, we expect hundreds more amendments will be submitted before the original deadline of May 26.  In response to requests from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other community groups, the District will extend the Open Call for almost a full month, through June 23.

For more than a year, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the DC Office of Planning (OP), and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development have engaged the public in a conversation about how Washington is growing and the role of the Comprehensive Plan in shaping future development.

“Community members have not only been attending our events and office hours for technical assistance, but have recently sponsored their own activities and done their own organizing,” said OP Director Eric Shaw.  “We wish to support this community-led planning and give a little more time to ensure this energy and thought can be captured during the formal amendment period.”

The Comprehensive Plan is the 20-year plan the District government uses to guide future development within Washington, D.C.  It contains the maps and policies that influence the neighborhoods in which residents live, work, shop, and play, as well as the investments the city makes in its services and infrastructure.  Most importantly, it is the primary tool that helps the District to manage change in a way that embraces progress while protecting the qualities that make DC a special place.

Stakeholders interested in making an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan can find useful materials under the “Propose an Amendment” tab on the [PLAN]DC website, including:

  • an Amendment Submission Form;
  • a How-to Guide for submitting an amendment;
  • a “Roadmap” of planning references;
  • a set of Frequently Asked Questions;
  • an Engagement Calendar; and
  • an Evaluation Framework, which OP will use to screen amendment proposals

During the extended period, the [PLAN]DC project team will be available to provide assistance in drafting and submitting amendments.  OP has also created the “meeting in a box,” a kit containing all the materials a community representative would need to lead a conversation with constituents about the Comp Plan amendment process.

Interested parties may contact the [PLAN]DC project team at plandc(at)dc(dot)gov to ask questions or request resources.  Those who do not wish to propose a specific amendment, but instead would like to share a general idea for consideration may also write the project team at plandc(at)dc(dot)gov.

D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan Begins Accepting Formal Amendment Proposals

March 27, 2017

Over the past year, the DC Office of Planning has led an array of activities to engage residents in a citywide initiative to amend the District’s Comprehensive Plan. On March 24, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the DC Office of Planning (OP), and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) launched an “Open Call” period, through May 26, 2017, to give all stakeholders an opportunity to formally propose Comprehensive Plan amendments.

The Comprehensive Plan is the 20-year plan the District government uses to guide future development within Washington, D.C. It contains the maps and policies that influence the neighborhoods where people live, work, shop, and play, as well as the investments the city makes in its services and infrastructure. Most importantly it is the primary tool that helps the District to manage change in a way that embraces progress while protecting the qualities that make DC a special place.

The Comprehensive Plan was initially adopted in 2006 and was last amended in 2011. Much has changed since that time, including a population increase of over 75,000. Having an up-to-date Comprehensive Plan is critical to achieving the long-term success of the District and realizing our collective vision for an inclusive city.

Those interested in making an amendment proposal can find a host of useful materials on the [PLAN]DC website, including:

  • an Amendment Submission Form;
  • a “Roadmap” of planning references;
  • a set of Frequently Asked Questions;
  • an Engagement Calendar; and
  • an Evaluation Framework, which OP will use to screen amendment proposals

During the Open Call period, OP will hold a series of 15 technical assistance workshops (called Office Hours) in locations across the city, where participants will be able to ask questions and receive support in preparing proposed amendments. As spring unfolds, OP will also post additional support materials on the website and host additional events continuing and deepening the dialogue around the District’s development.

Below is the calendar listing dates, times, and locations for the Comprehensive Plan Engagement Forums.

How Do You Want DC to Grow? Share Your Ideas with the Office of Planning

October 12, 2016

It is time to update the District’s Comprehensive Plan — the document that will guide development and urban growth for the next 20 years. This is a good time to take stock in what kind of city (and what kind of neighborhoods) you think Washington should be. Fortunately, the Office of Planning is kicking off a series of community meetings in order to hear from you on what you think should be in the plan.

The meeting most convenient to residents of Park View and Columbia Heights will be held on October 19th at the Columbia Heights Education Campus. See the flyer below for details.

comp-plan-flyer-1

comp-plan-flyer-2

Planning & Zoning Workshop This Saturday, September 27th

September 22, 2014

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion regarding planning and zoning as it pertains to our older residential neighborhoods — particularly in Ward 1. In Lanier Heights, there has been discussion to down zone the rowhouse areas currently zoned R-5-B to R-4. One of the significant differences between the two is that R-5-B allows apartment dwellings whereas R-4 is primarly for single-family rowdwellings which “can” be converted to apartment dwellings under certain conditions.

In much of Columbia Heights and nearly all of Park View, our rowhouses are currently located within the R-4 Zone. Even here, there is a proposal to make changes to the R-4 zone to reduce building height from 40 ft. to 35 ft. and to limit conversions to no more than two dwelling units (unless the owner gets a special exception). The Office of Planning’s proposal to make these changes is in response to the ever increasing occurrence of developers flipping rowhouses in the R-4 zone, converting them to multi-family dwellings, and “popping-up” the houses with another level.

Often times, the result of these flips has been less than attractive, resulting in many reaching out to the Office of Planning seeking help in controlling this trend. Additionally, this has had a direct and negative impact on the number of available living units with three or more bedrooms, thus increasing the cost for family sized housing in the city.

On Saturday, September 27th, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A and 1B will be co-hosting a community workshop with members of the Office of Planning to foster open discussion on the current stresses within the District’s  rowhouse neighborhoods. The workshop will discuss the process behind their current proposals as well as the pros and cons related to adopting them.

See the flyer below for full details:

FLYER_9_27

Planning Proposal Recommends Preservation of Family Rowhouse Neighborhoods

August 20, 2014
Map of ANC 1A and 1B, showing areas currently zoned R-4.

Map of ANC 1A and 1B, showing areas currently zoned R-4.

Zoning, Pop-ups, and converting single-family houses to multiple-family dwellings is something that is very much in the news these days. On on side are many residents who see pop-ups and house conversions as both undesirable and destructive to both the character and livability of decades old single-family neighborhoods. One the other side are residents who believe that adding height, back of the house additions, and converting rowhouses to apartments and condos is the only real answer to ensuring that housing supply meets demand which helps keep housing affordable in a growing urban environment.

Currently, the Office of Planning (OP) has proposed changing  both the height and the number of allowable living units within the city’s residential rowhouse neighborhoods — Zoned R-4 (see map for areas Zoned R-4) — with the goal of maintaining the residential character of these neighborhoods (Read the full OP Proposal and Recommendation here). According to the Office of Planning, the R-4 Zone was intended to be a family residential area composed primarily of row dwellings when it was created. The type of development that generally cuts up these structures into multiple units tends to be at odds with the original intent of this zoning.

Key elements of OP’s proposal include, but are not limited to:

  • Change the R-4 by-right height for a detached, semi-detached, rowhouse, or flat building from 40 ft to 35 ft with an allowance up to 40 ft by special exception;
  • Include mezzanine in the number of stories;
  • Conversions:
    • Limit to non-residential buildings (i.e. schools, churches, fire stations) by special exception;
    • Allow conversions of residential buildings up to 3 or 4 units by special exception with units beyond 2 subject to affordability requirements.

On August 4th, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A and 1B hosted a joint town hall so that OPs Jennifer Steingasser could present the proposal and answer community questions (See the slide deck from the presentation here).

Some interesting information that came out of the meeting is that areas zoned R-4 only comprises 15.6% of the District’s residential land areas. Areas zoned R-5, on the other hand, which supports apartments with no limits on the number of units, has a total land area of 29.8%. The full chart is below.

Residential Land Percentages

Another argument presented for preserving rowhouse neighborhoods introduced at the meeting was the need to preserve housing large enough to support families. This was described as housing with three or more bedrooms. According to OP, few if any new three+ bedroom units are included in new construction. As existing houses large enough for families are converted to apartments, it decreases the number of family units in the District and has been driving up demand and prices for the remaining family sized houses.

The last item on note that I’d like to draw out from the meeting is that the limit preventing  converting structures to apartments would not apply to church buildings, commercial structures, schools, firehouses, and other non-residential structures.

After the August 4th Town Hall, it was clear that there is a lot of community interest in this proposal, and that there are still many aspects of it which need to be carefully considered. Both ANC 1A and 1B and currently working to schedule a follow up meeting for the community for a Saturday in September.

ANC 1A/1B Planning Town Hall Scheduled for August 4th

August 1, 2014
Construction at Columbia Road and Warder Street.

Construction at Columbia Road and Warder Street.

Pop-ups — or, construction projects that add height to existing row dwellings — has been in the news a lot over the past year. When pop-ups occur, it is often a prelude to a single family home conversion to a multi-family dwelling. One thing coming out of the discussion about pop-ups — and out of the Zoning Regulations Review (ZRR) hearings — is a proposal by the Office of Planning (OP) to change two elements within  R-4 Zones. R-4 Zones are typically residential areas that largely contain 2- and 3-story row dwellings.

The proposal currently being considered by OP consists of two parts. The first would reduce the allowable building height within the R-4 Zone from the current 40 ft. to 35 ft. The second would be to limit subdividing an existing house in a R-4 zone to no more than two units regardless of lot size.

To better understand this proposal, ANCs 1A and 1B have collaborated to host a town hall meeting so that residents interested in learning more about this proposal have the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns (flyer below). The town hall meeting’s primary focus will be on OP’s R-4 proposal, although related topics will be introduced as they help provide a broader context and understanding for the discussion.

Jennifer Steingasser, Deputy Director, Development Review and Historic Preservation at the DC Office of Planning will be a key speaker at the Town Hall. It should be an interesting discussion.

R4 Town Hall

Introducing Ward 1’s New Community Planner — Joshua Silver

July 15, 2014
Josh Silver, the Office of Planning's new Community Planner for Ward 1

Josh Silver, the Office of Planning’s new Community Planner for Ward 1, at the GACDTF meeting.

Since the departure of Tarek Bolden from the Office of Planning last year, Ward 1 has been without a permanent Community Planner. That changed on June 2, 2014, when Josh Silver was hired to take on the roll. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Mr. Silver twice. Not only did he attend and introduce himself at the July 14th Georgia Avenue Community Task Force meeting, but he also joined me on a walk through the Park View community on Saturday morning, July 12th. We walked a good amount of the neighborhood and Josh took several notes on his observations of our planning challenges.

My initial impression is very favorable. While his background is impressive, what I like most is how engaged he is. Much of the outreach he has done so far has been self-initiated. With just over a month in the role, he has already done a significant amount of outreach and values communication and accessibility, meaning he is approachable and interested in partnering with the community on our planning challenges.

As you can read from his bio posted on the Office of Planning Web site and below, I’m also encouraged by his experience with historic preservation.

Bio from the OP Web site:

Mr. Silver comes to the DC Office of Planning from the Montgomery County Planning Department of the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, where he worked for seven years in the Historic Preservation Section. His work at the planning department focused on historic preservation, design review analysis, and land use planning. Mr. Silver holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Mr. Silver is a District resident and looks forward to serving the residents of Ward 1 and commuting to work by bicycle.

I’m looking forward to working with Josh in the coming year — especially as the District’s Comprehensive Plan is revisited next year.


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