Member Events & Success Stories

HAND | DC Comprehensive Plan

Photo credit: Ted Eytan, https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/47651052842/in/album-72157680084862758/

September 12, 2019

BACKGROUND

Updating the language in the existing Comprehensive Plan to support new housing and prevent displacement is critical if we are to create a city that provides enough housing for an inclusive District of Columbia. The 2006 Comprehensive Plan focused too much on preserving the status quo rather than planning for a growing population and the need for more housing that is affordable to middle and lower-income residents. Opponents of new housing have used the 2006 Comprehensive Plan to delay thousands of new homes, and hundreds of new affordable homes — increasing rather than reducing displacement of long-time residents.

That’s why we have partnered with other organizations to craft and submit numerous amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. 

On July 10, 2019, the DC Council took a preliminary vote on the Comprehensive Plan bill proposed by Chairman Phil Mendelson. The final votes are scheduled for September 17.

While the Chairman adopted a significant number of our amendments, and the Office of Planning’s amendments, the Chairman’s revised bill still needs to better address our city’s greatest needs.

  1. The bill should be more specific about how affordable housing and preventing displacement will be prioritized in the Planned Unit Development (PUD) approval process.
  2. One major amendment prioritizes making “physical and visual character” more important than any of our other values like preventing displacement and building more affordable housing. This language would have an exclusionary impact, and must be amended.

Take Action

We are joining with our allies in the Housing Priorities Coalition and asking the DC Council to adopt two amendments to the Comprehensive Plan Bill, B23-1:

Amendment 1: Proposed by Councilmember Nadeau, add to the end of 224.9 that the following should be considered as high-priority public benefits in the evaluation of residential Planned Unit Developments:

  • The production of new affordable housing units above and beyond existing legal requirements, and/or a net increase in the number of affordable units that exist on-site,
  • The preservation of housing units made affordable through subsidy, covenant, or rent control, or replacement of such units at the same affordability level and a similar household size,
  • The minimizing of unnecessary off-site relocation through the construction of new units before the demolition of existing occupied units, and
  • The right of existing residents of a redevelopment site to return to new on-site units at affordability levels similar to or greater than existing units.

Amendment 2: To section 227.2, remove this section entirely or replace it with the following amendment proposed by DC Office of Planning:

227.2.  Each land use category identifies representative zoning districts and states that other zoning districts may apply. A zoning district may be appropriate to be mapped, either through the Planned Unit Development or zoning map amendment process, if it is not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, including the Future Land Use and Generalized Policy maps, the text of the Plan and the intent of the land use category. Under Zoning Regulations, a proposed Planned Unit Development should not “result in unacceptable project impacts on the surrounding area.”

This removes or replaces current language:

227.2.  Each land use category identifies representative zoning districts and states that other zoning districts may apply.  The Zoning Commission, in selecting a  zone district, such as through a Planned Unit Development or Zoning Map Amendment, shall determine if it:

  *   Is not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan;

  *   Meets the intent of the Future Land Use Map land use category;

  *   Is generally compatible with the character and scale of the Future Land Use Map land use category when considering the site in total; and

  *   Is generally compatible with the physical and visual character of the  surrounding neighborhood.

Email communications@handhousing.org by 9:00am Monday September 16th, with your name or organization if you would like to sign the letter below:


Dear Councilmembers:

As a “change” association working across the private, public and nonprofit sectors, the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) is committed to leveraging the power of our diverse collective comprised of nonprofit and for-profit developers, property managers, service providers, financial institutions, government agencies, architects, syndicators, law firms, foundations, universities, and others, to address our region’s affordable housing challenges and ensure that all have an opportunity to thrive. However, we know all too well that the housing affordability crisis is growing and we are NOT doing enough to ensure that people of all incomes can thrive in our jurisdictions. This is why we are writing to support two important amendments to the DC Comprehensive Plan bill (B23-1).

Our largest challenge is ensuring housing affordability for residents at all income levels, but the last update to the Comprehensive Plan in 2006 did not properly plan for a growing population and the need for more affordable housing. Further, opponents of new housing have used the 2006 Comprehensive Plan to stall the development of thousands of new homes, and hundreds of new affordable homes — increasing rather than reducing displacement of long-time residents.

While we’ve made much progress in the draft update to the Comprehensive Plan, we need more clarity to ensure we are prioritizing affordable housing. We must also amend a provision added in July that would freeze the status quo, prioritizing “physical and visual character” over more homes and more affordable homes when Planned Unit Developments are being considered. This text is all too similar to exclusionary language that has historically perpetuated housing segregation.

To make these adjustments, we stand with the Housing Priorities Coalition in asking the Council to adopt two amendments to the Comprehensive Plan Framework Element bill, B23-1:

Amendment 1: To Section 224.9 proposed by Councilmember Nadeau, add to the end of 224.9 that the following should be considered as high-priority public benefits in the evaluation of residential Planned Unit Developments:

  • The production of new affordable housing units above and beyond existing legal requirements, and/or a net increase in the number of affordable units that exist on-site, 
  • The preservation of housing units made affordable through subsidy, covenant, or rent control, or replacement of such units at the same affordability level and a similar household size, 
  • The minimizing of unnecessary off-site relocation through the construction of new units before the demolition of existing occupied units, and
  • The right of existing residents of a redevelopment site to return to new on-site units at affordability levels similar to or greater than existing units.

Amendment 2: To section 227.2, remove or replace with the following amendment proposed by DC Office of Planning:

227.2.  Each land use category identifies representative zoning districts and states that other zoning districts may apply. A zoning district may be appropriate to be mapped, either through the Planned Unit Development or zoning map amendment process, if it is not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, including the Future Land Use and Generalized Policy maps, the text of the Plan and the intent of the land use category. Under Zoning Regulations, a proposed Planned Unit Development should not “result in unacceptable project impacts on the surrounding area.”

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your leadership on this issue.

Sincerely,

  • Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers
  • AreaProbe
  • Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
  • Bodaken & Associates
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development, University of Maryland
  • Cornerstones
  • CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing)
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Heritage Housing Partners Corporation
  • HomeFree
  • ICAST
  • Imby Community
  • L&H Business Consulting
  • LIIF (Low Income Investment Fund)
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Klein Hornig LLP
  • Metropolitan Consulting
  • National Housing Trust
  • Neighborhood Associates Corporation
  • Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
  • Pennrose
  • PGIM Real Estate Finance
  • SAA | EVI
  • Somerset Development Company
  • WinnCompanies

 

  • Aimee McHale
  • Erik Hoffman
  • Fran Lunney
  • Heather Raspberry
  • Maria Day-Marshall
  • Michael Scheurer
  • Nina Janopaul
  • Peter Engel
  • Yulonda Queen