Mayor Bowser Seeks to Radically Change DC’s Comprehensive Plan in the Developers’ Wish List Act
February 6, 2018 — Mayor Muriel Bowser has submitted legislation to the DC City Council to amend the Framework Element of the DC Comprehensive Plan, the city’s most important land use law. The bill strips citizens and their elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) from effectively challenging development projects in court. The DC City Council will hold a hearing on B22-0663 Comprehensive Plan Framework Amendment Act of 2018, a.k.a. The Developer’s Wish List Act, on March 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM at City Hall. (See http://lims.dccouncil.us/
“The Mayor’s legislation is purposely vague and removes both the predictability and clarity about authorized future development citywide that residents must have to make informed decisions. These radical alterations to the Plan’s legally binding Framework Element are a developer’s dream and will be a resident’s worst nightmare,” said Stephen Hansen, Chair of the Committee of 100.
The Mayor’s bill would:
- Permit more density and greater commercial development in residential neighborhoods. Current definitions of building height and allowable density would be changed to permit unpredictable higher height and density. For example, new limits for moderate density would equal the current higher medium density limits; and the new medium density would equal current high-density.
- Replace definitions in the current Plan with fuzzy descriptions and loose terms that developers and the ZC could interpret freely. The phrase “not exclusively” appears throughout the definitions and renders them virtually meaningless.
- The Generalized Policy Map and the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) would no longer provide the predictability or clarity that residents rely on and need to make decisions.
- Zones for each land use category are for “broad guidelines” … “not intended to be strictly followed” and are “intended to be ‘soft edged.’”
- “…boundaries on the map are generalized and are to be interpreted in concert with other sources, as well as the…context of each location shown.”
- Each land use category includes a brief description… a reference to the areas for which the category is generally, but not exclusively, suited.
“The Mayor’s proposed legislation fails to address the city’s serious income divide, unemployment, displacement and lack of affordable housing. Instead, it focuses of preventing residents from meaningful participation in land use decisions,” said Nancy MacWood who is leading the Committee’s Comprehensive Plan review.
A fact sheet on the Comprehensive Plan revisions and their implications is on the Committee of 100’s web site at http://committeeof100.net/
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Byron W. Adams
Committee of 100 on the Federal City
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