DCGPC Meeting Recap – October 2019

DC Grassroots Planning Coalition 

Meeting Recap

October 2019

Written by Justin Godard, GPC Steering Committee Member


Final Framework Element Chapter Passed by DC Council

The DC Council unanimously passed a final version of the comprehensive plan’s Framework element as part of its legislative session on October 8th. Titled the Comprehensive Plan Framework Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0001), the amended framework chapter represents two years of work to protect DC’s vulnerable communities by GPC advocates from every ward of the district. While the new framework isn’t perfect, it includes almost all of the policy recommendations DC GPC advocated for in some manner.


Land Value Recapture – The final framework includes strong language regarding land value recapture (Section 229.3) and specifically states that when private development is benefitted by public resources (such as public land, funding, entitlements, etc.), the city has a right to leverage that investment to support local equity needs such as affordable housing, transit, etc. It also states that this leverage can take shape as deeply affordable housing units, cash contributions, or increased taxes.


Equity – The framework cites the importance of racial equity and equitable development in local planning decision making throughout. In particular, it discusses the need for the plan to support equitable development goals across DC in Section 213 and that equity should be a lens through which the plan’s guiding principles are interpreted in sections 218 and 219. One weakness of the equity amendments is that the term equity and what it means is not defined in the framework and is something that we should stay mindful of as we continue through the amendments process.


Project Impacts – Of the three issue areas our coalition advocated around, project impacts were the most problematic in terms of final framework language. In particular, language was kept which allows the zoning commission to disregard how individual projects play into larger, long term planning aimed at environmental sustainability and social equity (Section 224.8). During our meeting, participants discussed revisiting inserting broader impact language as part of amendments to the area planning elements. Some good news in this area came in the form of new PUD language which specifies what can be considered to be a high priority benefit in a PUD proposal.


Lastly, the final version of the framework includes language regarding the crisis in quality of the district’s public housing developments and creates an opening for our coalition to advocate for needed repairs as part of amendments to the housing element chapter.


Important Links

Final Version of the Framework Element



Additional Amendments proposed during Council Session



Watch the Council Session Here



Remaining Amended Chapters Released

Mayor Bowser and the Office of Planning released the remaining chapters and maps of the comp plan with their proposed amendments on Tuesday, October 15th. She held a press event along with Andrew Trueblood, Director of the Office of Planning; and Polly Donaldson, Director of DC Dept. of Housing and Community Development; at City Bikes Tenleytown to discuss the amended chapters and timeline for public comment. 


Mayor Bowser also discussed her new Housing Equity Report as part of this event. The Housing Equity Report proposes construction of 36,000 new housing units by 2025 with 12,000 of those units being affordable. As part of this report, she also highlighted that all of the city’s wards must take on their fair share of affordable housing and that the report proposes affordable housing quotas for each of the city’s planning areas for the first time in the District’s history.


You can watch a recording of this event here



View the proposed plan chapters and maps here (See Detailed Documents)



View the Housing Equity Report Here



Initial Analysis

The Mayor’s Office of Planning is proposing major UPZONING to the city, aka developer giveaways in the form of allowing bigger denser buildings.


According to this tweet from the Mayoral announcement, there were 275 proposed amendments to the FLUM and “about half” were accepted with OP “changing” aka upzoning “3% of the land area” and creating “15% more capacity for housing.” https://twitter.com/alexbaca/status/1184141477393379329


Upzoning is reflected in the Comp Plan’s Future Land Use Map (FLUM). As a reminder, the FLUM is what gives council power over the future planning outcomes of our city and all its neighborhoods, historic properties, and the surrounding areas. 


Despite these major changes and upzoning, the Office of Planning provides no analysis of the impacts of this upzoning on:

  • Gentrification / Displacement
  • Environment
  • Transportation
  • Public Services (parks, clinics, schools, libraries, etc.)
  • Public Infrastructure (electric, gas, pipes, comms, etc.)
  • Inter-alia


You can find out how your neighborhood may change at the following index of links*: https://plandc.dc.gov/publication/proposed-future-land-use-and-generalized-policy-maps


  • Here’s the current map under the law





  • There’s also this narrative spreadsheet discussing what changes to the FLUM were proposed and which changes were accepted by the Mayor  https://tinyurl.com/op-flum-changes


*These maps offer no analysis of impacts of the air rights value being given away here



The Mayor is only giving YOU, the public, 60 days (December 20, 2019 deadline) to review these maps and all the rest of the changes to the Plan (900 pages) and make comments. The Mayor is only giving Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners 90 days (January 31, 2020 deadline) to review and comment.





If you think you need more time to comment, speak up. Tell the Council and Mayor you deserve more time for public review.


Recent GPC Happenings

Area Element Study Groups

Over the past couple of weeks, GPC members living in each of the comp plan area elements have been meeting to study and discuss what the original document proposed for their neighborhoods and ideas to bring attention to for the upcoming amendments comment period. 


New Comp Plan Intro Section Video

DC GPC Members Lark Catoe and James Shabazz have put together a great new video which talks about all of the changes local communities are facing here in DC, introduces the comp plan document and how it enables gentrification and displacement, and how communities and groups such as ours are fighting back. 


View the video here and share with your friends and neighbors



The Housing Element – What You Need to Know

DC GPC members Renee Bower and Andrea Rosen led a discussion on what the current housing element says and offered recommendations for strengthening the chapter once released by the Mayor and the Office of Planning. 


Chapter Overview Issues

    • We need to ensure that the terms and definitions are consistent with federal definitions (For example: Affordability, Area Median Income, etc.)


  • Needs to break down the number of affordable housing units down by level of affordability (0-30% AMI, 31-50%AMI, etc.)
  • Needs to include information on how much money is being spent on constructing low income housing and how DC owned land and properties are being disposed of for housing


  • Chapter should investigate the prevalence of newly built, vacant, investor owned properties.


Rent Control

  • Amended Housing element should seek to protect and expand rent control in DC. Over the past few decades, owners and investors have exploited loopholes in rent control regulations and many rent controlled units have been lost.


Public Housing

  • We need to have better information on DC’s public housing resources: housing units available in public housing developments today, where they are located, and how many units have been lost over the years via HOPE VI and New Communities programs.
  • Must ensure that public housing repairs offer a right of return to current residents with “one for one” identically sized replacement units, that replacement units are built either before or during larger commercial development, and that the process in no way leaves current resident without shelter at any point during the process
  • Need to replace language blaming tenants for poor conditions at current public housing developments and place blame on lack of maintenance and funding by DCHA, Federal government, and others


Upcoming Events

Andrew Trueblood guest appearance on Taking Action

Tuesday, October 22nd from 1:00-2:00pm

WPFW 89.3 – Call in number: 202-588-0893

Have a question you want answered? Email it to Parisa at parisa@empowerdc.org 


Rally for Rent Control

Saturday, October 26th from 3:00-4:00pm

Lamont Plaza – 3258 Mt Pleasant St NW 

More information at reclaimrentcontrol.org


Area Elements Study Circle – Follow Up

Saturday, November 2nd from 1:30-4:00pm

Location TDB

For more information, reach out to Jillian at jillian@empowerdc.org or 202-234-9119 x 103


Monthly Grassroots Planning Coalition Meeting

Saturday, November 9th from 1:30-4:00pm

Union Temple Baptist Church – 1225 W Street SE

For more information, reach out to Jillian at jillian@empowerdc.org or 202-234-9119 x 103