The FLUM is the Future Land Use Map. It predicts how your neighborhood may develop and grow in the future.
The FLUM is a map that’s part of the Comprehensive Plan, which is law.
The Mayor’s proposed changes to the FLUM
The Mayor has recently proposed changes to the FLUM across the city, representing 200 million square feet new upzoning and developable land and air rights (although you won’t find this fact on the Mayor’s Comp Plan website).
To put this UpFLUMing in perspective, the Mayor’s changes to the FLUM represent the likelihood of 100 new McMillan Park projects across the city that could be built as a matter of right.
All changes to the Comp Plan and the FLUM are by law supposed to come with impact assessments. So far there have been no accompanying studies of environmental impacts or other analysis of acute issues like increasing displacement pressures as we’ve seen with the city’s development over the past decade.
The FLUM changes are now before the DC City Council
The only people who can change the Comprehensive Plan as law are the DC City Councilmembers, the legislature for DC. Thus they are only people who can change the FLUM.
The Mayor’s proposed changes to the DC Comp Plan and the maps are now before the City Council. Additionally, at the very last minute, some Councilmembers are proposing more than what the Mayor has suggested as far as changes to the FLUM.
Once the FLUM is changed in the law by the City Council, the areas that are upFLUMed will have their allowable density (heights and sizes of buildings and growth) increased substantially and permanently.
Following on, the owners of the land that has been upFLUMed will then likely go to the DC Zoning Commission to have their properties officially upzoned to meet the new FLUM designations.
UpFLUMing eliminates community input
Since the law requires the DC Zone Map to be consistent with the FLUM, any upzoning applications before the DC Zoning Commission would be a perfunctory rulemaking case and eliminate any leverage for the community seeking development be tied to social needs.
Unlike contested zoning cases (like PUD’s), rulemaking map amendment cases would not put any conditions on the land or developer as derived by the ANC and impacted neighborhood — no community benefits, nor any ties to say more affordable housing (beyond the Inclusionary Zoning program. described as “feeble” and “broken”).
Again, to be very clear, upFLUMing will result in spot upzoning that largely cuts out community-input and eliminates any conditions or benefits that these new bigger projects may be required to otherwise provide if they are approved.
What to do about upFLUMing?
- One solution is to ask the Council to outright reject the UpFLUMing as unlawful since they aren’t accompanied by the required impact assessments.
- Another solution is to demand that any move to upFLUM any part of the maps come with an associated law or regulation that requires the subsequent upzoning be considered a “contested case” instead of a perfunctory “rulemaking” review at the DC Zoning Commission. This would allow the impacted community to openly discuss the upzoning and tie that upzoning request to community benefits and conditions such as more affordable housing, jobs for locals, and affordable retail space.
UpFLUMing talking points:
- Circumvents community planning such as Small Area Plans
- Typically developer driven, with no requirements seeking approval by ANCs and other impacted community bodies or residents
- Creates a domino effect, setting the stage for real estate speculation in the form of upzoning large swaths of land
- Makes projects “matter of right” and eliminates public’s ability to shape projects / gain benefits through PUD process
- UpFluming in Barry Farm, Crummell School, other areas will harm community organizing efforts to achieve equitable outcomes