This Comprehensive Plan isn’t a zoning map. However, it outlines – in specific terms – what the District intends for the future of major land areas. It’s a basis of legal cases bad faith stakeholders use to challenge developments that could add homes. What Chairman Mendelson’s misguided amendment did was make it MUCH more difficult to affordably develop housing in a massively under-utilized area near the Metro.
A developer COULD buy property in this area and seek amendments to DC’s zoning map and other land-use governance. But that process places many different barriers up that could veto the project. Developing a project that contradicts the future land-use map dramatically raises project planning overhead. More land-use lawyers and architect billable hours mean higher rents and fewer affordable units that can be set aside for longtime residents that wish to stay in Ward 5.
The residential areas near this light-industrial land are already on their way to being unaffordable. I think the goal of this Comp Plan process should be to steer demand for new housing toward that smart growth outlined above. My neighborhood of Edgewood, north of here, is feeling the pressure now. If we can’t build more homes affordably in these industrial parcels, there’s no doubt other communities near this industrial land face strong gentrification pressure. Also, speaking strictly as an economic development matter, mixed-use land generates MUCH more tax revenue than this “PDR” land.
Click this link to open a draft email or copy-paste-customize with the following text:
Councilmember McDuffie and At-Large Members of DC Council:
I’m writing to urge you to add back a revision to the Comprehensive Plan Amendment you’re completing this month at Council. I ask that you reverse Chair Mendelson’s Amendment from the 5/4/21 legislative session dealing with land near the WMATA, CSX, and Metropolitan Branch Trail alignments. Please reinstate the “Eckington amendments,” or, 2419.2 and 2419.3 on the Future Land Use Map, which would permit residential and commercial uses in addition to production, distribution.
I’m a Ward 5 resident living in Edgewood. I strongly object to the Chair’s decision that pushes extremely high housing demand in our Ward away from the transit-rich, smart growth corridor. Neighborhoods like Brookland, Michigan Park, and Woodridge cannot produce enough housing without displacement so long as DC Council prevents us from converting high-value, underutilized land in our Ward to mixed-use, mixed-income.
Much of this multi-year process to chart DC’s future has involved discussion of gentrification and racial justice. The Chair makes that restorative process much more difficult if communities like ours in Ward 5 can’t maximize the land area available to add affordable homes. We don’t want newcomers to be unnecessarily limited to small areas, where the highest bidder wins and renters can’t afford the price hikes.
Please, listen to those of us who’ve worked in good faith to preserve what we love about Ward 5 and make it so that more people have affordable homes. Reinstate amendments 2419.2 and 2419.3 to the Future Land Use Map.