Opinion | Are the proposed changes to D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan already out of date?



Driving the mayor’s proposals are a number of key assumptions, principally that D.C.’s inhabitants will proceed to develop at a speedy tempo. Also assumed is that D.C.-wide up-zoning and building of 36,000 new residential units by 2025 — solely 12,000 of which might be reasonably priced — characterize the finest means to accommodate this progress and decrease dwelling prices. But will the elevated provide of market-rate housing trickle down to decrease housing costs for these most in want of reasonably priced housing?

On what foundation does the mayor assume that inhabitants continues to be rising at a speedy fee? In-migration has declined practically yearly since 2012. According to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, D.C.’s inhabitants grew by solely 4,202 in 2019, the smallest improve in a decade, with a total net increase in the adult population of only 398. The council ought to assess whether or not, in a post-coronavirus world, internet out-migration is an actual risk.

Should D.C. be selling the development of new market-rate housing, a lot of it consisting of smaller models in high-rise buildings, or focusing its assets on stopping evictions and displacement of present residents? Won’t the aggressive growth promoted by the proposed amendments speed up the cycle of displacement and homelessness the amendments purport to treatment? Shouldn’t the highest priorities be the preservation of present reasonably priced housing, funding in rehabilitating public housing and development of new houses for low-income, longtime residents?

What will likely be the impression of teleworking on the want for extra workplace house in the future? Vacancy charges in business workplace house are at a document degree, and market-rate rents are sinking. Perhaps this is a chance to convert some workplace buildings into residences, as some have proposed.

With Metro already taking an enormous hit in ridership, what will likely be the long-term results on our valued public transportation system? Under what circumstances will riders once more be keen to journey in packed Metro vehicles? What subsidies will likely be required to preserve the system as extra work is carried out remotely?

The basis on which the proposed amendments are based mostly has undergone a sea change. The mayor’s proposed amendments to the plan should not based mostly on current actuality and won’t, as claimed, obtain fairness for the most weak.

The D.C. Council ought to shelve these components of the draft plan that can not be prudently assessed with out understanding extra about the final impression of the pandemic. Instead, the council ought to tackle the crises at our door by supporting small, regionally owned companies, many of which have already been compelled to shut, depriving folks of their revenue and putting them in jeopardy of turning into homeless; enacting job creation incentives, significantly to assist lower-skilled residents; and increasing broadband so residents and college students can work and study from house.

Further, drawing on substantive engagement with residents, the council ought to focus housing targets on the preservation of present reasonably priced housing and the constructing of reasonably priced housing in all wards for these most in want, particularly low-income households whose housing wants are insufficiently addressed in the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.

D.C. wants a plan for at the moment and tomorrow, not yesterday.



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