Category: Emails

Updates to the DC Comprehensive Plan Pass!

Updates to the DC Comprehensive Plan Pass!

Photo credit: Ted Eytan, Flickr

On May 18, after five years of advocacy and hard work, the DC Council voted unanimously to approve the amendments to the 2006 Comprehensive Plan. Thanks to all those who have taken action over these five years to convince the city to do more to address our acute need for affordable housing and more homes near transit.  

Working with a terrific group of partners in the Housing Priorities Coalition, with the DC Office of Planning, and with the Council, we fought for and helped create a much better document to guide the future of our city. The updated plan puts a priority on affordable housing, sets a goal of 15% for each part of the city, and highlights the opportunity in Ward 3, which today hosts just 1% of the city’s affordable housing stock.

The Future Land Use Map creates room to build more homes, especially near transit. This reduces pressure on existing housing, and helps those who should be able to be served by the market to find a place to live. At the same time, the plan also better addresses displacement of vulnerable residents. 

The update focuses on bringing racial equity into every land use decision we make. Recognizing that Black families in DC earn a third of what white families earn and have a median family income (MFI) at just 40% of the region’s MFI, the plan refocuses goals, policies, and spending priorities to meet the needs of these families. Until now, DC programs have too often focused on 80% of median family income. 

Donate to support our work!

We are eager to get on with implementation — ensuring the Council increases public funding for deeply affordable housing, creating local plans to guide neighborhood change, rezoning for more mixed-income housing near transit, and incorporation of racial equity assessments into Zoning Commission decisions. Then we’ll participate in the full rewrite of our Comp Plan, due to start in 2025. 

Thank you for your involvement and contribution to this success! With this milestone behind us, stay with us as we continue our work to build a more sustainable, equitable and vibrant DC.

Support ALUs in Fairfax!

Fairfax is moving too slow in addressing zoning barriers to more affordable housing options in the county. While many people are shut out of living in Fairfax County because its too expensive, the Planning Commission last week recommended keeping regulatory barriers for accessory living units (ALUs) in place for several more years instead of making it easier for a homeowner to build one now. The Board of Supervisors has a hearing tomorrow and we need your help to show support for more housing options like accessory dwellings in Fairfax!

Send Fairfax County an Email Today

ALUs – including backyard cottages and basement apartments – offer less expensive housing because of their smaller size. They can provide a place to live for a young teacher, health aides and other essential workers, your college graduate just starting out, or an older parent.  Accessory dwellings can also offer a stream of income, including for retirees on fixed incomes, and can help offset the cost of owning a home.

Fairfax County is proposing modest changes to their ALU policy as part of their Zoning Modernization Ordinance Modernization Project (zMOD). We support:

  • The proposal to remove the current age and disability requirement so people of all ages are able to live in an accessory unit.
  • Streamlining the process for ALUs within the home by allowing for administrative approval, which includes required building and safety permits.

These are modest changes, but a step in the right direction to expanding housing options, affordability, and accessibility in the county. We hope that in the future the county will remove the 2-acre requirement for detached units because these homes are especially needed closer to transit stations and transit corridors.

You can help show support in two ways:

  1. Send an email to Fairfax County officials today.
  2. Sign-up to speak at the virtual public hearing on March 9.
ALERT: Sign our letter to advance racial equity with the DC Comp Plan!

ALERT: Sign our letter to advance racial equity with the DC Comp Plan!

Join us in one more push: Sign the letter for racial equity

Dear Friend,

We’ll keep this short. We have joined with partners in a sign-on letter to urge passage of the DC Comprehensive Plan ASAP.  If you haven’t already, please add your name.

The Comp Plan update is a fundamental part of the District’s commitment to address its legacy of racial inequity and the letter makes the case for Chair Mendelson and the Council to act quickly to pass the plan.

Please sign the letter today!

The proposed updates to the Comp Plan work to reverse redlining, racial segregation, and other discriminatory practices. It also acknowledges the consequences of past and current planning on Black and Brown residents, including: wealth disparities, health outcomes, and housing security.

The DC Office of Planning has identified nearly 100 policies and actions throughout the Comprehensive Plan that explicitly focus on advancing equity, titled the Equity Crosswalk. When implemented altogether, these policies hold promise to deliver on the goals of equity established in the Framework Element and to make a tangible difference in the lives of DC residents who have yet to reap the benefits of the growth and change in the city. 

Thank you for sticking with us in the fight for the updated Comp Plan.

Cheryl Cort, Policy Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth

PS: Click here to learn more about the Comp Plan.

Photo Credit: S. Davis, Flickr.

Ward 2 Comp Plan Roundtable Nov. 19 at 7 pm

Ward 2 Comp Plan Roundtable Nov. 19 at 7 pm

Have your say at the Ward 2 Comp Plan Roundtable


As a Ward 2 resident, you have a special opportunity to voice your support for the critical amendments to the DC Comprehensive Plan. On Nov. 19 at 7 pm, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto is holding a roundtable to hear from you. 

Sign up here for the roundtable so you can express your support for the Comp Plan update.

Let Councilmember Pinto know you support the Comp Plan update without delay because:

  • It sets a goal of 15% affordable housing in each part of the city, and increased housing around transit nodes. The plan specifically calls for 1,850 more affordable homes in the Near Northwest Planning Area (mostly Ward 2) by 2025.
  • It makes key changes to outdated and exclusionary land use policies. 
  • It gives residents more sustainable and affordable transportation options by enabling more compact, mixed-income housing near transit.
  • It incorporates priority policies for dedicated transit and bicycle lanes, Vision Zero, and prioritized pedestrian access.
  • It discourages too much vehicle parking, and focuses on developments designed to enhance walking and bicycling. 

These changes to the Comp Plan are long overdue. Let Councilmember Pinto know that her constituents want to pass this progressive update to the Comp Plan as soon as possible. 

If you haven’t already, be sure to send letters to Chairman Mendelson and the DC Council urging them to adopt the Comp Plan update this year. 

For more background, check out our webpage. You can also use our model letter or these tips for talking points to prepare your comments.

Don’t miss the chance to let Councilmember Pinto know you want her to support a more equitable and sustainable city by passing the Comp Plan update without delay. 

Pictured: The Liz, a mixed use, mixed income development in Ward 2. Photo credit: C. Cort

Guide to Safe Voting in the DMV

Guide to Safe Voting in the DMV

The election in November will be one of the most important in American history. Our nation is facing multiple crises that are testing our democracy and rarely has it been more important that we exercise our hard-earned right to vote. We want to make sure that you have all the information necessary to ensure your vote is counted this November! Scroll for voting information in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. 

If you live in DC, you do not need to request a ballot. 

  • If you are a registered voter, you will receive a ballot. Check your registration here to ensure the listed address is correct. 
  • If you would prefer to drop your ballot in an official dropbox rather than mail it, you can see a list of locations here
  • If you wish to vote early in-person from October 27th-November 2nd. A list of early voting centers is available here
  • If you wish to vote in-person on election day, a list of polling places is available here
  • Any other information you might need to vote in DC can be found at All of this information is available in Spanish here.

If you live in Maryland, you must request a mail-in ballot if you wish to vote by mail, which you can do online here.

  • You must request your ballot by October 20th. All Marylanders will autonatically receive a mail-in ballot application, but not a mail-in ballot.
  • If you do not want to mail your ballot, a list of ballot drop boxes will be available here once locations are finalized. 
  • Early voting in Maryland will take place from October 26th-November 2nd from 7am-8pm and the list of early voting locations will be here once they are finalized. 
  • If you wish to vote in-person on election day, you will receive a mailing in October telling you where you can do so, as not all polling places will be open. 
  • All Maryland voting information can be found on This information is also available in Spanish here.

If you live in Virginia, you must request a mail-in ballot if you wish to vote by mail, which you can do so here. You must request your ballot by 5pm on October 23rd. 

  • If you don’t want to mail your ballot, you can drop it off at your local elections office. If it is your first time voting in a federal election in Virginia, you must include a scanned copy of your ID with your ballot application. 
  • Early voting in Virginia will take place from September 18th to October 31st at your local elections office. Find the location of your elections office here. You must present a valid form of ID when voting in-person. A list of valid IDs can be found here.
  • All usual polling places will be open on Election Day. To find your polling place, click here.
  • All Virginia voting information can be found on This information is also available in Spanish here.

Whichever method you choose to cast your ballot, mark the appropriate date on your calendar and exercise your right to vote! Please continue to stay safe and healthy.

A big step toward ending Montgomery’s housing moratorium!

Yesterday, the Planning Board voted to update the county’s draft growth policy (aka the Subdivision Staging Policy), which seeks to time public infrastructure like schools and transportation with population growth. Among other changes, the Planning Board draft would eliminate the counterproductive housing moratorium throughout most of the county, while adjusting fees and taxes to ensure adequate funding to meet increases in school demand.

This decision is thanks, in large part, to you! CSG’s supporters sent over 50 letters to the Planning Board, and our supporters and allies showed up strong at the Planning Board’s public hearing. Check out CSG’s public testimony for more background.

This isn’t the end though — the County Council has the last say. They will review the Planning Board’s recommendations and vote on a new growth policy by November. We’ll keep you updated on actions you can take!

Until then, please consider making a donation to sustain our work advocating for more housing in Montgomery County!

Other changes proposed by the Planning Board:

  • Developers would be required to pay Utilization Premium Payments when a school’s projected utilization three years into the future exceeds 120 percent
  • Impact taxes would be lowered from 120 percent of the cost of a seat to 100 percent, and further lowered to 60 percent in certain areas with high-capacity transit and employment centers
  • Recordation taxes at the time of home sales, would be progressively increased to the to provide additional funding for school construction and affordable housing
  • Any development located in an Opportunity Zone would be exempt from impact taxes
  • Multiple updates to transportation tests would prioritize walking and biking as transportation modes and improve safety
  • And more! If you’re interested, you can find the most up-to-date information here.

Again, thank you to all those who sent in letters or testified! In September, we’ll update you on the Council’s review and hearing schedule so you can join us again in supporting this progressive update to the county’s growth policy.

Keep transit moving by wearing a mask!

Header image: Elvert Barnes, Flickr; body image: Sanford Health News

Public transit has been a lifeline for essential workers who keep our society and economy moving. Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that masks work to keep people safe. Reports from countries like Japan and France suggest that public transit is relatively safe, so long as passengers wear masks, don’t talk, maintain distance, and agencies maintain regular cleaning.

Be sure to wear the mask correctly on your face, and avoid touching it whenever possible. Avoid N95 masks with vents, as they do not prevent virus transmission.

All transit agencies in the DC region require masks. For those in Montgomery County, Ride On buses are equipped with limited supplies of disposable masks available to riders without masks, but please do your best to bring your own! 

By wearing a mask, you will be protecting your fellow passengers, your transit operators, and yourself! As CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield recently announced, transmission will decrease sharply if we can all commit to wearing a mask for the foreseeable future.

We know, masks aren’t always comfortable, especially in the hot summer months in the DC area, but masking up is a relatively easy way to make a positive impact in your community and keep transit moving. So wear your mask, travel with hand sanitizer, and please continue to stay safe and healthy. We will get through this together!