CSG Testimony for Connecticut Avenue Development Guidelines

September 27, 2023

Testimony to HPRB re Connecticut Avenue Development Guidelines

Dear Chair Heath and members of the Board,

My name is Stewart Schwartz and I am the Executive Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. I’m speaking in place of our Policy Director, DC lead and DC resident, Cheryl Cort, who had a conflict this morning. 

The Coalition for Smarter is the leading non-profit organization advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all. 

We strongly support the revised Development Guidelines and we are excited by the strong local resident and ANC support that you have heard today.

The revised Guidelines will help us meet the Comprehensive Plan goals of increasing housing, and improving the mix of uses, while ensuring building forms that integrate with the historic districts and foster a people-friendly streetscape around the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park Metro stations. 

The Comprehensive Plan amendments in 2021 support citywide goals of increasing housing in Ward 3 and addressing the history of racial and economic exclusion. It identified the commercial areas of the Connecticut Avenue corridor as appropriate for much needed housing — changing land use to allow greater heights and larger buildings for the housing we need. 

The guidelines help us provide more housing while also respecting the function of the historic districts. With these new guidelines and its existing authority, HPRB has the tools to ensure buildings constructed within the zoning’s allowable height and density are compatible with the surrounding architecture and urban form. They will also provide predictability for developers. 

We appreciate the recommendations for compatible materials, step backs at appropriate floor heights, building articulation, and streetscape.

By approving these guidelines, the board will provide important assurance that substantial new housing and mixed-use development can be gracefully integrated into the neighborhood.

Therefore, we urge you to approve these guidelines. Thank you.