We are pleased to offer our comments on the work of the Zoning Commission in order to implement the directive from the updated Comprehensive Plan that requires that all zoning actions be viewed through a racial equity lens.
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.
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.
Contact: Cheryl Cort, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are grateful that yesterday the DC Council has finally adopted the Comp Plan update to amend the woefully out of date 2006 plan. Through the process, advocates worked with the Council and DC Office of Planning to create a much better document to guide the future of our city. The updated plan puts a priority on affordable housing, and sets a goal of 15% for each part of the city. It cites the opportunity in Ward 3, which today has only 1% of the city’s affordable housing stock. The updated Future Land Use Map gives us room to grow, especially around transit.
The update gives us a new focus on bringing racial equity into every land use decision we make. Racial equity will also be advanced by recognizing that Black DC families earn a third of what white families earn. The plan therefore refocuses our affordability goals and plans to meet the needs of Black residents whose median family income is 40% of the region’s. Until now, DC programs often focused on 80% of median family income — or twice the median income of Black families in the District.
The Future Land Use Map will encourage building more homes, especially near transit. This reduces pressure on existing housing, and helps moderate income households find a place to live. At the same time, the plan better addresses displacement of residents. It places a priority on lower income families, many of whom are Black. Now, we need to significantly increase public funding and focus these limited resources on helping those with lower incomes.
Today, the Housing Priorities Coalition and allies urged the DC Council to pass the DC Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act. The letter cited the Comp Plan update as one of our most critical tools to address housing affordability, racial equity and a number of other challenges. The proposed legislation has been waiting for DC Council action since the Mayor submitted it in April 2020.
The Housing Priorities Coalition formed four years ago to help update the DC Comprehensive Plan, the land use policy that guides development decisions in the District. Learn more here.
Join us in one more push: Sign the letter for racial equity
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.
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.