Zoning Commission nominee Keating supports Smart Growth and TOD
Unlike in many cities, the DC Council doesn't have the authority to review or influence zoning regulation changes or large-scale development projects. Instead, the Home Rule Act gives that power to the Zoning Commission, made up of three DC appointees and two federal representatives. Some feel this yields better results, isolated from politics and the corrupting effect of political contributions, while others say it's undemocratic, keeping the people's voice too far from important decisions.
Either way, DC's three-year appointments to the Zoning Commission are extremely important. Commissioner Curtis Etherly recently moved to Maryland, opening up his seat, and Mayor Fenty has appointed William Keating, President of DC-based Urban Service Systems Corporation, which "provides trash, transportation and construction services in the metropolitan area" with a "current focus on providing environmentally friendly solutions... such as food composting and waste energy solutions." Keating has a bachelor's from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard.
Keating was one of six nominees Fenty submitted for UDC's Board of Trustees, which the Council has blocked. Fenty withdrew Keating's UDC nomination when the Zoning Commission seat opened up.
On Wednesday, Chairman Gray held a confirmation hearing. Much of the discussion focused on whether any conflicts of interest might arise between Urban's contracts with the city and issues before the Zoning Commission. Keating assured Gray he would recuse himself when appropriate, and added that since most of Urban's city contracts come from competitive bidding, the administration has little opportunity to punish or reward Urban specifically.
On the policy issues before the Commission, Keating expressed a strong commitment to "using the space that we have wisely," especially to create housing and offices around Metro stations, and pushing for green buildings while remaining sensitive to individual communities' needs:
- Community stories show the shift to a walkable lifestyle
- Focus transportation on downtown or neighborhoods?
- Young kids try to assault me while biking
- Some are pushing to limit sidewalk cycling
- Where is downtown Prince George's County?
- Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
- Metro bag searches aren't always optional