Greater Greater Washington

Get ready for fireworks at 8 zoning update meetings

DC's Office of Planning has announced dates for 8 public meetings around the zoning update. These forums will be ground zero for some epic battles, as they have in Montgomery County, even for complaints that have nothing to do with the zoning update.


Photo by amandacphoto on Flickr.

Around the Washington region, we've been arguing for years now about a fundamental question: Should our communities keep growing, adding people and restaurants and shops, and making it easier to get around without driving? Or should existing neighborhoods remain static, with little change in buildings, people or transportation?

Bicycle lanes often become a flashpoint in this fight. DC has had it easy compared to New York, Toronto, and some other cities. Our last 3 mayors and their transportation directors have all steadfastly supported new bicycle infrastructure. The only question has been whether to build them faster or slower.

The 8 zoning update meetings will become another crucible for different views to duke it out. It's already been happening for months on neighborhood email lists in Chevy Chase, Tenleytown, and Cleveland Park, and in public meetings for Montgomery County's zoning update, which is confronting similar issues.

There's been a lot of emotion in the emails. Often, though, people are upset about a lot of changes that have little or nothing to do with the zoning update. It's even a little ironic that this zoning update, which is quite timid in many ways and which bends over backward to change little in single-family neighborhoods, is engendering so much ire.

Some of this passion stems from outright misinformation, like the emails from Chevy Chase resident Linda Schmitt, who's become the chief organizer against the zoning update. She came out guns blazing this spring against the zoning update, even though about half of the things she claims the zoning update will change aren't actually true.

An email last week on the Chevy Chase list continued the same pattern, with well-written, scary, and largely false warnings about OP schemes to "break down the barrier between 'residential' and 'commercial'" (the very limited "corner store" provision wouldn't even apply in Chevy Chase or other single-family neighborhoods at all), "allow 22-foot high expansion of garages for apartments" (a provision which OP has since removed), and "eliminate automobiles" (utter hyperbole).

Some of the replies there and in previous discussions cited changes that had absolutely nothing to do with the zoning update. Maybe they were about teardowns and McMansions, which have already been coming to Chevy Chase, and which the zoning update won't hasten one bit. (Had residents constructively suggested ways to curb this during the early phases of the update, instead of just trying to discredit the entire process, maybe they could have done something about the problem instead of leaving it as a boogeyman.)

Even if these changes have little or nothing to do with the zoning update, they are real for people who are scared about change. The District (and nearby suburban jurisdictions) is indeed changing. It's been the policy of at least the last 3 administrations to try to attract more residents to DC. Many find this exciting, while others find it frightening.

When the Office of Planning is proposing a fairly broad though conservative change to the zoning code, especially when some neighborhood leaders are constantly accusing them of a secret conspiracy to radically remake DC, it's going to draw a lot of passionate testimony, whether relevant to the specifics of the zoning update or not.

That's why you also need to attend. The upcoming meetings will be critical in either pushing OP to retreat further, or to stand their ground, or even to advance in some important ways where the zoning update doesn't do enough. They will shape the media coverage of the issue and give Zoning Commissioners an early sense of public opinion.

Please mark your calendars and try to attend the one nearest you, or more than one.

  • Saturday, December 8, 10 am-noon at 1100 4th St, SW, 2nd floor (in Ward 6)
  • Tuesday, December 11, 6:30-8:30 pm in Ward 2
  • Thursday, December 13, 6:30-8:30 pm in Ward 8
  • Saturday, January 5, 10 am-noon in Ward 1
  • Tuesday, January 8, 6:30-8:30 pm in Ward 3
  • Wednesday, January 9, 6:30-8:30 pm in Ward 5
  • Saturday, January 12, 10 am-noon in Ward 7
  • Wedneday, January 16, 6:30-8:30 pm in Ward 4
OP says they will release locations for the other December meetings this week. There is one per ward, but you don't have to go to the one in your own ward; all meetings are for all residents.

Also, sign up for Pro-DC below to get reminders about these meetings and updates about what you can do to help support positive changes in DC.

Support us: Monthly   Yearly   One time
Greatest supporter—$250/year
Greater supporter—$100/year
Great supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Greatest supporter—$250
Greater supporter—$100
Great supporter—$50
Supporter—$20
Or pick your own amount: $
Want to contribute by mail or another way? Instructions are here.
Contributions to Greater Greater Washington are not tax deductible.

Join Pro-DC

Join the Pro-DC email list to stay informed about the zoning update and ways to support positive change in the DC zoning code and DC neighborhoods.

First name:    Last name:

Email address:

Street:    City/state:

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

Add a comment »

If you've been sitting on the fence hoping that positive changes will come without your involvement, believe me when I tell you the anti-change gang out there is well-organized and has plenty of time to fight. The zoning rewrite is a critical opportunity to elicit positive changes, one each of us should become acquainted with. David has done a fabulous job on education - it is important to hear also from the policy-makers themselves.

So if you are the least bit supportive of helping to inspire positive change, please come to these meetings, if for no other reason than to learn what the rewrite will mean to you. The collateral benefit to the community will be that the sole attendees are not those opposed to any changes. A further benefit (punishment?) will be to see the hyperbole and vitriol spouted by the anti-changers. If hearing that cannot get you excited about helping the process along, I would be surprised.

It's been their City for a very long time, but their days are numbered. We'll live for a long time with the vestiges of the Comprehensive Plan many of these folks helped ram through before there was much support for Smart Growth. Getting the part of the zoning rewrite regarding commercial zones to become a reality will do something to reverse that.

by Steve Seelig on Nov 26, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

This is where the rubber meets the road. I'd like to see the city wide height limit discussion dove tail with this conversation. How are we going to grow, intelligently or not.

by Thayer-D on Nov 26, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

You can bet that the 40 or 50 Ward 3 residents opposed to this will be out in force at every one of these meetings.

by William on Nov 26, 2012 6:27 pm • linkreport

Thayer-D. That conversation should have happened for a couple years after the Comp. Plan was approved, to reiterate-reify the consensus derived from the Plan. That was never done. Instead, after most people involved in the Comp. Plan, they jumped into the zoning rewrite, still not building a consensus for change. (Not unlike the same problems in Montgomery County around their new Growth Policy and the subsequent update). Plus those of us with planning fatigue just couldn't keep up with involvement in the rewrite.

DK if you are a professional planner, I doubt it, because what you suggest is a guarantee to totally f* the process up so that it would never move forward. In every meeting, all people would do is discuss the height limit, and never get to the other substantive issues.

by Richard Layman on Nov 26, 2012 11:15 pm • linkreport

I understand the nature of public meetings, but at some point professionals should pull together some of this information and decide what works to handle growth. Come up with several scenarios, but just don't shirk it off becasue it's too hard. Model several senarios and explain the pro's and con's like I do with clients and their homes.
Let them pick the best one based on realistic constraints rather than just fixating on one thing in splendid isolation of all the others. I'm no Baron Von Hausman, or worse yet, a Robert Moses, but at some point DC's planners need to step up and give us the smartest growth scenarios and stop letting naysayers hog the band width.

by Thayer-D on Nov 27, 2012 7:24 am • linkreport


There is another piece of regulation that has a huge impact on what can and cannot be done in our city that is not being discussed here. That piece is, of course, the city's strong and aggressively enforced historic preservation law.

I'd like to see some candid discussion about how historic preservation law interacts with zoning as part of these meetings. The best solution would be to move to a tiered system of historic preservation where each neighborhood chooses how much historic preservation it wants.

The logical "unit" for this would be the space covered by individual ANCs, for instance 2a might choose a different level of historic preservation coverage than 2b. Revisiting these regs every ten years seems appropriate. They should not be a one-way ratchet where once an area is covered by historic preservation it can NEVER not be covered by historic preservation. Let's introduce some flexibility and responsiveness to neighborhood wisehs.

A further advantage of introducing reforms to the historic preservation law into the zoning debate is that the more topics are on the table th more room for horse-trading and compromise there is. People can get their very highest priorities but will have to give up their lowest. That is economically and politically efficient.

Wally

by Wallace Eldridge on Nov 27, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

wally -- neighborhoods are too parochial to be invested with such "power". That's the point of citywide policies and regulatory structures.

It's like the point that Wallace Loh made about choosing to take UMD sports to the Big Ten. "Your typical fan is looking at it only in terms of today and the game with Duke in January. It's not their job to look at the broader picture of where the university is going over the next 10 to 20 years. That is my job."

The same goes for cities. A city as a whole is supposed to be greater than the sum of the parts. Similarly, a city is only as strong as its weakest parts. Devolving responsibility for decisions that have multigenerational consequences is really bad policy.

In any case, the HP law is separate from the zoning rewrite. Horse trading and compromise usually ends up in worse decision making, not better. cf. Chicago and aldermanic privilege, pay for play in DC and Prince George's County, etc.

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 10:09 am • linkreport

@Wallace

Are there examples of any jurisdictions in the United States that have this kind of tiered interpretation of historic preservation? I am not sure if there is any relationship to the Secretary of Interior Standards to which all State Historic Preservation Offices must adhere.

by William on Nov 27, 2012 10:13 am • linkreport

If ANC's were in charge of HP then every building then the entire city will be become an HP property almost immediately.

by drumz on Nov 27, 2012 10:16 am • linkreport

William: The Interior standards for SHPOs apply to "state" historic properties. Cities can and often do have different historic processes. DC combines the two, but it doesn't have to.

by David Alpert on Nov 27, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

Thayer-D: I don't disagree with you, just about timing.

I have argued for years that after the Comp. Plan there should have been a two year road show about what it means. Then a move to the zoning rewrite process. Without the consensus, it's gonna end up being pretty f*ed up. The current "discussion" about all the bad s**t that the zoning changes are going to bring on neighborhoods is but one indicator of this.

Given that the Zoning code has been in place for 50+ years, it wouldn't be the end of the world for it to be a two year longer process.

2. The other problem in planning in general is related to my comments about wally's comments. Planning is supposed to balance multiple and often conflicting goals concerning both citywide needs and neighborhood needs.

Neighborhoods typically only focus on their own, more parochial desires, without any concern for the impact on the city overall and as a whole. So it's a process that's always going to be contentious. Especially because typically in the process, the two separate goal spheres are not defined. (That's why most planning processes end up in acrimony.)

3. Similarly, and I haven't been able to tackle the new "economic development" plan yet (it's on my list for a long evaluation combined with some reviews of the literature on urban ec. dev.), all Comp. Plans and Ec. Dev. plans should include a deep discussion of the economic impact of various types of development.

I am going to presume that such a discussion never made it into the ED plan, based on a review of the exec. summary. And it's the kind of thing that I don't think even the MoCo Growth Policy planning process adequately addressed.

So in short, again a HUGE OPPORTUNITY to define municipal economic health and the various scenarios for achieving it through the development side, which generates the bulk of the city's tax revenues and is a major proportion of the city's economic activity, has been missed.

More and more and more I am getting so depressed about how we do planning in the city...

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

@ Richard Layman. I'm no planner, but I take issue with the "time would make things less contentious" notion you have espoused. The parochial concerns you've correctly identified don't ever go away, and it is those concerns that end up driving the debate from those who are loudest and nearest the fringes.

There are always reasons to complain about the process not being this or not being that, or would have been better if OP had just done things more in line with "best practices." Who can't agree with that? No wonder this is the main line of argument from the anti's (not referencing @ richard, who is far from an anti). I expect less from the process. These things never go optimally and Cities always end up with something luke-warm. I would guess the lament of urban planners everywhere is similar to what @ Richard has expressed.

Let's not be dismayed by that, but work hard to get something we can live with.

by Steve Seelig on Nov 27, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

William: the point isn't really that in DC state and national standards are combined, that's not really material, it's that the DOI certifies "states" (in this case, DC operates as one) for adhering to the National Historic Preservation Act as amended, and how historic preservation policy and practice is supposed to be managed and overseen.

In the trade, there are typically two types of historic districts, a hard core one, which is at the level of practice in DC, where most changes to the exterior (some cities even cover painting schemes, which DC does not) come to the city for review, and the ability to change key elements, like windows, to lesser quality materials, is almost impossible (which is a good thing), plus strictures against demolition of contributing properties.

(Note that cities need, if they care, local laws, because the federal laws only cover "federal undertakings" and don't provide any protections with regard to nonfederal actions, such as your neighbors.)

Conservation districts are a lesser form of historic preservation regulation and they allow for a lot more mischief, usually much less review, limited requirements for using like materials/maintaining high quality materials, and maybe, but not usually, restrictions against demolition.

Some people in the city (including former director of the HPO Lisa Burcham, who didn't last long) think that adding conservation districts to the city's typology would be a good thing, adding limited protections, and therefore likely quietening the opposition (cf. e.g., Chevy Chase) so that some protections would be applied to areas that need protections.

Myself, I am not really in favor of CDs because the biggest problems in HP renovation tend to be adding additions that are not very good, demolition, and changing superior architectural details like wood windows for inferior products like vinyl windows, and none of these things are typically covered. Some might cover teardowns, which is key.

Also, some people argue that CDs are a good interim step, that people can experience HP regulation, recognize that the sky didn't fall, and then step up to a full blown Historic District.

I argue that communities have limited social and organizational capital and typically won't be able to ever muster and organize the campaign necessary to move to becoming a full blown historic district.

On the other hand, requirements that have been imposed by property rights advocates in Congress requiring a vote by affected property owners means that it's a lot harder to create a historic district generally, and mostly, in the last 10 years, DC has failed to do so, with a couple of exceptions (an area by AU, a district in Kalorama with an effort led by planning superstar Ann Hargrove, and the Mount Vernon Triangle District years ago, which was abetted by the fact that it was mostly commercial property). At the same time there has been very visible opposition in CHevy Chase, Brookland, and Armsleigh Park. Plus active opposition by the Post in terms of the writings by then columnist Marc Fisher.

I do argue that HPO doesn't provide the right kind of guidance to the proponents, and a whole bunch of other criticism of how we do this stuff right now. Because it's done so badly, we (HP proponents) lose. (When most of the city's historic districts were created it was much easier. A vote wasn't required and neither was building by building documentation, instead a representative sample sufficed.)

Probably the creation of historic districts can still happen, although it would be very hard given the rise of property rights sentiments even in DC, but it can't be organized in a half-a**ed manner.

This is something I wrote about historic district creation campaigning in 2004: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-dc&month=0410&week=b&msg=4KFt3g9INu1V44RGNbSzJQ&user=&pw=

It doesn't help that real estate interests typically fight it.

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 10:40 am • linkreport

Steve S. -- my lament is more that DC does things even more f*ed up than most. My joke is that I might not be a good planner, but am great at gap analysis. DC's planning processes have so many gaps that they have trained me incredibly well.

It's crazy, but I contrast my "recent" experience in Baltimore County, writing a bike and ped plan there, with DC stuff and it's very frustrating. I haven't written about the approval of the plan yet, because I am waiting on an article in the local community newspapers to link to.

But I "designed" a rigorous "business process redesign" piece to change a number of govt. practices to generate preferred sustainable transportation outcomes as a more regular and routine activity and outcome.

And damn if they aren't implementing these various pieces. I can't take full credit for it. There are other elements, but it's pretty amazing.

And so I contrast that process, in a place not super hospitable to sustainable transportation, to processes here, and get very very depressed.

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

The reason why designating an area as historic is so difficult is because the people who approve the construction changes have used the check as a way to further their own egos as opposed to create an environment where it's simple and straightforward to perform upgrades to 100 year old houses.

No.One.Wants.That.

HPO in DC are complete hypocrites. They allow completely modernist design in Victorian neighborhoods if they personally like the aesthetic. They also frequently allow vinyl windows to be installed for certain developers. You can't have one set of rules for favored contractors and developers and another set for homeowners and other contractors.

It's the difference between the rule of law (fairness) and the rule of people (arbitrary).

If HPO is going to bend the rules for favored developers, require weeks (prep time + review time + stagnant delay waiting for "monthly" reviews) of overhead to get projects reviewed, then homeowners, rightly, are going to 1) ignore them and 2) prevent their influence from expanding as it's a 100% discredited process.

The frustration that HPO feels with not being able to expand is really the general populations' push back at a horrible process run by an abhorrent cabal of individuals.

by name on Nov 27, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

fwiw, modernist design for new buildings in historic districts is almost preordained by the Sec. of Interior guidelines, which state that new construction should be decidedly different from the architecture of the era of historical significance.

This is an issue which is contentious across the profession. I happen to agree with those who argue that new construction should be appropriate to the context and compatible. But that is not what the Sec. of Interior Guidelines require.

http://www.traditional-building.com/Previous-Issues-10/FebruaryBR10Semes.html

2. the window issue is something else. I am not as familiar with you, I guess, about the practices in the various districts. I do agree that the process of approval should be regularized more than it is. E.g., there needs to be the equivalent of a formal review board for every designated district. (Comparable to how the Old Georgetown Board functions.) Typically, that's how it is done in other cities. In DC, the local preservation group often has a review committee, which looks at the projects, but it should be formalized more, with training etc. (e.g., http://napc.uga.edu/ ; http://napc.uga.edu/education/ )

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

name -- also, it's not true that HPO laments the lack of more historic districts. They aren't actually that supportive for creating new ones because it increases workload, in an environment where budgets are pretty constrained.

It's legal to use federal HP funds for staff, and that's what DC mostly uses the monies for, rather than support of new survey and other activities.

2. Note that HPO also makes the point, justifiably, that it is inappropriate for them as a govt. office/employees to be active proponents-advocates for the creation of new historic districts, that such should come from the people. I agree, but argue that the office should do a lot more in terms of capacity building/skill and training development and this is appropriate.

e.g. along the lines of what's in this book, http://hdc.org/preservation-resources/creating-an-historic-district

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 12:14 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman,

I take great issue with your remark that:

"Neighborhoods are too parochial to be invested with such 'power'. That's the point of citywide policies and regulatory structures."

In some cases --traffic law, criminal law, civil law, etc.-- you are exactly right. There needs to be predictability and consistency for all citizens.

But in something as neighborhood-specific as historic preservation the neighborhood where the (allegedly) historic properties are is precisely where the decision about the level of historic preservation ought to be made

This approach was explicitly written into the current historic preservation law: the ANC's opinion on historic preservation is to be given "great weight" by the HPRB. (In a terrible appeals court ruling that section of the law has now been reduced to the HRPB's just having to explain why they disagree with the ANC effectively giving the HPRB total freedom to ignore the ANC.)

More generally, I wonder if we are not falling into the trap of advocating for rule by "the enlightened elite", trying to insulate issues that we feel strongly about from the risk of a democratic majority disagreeing with us and implementing policies that we don't like. The rightness of our own opinion is so blindingly clear to us that to submit these issues to the will of our ignorant and misguided fellow citizens seems the very height of foolishness. The desire to arrange things so that we get to make the big decisions and impose them on everybody else whether they want them or not can be irresistible.

But resist we must. And even on the things we care most about we must butt out and trust our fellow citizens to make the decisions that are best for them and their neighborhoods, especially on something as personal and geographically limited as the rigor with which we wish to preserve the buildings in our neighborhood.

Wally

by Wallace Eldrige on Nov 27, 2012 12:40 pm • linkreport

@Wally

Historic preservation has huge implications for growth that affects the entire city. Certain impacts may be neighborhood-specific but others affect everyone in the city. It is not "geographically limited" - if one area has restrictions on building it puts pressure on other areas.

It's not giving control to an "enlightened elite" that is unaccountable; it's giving decision-making power to experts appointed by our elected officials because they can consider the wide-ranging implications of these decisions. Plenty of us choose not to "butt out and trust our fellow citizens" because all people tend to favor personal impact over the impact on the rest of society. All you have to do is look at California's referenda on taxes to see how the democratic mob can choose what appears to be in their personal best interest but is against the best interests of the group.

by MLD on Nov 27, 2012 12:57 pm • linkreport

"fwiw, modernist design for new buildings in historic districts is almost preordained by the Sec. of Interior guidelines, which state that new construction should be decidedly different from the architecture of the era of historical significance. "

That's pathetic. They are treating history as an object in a museum rather than a living thing. Most clients I have want things to blend in yet when it comes to our most important history, we dont' want to be fooled? I'm not fooled when I see a 1910 Colonial revival building next to an original in Old Town and Georgetown. What I am is appreciative that someone took the time and sensitivity to do something complimentary or at least harmoneous to another older building in the hopes that the whole would be greater than the sum of it's parts.

by Thayer-D on Nov 27, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

wally, I just don't agree. THe big problem comes from everyone believing that where they are is absolutely and unequivocally unique. While that is true--all places are unique, obviously--the reality is that places can be unique but not exceptional.

I make this point all the time, that the reality is that neighborhoods function similarly, can be classified, compared, etc. (Hell, if they couldn't planners and historians would be SOL.) It's the whole basis of my worldview, writing, recognition of the applicability of best practices, etc.

I have never run across such rampant parochialism in neighborhoods as I have here in DC.

- http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2007/07/thinking-about-local-history.html

It makes planning (and making things great) very difficult, although it's abetted by the Planning Office and especially Councilmembers and the Mayor's Office, the lack of a strong civil society and weak capacity building institutions, etc.

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 1:49 pm • linkreport

@MLD

Thank you for the thoughtful response.

I'm not sure I agree that historic preservation has "huge implications" for growth in the rest of the city but I am open to the argument. Could you be more specific? Yes, restrictions on building in one area put pressure on other areas (or stimulates growth, to put it more positively, or drives gentrification to put it more negatively) but I'm not sure that those limits are mainly about historic preservation. Zoning seems to have a far greater impact. And, what difference does it make for growth if one building is torn down and replaced with an identical made out of non-historic materials or with a non-historic design?

Impacts on growth seem to be more about zoning and the generally onerous review process that new construction has to go through. That said, the Hine School development on Capitol Hill seemed to be about 50% neighborhood opposition and about 50% historic preservation wrangling --so, that would certainly seem to support your argument. (I didn't follow it closely.)

I understand your point about "giving decision-making power to experts appointed by our elected officials because they can consider the wide-ranging implications..." but the fairly low turn-over on the HPRB and the appointment of zealous preservation advocates (e.g., Tersh Boasberg before he left and now long-time preservation fanatic Nancy Metzger) rather than objective experts suggests that the appointment model is not working well. Why take the risk of creating a board with that much authority? Better to let the impacted citizens make their own decisions on such an intensely local issue.

I'm not sure exactly what your point is with the California referendum example. Do you mean that as an example of "tyranny of the majority?" Perhaps you meant to say, "Did what was in their personal best interest but not in the interest of the group." If the latter, then in the case of historic preservation I would say that we are defining the group to which we owe loyalty too broadly (e.g., it should not extend beyond the neighborhood) and that those most impacted should have the greatest say, e.g., requiring a super-majority or majority less one of the HPRB to over-rule the wishes of the ANC on historic preservation matters.

Wally

by Wallace Eldridge on Nov 27, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

Seems like our differing conclusions stem from the fact that you see HP as an "intensely local" issue, and that the only people who should be interested in it are people in the same neighborhood. Why is that?

Don't you ever go to other neighborhoods? Work in another neighborhood? Have you moved from one neighborhood to another? Everyone who visits a neighborhood has some stake in it - I'm not saying that everyone should be given the same weight as those who live there, but independent experts seem more inclined to think about and balance the needs of all the people who use a neighborhood than the people who happen to live there at a certain point.

the fairly low turn-over on the HPRB and the appointment of zealous preservation advocates... rather than objective experts suggests that the appointment model is not working well.

I don't disagree with you but it seems like you are making the same argument that you criticized earlier: that the people making the decisions are just making ones you don't like, so you'd like to seal yourself off from that.

I also find the idea that the ANCs represent all the neighborhood to be misguided - those commissions and the meetings are often populated by the kind of people who have tons of free time and nothing better to do than meddle.

by MLD on Nov 27, 2012 4:16 pm • linkreport

I can't speak wrt historic preservation organizations, 'cause I have never been involved in one as an active participating committee member, but definitely ANCs tend to not have much expertise and certainly get very limited training with regard to planning, zoning, architecture, and historic preservation matters.

Back when I was on such a committee for ANC6C, I kept encouraging people to avail themselves of the then frequent Main Street design trainings, wanted the ANC to subscribe to Planning Commissioners Journal, etc., and no one ever was interested. I couldn't get the commission to pop $80 or less for a subscription to PCJ. Obviously, some people develop expertise, but most don't.

The planning/zoning review function of ANCs is amongst their most important functions, and there is so little capacity building provided.

by Richard Layman on Nov 27, 2012 5:18 pm • linkreport

The whole zoning rewrite seems a bit backwards to me. Parts of it are arguably inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, which is a DC Council approved document. Would it not be better to have the Council consider and debate revisions to the Comprehensive Plan, to be followed by conforming changes in the zoning regs? Other processes (if they can be called that) seem inconsistent and broken. Case in point: The zoning rewrite would obviously affect off-street parking requirements. However, DDOT is just now kicking off a public outreach plan on assessing parking needs. It seems that, on parking for example, the cart is being put before the horse.

by Bob on Nov 28, 2012 4:57 am • linkreport

@Bob

The whole parking thing is a red herring for opponents of the zoning rewrite. Just about every complaint associated with it circles back to the seeming "right" of long time homeowners to park in front of their houses, or park for free close to metro stations, or park for free near commercial centers.

Quite frankly, if DDOT can implement market rate pricing for parking, with variable rates for peak periods, people will get used to paying to use public space. This will be a step in the right direction and allow the real discussion about the zoning rewrite to take place. To wit:

Objections around transit zones and eliminating parking minimum requirements- Ward 3 and Ward 4 residents testified before Phil Mendelson that making parking harder in parking zones will reduce or eliminate their ability to park for free near the Ward 3 metro stations. The fact is, no one is eliminating parking, just the government requirement mandating it.

Objections around ADUs: Ward 3 residents have been pretty steadfast in hysteria around "all of these new people" in their neighborhoods and where their cars will be parked.

Parking parking parking. Really, let's move on from it and have some sensible discussion about how to manage the inevitable growth in our city and region.

by William on Nov 28, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

How much are Phil "Payola" and other members of the DC zoning bar involved in pushing and funding the zoning rewrite?

by Alf on Nov 29, 2012 7:56 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or