The City’s Comprehensive Plan is being amended, and so far it doesn’t look good. We have an opportunity to speak up. The BNCA encourages all Brookland residents to get involved, write letters, and provide written or oral testimony to the City Council in time for its hearing about the Plan on March 20, 2018. We are here to help you do that. This page offers resources and information. It also provides the community with information on where BNCA stands on the Comprehensive Plan.
BNCA’s Position and Key Messages
BNCA believes the Plan is too important as a guiding document for the City to be weakened or allowed to become merely a tool of private development interests. We submitted a letter to the Office of Planning last year outlining our priorities for this amendment cycle of the Comprehensive Plan based on our community members’ input. We said we wanted the Plan to:
- Continue to recognize Brookland as a stable residential and historic neighborhood that should be conserved in existing character
- Preserve economic, racial, and cultural diversity and inclusiveness
- Maintain and preserve affordable housing for all age groups and family sizes
- Preserve and enhance accessible public green space
- Preserve and protect historic sites and properties
- Protect and preserve Brookland’s environmental health including land, air, water, trees, urban habitats, and climate
- Encourage revitalization of Brookland’s commercial areas with a high priority on working with local businesses and contractors
- Assure a multiplicity of transportation/commuter options (e.g., walkable streets, safe and accessible bike trails, convenient bus and subway service, east/west connectivity), while reducing impacts from through-traffic and heavy trucks
What’s the Problem?
Unfortunately, the draft of the “Framework Element” – the chapter that sets the tone for the whole Plan – which was submitted by Mayor Bowser and the Office of Planning to the DC Council earlier this year, suggests that the current Administration is more concerned about making it as easy as possible for developers to build whatever, and wherever they want to:
- The draft minimizes attention to the problems of displacement, lack of affordability, economic opportunity, and quality of life for existing residents.
- The draft ignores the importance of green space, environmental values, historic preservation, and community and cultural continuity as markers of a great city.
- The draft opens the door to out-of-scale overdevelopment in and adjacent to Brookland’s modest, low-density family homes, row houses, low-rise apartment buildings, and small businesses.
- The draft weakens the Plan so that it no longer functions as a useful guide for agencies and courts in making land use determinations.
- The draft sets the stage for eliminating opportunities for public input and community involvement in development decisions where we live.
These deficiencies in the current draft of the Framework Element will affect Brookland and the rest of Ward 5 disproportionately. According to the Plan, over the coming years Upper Northwest will experience more growth than any other area of the city. Ward 5 saw no less than 61 proposed changes to both the Generalized Policy Map (GPM) and the Future Land Use Map (FLUM). That is twice as many as any other ward in the City! Most of these came from private developers and property owners interested in building on their properties outside the scales currently contemplated by the existing plan. We don’t know whether the Office of Planning will accept these changes, but the Brookland Green, the 12th St. corridor, the Franciscan Monastery and Howard Divinity grounds, and other locations are all on the chopping block.
What You Can Do
There is an important DC Council hearing on March 20th. We encourage BNCA members to attend the hearing, submit written testimony or testify at the hearing. Use your own words or feel free to use the messages above to craft your own talking points and letters.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm*
Wilson Building, Room 500
1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
The deadline has passed to sign up to give testimony on the witness stand. However, it’s not too late to submit written testimony. You are welcome to send written remarks to email@example.com by 5:00 p.m. on April 3, 2018. Provide your name, address, telephone number, organizational affiliation (if any) and title. In order to ensure our Ward 5 Councilmember, Kenyan McDuffie, hears our concerns, we suggest CC’ing his official email address on any correspondence to the Council: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*NOTE: this hearing will likely extend well into the evening. If you plan to testify in person, block off the entire day after 2 pm, or try to find out when you will be testifying.
Thank you for taking the time to join the fight to keep Brookland great!
- Testimony of Daniel Schramm (BNCA President) on Comprehensive Plan, 3/16/18
- Ward 5 Community Groups Letter to DC Council about the Comprehensive Plan, 3/16/18
- Presentation by Caroline Petti (former BNCA President), 2/20/18
- List of Brookland Comprehensive Plan Amendments Proposed by Development Interests
- Map of Brookland Comprehensive Plan Amendments Proposed by Development Interests
- BNCA’s formal comments the DC Comprehensive Plan, 6/21/17
- Notes from BNCA’s January 2017 meeting
DC Office of Planning Background Information
- Email from DC Office of Planning, 2/2/18
- Director’s Letter to Stakeholders, 1/9/18
- Framework Element Redline
- Framework Element Community Proposed Amendments
- Proposed Amendments to the Generalized Policy Map and Future Land Use Map During Open Call
- Proposed Amendments to the Text of the Comprehensive Plan During Open Call
- Map and Text Proposed Amendment Attachments