Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process Now Seeks to Evaluate the “Values” of DC Residents

It’s ALIVE!  The Comprehensive Plan amendment process comes back: Almost three years on, the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning (“OP”) wants District residents to identify key values to direct the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

As many of our readers know, the Comprehensive Plan is a 20-year framework that guides future growth and development.  As part of the ongoing amendment process, OP wants to know: “What are the ‘values’ of District residents?”  “How should those ‘values’ direct the District’s long-term planning?”

Spearheaded by its new director, Andrew Trueblood, OP launched an online survey called “DC2ME” to find out.  The survey will be “live” only until June 30, 2019, so now is the time to act.

The online survey asks participants to rank a list of “values”, which includes: “accessibility”; “diversity”; “equity”; “livability”; “opportunity”; “prosperity”; “resilience”; and “safety”.  OP will use the feedback from the survey to “guide decision making” for the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

The survey is meant to jump start the process to update the Comprehensive Plan, which stalled after the big District Council hearing in March 2018.  Next, OP plans to conduct multiple “outreach activities” this summer to “share” the feedback from the DC2ME survey.  We will keep an eye on the schedule for those meetings.

Unfortunately, it appears that this survey and the new round of meetings will only extend – not end – the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.  Do people remember the 2017 “Open Call” to solicit amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s map and text?

OP just quietly released a series of one-page “Element Summaries” that provide a very high-level overview of public input and insights from the Open Call process.  These documents may be useful to property owners who are interested in quickly reviewing information submitted on each element to obtain a better sense of what the updated Comprehensive Plan may say when published.  For example, if someone was looking at property in the Capitol Hill area, they could look at the “Capitol Hill Element Summary” and see that District agencies support transforming the “Southeast Freeway” into an “an attractive boulevard with improved pedestrian and cycling connections” and to “create new waterfront neighborhoods”.

After all this time, these “Element Summaries” may provide some insight into where OP and the District are heading in the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

However, the District’s residents and development community won’t know OP’s response to all the Open Call suggestions until OP releases the complete review, for which no date has been set.

In summary: the Comprehensive Plan amendment process continues three years and counting.  It’s important that pro-development advocates complete and participate in the DC2ME survey.  It certainly can’t hurt.

As always, if you have questions about specific District properties, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Stephen is the Planning Services Director with the firm and is not an attorney.

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Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use

Cozen O’Connor has represented residential, commercial, retail, and industrial builders in the development and redevelopment of building lots and millions of square feet of real estate. Our team handles every aspect of the zoning, land use, and development approvals process, from obtaining building permits and variances to negotiating stormwater management and traffic plans.

Head of the DC Zoning Group & Blog Editor