Updates

Press Release | July 8, 2019

Update: Amendments for July 9 Comprehensive Plan Markup

After consultation with the Chairman, other colleagues on the Council, constituents, and advocates, I have revised amendments that I plan on introducing at the Council's July 9th markup.

*Note: July 9th is the first of two votes that will happen on the Framework, with the second happening after summer recess. I plan on addressing a number of other items over the summer, and welcome continued engagement.*

Amendment #1

A new section 3 is added to read as follows:

“Upon submission of amendments to the Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan, the Office of Planning shall provide to the Council additional guidance on the following:

(1) Options for increasing the variety of housing types in areas zoned for single-family detached and semi-detached housing; and

(2) The implications on equity and affordability of allowing small multifamily buildings in all residential zones.”.

Amendment #1 Rationale

This amendment adds a new section that amends the bill, B23-0001, but does not add language to the Comprehensive Plan Framework Element.

Given the conversation in the District and nationally about single-family-only residential zoning, this amendment requests additional guidance from the Office of Planning to better inform the Council upon receipt of the Land Use Element, a later chapter of the Comprehensive Plan.

This is in recognizing that – while the current inequitable distribution of growth suggests a change in lower-density residential zoning might be considered – the District’s development and zoning code are unique compared to other cities that have recently made such changes. Any conversation on low-and moderate-density zones should be had with sufficient time for public comment and the necessary information on impacts to the District, particularly how a change might impact unique neighborhoods and planning areas differently. This amendment would allow for that conversation to be had in a more robust manner.

 

Amendment #2

Amendatory section 224.9 is amended to read as follows:

“Specific public benefits determined through PUD applications should respond to critical issues facing the District as identified in the Comprehensive Plan. In light of the acute need to preserve and build affordable housing (described in Section 206) and to prevent displacement of on-site residents, the following should be considered as high-priority public benefits in the evaluation of residential PUDs:

  • The production of new affordable housing units above and beyond existing legal requirements, and/or a net increase in the number of affordable units that exist on-site.
  • The preservation of housing units made affordable through subsidy, covenant, or rent control, or replacement of such units at the same affordability level and a similar household size,
  • The minimizing of unnecessary off-site relocation through the construction of new units before the demolition of existing occupied units, and
  • The right of existing residents of a redevelopment site to return to new on-site units.”

 

Amendatory section 220.3 is amended to read as follows:

“The recent population boom has triggered a crisis of affordability in the city, creating a hardship for many District residents. The preservation of existing affordable housing and the production of new affordable housing are essential to avoid a deepening of racial and economic divides in the city and must occur city-wide to achieve fair housing objectives. Affordable renter-and owner-occupied housing production and preservation is central to the idea of growing more inclusively, as is the utilization of tools such as public housing, community land trusts, and limited-equity cooperatives that help keep the costs of land affordable, particularly in areas with low homeownership rates and those at risk of cost increases due to housing speculation.”

Amendment #2 Rationale

This amendment accomplishes two main goals:

  1. Providing clearer guidance to the Zoning Commission on anti-displacement standards in the evaluation of PUDs
  2. Including in the guiding principles housing strategies that work outside of standard market forces – strategies that have been essential to the District’s history of providing affordable housing.

The first change retains guidance to the Zoning Commission that affordable housing and prevention of displacement should be considered high-priority community benefits in the evaluation of PUDs – currently, the list of public benefits in regulations includes everything from affordable housing to “superior landscaping” and makes no distinction as to priority. Prevention of displacement is currently not included in that list.

Thus, this amendment provides more specific guidance as to what community benefits would address the prevention of displacement.

These include a right to return for current residents, as well as replacement of affordable units at a family/bedroom size that would accommodate the households already on the site. It also articulates a priority for “build-first” projects that minimize or eliminate temporary displacement. These are all tenets that the District has committed to in the past and should be enshrined as the standard for any similar projects. The goal of this language is to specifically protect extremely low-income families living in public housing communities and subsidized housing units.

This amendment also makes a technical correction to Section 227.7, saying “above and beyond existing legal requirements” where the text originally read “above and beyond existing matter-of-right limits”.

The second provision amends a guiding principle to name housing strategies like limited-equity cooperatives, public housing, and community land trusts as important tools in the pursuit of housing affordability. Among cities in the United States, the District has a unique and rich history of limited-equity cooperatives providing stable, affordable housing by harnessing community solidarity and leveraging forces outside of the traditional housing market. There are also a number of Community Land Trusts currently operating or soon to be established in the District.

While specific policies related to these housing strategies will be addressed in more detail in the Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan, including them in the Framework Element will acknowledge their significant history in the District and provide guidance to OP that they be given more explicit attention.