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D.C.’s official development playbook moves forward with inclusive city goals

Curbed logo Curbed 5 days ago Andrew Giambrone
a tall building in a city: Buildings in D.C.’s Chinatown© Getty Images/iStockphoto Buildings in D.C.’s Chinatown

The D.C. Council gave final approval today to key changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan for development, paving the path for future construction that prioritizesaffordable housing, multimodal transportation, racial equity, and countering the effects of gentrification, among other concerns. Policymakers unanimously voted in support of the reforms with little debate.

The vote capped off a more than two-year process to upgrade the plan so it better reflects the District’s growing population and need for additional housing. Regional leaders predict that the area must produce at least 320,000 new homes by 2030 to keep up with anticipated job growth, and say most of those units should be affordable to low- and middle-income families. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration has separately targeted 36,000 new homes to be built by 2025, including 12,000 affordable ones, a goal that will require relaxing zoning rules.

Lawmakers preliminarily advanced changes to the Comprehensive Plan’s “framework,” or introductory, chapter in July. On Tuesday, they signed off on language that incentivizes a slew of anti-displacement strategies, such as preserving existing affordable housing and offering tenants the right to eventually come back to projects that are being redeveloped. This language also encourages sustainable design as well as saving D.C.’s cultural heritage.

The updated document now goes to Bowser for her signature. Meanwhile, the District’s planning office is gearing up to release additional amendments to the Comprehensive Plan next week. Those provisions, which the Council must approve, will address community-level density standards and other subjects in the bulky plan, such as parks, libraries, and schools. “Only about 1,200 more pages to go,” Ward 1’s Councilmember Brianne Nadeau quipped at Tuesday’s meeting. Andrew Trueblood, the planning office director, tweeted much the same.

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