Policy memo: Proposed Amendments to the District Elements of the Comprehensive Plan

APACC submitted a joint response to the DC Office of Planning’s call for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan in the spring of 2017. We did this because our collaborative represents organizations that span a variety of missions and interests but that overlap on a central shared goal to achieve a healthy Anacostia River with exemplary parks and thriving communities along its shores, particularly east of the river.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

The comprehensive plan is a 20-year legal document that lays the groundwork for the District, guiding its future development, investment and infrastructure. The plan covers land use and policy in specific geographic areas, and other chapters cover topic areas like housing, transportation, open space and economic development. It also includes maps like a Future Land Use Map and a Generalized Policy Map that illustrate what kinds of changes are intended to take place in specific neighborhoods. Forthcoming later this year will be a new Resilience Element that will address our city’s ability to recover from shocks and catastrophes.

This means that if a resident has any sort of vision for what they think their neighborhood should look over the next 20 years, then they will want to make sure their vision is reflected in the document! As a long-term and overarching policy document for the city, the Comprehensive Plan could have significant impact on the future of the Anacostia River corridor.

How does the Comprehensive Plan affect the Anacostia River?

The Anacostia River corridor is a complex, multi-layered physical, ecological and social place. While working to improve the whole river corridor, we have to talk about many issues (e.g. transportation, housing, environment) and many places (Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8, local neighborhoods and federal land) all at once. The Comprehensive Plan similarly slices up its coverage of the Anacostia into several different geographic and thematic chapters. There is no “Anacostia River Chapter” in the Comprehensive Plan; the waterfront shows up in several chapters in small ways. APACC is able to draw on the diverse expertise and focus areas of its various members to address several  aspects of the Plan.

What kind of amendments did APACC submit to the Office of Planning?

APACC submitted over 35 amendments to the Office of Planning during the “open call” for amendments in mid-2017. These amendments covered a variety of topics but many focused on the issues of increasing access to the Anacostia waterfront for residents, addressing gentrification and the potential displacement of residents due in areas adjacent to the increasingly improved river, and ensuring that the parkland along the river features consistently high quality design and levels of maintenance, care and cooperation between managing agencies.

You can download and read the policy memo that APACC created, which includes all of the amendments submitted to the Office of Planning.

Erin Garnaas-Holmes