Chairman Gray.

Another Friday, another DC Register with no Inclusionary Zoning regulations despite numerous laws requiring their publication.

In their committee report (large PDF) from this year’s budget and oversight hearings, the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole lambastes the Mayor for still not publishing the regulations. After pointing out that the Council had given Fenty an extension to February 6, 2009 to publish regulations and April 7 for them to go into effect, it calls Fenty’s inaction “an egregious example of the flouting of the law by the Fenty Administration.”

Many affordable units never got built in numerous projects as a result of the delay. Since IZ gives developers the right to build extra floors in exchange for providing affordable housing, the city also lost potential housing units overall.

At the April 6, 2009, budget oversight hearing, OP Director Harriet Tregoning, in response to a question that had been asked at the February 26, 2009 performance oversight hearing on this matter, testified that approximately 140 inclusionary zoning affordable units have been lost due to the innumerable delays in the start of this program since October 1, 2007, when IZ implementation funds first became available. Examples of lost potential affordable mixed-income housing opportunities include:

  • 14th & U Street by-right development project: where at least 8 % of the 250 units would have been IZ affordable units, in Ward 2 on border w/Ward 1.
  • Fort Totten Square at Riggs Rd & South Dakota, by-right development: where at least 8% of the 1,000 units would have been IZ affordable units, in Ward 4.
  • Dorchester building on 16th St. NW added in Reed Cooke by-right: where at least 8% of the 99 units would have IZ affordable units, in Ward 1.

Although OP Director Tregoning testified that her latest information was that the IZ Final Rulemaking would be published “momentarily,” the Committee at this juncture has no confidence that the executive will do so. This situation is an egregious example of the flouting of the law by the Fenty Administration - in this case a law designed to increase mixed income housing opportunities for low and moderate income residents throughout the District of Columbia.

Even some developers say that the delay is creating substantial uncertainty. They don’t know how tall they can build future buildings or whether they will need to include affordable units. Uncertainty costs money. The administration should publish the regulations now.  They should agree with them — Councilmember Fenty voted for the proposal in the first place. But even if they don’t, they should do it anyway, because it’s the law, and they’re already 84 days overdue.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.