Photo by Oliver Sholder Photography on Flickr.
At recent hearings on planning and zoning issues, we’ve been hearing from a lot of activists who say that everything is just perfect now, so nothing should ever change.
Next week, DC’s Zoning Commission will hear testimony on parts of the zoning update including accessory apartments (which would let a homeowner rent out a basement or garage) and corner stores. There will be a lot of people testifying there, too, that their neighborhoods are perfect just the way they are, and zoning needs to block any new people or stores.
But everything is not perfect and we can’t simply ignore the skyrocketing costs of housing for people across the income spectrum.
This idea that we should freeze neighborhoods in amber ignores the huge numbers of people who can’t afford a place to live in a walkable place near transit, especially not one with enough room to grow a family. Or they can afford an old house in a cheaper neighborhood, but that contributes to displacing long-time residents of those other neighborhoods. And they see not just gentrification’s benefits, like safer streets and new shops, but also its harm from higher costs.
Either DC plans a way to keep up with its housing demand (which still outstrips the new units getting built), or it sees the city become out of reach for many people, from young professionals starting their careers to fixed-income retirees and legions of lower-income residents.
Adding housing doesn’t have to mean skyscrapers or 6-story density everywhere or anything in particular, but it does mean finding places to put the 122,000 new units DC needs (and the same for walkable places in other inner jurisdictions like Montgomery and Arlington) somewhere, rather than sticking our heads in the sand and thinking that if we don’t change a thing, then our current housing problems won’t get any worse.
What about you? Are you finding that housing prices keep you from being able to live where you would like to? Or do you wish that you could have more corner stores or other retail walking distance from your home?
I’d like to collect stories about what residents and prospective residents want, beyond just the same voices that show up at hearing after hearing. A lot of you can’t go to all of these hearings because you have day jobs, families, and/or things to do. But your experiences matter as well.
Please fill out the form below. I will forward your stories to NCPC and the Zoning Commission. It asks for your real name and address, because these decision-makers want to know the real people sending the opinions. In addition, the text you write will get posted to this article as a comment, but it won’t include your real name or your address.
Which of these applies to you?
|I’d like to live in a safe, walkable neighborhood with amenities and transit, but can’t afford a place that meets my/our needs.|
|I’d like to be able to walk to more neighborhood-serving shops near my house.|
|If I could save money by getting a place without included parking, I’d like to.|
Please describe your situation in a few sentences or more: Also post this text as a comment on this article.
|Your real name:||(We will only send this to the commissioners)|
|Name to show here:||(What name we should list in the comments on this article?)|
|Your email address:||(We won’t display this publicly)|
|Your physical address:||(Will go to the commissioners, but not appear here)|