What if you could shape DC’s master plan that guides the future of the city? You can. The District is about to update its Comprehensive Plan, and we’re starting an online book club to read it and provide feedback on how it should change. Join us!

DC’s Comprehensive Plan.

DC’s Comprehensive Plan is one of the most important documents our leaders use to guide decisions on what the city will be like today and in the coming decades. You probably haven’t read it — it’s over 600 pages long. But if we’re going to ensure that more people of all income levels can live and work in this great city, we need to pay attention to the Comp Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan is truly that. Its chapters include everything from housing to arts and culture. Inside each chapter are guidelines, goals, and recommendations that spell out a vision for what DC is supposed to look like and how it is supposed to function.

The plan is meant to guide everyday decisions and act as a measurement tool to see if we are building and growing in the right way based on the city’s and region’s needs. While the plan doesn’t dictate specific buildings, roads, schools, or rec centers, it’s the framework that agencies must follow when making their own decisions.

Does the Comp Plan really matter?


As we wrote about recently, having goals matters, even if enforcing them or reaching them is difficult. Without clear, measurable and attainable goals, our growth and development as a city will move forward without our values to shape it.

What is more, an unclear or contradictory Comprehensive Plan can be used to stop needed new housing and jobs. The recent case in Brookland showed this, where a plan for 200 apartments was rejected by a court because of statements (some contradictory) in the Comprehensive Plan. The plan can be a powerful tool for the city, but if not done well it can cause harm as well.

The first Comprehensive Plan was adopted back in 1985. In 2006, DC re-wrote the plan and set a schedule for ongoing amendments every five years. There was a minor update in 2011-2012. Now, it’s time again. The Office of Planning, the stewards and interpreters of the plan, will soon kick off a process to collect public input on the plan and propose revisions.

You can shape the new plan

This is a big chance for residents to set the direction for to what the city should look like tomorrow and 20 years from now.

One thing to do first though — you need to read it. And before you run off, wait! We’ll read it with you!

Greater Greater Washington is organizing an online DC Comprehensive Plan Book Club. Each week for the next six months, a group of us will read one chapter at a time and discuss it over email. Volunteers will moderate each chapter’s discussion, and then we’ll publish a summary of our collective thoughts about each section on the blog.

If you want to be part of our book club, fill out this form and we’ll get in touch with more details. If you have any questions about it, leave a comment below.

This is a big opportunity to share in the vision of our city. Time to crack open the cover.

David Whitehead was the Housing Program Organizer at Greater Greater Washington from 2016 to 2019.  A former high school math teacher and a community organizer, David worked to broaden and deepen Greater Greater Washington’s efforts to make the region more livable and inclusive through education, advocacy, and organizing. He lives in Eckington.