Image by Ian Livingston used with permission.

DC is amending its Comprehensive Plan, a land use and planning document that will guide the city’s growth and direction for decades to come. Friday is the last day to sign up for the March 20 hearing on the Comp Plan — will you be there with us?

I want to sign up!

DC has changed a lot since 2006, when the last version of the Comprehensive Plan was written. You can see the evidence of what the Comp Plan does in how DC has grown and changed.

The city has grown a lot in some areas, and others have barely changed.

That’s not by accident. One thing the Comp Plan does is direct land use and development patterns over many decades. In 2006, many of the most affluent neighborhoods were designated as “stable” or “neighborhood conservation” areas. That helped them not change, and forced the eventual growth of the city into other neighborhoods.

At first that growth happened in areas that had a lot of available land, but those kinds of areas are running out and now we are grappling with how we can continue to grow and eventually become a city of 1 million residents, even given our land and height limitations.

That’s part of what is up for discussion on March 20 — how can we grow inclusively as a city?

Arguably, the last decade has not been inclusive growth. The wealth gap in the city has increased dramatically, and affordable homes have been redeveloped and not replaced, or have simply gone up in value. Since 2002, the city has lost more than 30,000 homes affordable to those at the bottom of the income ladder. That has left a lot of people behind, both people who have lived here for a long time, and newcomers who want to come and stay but don’t see how that’s possible given how expensive it is.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We could have a better Comp Plan that embraces the changes needed to house a growing population, but also takes steps to ensure we have enough affordable housing and protections against displacement.

Help us push for that kind of Comp Plan on March 20. The Office of Planning has put forward some proposals that need to be amended if we’re going to have a truly inclusive plan for growth.

Many living in DC bemoan that they don’t get involved enough in local issues. Here’s your chance! If you’ve never testified in front of the DC Council before, don’t worry — we’re here to help! Tonight GGWash will be hosting a testimony prep party; click here for more info. You can show up or call in. We’ll talk about crafting an effective three-minute testimony and give you resources and talking points so you are prepared. The Coalition for Smarter Growth is hosting a similar event March 19; email Cheryl Cort to find out more.

The witness list on March 20 is already quite long. The hearing officially starts at 2 pm, but if you sign up soon you can expect to have your number called around 9 pm.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait around the whole time! GGWash will be hosting a party three blocks away at our offices. We’ll send out more information on that soon, but sign up and we’ll keep you updated of how the agenda is moving along so you can walk down to the council chamber right before you're called up.

As we’ve said before, this is a hearing where voices for equitable urbanism need to be heard. Friday, March 16 is the last day you can sign up. I hope you join us!

I want to sign up!

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.