Image by Nick Youngson licensed under Creative Commons.

The GGWash community cares about walkable, equitable urban places — that’s what we write and read about every day. We also take action when the right opportunity arises and do our best to take our cues from you, faithful readers, on what issues are worth organizing about. So far this year we’ve asked readers to weigh in on 10 potential campaigns, and you all have responded over 1,000 times!

Here are the top five campaign ideas we’ve presented and your responses:

Potential Campaign Response
Dockless Bikeshare regulations in DC 501 people took our survey on what positive dockless regulations could look like
New deck over park in Dupont 126 people took our survey about which park design is best
Upzone wealthy neighborhoods and fund anti-displacement measures in DC? 103 voted to work more on this with 24 against
No public subsidies for a new stadium 52 voted to work more on this with 0 against
Support Red Cross redevelopment in Arlington 45 voted to work more on this with 1 against

Thank you for all of your input! Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to on these issues.

More dockless please, but how?

There is obviously a lot of energy and interest in how the District should continue to support and regulate a robust dockless bikeshare system. Contributor Alex Baca wrote up some of the preliminary results from our survey about potential regulations here (If you haven’t taken our survey yet, you still can!).

We’re continuing to work with stakeholders and advocates on thinking through what helpful regulations could look like. We also recently hosted a city-wide ANC summit on the topic, inviting Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANCs) to talk directly with city officials and dockless companies. Over 10 different ANCs from neighborhoods across the city were represented and we talked through everything from parking solutions to how to more equitably make bikes and scooters available across the city.

We’ll keep you updated as this work continues. The new regulations are scheduled to come out in August of this year.

Program from ANC summit. Image by the author.

The people have spoken: help us push for a piazza in Dupont!

On the north side of Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue emerges from underground, and the ensuing canyon effect divides the area and doesn’t make for a particularly walkable space. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has some ideas for covering over the the existing canyon and creating a new park there instead.

This project could really transform the area. Recently Editorial Board member Eve Zhurbinsky asked readers to weigh in on which design was best. So far 126 readers and neighbors responded, and the results were clear: DDOT should prioritize people over cars, and the best way to do that is through the piazza option, which creates a shared pedestrian/automobile space over the entire area and maximizes public space.

Many who responded to the survey asked that the space be remade entirely for pedestrians and bikes. DDOT hasn’t studied the feasibility of that yet, so we followed up with a petition in support of the current piazza option that also asks DDOT to study the additional option of removing the service lanes from the equation.

Sign the petition if you haven’t already, and we’ll make sure to update you as this project continues to develop!

Proposed piazza design. Image by DDOT.

Upzone wealthy neighborhoods in DC to fight displacement? Interesting idea…

In April, David Alpert wrote about an idea that was floating around on Twitter. Why not upzone wealthy, established neighborhoods in DC and use some of the created value to fund anti-displacement measures in areas like Wards 7 and 8? Readers had a lot of questions (Will this work politically? What are the right anti-displacement tools to fund?), but fundamentally many thought it was an idea worth pursuing: 103 voted in favor of organizing around this, and 24 voted against.

The background conversation here is the continued debate about DC’s Comprehensive Plan, which acts as a policy framework and land-use roadmap for the future of the city. GGWash has been organizing and advocating with a diverse coalition around these issues for over two years now, which culminated in March in an epic 13-hour-long hearing. More than 50 GGWash supporters showed up to testify for a Comp Plan that prioritized more homes, more affordable homes, and protections against displacement. Some waited into the early morning hours to be a part of this debate, which had the longest witness list in the history of the DC Council.

Right now the future of the Comp Plan sits with the DC Council, specifically Chairman Phil Mendelson. He’s expected to draft changes to current proposal and put the amended legislation forward for a council vote. It’s unclear when that will happen, so in the meantime I’ve been having conversations with a variety of stakeholders about the basic ideas behind the policy outlined in Alpert’s post. If we are going to pursue such a complex and politically contentious land use policy, we want to talk to lots of different community groups, policy experts, and potential allies first — so that’s what we are doing!

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more, so stay tuned. Have some ideas for us? Sound off in the comments below.

Public subsidies for a new stadium? No thanks, but we’ll need to keep fighting

In January, Advocacy Committee member Tracy Hadden Loh wrote about a trio of bills in DC, Maryland, and Virginia that, if passed, would keep public money out of any incentive package the jurisdictions might offer to a future updated football stadium. Again, GGWash readers were clear: we should take action on this (51-0 — sorry I accidentally reset the counter, but I can see the vote results in the backend!)

We asked readers and supporters to send emails to their legislators in support of these bills, and you responded in force. Collectively, our community wrote over 540 emails asking officials to support these bills and commit to not using public money to subsidize a new stadium.

Unfortunately, these bills have not fared well in the ensuing months. In Maryland, the bill was withdrawn. In Virgina, the committee left the bill on the table and did not consider it. In DC, the bill continues to rest in Councilmember Jack Evans' (Ward 2) committee, and observers don’t expect it to move forward. The whole idea of the trio of bills was to form a pact with the other jurisdictions, so without all three passed, the impact is much less.

While this is disappointing, there’s no stadium deal yet so these bills could come back in the future. Further, if and when one starts to happen, there will be opportunities to push officials not to sign a bad deal. We’ll keep monitoring this and other potential bad public subsidies.

Rendering of the proposed multifamily, 100% affordable building, which would replace the vacant Red Cross building. Image by Bonstra Haresign Architects used with permission.

116 new homes and affordable homes in Arlington, check.

In Arlington we wrote about a vacant building that had plans to be redeveloped into nearly 180 homes, most of them affordable to those making 60% or less of Area Median Income (AMI). Early public hearings exposed some vociferous and troubling pushback from immediate neighbors who didn’t like the height, the traffic, and the new low-income residents. When we asked readers if we should act the answer was clear: 45 yes and only 1 no.

A former resident of the neighborhood in question, GGWash contributor Canaan Merchant, jumped in and wrote a follow-up post asking neighbors and supporters to sign a petition in favor of the project. Over 170 signed and sent in their comments.

At the following County Board hearing, witnesses from neighborhoods and organizations across the county showed up to voice their support for the redevelopment. GGWash contributor Jane Green volunteered to present the petition as part of her testimony in favor of the project. She kept it short and sweet, asking the County Board members to take the remainder of her allotted testimony time to read the dozens of comments in support.

In the end, the County Board approved the project, though the project was downsized in the end to 116 homes. This was a clear case where organizing the support of housing and affordable housing advocates across the region made a difference. Without presenting that counterweight to the NIMBY voices from a few surrounding neighbors, this project would not have made it through. Thanks to everyone who took part in this effort! If you want to send an email to thank County Board members for their positive vote, click here!

Don’t miss the next opportunity to act!

Thank you for all of the feedback and to the volunteers that have helped moved this forward — we literally could not have done it without you! Want to stay updated with all future GGWash action opportunities? Make sure to sign up for our advocacy alerts.

 

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