Another resolution that ANC5E passed this year was the Comprehensive Plan and Affordable Housing Resolution. My belief is the current system that allows a few individuals to stand in the way of neighborhood-approved developments is fundamentally undemocratic. We need to find alternative resolution methods that don’t include years-long battles waged by a few people in the DC Court of Appeals that overturn the will of the people.
ANC5E certainly doesn’t have all the answers and my personal views don’t match some of the views of the other commissioners. I thought the compromise we reached on this resolution was a good case study in listening respectfully to the experiences of others while still forcefully advocating for our beliefs.
In the end, the resolution attempts to compromise between concerns about allowing existing residents to stay in place and creating room to grow. We call for mediation in lieu of litigation. I don’t think this is a silver bullet but keeps the process moving. Likewise, we argue that the comprehensive plan should guide but not dictate land-use decisions, which should included the broadest set of voices possible.
We also highlight the need to allow older residents to “age-in-place”. We need to encourage public programs, PUDs, and by-right development to create spaces for this to happen. Along with being the right thing to do, these residents are a vital resource to the city.
Finally, on affordable housing, our stance is “Yes and Yes”:
Yes: we need more supply to keep up with the rising demand for housing.
Yes: we need more subsidies to maintain the diversity that makes our city great.
St. Paul’s Development Approved by Board of Zoning Adjustment
On July 19, the Board of Zoning Adjustment unanimously approved the development of 60 townhouses at the former St. Paul’s College site at 3015 4th St NE. While I know some neighbors are disappointed in the loss of open space in the neighborhood, I think this development is a good example of how we can implement the ideals set out in the ANC5E Housing Resolution.
By building on an empty site, no one is displaced from the community and new supply will be created. I’m proud that as part of the negotiations, we got a 50% increase in the affordable component of the project, from 6 homes to 9 homes, and a better diversity of income levels - 3 of the homes will be at each of the 50%, 60%, and 80% of Median Family Income. We also got commitments on buffers to minimize the impact on the existing surrounding community. Finally, the remanning green space in the development - a natural playscape, a smaller open field, and a pocket park - will be open to the entire community.