The District Office of Planning (OP) is nearing the end of a now four-year process to amended one of the most consequential documents in the government, the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is made up of two maps that dictate future growth and land use changes, and many chapters which detail city-wide plans as well as specific plans for neighborhoods. The changes to this plan must be approved by the DC Council. Last year, the Council approved changed to the Framework Element which is the guiding principles of this plan. In October of 2019, OP release proposed changed to the maps and remaining elements of the Comprehensive Plan.
As ANC Commissioner for 6B06, which includes part of the Capitol Hill Planning Area and Lower Anacostia and Near Southwest Planning Area, I took specific interest in these areas as well as the two maps, the Future Land Use Map and Generalized Policy Map.
The Comp Plan Amendment Process has called for detailed comments from ANCs. Below are my proposed comments on the Comprehensive Plan related to Southeast Boulevard, which I will be moving at ANC 6B’s February Planning and Zoning Committee. These comments are draft and have not been voted upon and do not currently represent the view of the Commission.
As part of the 11th Street Bridges Project, the District removed the stub of the Souhteast freeway from 11th Street to Barney Circle from the interstate highway system and marked it for conversion to a “Boulevard.” This process started in 2005. Unfortunately in 2013, then-Mayor Vincent Gray “temporarily” rebuilt the freeway mostly because he believe it would help speed up his commute from his Ward 7 home to the John A. Wilson Building downtown.
Beginning in 2014 through now, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and OP began a series of studies on how to remove the temporary freeway stub and turn that area into an urban boulevard with land available for housing and other uses. I fully support this plan. Bringing Southeast Boulevard to grade is one of the few opportunitites we have in the District to simply Build More City. Further, this will allow pedestrian connections to M Street SE and the Anacostia River.
The quoted text below is the comment I will move at ANC 6B’s February Planning and Zoning Committee on February 4 and will likely be up for discussion at the full ANC meeting on February 11.
ANC 6B fully supports the goals for housing creation laid out in the Mayor’s May 10, 2019 Order Housing Framework for Equity and Growth and subsequent October 15, 2019 Housing Equity Report: Creating Goals for Areas of Our City. As one prong to bridge the 1,120-unit gap of Affordable Housing production, ANC 6B fully supports the proposed revisions to the Capitol Hill Area Element regarding Southeast Boulevard. There are few areas to simply create more city blocks and this is a unique opportunity to create land to meet the market-rate and committed affordable housing needs of the city and Capitol Hill Planning Area.
Given the financial constraints of the project, ANC 6B understands the needs for other municipal uses of the land below a new Southeast Boulevard, including a potential bus garage for DDOT. ANC 6B recommends codification of a process in the Comp Plan that will push the District Department of Energy and Environment to take the lead on any such use, under the auspices of the transportation, environmental, and newly adopted resiliency elements and guided by an unwavering sense of environmental justice and equity. Specifically, ANC 6B recommends detailing the potential negative impacts of a new bus garage including mitigation of impacts on air quality, neighborhood traffic, and increased noise.
A newly created Southeast Boulevard will be adjacent to Hopkins Apartments, a DCHA public housing community. All development in newly created land must be sensitive to the current uses and the improvements and benefits from the changes must be shared with all residents including those in Hopkins.
The land created by Southeast Boulevard serves as the perfect buffer between the existing moderate density rowhouse neighborhoods to the north and the proposed high density uses to the south. Given the uncertainties of future ward redistricting and legislative action, ANC 6B recommends the land for Southeast Boulevard be changed in the Future Land Use Map to Medium Density Residential and Low Density Commercial rather than maintaining the existing Production & Technical Employment designation. Further, we recommend this change extend all the way to M Street SE incorporating a small but impactful triangle (Square 1024, Lot 0808) owned by CSX, whose industrial uses are incompatible with the surrounding FLUM designations.
ANC 6B is excited to be an equitable partner in housing development, and encourages OP to work with its sister agencies to expeditiously move plans forward for Southeast Boulevard.