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Office of Planning

The DC Office of Planning (DCOP) holds the responsibility for coordinating planning efforts across the city. DCOP supports creating and sustaining an equitable and vibrant city by engaging residents and analyzing data to set in motion plans that guide the high-level vision for physical growth, equity, and change.

In 2006, DCOP launch a "Comprehensive Plan" to highlight policies and actions for the District's land use, public services, infrastructure, and capital investments. In 2021, a Comp Plan update was published to allow the District to address critical areas such as housing and economic recovery with a focus on equity and resilience.   

7 of the 22 Small Area Plans (managing growth, promoting revitalization, and achieving long-range goals) were located in Ward 4 (see map). Takoma (A) has been completed, Georgia Avenue (K), Kennedy Street (I), and Riggs Road (N), are all in progress to different degrees, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (V) has just begun in earnest. Accompanying these developments are affordable housing development targets to achieve Mayor Bowser’s goal of building 12,000 new homes affordable to low-income residents by 2025. 

"We are committed to equity and do everything with a racial equity lens. All plans go through a vetting process and an equity framework."

Jonathan Greene, a community planner in DCOP, spoke with me about the efforts they're taking to change the narrative of what affordable housing is by making spaces accessible for all populations and staying mindful of the history of gentrification against minority communities in DC. To do this, they strive to engage all stakeholder groups in a planning process, from developers, community orgs, civic agencies, low income residents, potential residents, to long term residents. They gather data through focus groups and surveys, and report out what they've heard in reports, public forums, and webinars. One of the biggest barriers they face to engaging residents in the future of the livability of their city is the knowledge gap of what the Office of Planning actually does (ie they don't build houses). The more educated people are the more engaged they can be.

Overcoming NIMBYs to make livability a reality for everyone.

DC residents are all about increasing affordable housing efforts and small area plans until they realize what it really means for their life, and start to think "not in my backyard!" Here are a few of the key changes that come with planning for more affordable housing, and why it's actually a good thing for the livability of your city!

Increased Density.

The city is growing, which means it's also growing outward and increased density is coming to the outskirts of the district. But increased density doesn't mean you'll lose your single family home! DCOP is adding density in a context sensitive and respectful way. Read more here.

Inclusionary Zoning.

IZ is a land use technique for developing diverse mixed-income communities, helping developers and residents alike take advantage of benefits from that come from these efforts and incentives to get affordable units into new spaces. Read more here.

What's next?

How might we educate residents on the possibilities that gentle density growth has on the livability of the city for all residents?

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