It’s Time to Pass the Comp Plan Update

After years of work and exhaustive community engagement, the District’s updated Comprehensive Plan is ready for a vote at the DC Council. The Mayor submitted it to the Council back in April. The city cannot afford to wait any longer. The Council should approve the revised Comp Plan before the end of the year.

In a time of crisis, it’s easy to fall back on narrow, immediate “crisis-management” thinking. But it is during crises that we learn the importance of previous thoughtful planning. Thinking ahead to carve out a future we want—and facing challenges head-on—will mean everyone is better prepared for uncertainty. It will ground us in preparation for the city’s recovery and the next crisis.

The Comp Plan provides high-level guidance for more granular decision-making around DC’s physical layout and environment. It does not dictate zoning, create laws or programs, but it does bookend broad parameters and values to channel their future direction.

The current plan was designed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the city was experiencing population decline and property blight. Fast forward 20 years and now the city planners are grappling with the consequences of gentrifying population growth and lopsided prosperity growth.

This 2020 revision reflects our city today and where we want to go. It sets the stage for allowing new housing construction and greater housing density along major transportation corridors, which is essential to take the heat off of housing prices and close opportunity gaps. It enshrines racial equity and community and environmental resiliency as core principles. It introduces a civic infrastructure policy to better coordinate plans across public parks, schools, libraries and rec centers. It gives more room for creative and non-traditional uses of public space like streateries. You can read more about the revision’s specifics here.