Writing about land-use and zoning regulations can get quite depressing. Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. The election of London Breed in San Francisco is a pro-development bright spot in an otherwise bleak part of the country.
Here on the East Coast, a number of positive developments have occured in our nation’s capital. Writing in Greater Greater Washington, David Alpert documents a few local YIMBY victories.
In Takoma Park [a Maryland Neighborhood just outside of DC], after a long and contentious hearing during which, according to one resident, an opponent shouted at a ten-year-old who’d testified in support, the City Council approved the Takoma Junction development which contributors David Daddio and Tony Camilli describe as “a modest, two-story mixed-use office space above small format retail, a green roof, a public plaza, and underground parking.” It will replace a city-owned parking lot.
Meanwhile, in the District proper,
The DC Zoning Commission approved a custom zone for the Penn Branch shopping center along Pennsylvania Avenue SE in DC’s Ward 7, east of the Anacostia River. The developer, Jair Lynch, had reached a compromise with neighbors around the project and its zoning rules. The developer didn’t pursue a Planned Unit Development, the usual way to customize zoning for a specific project and factor in community input, likely because virtually every PUD across the city is drawing a lawsuit.
The Penn Branch zone wasn’t in dispute as neighbors were pleased with the result, but some organizations and activists in neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park, at the other end of the city, tried to ask for a backdoor downzoning by “immediately” applying the new zone to other, similar areas citywide. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D, Greater Greater Washington volunteers, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth testified against the idea. On Tuesday, the Zoning Commission approved the new zone but only mapped it to this one site.
Take note of the second paragraph. It’s one thing for a group of (perhaps) well-intentioned but misguided residents to oppose upzoning in their own backyards, but most of the opposition to this project came from the other side of town (call it NISEBYism, not-in-someone-else’s-backyard).
Finally, in the underdeveloped Adams Morgan neighborhood,
There was more pitched rhetoric swirling around Adams Morgan in the last week as a DC Board of Zoning Adjustment vote neared Wednesday on new housing on 16th Street. The Meridian Center, a nonprofit which educates and connects global leaders, wanted to raise some new funds by building atop what’s now a scrubby green hill with two trees. (The trees will stay.)
This has been a neighborhood controversy for years, with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C, in particular, vehemently and angrily opposing it at every turn. However, DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board gave the okay, and the developer, Westbrook Development Partners, negotiated three legal Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with neighbors, addressing 120 specific neighbor requests and providing a $75,000 bond for the trees.
This is all very good news. One unfortunate feature of all of these victories, however, is that they were not part of a broader deregulatory effort. Rather, these were (literal and figurative) house-to-house fights. Regardless, YIMBYs in the area deserve congratulations and thanks for their efforts.