Washington, DC Undertaking Significant Land Use Planning Studies

2 min

The District of Columbia is making progress on a series of significant land use planning efforts.

The most notable of these involves proposed amendments to the District's Comprehensive Plan, which is the primary policy framework for the future planning and development of Washington, DC. The Comprehensive Plan sets forth guidance for such topics as land use, economic development, housing, environmental protection, historic preservation, and transportation. While the Comprehensive Plan is a policy document that does not carry the force of law, its recommendations are extremely influential in the District's management of growth and development.

Over the course of the past four years, the District Office of Planning has been coordinating an extensive public engagement process to formulate and refine the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments. This effort took a major step forward in November 2020, as the City Council held two public hearings to deliberate over the draft Comprehensive Plan. The November hearings ended without the Council taking action on the draft Comprehensive Plan, as Council members expressed a need for more time to review the document. The City Council is tentatively planning to revisit the Comprehensive Plan in early 2021. However, some stakeholders are concerned that the public process will continue to drag on well into the future.

In December, the Office of Planning also announced the commencement of five new community planning initiatives for various locations across the District. These initiatives will complement the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan by establishing more targeted planning guidance for smaller, defined geographic areas. The five new community planning initiatives include:

  • Congress Heights Small Area Plan
  • Pennsylvania Avenue SE Small Area Plan
  • Southwest Resilience Strategy
  • Chevy Chase/Upper NW Small Area Plan
  • North Capital Crossroads

The Office of Planning is moving ahead quickly with these studies. In fact, the first virtual town hall meeting for the Congress Heights Small Area Plan has already been conducted. It is expected that work on the remaining community planning initiatives will commence in 2021.

If you have any questions about these planning efforts or would like to get involved, please contact Zachary Williams, Matthew Allman, or another member of Venable's Zoning and Land Use Practice Group.