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  • NWOP CDC

NWOP to Zoning Commission: Abandon Weak Proposed Rules

TO: Chairman Hood and Zoning Commissioners

DC Zoning Commission

Office of Zoning

441 4th St., NW – Suite 200

Washington, DC 20001

FROM: Meg Maguire, Chair, NWOP CDC


SUBJECT: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Case #22-25


The District of Columbia is on the cusp of a development boom. From Friendship Heights to

Congress Heights, mixed-use residential projects are under construction.


At the same time, the Case #22-25 of the Zoning Commission (ZC), a public agency with public

responsibilities, is on the cusp of fear-based development rules to limit public information, public engagement and public confidence in the development process -- fear that if tenants, neighbors and ANCs are informed about projects affecting their communities they will ask hard questions; fear that public engagement might lead to delays; and fear that developers will object to being held accountable for real – not rhetorical – racial equity in their projects.


NWOP CDC is devoted to expanding affordable housing and economic development

opportunities for Black- and Brown- owned businesses in Ward 3. Toward that end, we worked

with ANC3E to achieve additional public benefits in the Federal Realty PUD agreement for

redevelopment of 5333 Wisconsin Ave. (attachment of text included below) as a positive step

towards achieving racial equity. But with the new proposed rules, how can anyone be sure that

this agreement will be carried out as the project progresses? Does the ZC really expect those who negotiate PUD benefit agreements to read the DC Register every day to monitor what may be taking place behind closed doors? The ZC is placing an absurd burden on residents and our

locally elected ANCs by abdicating your responsibility to inform and engage the public.


We ask you to protect all PUD benefits negotiated to date so that they are not subject to any new

notification rules and cannot be changed without further timely notice and negotiation. In an age

of mass communications, the burden of providing easy access to zoning information is on you, the Zoning Commission, not on your constituents.


This is exactly the wrong time for zoning to become more opaque. The recently released

Wisconsin Ave. Development Framework sets the table for massive upzoning along this corridor.

What will be served on this table is very much in question and subject to negotiation. Our

organization is dedicated to the proposition that if you work in Ward 3 you should be able to live

in Ward 3. But the Framework fails to address the gap between IZ eligible residents earning 60-

80% MFI and those who earn 50% MFI and below who do not qualify for IZ: grocery workers,

cashiers, home health and personal care aides, child-care workers, teaching assistants, security

guards, school bus drivers, lab technicians, cooks, barbers, clergy and many more people who

work in Ward 3 but cannot afford to live in Ward 3.


Clearly, if there are to be new housing models with deeper affordability to address this gap, a

great deal of negotiation with developers will be required. Will such community benefits be

subject to change without specific notice to advocates and the ANC that worked so hard to

negotiate them? Shouldn’t the ZC incentivize ANCs, the community and the developers to work

together to create a visionary mix of rental, ownership, social housing, subsidized housing and

other community benefits that address housing and racial equity goals set out both in the

Comprehensive Plan and articulated by Mayor Bowser?


The ZC’s proposed rules open the door for developers to say one thing and deliver something

else, eviscerating transparency, community engagement and racial equity. The Office of the

Attorney General has challenged much of what the the Office of Planning and the ZC propose,

but to date you have adopted few of their excellent recommendations.


It is not too late to abandon Case #22-25 that will fuel the wide-spread suspicion that zoning is

rigged in favor of developers and that the Zoning Commission prefers to operate in the shadows.


*******************

Attachment

5333 Wisconsin Ave., NW

PUD Proffer re. Minority & Women Owned Businesses

January 19, 2023


PROFFER: Local-, Minority-, Women-Owned, and Inclusive Retailers. During the initial retail

lease-up and until all of the retail space is leased, the Applicant will make commercially

reasonably efforts to market to local-, minority- and / or women-owned businesses as retail

tenants in the Project and will reach out to the relevant identified organizations to accomplish this. The Applicant will offer at least $40 per square foot of gross leasable area in tenant improvement allowance for any such businesses with whom the Developer enters into a market-rate retail lease.


CONDITION: 15.Local-, Minority-, Women-Owned, and Inclusive Retailers. During the initial

retail lease-up and until all of the retail space is leased, the Applicant shall make commercially

reasonably efforts to market to local-, minority- and / or women-owned businesses as retail

tenants in the Project and shall reach out to the Greater Washington DC Black Chamber of

Commerce, the DC Small Business Development Center, the Washington DC Women’s Business

Center, and the DC Developmental Disabilities Council. The Applicant shall offer at least $40 per

square foot of gross leasable area in tenant improvement allowance for any local-minority-,

women-owned and/or inclusive businesses with whom the Applicant enters into a market-rate

retail lease. Such tenant improvement allowance may be in the form of a direct payment, buildout cost, or some combination of the two.

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Contact: Gail Sonnemann, gsonnemann@gmail.com, 202-286-0845 To: District of Columbia Zoning Commission Office of Zoning 441 4th Street NW #200 Washington, DC 20001 Subject: Notice of Proposed Rulemaki

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