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  • W3HJ

Ward 3 Housing Justice Advocates Reject Zoning Rule Changes

Tenant, ANC & General Public Participation Restricted DC AG Asks for Racial Impact Analysis

Ward 3 Housing Justice

Release: March 18, 2024

Contact: Gail Sonnemann,, 202-286-0845

Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) condemns and rejects the DC Zoning Commission’s proposal to limit public participation and transparency in its critical land-use/zoning decisions by tenants, ANCs and the general public.  In addition, and perhaps most egregiously, the Commision is refusing to enact mandatory  racial equity analyses for its far-reaching, long-lasting decisions.  Community organizations, DC citizens and the DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb have all recommended that racial impact analyses be required for all  zoning decisions.  

W3HJ’s denunciation of this proposal was submitted to the Commission and the DC Council on Monday.  It is part of W3HJ’s formal comments on proposed rules in ZC Case 22-25 (published in the DC Register). The provisionally approved rules would make DC’s zoning deliberations less racially equitable, less  transparent and less participatory. 

The proposed changes would:

  • Deny advance notice to tenants within 200 feet of a subject property, (only the landlord would be notified), and to previously affected ANCs and government agencies;  

  • Deny notice of  changes to already approved plans;

  • Allow applicants to bypass meeting with ANCs before a case is scheduled and allow OP to file land-use changes (aka ‘map and text amendments’) without notifying ANCs and residents  

Over the  past two years  the Zoning Commission has been particularly resistant to public pressure to stand-up a robust and mandatory Racial Equity analysis.  Racial Equity should be a central goal and a regulatory requirement.  Without this requirement, there will be little progress toward reversing decades of economic and racial displacement and segregated communities.  

Nancy MacWood, Ward 3 Housing Justice member and former Ward 3 ANC commissioner said, “It is not enough for the Zoning Commission to assert that current regulations allow participation, when the regulations do not adequately notify the public about the topic or subject of a proceeding. These rule changes deny access by not informing.”

Margaret Lenzner, also an active W3HJ member and on other affordable housing campaigns, said, “The public has a right to be fully informed and participate in zoning proceedings that affect their communities. The Commission’s responsibility is to evaluate and examine public impacts, benefits, and outcomes.  This must include equity analysis to prevent displacement and promote inclusive, diverse communities. Zoning decisions cannot be deemed legitimate and authentic without a fully informed public participating in all zoning matters and with a regulatory foundation that ensures racial equity as a fundamental zoning purpose.”


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