Category Archives: Issues

Police Harassment

Gendarme: Unconstitutional Displacement

DC’s Attorney General recently said, “Obeying the Constitution is Not Optional” after filing complaints against the “President.”

Perhaps Mr. Racine ought to be on the phone with Police Chief Newsham to discuss training on the rights of Americans to peacefully gather in public spaces when organizing against displacement.

On Monday, June 12, 2017, just a mere couple of weeks after the DC Zoning Commission rubberstamped the approval of a project that will destroy #BrooklandManor, the cops are acting as developer agents to harass and finish off the displacement of existing DC families and residents living in Ward 5.

Of course, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie favors this displacement, as he goes on and on writing letters consistently supporting these projects and the wholesale removal and police harassment of black families from DC.

MLK on War and Poverty

Disperse Poverty! Concentrate Wealth!

DE-CONCENTRATE POVERTY MEANS GETTING RID OF POOR PEOPLE WHILE THEY CONCENTRATE WEALTH IN NEW LUXURY HIGH-RISES

We must de-concentrate poverty.  It’s a refrain we are hearing alot from city officials lately, especially now as East of the River communities are facing the first big swells of the massive gentrification wave heading that way from the westside.

Those screaming for the dispersal of poor communities have usually been the developers, more recently the “smart” growthers, and now City officials are parroting it up on their John A. Wilson dais.

“The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty” — Dr. King, “Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community”, 1967.

But, instead of seeking tools and policies like a guaranteed basic income, or robust job training programs, feeding programs, good quality schooling, and social uplift, the de-concentration of poverty advocated for by the DC’s developer-class and the City Council and Mayor is that of dispersal, i.e. getting rid of the poor by way of streetcar, condos, hotels, stadiums.

The New Communities program, following on from the Hope VI programs, in turn from Urban Renewal is referenced across many Housing and Urban Development documents as “dispersal projects” no matter what new euphemism they want to call them.

Due to the self-selection inherent in voluntary dispersal programs, and to the screening that these programs apply to applicants, participants are likely to be more motivated and possess more human capital than the families that do not participate. Program operatives choose the families they think will succeed, based on these families’ being organized enough to pass home inspections and other steps in the application process. Still, mobility programs typically have a low success rate, because fewer than half the applicants who are accepted are able to lease an apartment. The Reality of Deconcentration, By Edward G. Goetz

Simultaneously, while the city disperses the poor to heed the call to de-concentrate poverty, the DC Zoning Commission, Office of Planning, Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development, alongside Ward level Councilmembers push hard for new projects that have only 8% to 15% “affordable” units in them, and those are usually for singles, not families.

That is, city planners and officials are encouraging, even touting projects that concentrate wealth with 85% of the housing units being built for wealthy single new DC residents.

So, the developer-class wins again with each call from advocate-community and pronouncement by city officials saying we must de-concentrate poverty and rip up generational familial networks with innate powerful neighborhood connections that have grown in some ways to supersede abject poverty through mutual aid and reliance & trust.

The reality is, the development underway in the District is dispersing and displacing poor DC families (the census numbers don’t lie), but consistently concentrating wealthy singles and somehow that is considered good planning in DC.

It’s not, it’s unreasonable and unacceptable.  This purposely poor planning has resulted in DC’s #unRealEstateMarket


Deconcentrating poverty is a smokescreen. It camouflages forced relocation of low-income house-holds. What do we mean when we talk about  deconcentrating poverty? As it has been implemented to date, deconcentration has meant manipulating the spatial arrangement of federally subsidized low-income families to either disperse or dilute poverty. — The Smokescreen of Poverty Deconcentration, by Edward Goetz


 

In their own words . . . opinion by Chris Otten, co-facilitator, DC4RD

 

 

 

 

Office of Planning’s Zoning Rewrong Now Hurting Supporters

ANC 6B, particularly Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg, has championed everything that the Office of Planning has thrown at them, including the DC Zoning Rewrite.

The 2016 approval of the ZRR allows commercial creep into residential areas of DC and weakens the rules making many zoning issues a “matter of right” meaning they don’t need any community feedback or administrative process for approval from the city (many zoning issues also went from the a stricter variance test to the easier special exception request).

Now the ANC is feeling the effects of their forthright push to support the Zoning Rewrite, that is they are fighting the commercial creep that is just starting under the new rules.  See the article below.

‘Party House’ Hearing Before Board of Zoning Takes Place Wednesday

TwilightZoning: Record RubberStamp!

Amazing!  The DC Zoning Commission has hit a new record in approving a Planned Unit Development in a mere 26 minutes (video)!

A twenty-six minute review of a 11-story behemoth in the middle of the historic Shaw neighborhood, despite the precedent setting victory at the highest Court in the District regarding the landmarked McMillan Park showing that the Commission must consider adverse impacts from any major project they are considering.

A record project approval in the face of the people calling out Zoning Commission attorneys for their disregard of fundamental planning impacts like displacement.

Doesn’t matter! The Zoning Commission goes hard and rubberstamps an 11-story Planned Unit Development in the middle of the historic Shaw neighborhood in record time.

Things may be looking up though — the Office of the Attorney General is seeking to hire a land use attorney!

Fire on the Metro

Burn After Reading: Metro, Office of Planning, #ZRR

The ZRR expects more & more residents riding Metro

Over the past several years, DC planning and zoning officials have been reviewing and changing DC’s real estate development rules, a process referred to as the Zoning Regulations Rewrite (ZRR).

The Office of Planning went hard during the #ZRR to amend the zoning code so that the area known as Downtown DC is tripled in size, and where parking requirements are all-together eliminated.

Downtown DC has some of the tallest buildings with most density, driving significant traffic, killing any remaining parking, even in garages, and abusing daily the city’s aging infrastructure, including the recent troublesome time for Metro, a transit system routinely catching on fire.

Back in 2001, WMATA conducted a Metro transit capacity study which had predicted the future, which is now:

Expanding the capacity of the existing Metro system to accommodate a doubling of ridership, which will just maintain its vital market share in the region during the next 25 years, is a prudent and cogent investment. The existing system cost $9.4 billion to construct over a period of thirty years; the $4.5 billion investment in core capacity improvements represents half of that original cost and 20% of the price–more than $22 billion–that would be required to build it today. This investment is in the context of the $246 billion annual economy of the Washington Metropolitan area. The return on investment is compelling: an enhanced and expanded Metro system fully capable of meeting market demand, fostering economic vitality and an enhanced quality of life, meeting the mobility needs of this vibrant region as it continues to grow and providing requisite transit services during times of emergency.

When do the Corporations kick in their fair share?

Using the Zoning Regulations Rewrite process and tapping connections in DC’s planning offices,  “Smart Growth” associated agents, Cheryl Cort and David Alpert, have vociferously called for a zoning amendments wishlist serving DC’s real estate investment community, i.e. the loosening of standards governing parking in DC.

Less parking requirements, they say means less cars on the streets and more people on public transit.  Perhaps this why Metro has reached capacity in many parts of the system.  Yet despite business being good, WMATA’s Metro system is bleeding money.

Part of the reason for increased transit costs is liability.  In recent years Metro has demonstrated a keen ability to roll the razor edge of danger for riders and residents who have witnessed high-profile Metro incidents and accidents as part of the larger DC municipal systems collapse.

It is clear, the Metro system is aging and maxing out, leading to burn out and death.

DC Metro, Fire and Death

Questions:

  • How many more people need to get hurt on Metro, or even die before the City gets serious about regional urban planning?
  • Shouldn’t District planning officials be seeking no-strings attached funding from the corporate world, especially those businesses “downtown” who benefit significantly from workers getting to their jobs through DC’s municipal systems? That is, what’s the 1%’s share of our collective transit burden?
  • Is it because the smart growth community is funded by developer-interests they won’t advocate that developers be required to contribute to infrastructure and transit upgrade costs serving their new luxury hotel, condo, and office projects?

#ZRR

Chapter: 10-A25 of the DC Municipal Regulations was to guide the ZRR process, but the DC Zoning Commission did not evaluate the efficacy of OP’s zoning review.

The Zoning Regulations Rewrite is scheduled to be implemented this September.

Some residents whose concerns like the tripling of “downtown”, inter-alia, were dismissed by OP and ignored during the zoning review process are organizing  to challenge this unacceptably poor planning here in the Nation’s Capitol in the 21st Century.

www.twilightzoning.org

affordabullshit

Affordable for Who? Inclusionary Zoning Must Be Fixed!

The number one priority of the 20-year DC Comprehensive Plan is to preserve and protect inclusive affordability in the City.

—> Take 5 minutes & SEND A NOTE to City officials <—

The implementation of Inclusionary Zoning (IZ), one of DC’s affordable housing programs, was to help meet the goal of inclusivity as DC’s growth machine charges forward driving up housing costs and expenses.

That is, per the IZ rules, when developers construct any new building (over 10 units) — rental or condo — they are required to build residential space dedicated as “affordable” IZ units.

In concept, the IZ requirement is good, but the results since 2009 have been unspectacular due to disengenuous defintions of “affordability” as found within the IZ rules — rules which we must seek to change.

—> Take 5 minutes & SEND A NOTE to City officials <—

Passed as law in 2006, and implemented starting in 2009, IZ largely produces so-called “affordable” housing units set at 80% of the Area Median Income.  The AMI for the DMV area is now $109,000 a year!

This means, if you currently live in the District of Columbia, are single, and make $60,000 a year you can qualify for an “affordable” studio/one-bedroom thanks to the DC Inclusionary Zoning program.

Also, the IZ requirement comes with a big carrot — Bonus Density!

This means developers get to build bigger buildings to create more “market-rate” luxury units to, as they say, “offset” costs associated with the IZ requirement (To compensate developers, they are allowed to build about 20% more luxury or “market-rate” housing).

—> Take 5 minutes & SEND A NOTE to City officials <—

As an example, lets say a developer wants to build a 5-story rental apartment with 100 units made of stick all of equal size. For the developer to fulfill the current mandatory IZ units in this new building, they are required to market only 8 units as “affordable” out of the 100 units constructed, and then they can market these 8 units to singles making 80% of the AMI (those making $60,000 a year).

By this example, you can see how due to disengenuous definitions of “affordability,” DC’s IZ program has mistakenly backfired and instead has directly challeneged the city’s traditional rent metrics for working families ($500 to $1000 rent per month). It’s a case of good intention that has failed reality.

IZ is not currently helping to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in the District.

—> Take 5 minutes & SEND A NOTE to City officials <—

Further, many people have called the current IZ rules “racist & classist”, in that the current IZ rules exempts affordability requirements for Downtown and parts of Georgetown, and other wealthy parts of the City.

We can eliminate Exclusivity & Redefine “AFFORDABILITY” in the District! PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES TO SIGN THE PETITION & SEND A LETTER

Use the easy online at the following link to send in your thoughts about fixing the broken IZ program.

—> Take 5 minutes & SEND A NOTE to City officials <—

 

FALL UP-date: Calendar, Articles & Racism in the District

DC for Reasonable Development FALL UPdate:
Calendar, Articles & Racism in the District

DC for Reasonable Development connects points of information for your mental digest to inspire action in you and your neighbors living and working in the District.

Our updates are seasonal, but our site is full of current resources and information to assist in your desire to not be displaced, ignored, or adversely affected by the influx of developer-corporate capital flowing into the City and drastically changing our collective futures.

The racism we see at the ground-level and on the street is also perpetrated at the highest government levels as well.

Disparate treatment by the cops is mimicked by City zoning officials and the result is the same, racism.

This has got to stop.  Learn more.  Then Act!

Update Topics (with links to data)

Racism in DC (On the streets and in the halls of planning and zoning) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#racism

Affordable Housing (More Housing Needed, Congress Heights, Downtown Exempt from Affordability) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#housing

Food Security (Local DC farm festiva;  Anti-Monsanto) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#food

Municipal Energy Update: Exelon supported by Mayor, Opposed by the People (Keep the pressure on) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#energy

MLK Library Renovation Update (See the plans, meet DCPL’s Director) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#libraries

Transportation Metro
(Bigger DC — Bigger Metro Collapse) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#metro

Social Justice Activities (Save McMillan; Public Banking; Dia De Los Muertos) http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/215#social_justice

—————————————————————————–
RACISM IN DC
On the Street and in DC’s halls of planning

—————————————————————————–

This past week we have seen our young black friend Jason get brutalized by cops who responded to a call from a person who “felt uncomfortable” that him and his friends were getting money from the bank >> http://wjla.com/news/local/lawyer-for-udc-student-handcuffed-on-video-looking-into-civil-rights-violations

Then we found out that business leaders are working with the  Metropolitan Police Dept. and other officials to implement an online app used to largely profile black people in and around Georgetown >> http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mobile-app-groupme-used-to-counter-shoplifting-in-georgetown-accused-of-racial-profiling/

The on the ground profiling and racism follows a pattern with District officials in DC’s planning departments too. 

As it regards the controversial Zoning Regulations Rewrite, several residents, including ANC’s have complained that residents in Georgetown were offered special treatment in working alongside the Office of Planning to customize zoning regulations to protect their community >> http://www.dc4reason.org/zrr/anc/pr/

But, when ANC’s in Ward 5, 7, and 8 asked for similar direct assistance as offered to Georgetown, the Office of Planning told them to wait until the ZRR had passed, effectively nullifying any chance at customizing and protecting their ANC districts from the ZRR.  http://www.twilightzoning.org/wrong

Racism in DC is present from the profiling on the ground by cops and business leaders all the way up to the DC’s planning and zoning officials.  And, the mounting demands for justice is real.

#BlackLivesMatterDMV will be hosting a march against racism and police abuse on October 20, 2015, 7:30pm, be there.  FMI >> https://www.facebook.com/events/185243745143911/

top

—————————————————————————–
ARTICLES & EVENTS
Housing, Food, Energy, Libraries,
Transportation & Social Justice

—————————————————————————–

 


 Housing (Articles & Events)

Even when the DC Government intervenes to help, they pour on the hurt.

In the case of a dilapidated apartment building, DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) helps people move out of an unsafe situation, but then won’t provide any real temporary living options for those DC residents being moved >> http://wjla.com/news/local/evicted-from-unsafe-building-dc-residents-struggle-to-find-affordable-housing

In Ward 8, the Congress Heights Metro properties face development, but at what costs and who benefits >>  http://tinyurl.com/wapo-oct-14-2015-CH

And, in downtown, where housing affordability is at an all-time low, some of the last affordable units at Museum Square are threatened to be displaced as part of a national trend of hatred of the poor and working families >> http://www.afro.com/voucher-expirations-create-housing-insecurity-in-d-c-across-nation/

To stand up for affordable housing in the District, there are several events to mark your calendar by:

* Empower DC — affordable housing advocates — Annual Meeting, This Saturday, October 17, 11AM to 2PM, Union Temple Baptist Church, 1225 W Street, SE.  http://tinyurl.com/empower-dc-annual-mtg-2015

* The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is to host two public input events and release an online survey for residents to express affordable housing and community development needs in DC. First one to be held, Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library, 1630 7th Street, NW in the large meeting room, FMI >> http://dhcd.dc.gov/service/dc-draft-fy-2016-2020-consolidated-plan

* The Campaign for Inclusionary Zoning invites the public to learn how we can help make Inclusionary Zoning better serve the people it was intended to help. Be at the meeting to discuss, Thursday, October 22, 2015, 9:30–11:30am at DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI), 820 First St NE #510, Washington, DC 20002.  There are specific ways to make IZ work >> http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/179

top

Food Security Events

Here in the District, while baseball and basketball stadiums steal the show, and steal our city monies, many DC youth still go to bed hungry on any given night.

There are two events coming up to work on Food justice issues this weekend:

* Local District farmers proving lots of healthy food
can be produced relatively inexpensively within the District.  The Three Part Harmony Farm team invite you to their Fall Farm Festival, 10AM to 4PM at 3104 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20017 (close to the Brookland Metro Stop on the Red Line), FMI >> https://www.facebook.com/events/1471814903124592/

* Join the Food Justice Coalition as we go to Washington, DC to fight the DARK Act! Friday will be a day of Senate lobbying followed by a March around DC and Saturday will be the Food Justice Rally at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol with speakers beginning at noon. FMI >> https://www.facebook.com/events/582976311808973/

top

Energy Access & Justice

It would appear the Mayor and other officials, including DC’s first-elected Attorney General, Karl Racine, as well as many business and social leaders are trying to work around the decision by DC’s Public Service Commission to oppose the Exelon-Pepco Merger >> http://dcist.com/2015/10/heres_what_people_are_saying_about.php

It is clear that Exelon is looking to leverage DC’s Pepco assets and financials, those of OUR energy provider, to balance THEIR failing nationwide nuclear-based energy gamble.

If you oppose this bad deal, DC SUN is asking you write a letter to City officials asap >> http://www.powerdc.org/take-action.html

top

DC’s Libraries

DC’s central public library, our King Memorial Library is being renovated >> http://dclibrary.org/MLKfuture

Join the MLK Library Friends and come hear about the plans for the future of MLK Library, provide your feedback, and engage with the Director of the Library, Rich Reyes-Gavilan.  This coming Tuesday, October 20, 2015, starting at 6:30pm at the MLK Library, 901 G Street, NW.  FMI >> http://www.mlklibraryfriends.org/

top


Metro Transportation

As the DC Zoning Regulations Rewrite (ZRR) looks to triple the area of “Downtown DC,” the transportation capacities of Downtown have not been evaluated by City planners >> http://dczoning.blogspot.com/2014/03/downtown-thats-where-action-is.html

In fact, while DC’s Office of Planning and Zoning officials want to go big with DC, including a bigger downtown, with bigger crowds, bigger offices, bigger cafés, bigger toilets, and bigger transportation demand — simultaneously Metro is struggling to keep up with current levels of action, threatening increased fares and service cuts Downtown and around the City.

See these articles:

It seems the City planners want to ignore Metro’s woes in their attempt to appease the corporate developers who want to squeeze as much profit from every corner of DC, without having to look under the rug, or in this case the street to determine if DC’s ageing infrastructure and transportation modalities can keep up with their incessant greed.

And, then there’s this, Study Says DC Most At Risk of Water Shortage” >> http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/05/15/study-says-dcs-water-is-at-risk-of-drying-up/

top


Social Justice Activities

Rounding out this Fall update are a slew of upcoming events to make sure you are a part of:

* SAVE MCMILLAN PARK — Pack the hearing room on October 26, 2015 if you oppose the privatization and demolition of one of DC’s first integrated-spaces and 25 acres of historic public land.  FMI >> http://dccouncil.us/events/committee-of-the-whole-public-hearing

* PUBLIC BANKING — If you like the idea of the people of the District controlling their future through direct fiscal responsibility and democratic decision-making, then be at the Goethe Institute next Wednesday night >> https://www.facebook.com/events/836405599811113/

* OCT 30 — Quetzal: Día de los Muertos Concert (free!) >> https://www.facebook.com/events/695075803970014/

top

—————————————————————————–
OTHER ARTICLES OF IMPORT
—————————————————————————–

* District officials violating law on language access, lawsuit says –https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/district-officials-violating-law-on-language-access-lawsuit-says/2015/10/06/9e5c578e-6c3f-11e5-aa5b-f78a98956699_story.html

* Never mind the hipsters. It’s the property developers who are ruining our cities — http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/28/hipsters-property-developers-gentrification-cereal-killer-cafe

* 6 imaginative new ways America has found to punish its poor  — http://www.salon.com/2015/08/18/6_inventive_new_strategies_republicans_have_developed_to_punish_the_poor_partner/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

* POLL: What Should the RFK Stadium Campus Have in the Future? https://www.hillnow.com/2015/09/29/poll-what-should-the-rfk-stadium-campus-have-in-the-future/

* Taxes Will Fund 90 Percent of Wizards Practice Site — http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/looselips/2015/09/15/taxes-will-fund-90-percent-of-wizards-practice-site/

* The Continuing Legacy of Theresa Howe Joneshttp://husln4.com/2014/11/26/the-legacy-of-theresa-howe-jones/

* California citrus farmers pull up trees, dig reservoirs to survive drought — http://news.yahoo.com/california-citrus-farmers-pull-trees-dig-reservoirs-survive-130944199.html




Missing-you DC, Summer Update

Missing-you DC, Summer Update [edited June 15, 2015]

It’s been two months since our last update.    We don’t like bombarding you, but we’ve been a little too quiet.  It’s got to be a loud summer if the people of DC want to preserve and protect the culture, people, history, and public interest of our City.

————
Menu:

1) CITY BUDGETING – LAST VOTE JUNE 30
2) SPOTLIGHT ON OUR MCMILLAN PARK
3) DCRA & CONSTRUCTION IMPACTS
4) ZONING REGULATIONS REWRITE DROPS
5) IMPORTANT ARTICLES
6) UPCOMING EVENTS

————

1) CITY BUDGETING – LAST VOTE JUNE 30th

The main thing that has occurred since DC4RD’s last update has been the City’s budget discussions.

Mayor Bowser submitted her budget to the Council in early May.   The Council has since approved the spending numbers, largely unchanged.

A good analysis of the budget came by way of Justice First, located here in the District >> http://justicefirst.nationbuilder.com/analyzing_mayor_bowser_s_fy16_budget

The voting on our budget isn’t over. 

On June 30th, the DC Council will vote on a bill that informs the Mayor on how to specifically spend or funnel some of the City’s budget allocations.  It’s called the FY2016 Budget Support Act.  DC’s Chief Financial Office summarizes the key components of the BSA here >> http://tinyurl.com/cfo-fy2016-bsa

DC for Reasonable Development working with the Citywide Friends of McMillan Park invite you to join us in asking the Council to include language that defunds the demolition of the park until a full inquiry can happen as to the ethical and planning breakdowns that surround this humongous public land giveaway.

There are two ways to use this last budget vote to protect McMillan now:

  • Put on your calendar to attend the last Council session on the FY 2016 Budget Support Act next Tuesday, June 30th, and demonstrate why McMillan is so important to save from destruction and the clutches of privateers.   We will meet at the Wilson Building, outside of Room 500 at 11am, Tuesday, June 30th.  RSVP, Chris O., 202-810-2768, dc4reality@gmail.com
  • Please send a letter to the Council today regarding McMillan, particularly to CM Elissa Silverman who campaigned on a platform declining corporate contributions so she can objectively review the City’s land deals, like McMillan >> http://www.dcfeedback.com/mcmillan/letter

 

2) SPOTLIGHT ON OUR MCMILLAN PARK

The Save McMillan Action Coalition has found and announced some truly disturbing features of the McMillan Park scandal, for instance:

* The City has paid for a private PR firm to “neutralize” public opposition to the McMillan giveaway, and to give “cover” to elected-officials about this bad deal;

* $500,000 District dollars has been spent on legal services from Holland and Knight, a premier private zoning law firm to push the McMillan land deal forward;  And,

* Most recently, it has come to light that the City will be paying more than $75 million to destroy McMillan and prepare it for private development, but only get $27 million dollars to sell the land to the private developers.  The DC Tax Office has evaluated our 25-acres of public space about 1 mile from the Capitol at about $100 million dollars.  We believe the land after it is privatized and developed will be worth beyond $2 billion.

* And, the City will be paying for the so-called amenities at the site, like the recreation center, and public right-of-ways.  These are amenities that are supposed to be paid for by the developers in return for sweetheart deals.

There are many activities around McMillan Park to help you engage on this critical public land deal and to expose the ethical lapses verging on fraud in our City politic.  See this page >>  https://www.facebook.com/dc4reality

3) DCRA & CONSTRUCTION IMPACTS

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is the City agency charged with reviewing building permit applications and ultimately ensuring that construction is safely done in the District >> http://dcra.dc.gov/

It would seem DCRA has fallen down on their job, bigtime.

DCRA officials have ignored pleas from residents to protect their neighborhoods (https://www.facebook.com/stopthepopdc), and continues to issue permits with lackadaisical oversight (http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/DC-Orders-Brand-New-Condo-Building-Torn-Down-Citing-Dangers-to-Water-System-302480421.html), and blows off residents who are hurt by impatient and unsafe construction practices (http://www.wjla.com/articles/2015/05/southeast-neighborhood-blames-breathing-problems-on-nearby-demolition-fights-d-c-housing-authority–.html).

Interim DCRA director, Melinda Bolling, awaits confirmation from the DC City Council and there is a public roundtable scheduled to hear your comments this week on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 500 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. 

BE THERE — Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to testify at the public roundtable are asked to contact Ms. Faye Caldwell, Special Assistant to the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, at (202) 727-6683, or via e-mail at fcaldwell@dccouncil.us

DCRA has been told to keep issuing the permits to overdevelop at all costs, and simultaneously continues to ignore the lurking issue of DC’s very real infrastructure collapse >> http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/category/updates#up3

4) ZONING REGULATIONS REWRITE DROPS

The highly controversial Zoning Regulations Rewrite has been dropped into the DC Register, and conveniently the Office of Zoning and Planning has ensured the public only has the summer while we are vacationing with our families to review the 1000 pages of changes >> http://www.dcoz.dc.gov/ZRR/ZRR.shtm

ANC’s are being asked to resubmit their prior ANC resolutions about the ZRR.

The bottom-line is that these zoning regulations have been found to be arbitrary and capricious by many people, including lawyers and its one-size-fits-all philosophy is not based on any meaningful studies or jurisdictional reports.  It’s all a gamble with the future of our City.  For more details of its impacts and lack of due process see this blog >>  http://dczoning.blogspot.com/

Check out the archive of the terrible process of review and how the Office of Planning has rankled people across the City >>
http://dcfeedback.com/zoningchanges/venus/press.php

Listen for more information and ask your ANC’s to weigh in soon!

5) IMPORTANT ARTICLES



6) UPCOMING EVENTS

 

  • Our RFP — Parcel 42, Saturday June 13, 10:00am
    The Mayor wants to try out her new RFP process regarding public land deals, starting with Parcel 42.  If this RFP process is anything like Hine School or the West End deals, then the taxpayer will be paying for the costs of amenities and privatizing the land. So be there this Saturday to witness more semantic word play and call it out!  FMI: http://dmped.dc.gov/OURRFP_Parcel42
 
  • Support EmpowerDC, June 15th
    Donate to an amazing grassroots organization fighting to protect the residents of the historic Barry Farm community in Ward 8.  They need your help to keep 400 families from being displaced by DCHA into homelessness.Link >> http://www.empowerdc.org/index.php?page=donate
 
  • DC Ferguson, June 16th, 7:00pm
    WHAT: DCFerguson Movement protest against racist, militarized policing in Washington, D.C. and across the nation.
    WHEN: June 16, 7:00PM
    WHERE: Mt. Vernon Sq.
    FMI: https://www.facebook.com/events/865978560116129/
 
  • The Marriot Marquis Coverup, June 19th, 10am
    http://www.onedconline.org/juneteenth?utm_campaign=juneteenth

    Location: United Black Fund, 2500 MLK Jr Ave SE.
    The City spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a hotel, and got a paltry number of jobs for locals in return.  Be there at OneDC’s press conference which will expose this TIF sham.
  • Hipster Fascism Art Opening, June 20th
    The Fridge opening Reception Saturday,  June 20, 6 – 11pm, free and open to the public >> http://www.thefridgedc.com/

More Affordability in 2015 :: Rulemaking to Address DC’s Housing Crisis

Inter-related post :: REDEFINING “AFFORDABILITY” & MORE PRODUCTION

The issue: Housing in DC, “Affordable” for who?

The definition of “affordable housing” vis-a-vis the DC Municipal Regulations, and governing DC Code, is significantly askew, the results of which benefit only a fraction of DC’s longtime families and residents who need affordable housing, and who need it now.

DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Inclusionary Zoning Program, Webpage >> www.dcaffordability.com

First, the term “affordable” must be uniformly defined across all applicable DC regulations, including the zoning regulations.

The DC Office of Planning has stated their staff has been working on the Zoning Regulations Rewrite (ZRR) for more than six years, during which the crisis in housing was rising dramatically in the District. Despite the housing alarm bells going off, it is surprising that of the 1000+ pages of changes being proposed in the ZRR by OP, none of the changes directly contend with “affordability’ and production of IZ units. And, the Office of Planning has not yet moved to redefine the definition of “affordable” unit. This signals a complete and utter failure of current planning officials to contend with the number one crisis in the District right now, the lack of affordable housing.


The Definition of Affordability is Currently Based on the Area Median Income (AMI) Metric

Planning officials in the District believe that the Federal HUD funding for DC’s “affordable” housing can only be based on an Area Median Income (AMI) metric (which includes Fairfax and Montgomery Counties), versus using the DC “State” Median Income metric.

DC4RD cannot find a citation showing that DC must use the AMI, and not the DC-only income metric. Neither the Zoning Commission nor the Office of Planning staffers have offered any citations demonstrating that DC’s applicable income metric for IZ and affordable units must be the Area-Media Income metric. And, at least one zoning commissioner has declared it unfair.

Zoning Commission Case #08-06a (ZRR) Transcript dated, November 19, 2013, page 148 to 149. ZONING COMMISSIONER MARCIE COHEN  “… the issue of using a metropolitan statistical area for housing income levels, it’s a federal issue,” an issue which “…discriminate[s] against inner cities.”

In response to the Commissioner Cohen, ANC Commissioner Renee Bowser,  emphasized how, “… important [it is] to really reduce the 50 and 80 percent [AMI levels],” so that the City gives, “…subsidies to a working-class person that really needs it, someone that makes — for example — the minimum wage.”

Cohen told Bowser, “I don’t disagree with you.”

So just for the sake of argument only, assuming that HUD funding requires DC’s housing to be tied to an AMI metric, we can offer solutions through revisions to the regulatory rules that govern IZ and affordable units which will provide significant impact assistance for our most vulnerable residents in the District.

And, all applicable DC affordable housing regulations must change to reflect much higher required levels of affordable housing production, and ensure units are sized for families, and available for all residents living at incomes across a spectrum of affordability.


Production of More Affordable Units Needed

In DC, developers are currently required to include 8% to 10% of the just the residential gross floor area in new buildings, not calculating any of the commercial space, must be “affordable” units. See 11-DCMR-2600.

As a added bonus, the City allows the developer to build taller and denser buildings with even more “market-rate” units.  See DCMR 11-2603 — IZ Bonus Density.

If developers get a bonus density, then DC really ought to truly create more deeply affordable housing units for many more DC residents.

DC planning officials must move the bar up on required affordability production levels in order to meaningfully contend with our local severe affordable housing crisis.

Also, consider this, as of right now an individual making more than $60,000/yr can qualify for a developer’s new “affordable” studio/one-bedroom unit, set at about $1500 a month in rent.

Given DC’s current regulations and definitions regarding “affordability,” one can better understand why average DC rents nearly match that of NYC, with absolutely no units available in the market for less than $800 a month.

Washington Post, DC Politics Section, dated March 12, 2015, by Aaron C. Davis, “Study: No inexpensive housing is left on open market in D.C.” — The report concludes that, “… the nation’s capital has almost no apartments left on the open market that rent for less than $800 a month. The number of such units nearly matches the city’s stock of public and heavily subsidized housing, the institute found, meaning that, in effect, only those receiving public assistance are renting for less than $800 a month.”

It is DC’s Office of Planning (OP) who has decided set the bar so low for actual production of affordable units and allowed the eligible-income targeting to be so high, and thus OP’s planners have set a tone for the future of housing, and who gets to live in our City.

DC could really become a sad city without economic and cultural diversity, without the poor, and without working families.

The City planners tone has been sour and derisive as seen in the results of failed development concepts, like New Communities or Hope VI, which have permanently displaced thousands of low-income DC families and longtime residents.

Washington City Paper, Housing Complex, dated September 9, 2014, by Aaron Weiner, “Report: D.C. Should Redevelop Public Housing Without Replacing Units First” — The failed New Communities program has only produced, “… 1,070 housing units that are either complete or under construction,” however, “…a quarter of these are market-rate units and half are affordable units for moderately low-income households, rather than the heavily subsidized units intended to replace the public housing being demolished.”

We are connecting the dots that displacement of large tracts of affordable housing is demonstrated in the surging levels of homelessness.


Case Study in Bad Planning & Displacement: Barry Farm, Ward 8

The City’s bad planning continues to uproot our peoples. Take for instance, the Barry Farm community in Ward 8.

Recently, OP’s officials, expressed strong support for DC Housing Authority’s (DCHA) application to the DC Zoning Commission to tear down the existing community at Barry Farm.6

Barry Farm is public housing serving 400+ families with three-, four-, and six-bedroom truly affordable housing units. DCHA is using a lack of on-going maintenance, of this public property, as an excuse to demolish all of it.

Barry Farm is land directly relevant to the oppression and freedom represented by enslavement of humanity in the United States of America.7 It cannot simply be discarded at the whims of unaccountable “planners” and commissioners.

DCHA’s says that in as many as five or more years, a new humongous suburban-style mixed-use projecting is proposed to be built at Barry Farm, largely consisting of market-rate studio & one-bedroom units and some mixed-use commercial left to be discussed publicly in a collaborative way. And, 20+ acres of public land would be privatized, giving away our land for almost no money and challenging our Constitutional rights, among other problems.

What all of this means, is that if a BF family is displaced from the many current three-, four, and six-bedroom units now at Barry Farm, they won’t be able to move back to the smaller sized new “affordable” units after the proposed multi-year construction project is complete.

This would seem to suggest a fundamental planning miscalculation, whereby planning officials are not prioritizing the future of the people who live here now. Instead these planning officials are threatening our neighbors and longtime District families with permanent displacement from their home, an historic site for African-Americans that live there and otherwise.

This is gross malfeasance on its face across all City agencies involved in the project — OP, DMPED, DCHA, DHCD, in that order.

So after reading all this, do you think DC’s current rules and definitions of “affordability” actually helps the people we are struggling to help? If the answer for you is no, please consider the following solutions:

SEE :: Fresh Start Solutions for the DC Housing Crisis :: REDEFINING “AFFORDABILITY” & MORE PRODUCTION

 

 

[penned by Chris Otten for DC for Reasonable Development]

Fresh Start Solutions for the DC Housing Crisis :: REDEFINING “AFFORDABILITY

DC is in the depths of a major affordable housing crisis!

View more “affordable” housing information here:
http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/168
http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/179

In order to assist thousands of families and residents who need housing right now, we can and must redefine the term “Affordability” across all applicable DC Regulations, including — DC’s Zoning Regulations, DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund Regulations, DHCD’s IZ Implementation Regulations, as well as DC Code.

See DC’s Zoning Code dedicated to Inclusionary Zoning.

 


I) We Must Guarantee a Spectrum of Affordability in All New and Renovated Buildings

If “affordability” in DC absolutely cannot be based on the DC’s State Median Income metric, and we must use the inflated Area Medium Income (AMI) metric, then the definitions of income levels and affordability should simply be revised as follows.

Strike the current definitions of income levels across all applicable regulations and amend all regulations as following:

IZ AMENDMENT (AFFORDABILTY: TABLE 1)

  • 0% to 10% AMI = “Extremely Low-Income” housing [LOW INCOME]
  • 10% to 20% AMI = “Very Low-Income” housing [LOW INCOME]
  • 20% to 30% AMI = “Low Income” housing [LOW INCOME]
  • 30% to 50% AMI = “Low to Moderate Income” housing [MODERATE INCOME]
  • 50% to 80% AMI = “Middle Income” housing [WORKFORCE]

An “affordable unit” (housing or commercial) means that the occupant(s) pay no more than one-quarter of their annual income or annual gross sales receipts on their housing or commercial costs, either as in rent, or as a housing mortgage and other ownership fees.

Redefining the terms about “affordability” as shown above ensures housing is built with a genuine mix of incomes and diversity, purposely planned as part of each new construction or renovation project in every neighborhood around the City.

Developers will have to simply calculate into their costs the citizens rightful demand to build an inclusive City that emphasizes the importance of diversity per the DC Comprehensive Plan.


II) We Must Increase “Affordable” Housing Production for Families
(a) Increase Production of “Affordable” Units
(b) Build “Affordability” Across a Spectrum of Incomes
(c) Build “Affordable” Units to be Inclusive of Families


(II)(a) Increase Production of Affordable Units

In the midst of an affordable housing crisis, DC’s “inclusionary housing” production is rather poor, with only 8% to 10% of the gross floor area of residential space required to be “affordable” in new buildings, depending on the construction type (stick vs. steel frame).

SEE DCMR 11-2603 — IZ Set Aside Requirements

Also, right now all affordable housing requirements are waived for projects located in “Downtown” DC. See 11-DCMR-2602.3.

To increase production of affordable units, we must revise the rules that regulate “affordability” production.

IZ AMENDMENT

For any new construction project, or renovation of a property that results in the creation of six (6) or less housing units, then the following rule applies:

At least one “affordable” unit consisting of at least two bedrooms, shall be constructed and made available to residents, or families with incomes set at 30% AMI or below (aka “Low Income” housing as defined above).

IZ AMENDMENT (AFFORDABILTY: TABLE 2)

For any new construction project, or renovation of a property that results in the creation of seven (7) or more housing units, then the following rules apply:

  • At least __25___ % of the residential gross floor area (R-GFA) shall be considered “affordable” in order for the developer to receive an added development bonus density at the rates currently offered in the regulations;
    Or, developers can choose to dedicate a minimum of __20__% of the residential gross floor (R-GFA) area as “affordable,” but then may not receive any development bonus density.
    And, at least 25% of commercial gross floor area (C-GFA) shall be considered “affordable” and reserved for local small business operators who make, or expect to make less than $250,000 in gross annual sales receipts.
  • All of the affordability production requirements slated above shall be applied equally to all zoning districts across the entire City, including Downtown DC;
  • And, all the R-GFA dedicated to “affordable” units produced by the requirements above will remain permanently affordable for the life of the project.

(II)(b) Build Affordable Units Across a Spectrum of Incomes

Right now, DC’s regulations allow developers to choose to market their “affordable” units to people making the 80% AMI income of $60,000 a year.

As such, this means a developer can rent/sell their “affordable” studio/one-bedrooms to wealthy singles who are comfortable forking over $1,500 a month for their housing costs, either as rent or as a mortgage & fees.

This is why DC’s regulations, as currently written, are not serving to mitigate our severe housing crisis which has been in full-on displacement mode.

Revisions to the DC Municipal regulations must require the developer to ensure that their “affordable” housing units are available across a spectrum of incomes and bedroom-sizes.

IZ AMENDMENT (AFFORDABILTY: TABLE 3)

Using the re-definitions demonstrated above in Table (1) above, we can revise all relevant affordability regulations as follows:

  • At least 20% of the residential gross floor area (R-GFA) of a new project must be dedicated as “Extremely Low Income” housing;
  • At least 20% of the R-GFA must be dedicated to “Very Low Income” housing or for incomes below;
  • At least 20% of the R-GFA be dedicated to “Low Income” housing or for incomes below;
  • At maximum, 40% of the R-GFA may be dedicated to “Low to Moderate Income” housing;

(II)(c) Build Affordable Units to be inclusive of Families

Right now, DC regulations force a developer to build “affordable” unit sizes at the same ratio of bedroom sizes as that of the market-rate units.

See 11-DCMR-2605.02, Development Standards – The proportion of studio, efficiency, and one-bedroom inclusionary units to all inclusionary units shall not exceed the proportion of market-rate studio, efficiency, and one-bedroom units to all market-rate units.

That is to say, if most of the market rate units are studios/one-bedrooms, which most developers target to build in new buildings, then the affordable units can only be studios/one-bedrooms.

Hence, there are no new “affordable” units being built for families in DC right now, nary an “affordable” unit with two-bedrooms.

IZ AMENDMENT: (AFFORDABILTY: TABLE 4)

DC must revise the regulations across the board to guarantee family sized “affordable” units are incorporated in all new projects and renovations, as follows:

  • At maximum, 10% of the “affordable” R-GFA may consist of studio/one-bedroom units;
  • At maximum, 20% of the “affordable” R-GFA may consist of two-bedroom units;
  • At maximum, 25% of the “affordable” R-GFA may consist of three-bedroom units;
  • And, at minimum, 45% of the “affordable” R-GFA shall consist of four-bedroom units or bigger;
  • Further, if the development density bonus is being sought for the project, then at least one (1), five or six-bedroom unit shall be incorporated into the “affordable” residential mix — to serve extended families — no matter the “affordable” R-GFA ratio.

Conclusion

The revisions found in the aforementioned Table (1), Table (2), Table (3), and Table (4), taken together would ensure that when politicians and developers tout how much affordable housing they are building, we know they are talking about truly affordable housing across a spectrum of income levels.

The above suggested amendments and re-definitions of “affordability” would immediately open up access to many family-sized housing units which would be truly affordable, and mitigate parts of DC’s troubling housing crisis.

If the above suggested amendments to IZ are adopted, this stroke of the pen would represent immediate assistance to thousands of longtime DC families who are struggling to keep pace with DC’s soaring housing costs.


View more “affordable” housing information here:
http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/168
http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/179