In mid-2017, a group of Cleveland Park residents answered the city’s call for amendments to Washington’s Comprehensive Plan, the land use law that underpins zoning and future growth priorities. The issue, the residents believed, was that our commercial corridor along Connecticut Avenue was underutilized, and that was having a negative impact on retailers. The retail sector, which has been transformed nationally by the disruption of online shopping, was being especially hard hit in Northwest D.C. commercial areas like Cleveland Park due to the rise of new commercial attractions in parts of the city experiencing growth.
The residents proposed amending the Future Land Use Map for Cleveland Park to allow for more density, both commercial and residential. The idea was to invite investment that could build up our one-story retail to include mixed use developments, adding office and residences to contribute to a more vibrant economic environment throughout the day and night.
The group invited members of the community to read their plan and take a survey to gauge community support for their idea. Support for the increase in density was overwhelming at 81.9% of the 579 residents that participated. The amendment was submitted in June 2017 and logged as #2123, and was accompanied by a petition in support signed by 324 people.
There are, of course, other good reasons to support increased density in this area in addition to commercial revitalization:
- Adding housing in a neighborhood with good transit, good parks, and good schools offsets the demand for new housing in neighborhoods facing displacement;
- Density housing near transit reduce car trips and is good for the planet;
- Dense housing allows the inclusion of permanent affordable housing to be built, something on which this area has woefully under performed.
On October 15, 2019, the Office of Planning released its proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan for a period of public comment which we are now in. Among the changes OP proposed was Amendment 2123, modified to also include High Density Residential along with Moderate Density Commercial, for the Cleveland Park commercial area along Connecticut Ave from Macomb St to Porter St.
The group of residents who sponsored this plan, along with the area residents that signed on to it became what is today Cleveland Park Smart Growth (CPSG), a grassroots movement of nearly 500 residents supporting the advancement of urbanist policies in our neighborhood.
In an effort to check in with members of CPSG to see if there was still support for increased density, including the High Density Residential provision added by OP, the group set out to survey its members from November 12-18. Ninety-six CPSG members responded and support for the plan was at 97%, with 79% supporting it strongly.
This proposal still has a long way to go before becoming law. ANC 3C has the opportunity to weigh in through January – it is unclear if they will take any action either supporting or opposing it. Once public review has completed, the plan then must be formally submitted by OP to the D.C. Council, which will then have the opportunity to amend, approve or reject the proposals. A final vote is expected in late 2020.
Along this path, the public will have opportunities to weigh in and have their voices heard, and CPSG will be letting people know what meetings need people to attend, and when and to whom to send emails.
Thursday November 21
This Thursday, November 21, is one of those days where people showing up can make a difference. Planning Director Andrew Trueblood and Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh will be in Cleveland Park to discuss and hear community feedback on the Comprehensive Plan proposals. The event is hosted by the CPCA and kicks off at 6:15pm at the Cleveland Park Library. Here is the agenda: