Response to ANC 4A’s Comprehensive Plan Comments

In my post yesterday on the ANC 4A December meeting, I described the Commission’s discussion on the DC Comprehensive Plan and the package of comments it will be submitting to the Mayor and the DC Office of Planning.  In general, the Commission’s comments take a very conservative approach and lean heavily in favor of maintaining restrictive single family residential, low density zoning throughout most of our upper Ward 4 neighborhoods.

I offered some editorial comments that pushed back against that concept and looked for ways include opportunities for additional mixed-use development in our area.

I received several responses to this post, including one from a group of concerned Ward 4 residents.  They say:

While there are certainly many [Ward 4] residents who favor cars and low-density zoning, there are also many residents who believe we have an important role to play in building a more equitable and sustainable city.  The Commission’s comments fail to reflect that diversity of views in the neighborhood, which is why we are focusing on submitting a separate comment through the public review process.

The group’s full comments are posted below for your review and consideration.

The bottom line is that while we may not always agree with each other, we can work together to create a more inclusive community that is welcoming and affordable to all.

Bonus Coverage

Brooking Institution published this article today: “Gentle” density can save our neighborhoods”.  Washington, DC is the highlighted model.  The premise is that building more housing in residential neighborhoods doesn’t require skyscrapers. Very modest changes in our strict zoning scheme can lead to the creation of more affordable housing.

A large surface parking lot on 16th Street.

To whom it may concern,

We recommend that the Future Land Use Map (the FLUM) designate 16th St NW between Arkansas Ave NW and Colorado Ave NW (Middle 16th Street) for medium density housing.

Overview of Middle 16th St

  1. Middle 16th Street separates the neighborhoods of Crestwood and 16th Street Heights.
  2. Currently, this one-mile corridor is home to (i) fifteen houses of worship, (ii) two schools, (iii) a foreign embassy, and (iv) access to both the Carter Barron Amphitheater and Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.  There are wide sidewalks and six bus stops serving four bus lines.
  3. The majority of Middle 16th Street is zoned R1-B with patches of RA-4 and R3 at the southern end and a patch of R16 at the northern end

Areas for Improvement

  1. The streetscape of Middle 16th Street discourages neighborhood connection and public life.  The defining feature of the streetscape is vehicular traffic. Pedestrian and bicycle activity are limited.  In many ways, Middle 16th Street serves as a wall that separates neighborhoods, rather than a zipper that binds them.
  2. There are a number of mobility issues on Middle 16th Street: (i) crossing is hazardous for pedestrians; (ii) there are no bike lanes on or crossing Middle 16th Street; and (iii) bus service is inconsistent with buses bunching and frequently running off schedule.


  1. Amend the FLUM to provide for medium density housing on Middle 16th Street, consistent with a number of priorities described in the Comprehensive Plan (e.g., expanding housing supply (see1) and fostering development along priority transit corridors (see 306.14)).

Other Considerations

  1. Through the addition of housing and other human-scale activity, the proposed change will encourage the transformation of Middle 16th Street from a car highway to a more dynamic corridor that promotes civic life.  See2
  2. The proposed change will also support the future extension of the dedicated bus lanes in the 16th St NW Bus Project, which will become even more critically important as the developments at Walter Reed are completed and 16th Street grows even busier.  See 407.16.


  1. 16th Street has significant unmet capacity to support housing, high-capacity surface transit lanes, protected bicycle lanes, greater pedestrian activity, and neighborhood connectivity. Amending the FLUM to provide for medium density housing is the first step towards meeting that potential.


Group of Ward 4 Residents

If anyone wants to sign on to this comment or learn more about this group, email 

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