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ANC Comp Plan Meeting ~ continued from page 1

With that, Warwick designated Commissioner Kari Cunningham (ANC 2B07) to be acting chair for the rest of the meeting and he left the room.

What happened at the meeting probably should not have been a surprise. The Comp Plan resolution —- essentially, ANC 2B’s official public comment on the matter for the city’s Office of Planning (OP) — had Dupont Circle neighborhood listservs buzzing for weeks. It touches on many topics —- parking, transportation, pedestrian and bicycle safety —- that commissioners know stir the passion of many Dupont Circle residents. Hoping that they would just go along with the plan was, according to many, shortsighted and a missed opportunity to build common ground.

Indeed, when the February meeting agenda was released showing just 20 minutes –- and set for the the very end close to 10 p.m. — for public discussion of the resolution, on-line conversation indicated a serious miscalculation of public mood, especially given the controversy that has ensnared the Comp Plan update in general.

ANC 2B Commissioners have known for months that they would have until February 14th to submit their resolution to the OP (public comments were due January 10th). They had plenty of time for more hearings — an opportunity most other ANCs around the city availed themselves of.

ANC 2B Commissioners have known for months that they would have until February 14th to submit their resolution to the OP (public comments were due January 10th). They had plenty of time for more hearings — an opportunity most other ANCs around the city availed themselves of.

But ANC 2B cancelled a December 2019 hearing of its Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee where the resolution could have been opened for public discussion. Then, ANC 2B04 Commissioner Aaron Landry cancelled a February 5th meeting of the Zoning, Preservation and Development Committee, of which he is chair —- what could have been yet another opportunity for public discussion of the ANC 2B Comp Plan resolution. And all along, Warwick has insisted that more hearings were unnecessary since constituents are able to contact commissioners via email or phone and that information is available on the ANC 2B website.

ANC 2B constituents at the meeting made clear where they stood, however. They supported additional language in the resolution proposed by Commissioner Mike Silverstein (ANC 2B06) that emphasized the need for affordable housing, recognition of past policies that led to racial and economic segregation and housing discrimination, and the toll of displacement.

But it was the zoning recommendation hit a raw nerve with many.

This matter already was highly controversial, especially with regard to the ANC’s proposed density increases<http://www.dupontcircleanc.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Draft-Motion-Regarding-Comprehensive-Plan.pdf> to the categories of “High Density Commercial” & “High Density Residential”).

“People want more discussion about this high-density motion,” said one audience member, who echoed many others. One by one, they all delivered a similar message to commissioners: “I am asking you to open this up to more than 20 minutes of discussion before you vote.”

A chastened Landry revealed that the resolution’s now-deleted section on zoning density for Connecticut Ave., NW, was spurred in part by a recommendation he received in a letter from the Dupont Circle Business Improvement District. He said the BID’s. suggestion jibed with other input he was receiving from constituents and so he perhaps didn’t appreciate fully that wider discussion might be a good idea.

As Commissioner Silverstein put it, “We did not engage the neighborhood the way we should have.”

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