All of us want a vibrant city, which means changing with the times or means intelligent growth, and we all need to share the growing pains. The revisions to the zoning regulations, which have been in process since 2007, are intended to bring the zoning regulations into compliance with the 2006 Comprehensive Plan, which lays out a plan for growth that makes the city a good place to live for all its residents.
What is hard to find in these documents is an explicit vision for our city. The different characteristics of our neighborhoods and how we want to grow should guide that vision.
In Forest Hills, we have a mass transit rich area, filled with young adults, families, and older adults who want to age in place. We enjoy the tranquility and spaciousness of our streetscapes. We are also a community that values the environment, as exemplified by the Tree and Slope Overlay (TSO) that members worked on for five years to preserve our tree canopy and stop erosion. And we desire a better mix of retail and restaurants on Connecticut Avenue. How are we going to maintain what we value and get what we want in the years to come? How will we continue to attract young folks, keep our families here, provide housing for our teachers, police, and firefighters, provide a livable community for aging in place and protect our environment. And what tradeoffs are we willing to accept?
Members in our community have become involved in this issue on various levels. Marge Rachlin wrote a piece for the Connection last month on the zoning revisions, and a Letter to the Editor of the Northwest Current. Ken Terzian, who leads our local sustainability group has initiated conversations with the Office of Planning. And George Clark, former President of the Forest Hills Citizen Association and Federation of Citizen Associations, is Chair of the Zoning Review Taskforce, community members appointed by Councilmembers, to provide community input. The Connection wants to provide our community with an opportunity to educate ourselves about these revisions. We have George’s testimony on the citizen input process, questions posed by Ken to Arlova Jackson, at the Office of Planning and her response about how the revisions take into consideration the Tree and Slope Overlay (TSO). And we have another piece by George explaining the TSO and a summary of what happened at the June 5 meeting of the Citizens Task Force.
To get a different perspective about these issues, visit the city planning blog Greater Greater Washington. Recent articles describe the zoning update as “too timid” and argue for allowing homeowners to build accessory dwellings.
There is a group of people critical of some of these new proposals called Neighbors 4 Neighborhoods, and they will soon have a web site. We will let you know when it is live on the Forest Hills listserv. Please join so that we can get fast-breaking news to you. Also we want your comments and concerns about this issue.