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Mayor Calls for New Model for Effective Community Planning
November 5, 1999




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Friday, November 5,1999
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(Washington, D.C.) Mayor Anthony A. Williams, joined by Chairman Linda Cropp and other members of City Council, today announced a four-point plan to create a new model of planning in the District. The initiative calls for partnerships with the national American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute, working with local firms to help resolve neighborhood disputes, developing a comprehensive planning process for developing city-owned land, and initiating a new partnership with the Federal government to plan and develop the Anacostia Waterfront. This initiative has been crafted from scores of community meetings, public hearings and the report by the Transition Team.

"At community meetings across the city, I have listened to citizens concerns and frustrations over a community planning process that is broken," said Mayor Williams. "There is a shared concern among neighborhood advocates, developers and the business community that the current planning and development process does not work and must be fixed to bring certainty, openness and fairness to this process."

The Mayor has directed Andrew Altman, director of Planning for the District of Columbia, to immediately begin implementing a new model of planning excellence for the City. The plan outlines four steps that includes working closely with community leaders, national organizations in urban planning, and the federal government. These steps are:

  • Create a new and inclusive planning process;
  • Build new partnerships for neighborhood problem solving with immediate pilot projects;
  • Take responsibility for city-owned land - a new public planning process for land disposition; and
  • Initiate a new federal-city partnership for the Anacostia Waterfront.

"The District of Columbia is on the move!" said Chairman Linda Cropp. "We are experiencing significant development and growth. It is clear to me and to many citizens who have testified at our public hearings that planning must be a major part of this city's revitalization. This four point plan moves us in that direction."

Mayor Williams and Mrs. Cropp agreed that the growing economy and the much-needed investment in our city has created heated disputes and protracted battles over major projects.

"Everyone agrees that the investment in our city is good, but these battles are frustrating for everyone involved, they create division and send the wrong signal to businesses looking to invest in the District," said Mayor Williams.

While the initiative is aimed at implementing an effective planning process moving forward, it calls also for the establishment of immediate pilot projects to facilitate resolution of neighborhood disputes in two neighborhoods: Columbia Heights and the Mt. Vernon Campus of George Washington University.

The Mayor acknowledged Ward I Councilmember Jim Graham's leadership in addressing the heated dispute in Columbia Heights regarding the development recently approved by the Redevelopment Land Authority.

"I'm glad to join with the Mayor in this endeavor in Columbia Heights," said Councilmember Graham. "I remain hopeful that we can find a new common ground in this controversy."

Mayor Williams also acknowledged the leadership of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in developing a strong relationship with the Federal government to create a vision for the Anacostia waterfront.

"I look forward to a new model of cooperative planning for our great - but neglected Anacostia waterfront," said the Mayor.

In releasing the plan, Mayor Williams says he believes that an effective planning process for the District requires strong leadership to establish clear and open public processes and frameworks for action.

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Mayor Anthony Williams is announcing a new model of planning excellence in the District. This initiative is based on concerns raised at hundreds of community meetings about effective community input, during public hearings led by Council member Linda Cropp, and in the report from the Transition Team. Mayor Williams is charging the District's new Planning Director to take the widely held concerns and turn them into action by implementing the following four-point plan.

1. Create a New and Inclusive Planning Process -120 days

  • Partner with the National American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute to identify the best practices in planning and development.
  • Hold stakeholder forums throughout the community over the next 90 days as part of identifying how to create a clear and inclusive planning process.
  • Make recommendations to Mayor Williams and the City Council.

2. Build New Partnerships for Neighborhood Problem Solving: Immediate Pilot Projects - 30 days

Work with local firms to facilitate the resolution of neighborhood disputes.

  • Convene an assessment process in Columbia Heights and determine the willingness to reach a common ground on the proposed development.
  • Convene George Washington University - Mt. Vernon Campus and its surrounding neighbors to resolve outstanding issues. Campus planning processes is one vehicle for building partnerships.

3. Take Responsibility for City-Owned Land: A New Public Planning Process for Land Disposition - 30 days

  • Develop a clear and comprehensive public planning process for the disposition of key public lands.
  • Conduct immediate pilot projects using DOES and the old Convention Center.

4. Initiate a New Federal-City Partnership for the Anacostia Waterfront - 30 days

  • Develop an agreement with our Federal partners.
  • Build on our initial foundation with GSA, the Navy, the National Park Service, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, and other federal agencies.
  • Develop a community participation process to involve adjacent communities in this important and groundbreaking event.

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