Testimony of Kristin Taddei
February 28, 2019
Performance and Oversight Hearing DC Office of Planning
Before the DC Council Committee of the Whole
Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers. My name is Kristin Taddei and I am the Conservation Planner with Casey Trees. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
The story of Washington D.C.’s trees extends back to our first president. Because of him and his successors’ dedication to the District’s tree canopy and green spaces, D.C. has earned the moniker the “City of Trees”. Today, the D.C. Office of Planning continues this tradition through its mission to preserve and revitalize neighborhoods in all eight Wards. Casey Trees commends the Office of Planning for its role in creating and protecting District parks and open spaces and its positive engagement with the community on urban design and land use planning.
Office of Planning’s role in creating and updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan is vital to keeping us on track to meeting our various tree canopy, environmental protection, and sustainable development goals. Additionally, Office of Planning’s leadership in creating Small Area Plans has provided neighborhood level goals to help the District reach its environmental visions. Unfortunately, many of these plans have fallen by the wayside. There are 9 Small Area Plans posted on the Office of Planning website but some, such as the Southwest Neighborhood Plan, are nowhere close to being completed 1. Because we at Casey Trees believe that every action can make a big impact, we ask the Council to encourage the Office of Planning to continue to make progress towards the goals that they have set in the Small Area Plans.
These plans often include goals increase tree canopy and, with the District 2% away from meeting its 2032 tree canopy goal, now is the time to pursue these plans with renewed vigor.
In addition to supporting neighborhood goals, it is the responsibility of the Office of Planning, along with all other relevant agencies, to evaluate the Districts overall progress towards meeting its vision for growing an inclusive city. One of the first challenges in the District’s Comprehensive Plan is to improve environmental health. This includes restoring trees and parks by supporting tree planting and urban forestry programs. Trees provide more than environmental value, they inspire a sense of place and belonging in a community. With the most recent Comprehensive Plan pending Council review, we request that the Council revise the Environmental Protection element of the District’s Comprehensive Plan to align it with the Parks and Open Space element of the Federal comprehensive plan in order to maintain consistency between the two. This would involve making sure that both plans cover the following:
- Protecting forested natural areas,
- Encouraging vegetated transitional space between parks and urban environments,
- Strategically planting trees along shorelines to aid in stream restoration efforts and create riparian buffers,
- Preserving trees on District property to support wildlife habitats and improve scenic quality,
- Using conservation easements to connect parks and open space systems, and
- Creating new local partnerships to maintain our cherished local neighborhood green spaces.
With a portion of the green space within District boundaries owned by the Federal government, it is important that all land within the District is treated equally and all eight Wards are given access to the same quality green spaces. To do this, the District’s Comprehensive Plan must be on par with federal commitments.
Without the Office of Planning, our City would not be what it is today. Casey Trees supports the Office of Planning in their efforts to guide development throughout the District and looks forward to seeing the Office of Planning drive our city into a green future.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify and I welcome any questions.
1According to the 2016 status report for the Southwest Neighborhood Plan. At the time of this report, of the 28 directives, 18 have been designated as being a “future action” (meaning that no action has taken place).