March 26, 2019
Dear Chairman Mendelson and Council of the Whole members,
My name is Dr. Jessica Sanders and I am the Director of Science and Policy at Casey Trees. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
The D.C. Office of Zoning is the cornerstone of District development, without which, we would not have the thoughtful growth and consistent adherence to city environmental, sustainability, and energy efficiency plans that we have today. Without this reviewing body, there would be no standard for accountability in place to ensure that all eight Wards remain the vibrant and beautiful communities we see now. As a Ward 5 resident, I have seen firsthand how conscious development can benefit both our environment and our community.
Office of Zoning is one of the most essential governing bodies and its ability to carry out its mission and charter is important to the fate of our city’s trees. We work with the Office of Zoning on everything from development review to public benefits packages and support them and every opportunity they have to be able to successfully create not only a greater city, but a greener one as well.
We applaud Mayor Bowser for increasing funding for personnel and Zoning Services and we implore the Council to approve the Office of Zoning’s budget at her requested levels. Providing adequate funding for those who work in the Office of Zoning is vital to ensuring that the office is able to function at its best. By supporting the Zoning Commission and BZA’s oversight and adjudication of zoning matters, we can ensure that the zoning process can run efficiently and effectively. With a city that is growing faster than ever, and the need to protect our green spaces increasing, having a well-funded body that can enforce and support the District’s environmental initiatives is more important than ever.
As an organization that works to protect, enhance and restore the District’s tree canopy, having a zoning office that can do the same is very important to us. We appreciate the Zoning Commission and BZA’s conscious consideration of environmental metrics when making decisions and their commitment to helping the District not only reach its 40 percent tree canopy goal, but also the various other environmental, sustainable, and energy efficiency goals stated in District rules, regulations, and plans and applaud them for them for striving to provide easily accessible and understandable to the public.
Office of Zoning is one of the most essential governing bodies and its ability to carry out its mission and charter is important to the fate of our city’s trees. We support the Office of Zoning and every opportunity for them to succeed. That is why we once again urge you to approve the Mayor’s proposed zoning budget.
Thank you again for the opportunity to submit my comments to the Committee.
Dr. Jessica Sanders
Director of Science and Policy