Testimony of Kristin Taddei
February 28, 2019
Performance and Oversight Hearing DC Office of Zoning
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 D.C. Office of Zoning is vital to ensuring that our city’s plans for environmental protection, sustainable development, and energy efficiency are realized. Without this reviewing body, there would be no standard for accountability in place to ensure that all 8 Wards remain the vibrant and beautiful communities that we know today. As a Ward 6 resident, I have seen firsthand how conscious development can benefit both our environment, and our community.
However, to do this requires collaboration during the review process. To have meaningful collaboration, the public must be given every opportunity to speak and comment on proposed developments. Information about hearing dates, development plans, and testimonies, are currently listed on the D.C. Zoning Commission and BZA Hearing Calendar. While useful, not only is this calendar difficult to navigate, hearing dates are often changed without notice and posted files have ambiguous names that make it difficult for the average user to ascertain their content. Casey Trees often uses this resource to locate tree surveys and landscaping plans. However, files in the system are listed as Exhibit A, B, C, or something similar. Adding descriptions to these files would allow users to find specific information in a more efficient manner. We ask the Council to request that Office of Zoning create a more user-friendly system that allows users to be notified about hearing date changes, track specific cases, get updates on changes to cases, and provide descriptions of file names. By implementing these changes, we can eliminate knowledge barriers and create a more inclusive and transparent environment for project review and I have provided an example of these issues in my written testimony.
Furthermore, while Office of Zoning’s commitment to public engagement is a testament to their role as a reviewer, ensuring the final development plan aligns with District goals, such as Sustainable D.C. 2.0, Climate Ready D.C., and the Urban Forest Preservation Act, is equally as important. Landscaping is typically the last thing considered and the first thing cut when designing a project. Therefore, we urge Office of Zoning to deliberately keep the outside environment in mind when reviewing a development plan and work more closely with DOEE and DDOT when reviewing, to ensure that that all development plans slated for approval align with District plans, policies, and regulations.
Office of Zoning is one of the most essential governing bodies. Its mission of providing technical assistance in support of oversight and adjudication of zoning matters is important to the fate of our city’s trees and we support every opportunity for Office of Zoning to be able to excel in this. Because of this, we support Councilmember Nadeau’s vision stated in the Development Expertise for ANCs act proposed in 2018. This bill would hold developers accountable for the public benefits they commit to during zoning hearings. As you know, this bill is slated to be reintroduced this Council period. We ask the entire Council to support this bill to ensure that the trees and parks promised during zoning hearings are constructed.
The Office of Zoning provides an important role in the D.C. development process. With a city that is growing faster than ever, it is necessary that this body work as efficiently and as effectively as possible. We at Casey Trees commend the Office of Zoning for their tireless efforts and look forward to working with them in the future.
Zoning Commission and BZA Hearing Calendar