OZ Testimony of Kelly Collins Choi

Director of Policy and Land Conservation

Casey Trees

June 10, 2021

Budget Oversight Hearing for the Office of Zoning

Committee of the Whole

Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson and Committee Members.  My name is Kelly Collins Choi and I am the Director of Policy and Land Conservation at Casey Trees. Casey Trees is a D.C. based nonprofit with the mission to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital. We achieve this mission by planting trees; educating the public and advocating for the preservation of trees and green space.

The decisions and precedents set by the Zoning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments greatly influence development in the District. As reviewing bodies, they are responsible for enforcing environmental protection and sustainable development policies to ensure that all eight Wards remain the vibrant communities we know them to be. Development in the District is inevitable and we at Casey Trees strongly believe that development and environmental protection go hand in hand.

Casey Trees was glad to see that there was an overall increase for the Office of Zoning in the FY 22 budget, particularly the $624,000 increase for Zoning Services. The technical assistance this division provides is invaluable, it allows District residents and organizations, such as Casey Trees, to be involved in the development process.

I would also like to take a moment and thank the Office of Zoning and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for promptly responding to our performance hearing request to make a map of zoning cases more accessible. It is now easier for stakeholders to identify where zoning changes may be occurring, and to track new and existing zoning cases. With a new Comprehensive Plan and an increasing number of developments expected to be reviewed in the coming year, access to this information will be vital for residents to engage in the process.

We recognize the Office of Zoning, Board of Zoning Adjustments and Zoning Commission’s work plays a large role in growing environmental protection, resiliency, and sustainability across the District. We wholly support this important work, and urge the Council to approve the Mayor’s FY 22 budget.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify.