How Sustainable DC Meets DC’s Region Forward Goals

By Tanya SternSDC-Logo-2013

The previous OPinions blog post talked about the release of the District’s final Sustainable DC Plan to make Washington, DC the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation. The Plan is the result of hard work and collaboration by the Sustainable DC coalition of District agencies, residents, and stakeholders from the private, non-profit and institutional sectors.  The Sustainable DC Plan addresses the challenges of creating jobs and growing the District’s economy; improving the health and wellness of residents; ensuring equity and diversity across the city; and improving the climate and the environment. It puts forth goals, targets, and specific actions to implement the plan over the next twenty years.
 
OP Sustainability Planner Laine Cidlowski and I created this post on the Washington Metropolitan Council of Government’s Region Forward blog about how the Sustainable DC Plan is also a major step in helping the DC region meet its Region Forward goals. 

Where might DC area federal jobs be located in the next 15 years?

By Charlie Richman

(Click to animate) OP’s analysis of possible DC area federal office locations though 2027

What if the General Services Administration is right about telecommuting and stops renting office space?

We looked at where GSA puts federal workers today, and imagined where the workers might be in 15 years if plans for increased telecommuting proceed.  Existing rules already favor transit-accessible locations.

Our back-of-the-envelope analysis started with GSA’s current offices.  We dropped expiring leases each year to meet an aggressive schedule for consolidating space, ending leases farthest from mass transit first and consolidating jobs at the remaining sites.  After 15 years all of the leased space would be gone.  Look what that would mean for the density of jobs downtown!

(Click to animate) Federal job density in the DC-area over the next 15 years

We don’t believe the future will look exactly like this, but we’re trying to learn from the exercise.  Perhaps we’ll need to focus more on meeting the needs of part-time telecommuters.

What do you think?

Taming the Big Box

By Stephen Cochran

Pentagon City, VA (Credit: Street Google)

We’ve all been here.  It’s one of those places where we hand over $1 billion shopping dollars each year to Maryland or Virginia.  If even half of that money could be spent in DC, our 6% tax rate would generate $30 million in revenue.  That’s enough to supply 300 new affordable housing units, or pay for the education of 1600 District children, every single year.

The city has been working for decades to reverse this loss of dollars, and we’re starting to see results.  Larger retailers are moving into the District to supplement our local stores.  Some are bringing new designs that fit in with, and bring new life to, our traditional neighborhood centers. Others, unfortunately, continue to bulldoze trees, fill in wetlands, or construct stone-walled mesas so they can just replicate their suburban stores.

Planners need to provide models of how major retailers can come into the city without compromising good design and active street life.

Los Angeles, CA (Credit: Stephen Cochran)

This storefront I saw on Broadway in downtown L.A. shows how to do it:  name recognition, openness to the street, pedestrian and bicycles friendliness, and a broad selection of brand goods at every-day low prices.

Having a vital shopping street need not take a zoning overlay, or city subsidies; just some creative entrepreneurs, sensitivity to scale … and a lot of red paint.

Welcome to OP’s Blog!

By Tanya Washington-Stern

Welcome to OPinions, the blog of the DC Office of Planning! We envision this blog as a space for OP staff to dialogue with you about the urban environment and related topics such as urban design, historic preservation, transportation, health and other areas that intersect with planning. We want to talk about innovative, thought-provoking or just plain cool trends and developments in the urban planning world.  The geography of our dialogue is not just Washington, DC and its region, but also the United States and the rest of the world.  This blog is our room to look beyond our official day-to-day work and talk about what we as individual planners find interesting.

If you want to learn more about the DC Office of Planning and our neighborhood and citywide plans, reports and initiatives, please visit our official website, www.planning.dc.gov. We are also on Twitter and Facebook.

We hope you will join us in these conversations!