Community groups opposed to the newest version of the city's proposed land-use plan and map will air their latest objections at a City Council public hearing today.
The land-use map has been called "incomprehensible" and "a disaster for the city and the nation" by the D.C. Citizens Planning Coalition, a citywide group formed to monitor the development of the city's comprehensive plan, of which the map is an integral part.
The coalition sent out a "citizens' alert" letter to about 600 residents and urged them to testify against the land-use proposal at the two days of public hearings, today and Friday in Council Chambers.
The land-use plan, which would control commercial and residential development in the city, is the only segment of the comprehensive plan that the City Council has not adopted. The total plan will guide city policies for the next 20 years in such areas as transportation, housing, human services and historic preservation.
Last year, when the land-use segment was before the City Council, community activists objected to the fact that the plan was not reenforced by a map. They complained that the plan was too vague and failed to provide sufficient protection against commercial encroachment on residential areas.
The proposal that is the subject of today's hearing was sent to the City Council by the mayor in September. This time, as the council requested, the land-use segment includes maps.
But the citizens' coalition is not impressed.
"The plan is not a true plan," the citizens' alert letter stated, "for it reflects the fact that the most basic of planning work has yet to be done . . . this lack of planning shows in the contradictions, uneven treatment, and lack of resolution of outstanding land-use issues."
The assessment given by Bill Washburn, chairman of the 500 member coalition, pulled no punches. Washburn said the land-use segment "converts the city into a free-fire zone for developers."
The coalition contends that the land-use proposal:
*Fails to set a priority of goals and policies and proposes uneven treatment for sections of the city by being too general in some areas and "spottily" specific in others.
*Lacks a commitment to prevent removal of housing units in established neighborhoods, to produce housing in the downtown area and to prevent excessive commercial density adjacent to established residential neighborhoods.
*Provides no timetable for the development of ward and small-area plans and fails to indicate whether such plans would be included in the comprehensive plan.
Ann Hargrove, head of the comprehensive planning committee for the citizens' coalition, said, "Frankly, I don't see any improvements. The text has been changed very little. We think the original map was better."
Hargrove said the coalition is seeking support from the City Council to set up a planning council in each of the city's eight wards. Each of those councils would produce a ward plan within a year, she said.