The following were among actions taken at the Feb. 2 meeting of the District of Columbia Council.
DEVELOPMENT/HOUSING "Linkage" -- Chairman David Clarke (D) and council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) each introduced bills that would force developers to build housing in exchange for special land use rights.
Under current laws, developers seeking to include a street or an alley as part of a building project must receive council approval. The council can levy fees, but has not done so in the past.
The D.C. Zoning Commission may impose conditions on any developments that it approves. In the past few years, the commission has used that power to require developers to build low-income housing in exchange for project approval, in a procedure known as "linkage."
For example, when Hadid Development Cos. asked to construct an office building three stories higher than permitted under the site's zoning at 1001 New York Ave. NW, the commission granted permission, contingent upon the company's renovation of 60 vacant units nearby for low-income housing.
"With the federal government having decreased its annual budget for housing from $32 billion annually to around $8 billion annually, the burden has fallen upon the shoulders of state and local governments to respond, and this is one way in which we can respond," Clarke said.
Clarke's bill would require that a developer provide low- or moderate income housing in the District worth the assessed value of the alley or street taken, or contribute that amount to a housing trust fund, which is currently being formed by the council's Committee on Housing and Economic Development.
Under Clarke's bill, a developer who did not build enough housing in three years would be fined three times the alley's assessed value.
In addition, Clarke's bill stipulates that whenever either the zoning commission or the Board of Zoning Adjustment grants concessions for larger buildings than allowed under zoning regulations, the developer must pay $5 per extra square foot to the housing trust fund.
Kane's bill would require the council to charge a developer the fair market value for any street or alley for which the District or United States government holds the title. When the title is held by owners of abutting land, the developer would be taxed at four percent of the fair market value.
Had Kane's proposed law been in effect for the 10 alley closings approved by the council in 1987, Kane said, the city would have raised $3.7 million.
ALLEY CLOSING -- The council gave preliminary approval to the closing of five alleys bounded by H, G, First and North Capitol Streets NE, to enable the city's Department of Housing and Community Development to build two office projects within a city-designated urban renewal area.