Zoning Rewrite Public Comment Extended by a Year and a Half? Not Quite.
One short press release, and the Twitterverse went nuts. Mayor Vince Gray's office just sent out an email to reporters announcing that the Zoning Committee had voted to extend until Sept. 15, 2015 the deadline for public input into the city's first comprehensive rewriting of its zoning code since 1958. "I want to thank Chairman Anthony J. Hood and the members of the Zoning Commission for agreeing to my request to extend the period for the District’s residents to provide input on this enormously important overhaul of our city’s zoning regulations,” Gray said in the release.
The public reaction wasn't quite so thankful. Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis:
Good lord: Zoning Commission has voted to extend public comment on zoning rewrite to Sept 2015. That's right: 2015.
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) April 16, 2014
Smart-growther Dan Malouff:
Zoning rewrite punt is a clear indication they don't want to do it. Endless study is how you kill something without technically killing it.
— BeyondDC (@beyonddc) April 16, 2014
Even my editor chimed in:
Which will D.C. get first: A) new zoning code; B) fully operating streetcars; or C) statehood?
— Mike Madden (@MikeMadden) April 16, 2014
But all of you can relax, especially you, Madden: It appears the date was a simple typo.
Ellen McCarthy, who took the helm of the Office of Planning—which oversees the city's zoning boards—this week, says it's her understanding the comment period has been extended from late April to Sept. 15, 2014, not 2015.
"I believe it will allow additional time for consultation with a variety of citizen groups," she says. Asked why the many months of public discussion so far have not sufficed, she responds, "The regulations are very complicated, and there are certain groups who have indicated they don’t feel they have yet sufficient understanding of the rules and/or they have suggestions for revisions that they would like to discuss."
The proposed zoning update features several controversial provisions aimed at accommodating the city's growing population and making D.C. a more walkable city, including a reduction in parking minimums and the allowance of new corner stores in limited circumstances.
A Gray spokesman did not return a call for comment.
Moral of the story: Perhaps it's not the wisest idea for the D.C. government to send out big announcements on a day when it's closed. The proofreaders must be off for Emancipation Day.
Update 4:50 p.m.: Just over an hour after its initial release, Gray's office sends a follow-up to acknowledge and correct the typo.
Rendering courtesy of The Bond at Tenley