D.C.'s Neighborhood Committees Exert a "Great Weight" on Development: For Better or Worse?

Although they're not decision-making bodies, D.C.'s Advisory Neighborhood Committees (ANC’s) exert a powerful influence on the city's development process. David M. Schwarz Architects examine whether that's for better or for worse.

The District of Columbia Home Rule ActHome Rule Charter, and subsequent rulemaking have given the ANC's “great weight” in D.C.'s decision making process, says David M. Schwarz Architects. "Architects know firsthand how this great weight applies to all matters before the Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustments, Office of Planning, Department of Transportation, Historic Preservation Review Board and other agencies through which we must marshal our projects."

With Washington D.C. facing several significant citywide policy debates (including a rewrite of the city's zoning regulations and potential changes to the Height Act), they call on the ANC's to raise their level of discussion and resist putting local parochial interests ahead of the city at large. 

"ANC participation must be an accurate cross section of the entire community," the firm urges. "We should attend meetings regularly and contest any unsubstantiated claims by our commissioners or neighbors. Consider challenging incumbents, if they do not represent the views of the entire neighborhood. Commissioners must step up their game, as well. They ought to broaden their horizon and consider the entire city in addition to their immediate constituents, for they cannot truly meet the needs of their constituents without also considering the bigger picture. They must resist any extremist views from within the community calling for narrow-minded protectionism."



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