DC Office of Planning Releases 2016 DC Historic Preservation Plan


From a press release:

“After a year-long planning effort with community partners, the DC Office of Planning (OP) has released Enriching our Heritage, the 2016 District of Columbia Historic Preservation Plan. Developed by OP’s Historic Preservation Office, the generously illustrated 92-page document is an informative guide to help District residents learn about local history and see how Washington’s heritage is shaping the city’s growth.

Using timelines and graphics, the plan traces how Washington grew from modest beginnings into a dynamic multi-cultural city. It describes how the city’s magnificent architecture and beautiful neighborhoods have been nurtured over the years through official protections and the contributions of communities and civic leaders. Drawing on views expressed in public forums, it discusses current challenges in preserving the historic ambience and quality of life that is attracting so many new residents to the city. It also identifies key opportunities to enrich the city’s environment with new vitality and an appreciation of an increasingly diverse cultural scene.

The plan proposes several innovations in the city’s approach to historic preservation. It explores ideas about celebrating the upcoming 225th anniversary of the District’s establishment, and suggests how everyone can participate in community heritage events. It proposes a pilot project to test the concept of conservation districts, and financial incentives to encourage reuse of the city’s older housing stock for affordable housing. In all, the plan identifies thirteen key goals with specific action items and targets for each goal.

The Preservation Plan was developed with the assistance of a steering committee of community and business leaders from across the city, as well as guidance from non-profit organizations working to engage District residents in local history and community heritage activities.”

Full report in PDF:


10 Comment

  • The conservation district might be a good way to protect neighborhoods against ugly pop-ups, but it looks like the best case scenario is that they would be in place years from now. It’s a pretty thorough report on some interesting DC history, but I don’t see a lot of specifics about what any new programs would actually be. However it looks like they are looking for community feedback so if you feel so inclined, see below.

    Here’s the stuff about conservation districts:
    Most residents support reinvestment in their community, but are opposed to insensitive changes that damage the human scale and character that make their neighborhoods attractive. This concern is reflected in sustained calls for a tool other than traditional historic districts, that would help control the effects of undesirable change by focusing only on major projects and impacts. The Comprehensive Plan recommends further study of conservation districts, and public interest has been heard most recently in planning efforts for the established neighborhoods of Mid-City East.

    Creation of a conservation district or similar planning tool would require legislation and new regulations. Its implementation would involve a significant commitment of government and community resources. The effectiveness of conservation districts and their potential impacts are untested here in Washington, but continued public appeals have made it more urgent to address the possibility.

    2013 – Obtain community feedback through planning projects and review best practices for conservation districts and other tools.
    2014 – Develop a proposal for conservation districts, conduct public review, and establish authorities.
    2015 – Undertake a pilot conservation district project in a Mid City East neighborhood.
    2016 – Evaluate the pilot project and continue implementation, or consider alternative strategies.

    Besides that I don’t see any further explanation on what it actually is, but the following is cited and might provide more incite: Protecting Older Neighborhoods through Conservation District Programs (Julia Miller and Byrd Wood, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2004)

    We welcome and encourage your thoughts and comments by email, in writing, or by calling the Historic Preservation Office.
    To obtain copies of this plan, to provide comments on it, or to be included on the SHPO mailing list, please contact us:

    Historic Preservation Office
    DC Office of Planning
    1100 4th Street, SE, Suite 650
    Washington, DC 20024
    P: (202) 442-8800
    F: (202) 442-7638
    E: [email protected]
    W: http://www.preservation.dc.gov

  • The reports says “Whether deliberate or the result of neglect, demolition erodes the fabric of neighborhoods. Crude “pop-ups” and overscaled intrusions disrupt once harmonious streets. Construction violations and unpermitted work undermine property values and the character of entire communities. ” After reading the action points, it is not clear to me what they are proposing to do about pop-ups in non-historic neighborhoods. I hope they are proposing to be regulated the same way that they are in historic neighborhoods.

    • I agree, I’m thinking it might be kind of like a “historic district-light” where it prevents obvious diversions from the character of the neighborhood, but will not prevent you from upgrading your windows for example. That’s pure conjecture though.

    • It might be surprising to some, but a few of us like the variety and the interruption of uniformity that many “pop-ups” bring. (Not all, but many.)

      • I don’t think there’s anything here so far to suggest that pop-ups would be banned entirely. References to pop-ups so far in these comments and copy-and-pasted from the report qualify with ugly, crude, and overscaled, which I doubt anyone wants.

    • I’ve seen some pop-ups that are tasteful and really pleasing to the eye. I think the key word here is “crude.”

  • People it is really quite clear; if you dislike pop-ups in your neighborhood so much do something about it. Clearly that is petition to have the neighborhood designated a historic district. The process is long and involved but that is exactly what every other historic district had to go through. Otherwise just deal with it as the property owner is doing what they are allowed to do as a matter of right. I currently own a building in the U Street HD and have a love/hate relationship with HPO. It isn’t perfect but it will prevent roughly 90% of what everyone is complaining. The other 10% gets by either by negligence on the part of. DCRA, illegal work or paying someone off.

    • respectfully, you are missing the whole point of the new proposal of a “conservation district”. It’s going to be a new third option, alongside the historic district option and the no-preservation option. It will prevent awful eyesores like 3 story pop-ups but won’t tell you what style of windows you have to install. I think it’s a great idea and I hope it becomes an option soon. The reason why some people in the Mid City East neighborhoods oppose historic district status is they see the busybodying that happens with those – which would be avoided with a conservation district.

  • Informative, well-produced, beautifully illustrated. Haven’t given it enough analysis to say much of the content/conclusions, but kudos at first glance.

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