Battle for future development/renovations in Lanier Heights Continues

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Photo via NADZ

From an email:

“We are gaining new supporters but time may become a factor. The comments period on proposed zoning changes ends on Sept. 15. If the downzoning group gets their way, all existing R-5-B lots could be rezoned downwards to R-4 status.

We are battling the downzoners in Lanier Heights, but there are downzoners all over the city and it needs to become a city wide issue.

For more information visit our website NEIGHBORS AGAINST DOWNZONING

Ed. Note: Previously we talked about the Lanier Heights ‘Stop Pop Ups’ vs ‘Stop Nimby-ism’ here and downzoning could “could cost you $100,000 – $200,000 – $300,000 – OR MORE…” here.

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Photo via NADZ

14 Comment

  • In other words, you need to get up on the downzone . . . everybody get up.

  • So, as far as I can tell, NADZ is an “astroturf” campaign, a campaign made to look like has public support but which is actually run by developers interested in building in Lanier Heights. I researched this group because they put a bunch of campaign material in front of our building. I don’t feel strongly about pop-ups either way, but I do believe in transparency.

    • So are they putting signs on private property without homeowners’ permission?

      • No, we don’t post signs on private property without permission. We have rules about posting signs which you can read on our website.
        Another one of our rules is: Don’t tear down opposition signs. We believe the downzoners have a right to express their opinions, even if we disagree with those opinions. We just wish the downzoners would show us the same respect.

    • Interesting… I was wondering if that was the case (“astroturf” campaign run by developers).

      • We are not a front group for developers. We are people living in Lanier Heights who don’t want our home values damaged by the imposition of new rules being pushed by a group of outraged nimbys.

    • Gosh, you researched the group, did you? Wonder why your investigation didn’t include a simple email to the group itself. I’m the admin for so I would know.
      About transparency:
      (1) The downzoners know who we are. They are constantly stealing our yard signs and ripping down our posters.
      (2) If you had ever witnessed some of these downzoners at one of their meetings, it would give you a new appreciation of the concept of “rabid, frothing, incoherent insanity.”
      (3) Calling it a lynch mob mentality is just barely hyperbolic. The main objects of their hatred are the developers, of course, but that hate easily spills over to anyone who opposes them.
      Go ahead, read the diatribes on their website or go to one of their gatherings sometime.

  • I don’t have strong opinions on the pop-up issue (some are well executed, some are horrorshows), but I find it interesting that Lanier Place seems to have emerged as ground zero in the pop-up debate.
    Most of the pop-ups on that street are reasonably tasteful (at least to my untrained eye) and we haven’t seen anything like the V Street monster or structural damage to existing properties caused by negligent developers.
    In addition, Lanier Place is (architecturally speaking) quite diverse compared to many DC residential streets. I can completely understand people wanting to preserve a uniformly cohesive “Wardman rownhouse” aesthetic, although the rights of individual property owners to develop their homes as they see fit is also an issue).
    But on Lanier there are apartment buildings of various sizes, T’s grocery and the dry cleaners next door. Until just recently there was a big, f-off gas station, there is at least one stand alone house and the Santa Fe-esque fire house.
    I can relate to both sides on the pop-up debate, but it strikes me that Lanier is actually the sort of street where pop-ups make perfect sense due to the existing variability in styles and sizes/heights of buildings.
    (Apologies if I posted this musing before. I walk along Lanier every day and often ponder this, but can’t remember if I ever got around to posting it)

  • I think about buying a house… then I see this kind of stuff and I think, I could not put up with it. It is so sad. That being said, I’ll toss in my two cents. I think Lanier Heights is beautiful and tampering with the lines of the houses is an error. In the media, it boils down to a slingfest between two opponising sides. I would like to see discussion of a legitimate argument for aesthetics. The idea of a house line being radically changed is completely new to me. It seems desctructive.

  • Someone should have thought about the acronymn that would result when they came up with the group’s name.

  • The main instigators of this downzoning effort are the same small handful of people who tried to have Lanier Heights designated as an Historic District back in 2007-2008. That movement was inspired by the so-called “Belmont Tower” development in Kalorama and a similar popup in the 2700 block of Ontario Road.

    At the time, those of us opposed to Historic District status pointed out that getting HD for Lanier Heights would not prevent these type of popup developments which were allowed “by right”. The reply we were given was basically: “Once we become an Historic District we can work to change the zoning regulations.”

    Well, they didn’t get HD back then due to neighborhood opposition. But when a condo conversion at 1696 Lanier Place began in 2013, right next door to one of the original proponents of HD, they went ballistic.

    Their group has been around longer than ours and they have a couple dozen yard signs up in the neighborhood. Our group formed in response to their downzoning efforts, so we are newer. And somewhat handicapped by our reluctance to tear down their yard signs as they tear down every yard sign and poster we put up. (BTW, the signs pictured in this post have already been stolen by downzoners).

    When you talk to the downzoners about HD, they will tell you it was a small group that thwarted the will of the majority of neighbors who actually wanted to become an official Historic District. This is simply delusional. There are many links from to newspaper and blog articles about opposition to HD in Lanier Heights that proves this.

    Now I actually have a lot of empathy for the downzoners. I can imagine what it must be like to live in a nice neighborhood for many years and suddenly find that the neighborhood is changing, the skyline is being altered, there are new people and more people living in my neighborhood. It must seem to them like the “rules of the game” have abruptly changed.

    I can imagine all this so easily because it is what the downzoners are trying to do to Lanier Heights right now: abruptly change the rules of the game, never mind whose property rights might be damaged in the process.

    The difference is that they (be they downzoners or HD advocates) want to take away some valuable home owner rights in order to “save the neighborhood.” We who oppose them merely want to keep the rights we have had all along.

  • If popups are allowed to muddy existing zoning laws, what’s next? If I can profit by opening a Starbucks on my front lawn, what’s to stop me? (“You don’t like it? Who cares? I want to profit from my property.”). This starts down a path of live by the sword, die by the sword.

    Didn’t Marx say capitalism ruins everything that’s stable and worthwhile?

    • “If popups are allowed to muddy existing zoning laws, what’s next?”
      Huh? “Muddy existing zoning laws?”
      Haven’t seen any pop-ups discussed in PoPville that did not conform to zoning laws.
      Because if they don’t conform to zoning, they don’t get built.
      Now bruno is trolling with Marxist red herrings?

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