Mayor Gray has set a goal of growing by 250,000 residents in 20 years. Previous mayors had similar goals. GMU studies suggest we need over 122,000 new housing units (each of which might hold multiple people) by 2030. How can and should the District accommodate this growth?
John Settles responded...
To grow the city's population by 250k over 20 years I would create a Strategic Growth and Retention Plan. This plan should be based upon the mantra; Jobs Attract, Homeownership Roots, Education Stabilizes, and Public Safety Secures.
Given the competition with the suburbs, rising housing prices, underperforming schools in many communities and, increased street crime, we must proactively address these issues to ensure we don't lose population. The city must attract approximately 400,000 given the transient nature of the city. We must continue to create neighborhoods that are culturally unique, and thus more desirable than "urban" developments in suburban neighborhoods such as Ballston. Transformational projects that add housing stock and create neighborhoods should be the central long term focus of the Strategic Growth and Retention Plan. For example Hill East, the former site of DC General Hospital, has great potential to become a world renowned sustainable urban village that provides a carefully crafted mix of housing units ranging from micro-housing to senior cottages and town homes wrapped around neighborhood businesses all digitally powered by Google fiber, thus providing the best bandwidth capability and speed in the region.
In order to manage growth and welcome new residents, we need to create a diversity of affordable housing stock and unit sizes, across the entire city, especially in underdeveloped neighborhoods where investment has been lacking. These neighborhoods should be focused around new anchors — local businesses, green space, art and cultural centers and transportation nodes that connect the neighborhoods to employment and entertainment centers. Development should enhance the lives of current residents instead of displacing them, or creating financial burden. A Smart Growth plan, customized to the identity of neighborhoods is the best way for DC to remain the attractive metropolis it is. We need carefully crafted development plans that retain existing families and attract new families as well as young professionals and empty nesters. We need to become more entrepreneur friendly and create more well-paying, knowledge based jobs.
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