Today, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) introduced the “Fairness in Public Engagement During Sale of Public Lands Amendment Act of 2015”, which will fill the gap in the Executive’s engagement process on private developments of public land.
In the previous Council Period, it became evident that certain affected communities were not solicited by the Executive for their input on impending development plans in their very own neighborhoods. To illustrate, a piece of District-owned land was set to be surplussed in Northwest, and as a part of the subsequent development, affordable housing was slated to be developed in another quadrant of the District —that latter community did not receive a public hearing in a proximate location. “I spoke with numerous residents who were simply not at the table when it came to development projects that were taking place in their very own backyards,” stated McDuffie. “Today’s bill enhances transparency in the surplus and disposition process, as well as expands on the engagement and outreach efforts by the respective agencies.”
Currently, the law requires that the Mayor holds at least one public hearing on the proposed surplussing of any real property on District-owned land. The hearing is to be held at an accessible evening or weekend time and in an accessible location in the vicinity of the real property. The “Fairness in Public Engagement During Sale of Public Lands Amendment Act of 2015” adds an additional public hearing requirement for constituents who do not live in the surrounding area of the proposed site to be surplussed, yet are impacted by any associated development in their respective neighborhood.
The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Alexander, Bonds, Cheh, Nadeau and Silverman.