Viewpoint: A ‘modest proposal’ for D.C. Comp Plan

The D.C. Council. (Photo courtesy of

The D.C. Council has before it a bill to approve the “framework element” – introductory chapter – of the D.C. Comprehensive Plan.

In it, the District’s office of planning suggests the city’s population will rise to 1 million by 2045. However, making concrete canyons out of Georgia Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue and other thoroughfares to squeeze in all these new residents will only fuel property speculation and resident displacement.

Jonathan Swift never claimed to be a city planner, but we can borrow a page from his “A Modest Proposal” to envision a more inclusive future for D.C. with far less displacement of people.

How? By buying Rock Creek Park and bulldozing it.

Given President Donald Trump’s penchant for shrinking the footprint of federal parkland across the country and for privatizing heretofore public infrastructure, it is a win-win for the administration, the developers and the multitudes of potential D.C. citizens.

Zoning? Who needs it? As long as builders obey the federal height limits, we can have a thousand acres or so of 12-story apartment blocks. Hmm, kind of like Moscow or Bratislava in the midst of another Soviet five-year plan.

The city can alleviate the overcrowding at Wilson High School and Deal Middle School when they build new facilities within Rock Creek Estates. Hey, every D.C. neighborhood needs a name.

Retail can be a thing of the past as long as the apartment buildings have enough loading docks for all the trucks from UPS and Peapod, and rooftop heliports for the Amazon drones.

Historic designation? Pshaw. The last time I looked, trees don’t vote.

But before we cater to the moneyed class, let’s first take care of the city’s neediest. We can put all of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed homeless shelters in this new-found land. How? By redrawing the District’s eight wards so each gets a piece of the park. We can call in the gerrymanderers from Pennsylvania and North Carolina for their expertise. There won’t be any NIMBY complaints, since the shelters got there first before the boutique apartments.

But first, let’s start by building a new north-south street so commuters’ blood pressure doesn’t rise with the continued repair of Beach Drive.

Mark Pattison is president of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association.