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DC Office of Planning’s Commitment to Racial Equity

The Office of Planning (OP) is tasked with planning for the long-term growth of the District of Columbia, to help ensure it reflects our values of an inclusive and vibrant city. We help the District work toward a positive future in which all District residents can thrive, regardless of income, race, age, or background. To live up to this mission of achieving an equitable District, we must examine our past and current practices and implement a guiding narrative to ensure equity is embedded in all of our work.

OP Racial Equity Narrative

The District of Columbia Office of Planning (OP) acknowledges that urban planning has been part of systems that, through racially discriminatory and exclusionary policies, have harmed Black residents, other people of color, and their communities.

Recognizing the continuing effects of this legacy, OP is working to achieve racial equity, which we define as when race no longer drives disparities or life outcomes for District residents, and when everyone has equitable access to opportunities and what they need to thrive, inclusive of all identities and no matter where they live.

OP is committed to applying a racial equity lens both in our internal operations and external work and to confronting and rejecting structural racism where it exists. We commit to advancing racial equity through transparent processes, centering community voices in planning, maximizing accessibility of our services and programs, and holding ourselves accountable for the impact of our work.

We will name and address inequities when we encounter them. We will build a planning practice centered on racial equity for land use; design and preservation; and the built environment. We will continue to advance racial equity to increase affordable housing, inclusive economic opportunities, and healthy neighborhoods where all residents can access what they need to achieve equitable outcomes.

OP is interested in your feedback on the Racial Equity narrative. We invite you to share your comments with us at [email protected] or by calling 202-442-7600.

OP’s Activities to Advance Racial Equity

Comprehensive Plan Equity Crosswalk

The Equity Crosswalk, updated to reflect final Comp Plan language, highlights over 100 polices and actions that will help ensure all residents have what they need to thrive, no matter their race, age, neighborhood, or income. These policies are supported by important data and trends throughout the Comp Plan that reflect current disparities.

Racial Equity Lenses in the Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan includes various racial equity lenses that will be used by the District to incorporate racial equity considerations to prioritize and target public investments, policies, and programs, and make decisions that create measurable improvements in the lives of residents, particularly those who have been most marginalized by systemic racism and structural inequity.

Racial Equity in Comprehensive Plan Implementation

This presentation from Fall 2021 shows how the District is putting racial equity into practice through Comprehensive Plan implementation.

Racial Equity, Zoning and Development Review

The Comprehensive Plan calls for the District to develop tools and processes to evaluate development proposals, and for the Zoning Commission to evaluate all actions, through a racial equity lens. This FAQs document shows how OP is implementing a racial equity lens in zoning and development review.

Planning Directors’ Statement on Racial Equity and Commitment to Change

In September 2021, OP Director, Andrew Trueblood, and 19 other planning directors from across the county signed a Commitment to Change, pledging to correct past harms and create an inclusive future.

Housing Equity Report

This Housing Equity Report provides goals for the equitable distribution of affordable housing in Washington, DC, supporting Mayor Muriel Bowser’s vision for creating 36,000 new housing units by 2025, with 12,000 of those units affordable to low-income residents. The report is the first in a series that will comprise the Housing Framework for Equity and Growth, an initiative led by OP and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Continuing Conversations on Housing Equity

A series of public conversations to discuss how the bold housing goals set by the Mayor will advance housing equity and disrupt the historic impact of housing segregation in the District.

DC Upward Mobility

An interagency initiative, led by OP, to address racial inequities in economic outcomes by boosting upward mobility. This project focuses on incorporating metrics of upward mobility into planning, policy, and programs to better address longstanding inequities by race and ethnicity in the District

Small Area Plans

Through the Small Area Planning process, racial equity is embedded through data analysis, historic narrative, and extensive engagement with effected communities.

Racial Equity in Historic Preservation

The racial equity provisions of the Comprehensive Plan also inform the District’s Historic Preservation Plan, Celebrating our Diversity.  Current projects to implement this plan include historic context studies of African American Affordable Housing and the District’s multi-cultural diversity.  OP’s historic preservation staff is also preparing Community Heritage Guides for the entire District to create an equitable basis for understanding the unique heritage of all DC neighborhoods. 

  • 2025 DC Historic Preservation Plan

Food Policy

OP’s Food Policy team along with the DC Food Policy Council promote a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable food system in the District.

Office of Racial Equity

Established by Mayor Bowser in 2021, the Office of Racial Equity, focuses on developing an infrastructure to ensure policy decisions and District programs are evaluated through a racial equity lens; the office also carries forward the implementation of the Racial Equity Achieves Results “REACH Act” (D.C. Act 23-521). OP partners with this office to ensure our core activities make meaningful progress toward a more equitable city.