On the very southern tip of the District, there's a 905-acre federal reserve called the Joint Bolling-Anacostia Base (JBAB), consolidated in 2005 out of two separate installations. They've operated for decades without a Master Plan, despite a request from the National Capital Planning Commission that the Navy procure one.
Finally, a plan has arrived -- but the City Council says it's woefully inadequate.
A resolution passed yesterday takes the Navy to task for failing to consider the transportation impacts of increasing the population at the base from 13,200 -- that's 18.7 percent of Ward 8 -- to 18,386. Three-quarters of those people currently arrive in single-occupant vehicles, and the plan doesn't include measures to decrease that ratio, or address how all the new traffic generated will interact with the 14,000 more people who'll eventually come to the new Department of Homeland Security.
And in this case, the Council isn't even worried about a lack of parking -- they're worried about too much parking. The base currently has 7,980 parking spaces, or 1.42 people per parking space, and the federal standard is four people per space. The Navy doesn't plan to increase the number of spaces, but it does plan to replace spaces destroyed by planned new buildings. "The result is that the public pays twice: once to rebuild the parking and again with the environmental cost of attracting more private vehicles to the Base," the resolution reads.
Perhaps more importantly from a holistic perspective, the new master plan doesn't increase public access to the 3.3 miles of riverfront that the base covers, like the Navy Yard has -- or anything else to integrate with the economically downtrodden area around it.
"A new master plan for the JBAB reinforces the isolation of the base from the rest of the community, instead of integrating the base into the community to help support the revitalization of Ward 8," the Council wrote. The resolution demands that the Navy resubmit a plan that addresses these problems, in order to comply with the President's executive order on sustainability and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Normally, it would be a fairly simple matter for the Navy to brush off such a request from the vote-less District government. But this time, the National Capital Planning Commission voiced similar concerns (while also expressing appreciation for the Navy's willingness to accommodate viewsheds by keeping the buildings low, which should be the least of their concerns), so the next submission may come back in better shape.
Council: Anacostia-Bolling Air Force Base Plan Sucks was originally published by Washington City Paper on May 18, 2011