Color photo of a large meeting room, groups of people seated around circular tables being addressed by Andrew Trueblood, interim director of the DC Office of Planning, who is standing in the middle of the room
Reginald Black

The D.C. Grassroots Planning Coalition recently met with Andrew Trueblood, the new interim director of the Office of Planning.

He’s a new leader, taking on a job this group of advocates has been following since 2016: setting rules and goals for how the city uses its land for years to come. As a member of the coalition, and a native Washingtonian who has experienced homelessness on and off since 2008, I think this is a prime opportunity for the District to live up to its status as a “Human Rights City” and provide enough adequate housing for its people.

Trueblood laid out his direction for the Office of Planning and seems to be more receptive to community input. But while he was wordy, but he really didn’t say too much.

“My goal is to meet everyone who thinks about planning,” Trueblood said. “Trust is something earned and developed.”

What is the director’s role? “The office of planning director is not like other directors in the city. Their job is to think beyond,” he said. “We have to think about our children and our grandchildren.”

Trueblood said the public sent in over 3,000 responses to the city’s “comprehensive plan.” The Office of Planning has submitted only 60 pages of a revised plan — the “framework” chapter — to be considered by D.C. Council. The first hearing ran for more than eight hours, led by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson in March of 2018. Trueblood stated that the office of planning is continuing to go through the amendments.

I asked Mr. Trueblood if he would be incorporating data from the D.C Interagency Council on Homelessness into the framework. I’m a voting member of the ICH and serve as a “consumer representative.”

“I’m pretty sure those numbers have to be incorporated,” he said.

The community at large, regular people like you and me, needs to have this kind of conversation with city officials. If the city is going to have continued dialogue it needs to, directors like Trueblood need to be up front and held accountable by the citizens of the District for this things we care about.

 

Reginald Black is a Street Sense Media artist and vendor.