Councilmember Cheh introduces bill to revise the District’s surplus and disposition process

The “Surplus of District Land Clarification Amendment Act of 2016” to change the way the District sells, leases, or gives away District-owned property

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, April 19th, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, introduced the “Surplus of District Land Clarification Amendment Act of 2016” to amend the surplus and disposition process within the Department of General Services (DGS). When the District surpluses property, it gives it away, sells it, or grants a long term lease to private parties.

“This legislation pushes the District to more meaningfully engage with communities in the surplus process. It would ensure that communities have an opportunity to weigh in on a surplus determination early on in the process, in order to help shape any eventual RFP, rather than automatically moving to sell the property for private development,” said Councilmember Cheh.

The bill will make three significant changes to the process by which District-owned land is repurposed: it requires all public hearings on surpluses of be held at least 30 days before a request for proposal (RFP) is issued; clarifies that DGS is the entity responsible for preparing the surplus analysis for the Council; and requires the surplus analysis include a description of all the public uses considered for that property.

Currently, there are a number of inconsistencies with how the surplus analysis and hearing process is implemented. For example, in 2013 all of the surplus analyses had been conducted by DGS but in 2015 all but one of the surplus analyses were completed by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). DMPED leads the Mayor’s economic development strategy but, because it isn’t responsible for assessing the facility or community needs of the District, additional uses for property may be inadvertently overlooked.

“There are many potential uses for government property that are beneficial to the public –such as building a recreation center, creating a park, or leasing buildings to community-based nonprofit organizations. District agencies may also benefit from repurposing existing facilities for additional offices or swing space during agency renovations. DGS is impartial and is in the best position to make this detailed analysis. By clarifying that this is DGS’s purview, we can ensure that the surplus and disposition process does not advance the desires of developers over community benefit,” said Cheh.

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