Author: Alex Baca

Jan. 31, 2019 Homeowner ADU Workshop

We had a fabulous turnout of over 100 people at our D.C. ADU Homeowner Workshop on Jan. 31, 2019, at District Architecture Center!

If you are able, please fill out this survey about the workshop so that we can make sure our future events meet your needs; we want to make sure we’re helping you access the correct and necessary resources to build an ADU.

And, if you haven’t already, join the D.C. ADU online forum.

Presentation materials from the workshop are posted in the public folder of the ADU forum, including:

Stories about ADUs in D.C. have recently on UrbanTurf (“Adaptive reuse to granny pod: A look at two ADUs in D.C.”) and Greater Greater Washington (“Accessory apartments make money and increase the housing supply. Here’s how to build one” and “10 things to look for if you’re considering creating an accessory apartment,” both by Ileana Schinder).

Many thanks to our partners United Planning Organization and in the D.C. ADU workgroup, and our generous sponsors—Wall to Wall Construction, BB&T Home Mortgage, and AIA|DC—for their support of our workshop. CSG is a donor-supported organization; if you like our work, please consider making a contribution to us today.

And, once again: Please, take our survey!

Image via

Accessory dwelling units are part of Montgomery County’s housing solution. Support them today!

Tell the County Council that we need rules that make accessory dwellings feasible in Montgomery County!

It’s no secret that Montgomery residents face daunting housing challenges. Prices are high, and the right home can be hard to find, especially for an aging parent, returning adult child, or young family just starting out. One solution that can help is accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. But the County’s current rules are too onerous, and prevent many homeowners from creating an accessory unit on their property.

Accessory dwelling units offer a range of benefits, they help adult children have a place to stay close to parents, and they enable aging parents to live close to family members. They offer an aging-in-place solution for retirees, and help make housing more affordable for young families.

Tell the Montgomery County Council that you support flexible solutions like accessory dwelling units, and the zoning amendment to set more reasonable rules for homeowners.

Communities across the country are embracing accessory dwelling units as an innovative way to give homeowners and renters more housing choices, especially where housing prices are high.

Montgomery County has made steps to reform its highly restrictive rules that permit a homeowner to build an accessory apartment but many rules still discourage homeowners from reaching for this solution. Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 is legislation that will address some of the most onerous, and unnecessary restrictions. By enacting these bold reforms, the county can offer many more homeowners the opportunity to take advantage of underutilized space to house a family member, or age in place.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Allow detached ADUs in small lot single family zones and removes the 1 acre minimum lot size limit (think garage apartment or tiny house)
  • Allows ADUs in basements (think English basements)
  • Remove prohibition on ADUs in houses less than 5 years old
  • Remove minimum distance restrictions from other ADUs.
  • Requires 2 off-street parking spaces rather than 3, or provides a waiver process.
  • Keeps own-occupancy requirement
  • Keeps the restriction that no more than 2 unrelated individuals can reside in the ADU
  • Maintains all residential construction requirements like setbacks and lot coverage.
  • Permits only one ADU per property.
  • Maintains ban on short term rentals (AirBnB) for ADUs

Let the county council know that you support these reforms and want to see the county as a leader in innovative housing solutions.

Want more information? Check out this helpful fact sheet by At-Large County Councilmember Hans Riemer, and read this Greater Greater Washington post by Tracy Loh.

Don’t want to use our form? You can email

Coming Up: A book talk, a brown-bag lunch, and Bus to Work Day

Happy February! Read on for upcoming CSG events and public meetings where your voice is needed in support of people-friendly streets and neighborhoods.

Upcoming Events

Book Talk: Christof Spieler: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit
Tues., Feb. 5, 5:30-8 p.m.
Smith Public Trust

Join us and Island Press for a talk with Houston-based community leader, urban planner, and transit enthusiast Christof Spieler, whose book Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit profiles 47 metropolitan rail and bus systems. Spieler takes an honest look at what makes good and bad transit and is not afraid to look at what went wrong; at this talk, he’ll give a brief presentation and answer questions. Cash bar available. This event is free, but please register here.

Brown-Bag Lunch: Making Workforce Housing Work
Thurs., Feb. 7, 12-1:30 p.m.
West End Library Meeting Room

Join Somerset Development Company project manager Patrick McAnaney, Enterprise Community Partners Mid-Atlantic State & Local Policy Director Melissa Bondi, and CSG Policy Director Cheryl Cort to discuss the results of a new research paper about workforce housing in D.C. Workforce housing policies and subsidies are intended to fill the gap between what workers earn and what they can afford—but those that exist don’t fully account for the fact that eight of the 20 most common types of jobs in D.C. earn well below what it costs to afford rent or own a home in the city. We’ll discuss the numbers behind workforce housing, and possible solutions. Bring your lunch! This event is free, but please register here.

Save the Date: Prince Livable Communities Leadership Award reception
Tues., April 23, 5 p.m.

Save the date for CSG’s annual Prince Livable Communities Leadership Award reception! We will return to Tico, on 14th Street in D.C., to honor smart-growth champions in our region. More information and ticket sales coming soon.

Stand Up for Smart Growth

The following public meetings and open comment periods are great opportunities to tell decisionmakers that you’d like people who walk, bike, and take transit to be prioritized in projects.

Bus to Work Day

Mon., Feb. 4
14th and Buchanan streets NW
Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd has introduced legislation to designate Feb. 4 as Bus to Work Day in D.C., coinciding with National Transit Equity Day. Councilmember Todd will be taking the 7:45 a.m. 59 bus to work from 14th and Buchanan streets; join him by taking the bus for your commute, too. Learn more here.

Rock Creek East I Livability Meeting
Wed., Feb. 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library
Learn more here; register here

20th/21st/22nd Street Cycletrack
Comments open until Wed., Feb. 13
Learn more and submit comments here, or email

D.C. Council Oversight Hearings

  • DDOT Performance Hearing: Mon. Feb. 25, 11 a.m.
  • DDOT Budget Hearing: Thurs., April 11, 11 a.m.
  • Office of Planning Performance Hearing: Thurs., Feb. 28, 11 a.m.
  • Office of Planning Budget Hearing: Tues., March 26, 11 a.m.

More information for budget hearings here and performance hearings here

Montgomery County ADU Regulation Hearing
Tues., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.
3rd Floor hearing room, Council office building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
ZTA 19-01 would remove certain regulations on ADUs to make them easier and more affordable to build. Read more here, and see a fact sheet hereYou must sign up to testify at this meeting, or you can submit comments by email to

Plan Lee Highway Kickoff Meeting
Tues., Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
Washington-Lee High School
Learn more here

West Falls Church Economic Development Project Town Hall and Council Meeting
Town Hall: Sun., Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
City Council: Mon., Feb. 25, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Community Center, 223 Little Falls St., Falls Church
Learn more here

Loudoun 2040 Comprehensive Plan Work Sessions
Thurs., Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, and Feb. 28
Dulles Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street SE, Leesburg
Learn more here

And, stay up to date with what’s going on with Amazon here.

Metro Budget Open Houses and Hearings
Thurs., Jan. 31
Greenbelt Library, 11 Crescent Road
Open house at 6 p.m., public hearing at 6:30 p.m.

Tues., Feb. 5 (rescheduled from Jan. 29)
Metro HQ, 600 5th St. NW
Open house at 5:30 p.m., public hearing at 6 p.m.

More information here. If you missed the Jan. 30 open house in Alexandria, or can’t attend the above meetings, take the online survey.

CSG In the News

Executive Director Stewart Schwartz was quoted in Alexandria Living‘s coverage of the Embark Richmond Highway plan (for more on the plan, read Greater Greater Washington):
“Overall, it’s a very positive vision for the future for really the oldest corridor in the county, “ said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a DC-based advocacy group. “It would create walkable, transit oriented-communities with a network of streets, strong bicycling infrastructure… [and] green ecological corridors running through it.”
Engagement Director Alex Baca was on The Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss regional housing needs and how to make housing affordable for different generations.

In Case You Missed It

Smart-growth supporters—like you!—raised over $152,000 during our annual year-end campaign. Over 30 percent of our budget comes from individual contributions, and we can’t thank you enough for your gift. If you’d like to give to the Coalition for Smarter Growth, is always open.

Thanks, and we hope to see you soon!

Support a livable, walkable D.C. region today!

Photo by Flickr user MW Transit User

CSG in the news: The Richmond Highway corridor could be getting more housing, shops, and fast buses

Greater Greater Washington, Jan. 10, 2019:

Southeast Fairfax County has a mix of housing options and occupies a prime location by Huntington Metro Station, which acts as a gateway to the corridor (in fact, the the CBC next to the station is called North Gateway). As the Coalition for Smarter Growth indicated in its 2017 report on the corridor, ensuring the corridor has adequate affordable housing is vital to ensuring many different kinds of people can afford to live here, not just those with a large bank account. The county should focus on this in order to avoid pricing people out of the corridor and into other parts of the county farther from transit and with more sprawl.

Read more here.

CSG in the news: Richmond Highway embarks on a new era

Alexandria Living, Jan. 6, 2019:

The “transit-oriented design” will place emphasis on multimodal forms of transportation, with BRT running through the CBCs from the Huntington Metro station to Fort Belvoir. Dedicated bike lanes and large, connected sidewalks will be up and down the corridor along Route 1, making a place known for being less-than-friendly to pedestrians and bikers into something urbanists can get excited about.

“Overall, it’s a very positive vision for the future for really the oldest corridor in the county, “ said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a DC-based advocacy group. “It would create walkable, transit oriented-communities with a network of streets, strong bicycling infrastructure… [and] green ecological corridors running through it.”

Read more here.

Continue reading “CSG in the news: Richmond Highway embarks on a new era”