Send final comments on the DC Zoning Update

[box][featured]If you’ve supported the Coalition for Smarter Growth for some time, you’re familiar with the DC zoning code update. For the past 8 years, we’ve been working to modernize DC’s zoning code and make it more supportive of creating more of the kind of walkable and inclusive neighborhoods that are at the center of our mission.[/featured]

After (literally!) hundreds of public meetings, lots of media coverage, much compromise, and nearly a year of waiting for a final vote, we’re excited to tell you that the DC Zoning Commission appears to be moving to establish the new zoning code. With the soaring cost of housing and soaring popularity of urban living, we need an updated zoning code that is in line with today’s DC reality.

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Please send in your comments. Here’s how:

As a DC resident who wants a more walkable city, you have this (hopefully) final opportunity to voice your opinion — and it’s never been more important to do it! The final public comment deadline is September 25 at 5pm.

To send your comments to the DC Zoning Commission, you must submit your comments as a PDF attachment and email them to Please cc on your email, so we can keep track of comments!

Here is suggested sample text to send to the DC Zoning Commission. You can also download this sample as an MS Word template. Please consider taking a few moments to customize our suggested text! [line]

Subject: SUPPORT for Zoning Regulations Review, Case No. 08-06A

Dear Chairman Hood and Commissioners:

I wish to voice my support for modernizing the long-overdue DC zoning code. After eight years of thorough public outreach and discussion, it is time to act. I urge you to update to the DC zoning regulations to reduce parking requirements, permit accessory apartments in low density residential neighborhoods, and allow corner stores.  While these are modest changes to our woefully outdated 1958 zoning code, they are meaningful ways to make our city more affordable. I urge you to not delay in finalizing the proposed text which is long overdue. We need these reforms urgently in order to respond to the city’s continued growth and rising demand for more affordable housing and better transportation choices.

In particular, I wish to express my support for the parking reforms in Subtitle C, which significantly reduce parking requirements near transit, including bus priority corridors. I also want to state my support the provisions to allow an accessory apartment in residential zones and corner stores, as described in Subtitle U. 

These three critical areas of reform to the zoning code will help make DC a more sustainable, walkable, and inclusive city. I urge you to move forward with the long awaited update to the zoning code.

Thank you for your consideration.                     


your name

Remember to save as a PDF, not a Word document![line]

To send your comments to the DC Zoning Commission, you must submit your comments as a PDF attachment and email them to Please cc on your email, so we can keep track of comments!



What will the progressive zoning update do?

  • Drastically reduce unnecessary and costly parking requirements, especially near transit and including major bus corridors (see here for the main parking reforms)
  • Permit a basement or carriage house apartment in an owner-occupied home where currently banned (look here to learn more)
  • Legalize corner stores — with a lot of caveats, but still, a big step (learn more here)

Opponents have worked to delay the process for a number of years now, claiming that there has not been enough public input. But in truth there have been hundreds of public meetings, hearings, committees, and other discussion over the last eight years. This proposed update has been vetted and tested and DC badly needs modernized zoning code to help create a more walkable, sustainable and inclusive city.

The Zoning Commission has supported a number of our critical issues that will make the zoning code support the kind of neighborhoods and business districts that give more people better housing and transportation choices. The updated zoning code can help build a greener DC with more affordable housing options for the long haul.

While we didn’t win everything we hoped, the updated zoning code is a major step forward for the city. The new code provides better rules for allowing accessory apartments, corner stores, and parking. These changes help the city offer a wider range of less expensive housing, and more walkable neighborhoods.

It’s time to let the Zoning Commission know, we support moving ahead with this meaningful change to our city’s outdated zoning code. After eight long years, it’s time to finish this discussion. It’s taken so long that the 10 year update to the city’s overall comprehensive plan is due again. Let’s tell the Zoning Commission to follow through on reforms to parking, corner stores and accessory apartment, so we can catch up with all the changes happening in our city.

This is an important step forward for a sustainable DC. These progressive steps can help create more housing options, and encourage more people to use a variety of transportation options, rather than relying on a car for everything. That means a victory for a more inclusive and walkable DC – exactly what the Coalition for Smarter Growth works for every day.[/box]