[box][featured]The Washington D.C. zoning code has not been comprehensively updated since 1958, when suburban-style planning predominated, cities were built only to accommodate cars, and gas cost $0.24 per gallon.[/featured]
The code is older than 78 percent of the District’s population and places little emphasis on historic preservation or sustainability. Simply put, it does not befit a modern, dynamic city like D.C.
After years of revision and public process, the proposed zoning update is now scheduled for public hearings before the DC Zoning Commission in November. It’s critical that supporters plan to give testimony at one of the hearings, or submit written testimony! Sign up to testify, or learn how to submit written testimony below.[line]
Zoning Commission: Sign up to Speak in Person
All hearings will be held at the Office of Zoning in the Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 220-S, Washington, DC 20001. The hearings will start at 6:00 p.m. and will continue until all the witnesses are heard or the ZC decides to recess.
Choose the night you would prefer to testify, and click the “signup” button to use our form to submit a testimony RSVP to the Secretary of the Office of Zoning. We’ll also be in touch with tips and help on testifying!
[button_left link=”#”]Signup[/button_left] Monday, November 4 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button]Tuesday, November 5 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button]Wednesday, November 6 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button]Thursday, November 7 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button]Tuesday, November 12 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button] Wednesday, November 13 at 6:00pm
[button link=”#”]Signup[/button]Thursday, November 14 at 6:00pm
Please note that the final hearings on Tuesday, November 19 and Wednesday, November 20 are reserved for overflow from previous hearings.
Recent News Coverage
What’s the latest on the zoning update? Here’s a roundup of some recent articles for more information:
July 3, 2013 – Washington Post – Zoning rewrite, after five years, nears finish
July 2, 2013 – Washington City Paper – Zoning Update Enters the Home Stretch, Over Opposition
June 24, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Zoning update opponents ask for yet more delay
June 17, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
June 14, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Theaters can’t find homes? Fix the zoning
March 25, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Can the Anacostia Playhouse escape from zoning hell?
March 22, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Should corner stores require a hearing?
March 20, 2013 – Washington City Paper – Out, Damned Spot! How D.C.’s Onerous Parking Requirements Slow Development
March 18, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Mendelson grills accessory dwelling opponents
March 8, 2013 – Washington Post – Looser parking rules are no threat to D.C.
March 7, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Capitol Hill ANC poised to endorse zoning update
February 20, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Glover Park ANC supports zoning update; support them!
January 15, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Muriel Bowser unsure on parking minimums, corner stores
January 5, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Panic! Your alley could have a cute, clean little brick house!
December 13, 2012 – Greater Greater Washington – In Ward 2, residents ask for lower parking minimums
December 11, 2012 – Greater Greater Washington – What’s in the zoning update: Fewer parking minimums
December 7, 2012 – Greater Greater Washington – What’s in the zoning update: Accessory dwellings
December 4, 2012 – Greater Greater Washington – What’s in the zoning update: Corner stores
October 22, 2012 – Greater Greater Washington – To discourage building empty garages, unbundle parking
October 5, 2012 – Washington City Paper – Battle Lines Drawn Over Zoning Update
October 3, 2012 – Washington City Paper – Not Asking for a Lot
Get Involved through Pro-DC
- Learn more about Pro-DC
- Sign the Pro-DC petition in support of a progressive Zoning Update
- Pledge to testify at a Zoning Commission hearing
- Download the Pro-DC guide to the Zoning Update
D.C. Office of Planning Resources
- Draft copy of the zoning update
- Office of Planning spring 2013 presentation on the update
- Office of Planning’s official D.C. Zoning Update website
- Office of Planning’s Zoning Update FAQs
- Office of Planning’s Zoning Update blog
What Should the Update Look Like?
We need to modernize our zoning code to better accommodate the needs of current and future residents. Specifically, we would like to see real progress made in the following areas.
Accessory Dwelling Units
We need better options for homeowners to create an accessory dwelling unit without a long and burdensome process. More residents will be able to rent out a basement or garage to help pay the mortgage, give a young person the opportunity to live in the neighborhood, and let seniors age in place in their own homes.
Just the facts: the accessory dwelling proposals will…
- Allow one accessory dwelling in the house or an existing separate building in single-family and low-density row house zones
- Not change higher-density row house and apartment zones
- Require a special exception for construction of (or expansion of ) a garage or carriage house with an accessory dwelling
- Require the owner to live in the house at the same time
- Limit the overall size of the dwelling to 25% of the size of the main one
- Include other restrictions as well.
Parking minimums require more parking than people need, increase the cost of housing, and damage the historic and walkable form of many neighborhoods. Easing parking requirements in downtown areas and along busy transit corridors will help to create more walkable, vibrant neighborhoods and provide more accessible housing options for more people.
Just the facts: the parking proposals will…
- Eliminate parking minimums in downtown zones and commercial or mixed-use zones with frequent rail or bus service
- Retain parking minimums in neighborhood corridors without frequent transit
- Eliminate parking minimums for buildings under 10 units
- Retain parking minimums for churches, schools, and other non-residential uses in residential zones.
We need a code that makes reasonable allowances for local corner stores in row house residential neighborhoods. The ability to walk just a short distance to local, neighborhood-friendly amenities enriches our neighborhood fabric.
Just the facts: the corner store proposals will…
- Allow small retail, service, or arts uses in corner buildings or buildings that were historically retail in residential row house areas
- Not allow on-site cooking, dumpsters, liquor stores, dry cleaning chemicals, or a long list of other impacts that would harm neighbors
- Limit the number of other such corner stores within a 500 foot radius.
We need a simplified zoning code with clear rules that can be followed by your average resident. We want to make sure the zoning code is accessible to everyone – not just land use lawyers.
Just the facts: the code reorganization will…
- Create a more accessible, easy-to-understand and easy-to-use code
- Create a new zone category for each current combination of zone and overlay
- Provide a ‘development standards’ table for each zone, listing building limits and pointing to relevant sections with rules for measurement and more
- Provide a ‘use table’, listing which uses are allowed and referring to relevant sections with rules for conditions or special exceptions.