Throughout the DC Office of Planning’s six year public process to update the zoning code, the Coalition for Smarter Growth has tracked the Office of Planning’s outreach efforts to the community, educated our DC supporters on the importance, content, and proposed changes to the zoning update, hosted numerous events and workshops, and rallied community members to get involved in the process.
Read on below for ways to get involved, for helpful resources in learning about the proposed update, for a background on the update, and recent news clips.
What’s Happening Now
After seven long years, the DC Zoning Update has almost reached its end – and we’re starting to like what we see! After a series of meetings in October 2014, the Zoning Commission appears to have settled on key provisions for parking, accessory dwellings, and corner stores that will help create a more walkable and inclusive DC for the future (read more).
This being the zoning code, a long and complicated document, and the zoning code review, which has taken longer than anyone ever envisioned, nothing is a sure thing until final passage. Votes were taken during the week of October 6 but there are still a few final steps left.
First of all, there are some minor changes that the Zoning Commission requested to the updated text. We don’t believe those will affect any of the most important issues, but it’s always a possibility until we see the true final version. The requested updates should come in from the Office of Planning over the course of the fall season. There likely will be a final meeting on December 11 at which point the Zoning Commission will formalize their October vote.
Resources to learn more
About the Zoning Update
The DC zoning code 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 DC
50 years of accumulated amendments have made the code far too complicated and difficult to navigate. It outlaws traditional, walkable neighborhood forms and requires more parking than residents need. It prohibits neighborhood corner stores. It frowns on accessory dwelling units that could help families pay their mortgage. And it’s nearly impossible to understand without a lawyer!
The proposed update makes positive, progressive changes to the code in several key areas. The most important areas that we have centered our work around are parking regulation changes (parking minimums), provisions around accessory apartments (ADUs or granny flats), regulations around corner stores, and the overall readability of the code. The proposal does not make substantive changes to inclusionary zoning (IZ) policy or the DC height limit, which are separate issues.
The DC Office of Planning and Zoning Commission have conducted extensive public outreach since 2008 through the present seeking input from ANCs, residents and other stakeholders, including: 81 public work group meetings on 20 topic areas, with a total of 1,000 participants; 42 task force meetings by a representative task force of 25 residents; 59 public hearings and meetings by the Zoning Commission on specific topics; 8 meetings in each ward in December 2012 and January 2013 to discuss the zoning revision; over 100 ANC, community group, and special interest group meetings with DC Office of Planning; and made publicly available the draft proposed text to the Zoning Commission July 29, 2013.
What’s the latest on the zoning code update? Here’s a roundup of press coverage over the past year for more information:
- September 3, 2014 - Great Greater Washington - One more chance to make the zoning update better
- April 17, 2014 – Greater Greater Washington - DC’s 40-year out of date zoning code will get at least 6 months more stale
- April 16, 2014 - WAMU - After Six Years, D.C. To Get Six More Months To Debate Zoning Code Rewrite
- December 10, 2013 – Washington Post – Zoning rewrite will get another round of hearings
- November 1, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington - Is a walkable neighborhood out of reach for you?
- October 21, 2013 – Greater Greater Washington – Have you signed up to testify on the zoning update?
- 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