Throughout the DC Office of Planning’s five-plus 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.
Get Involved Now
On April 15, the Gray administration asked the DC Zoning Commission for more delay, extending public comment on the proposed update until September 15, 2014.
In light of this latest extension of the comment period, the best way to advocate for this much-needed progressive update is to email in written comments of support to add to the public record. Emailed letters should be sent to email@example.com (and we would LOVE if you would send a copy firstname.lastname@example.org!). If you need help writing your letter of support, we have examples here (click to download), and a detailed step-by-step guide here.
Other ways to get involved
The Zoning Commission will be accepting written testimony through April 17. Click below to send your testimony. If you haven’t done so already, add your name to our petition to show your support for a progressive zoning update.
- Submit written testimony to the Zoning Commission
- Sign our petition in support of a progressive zoning update
Resources to learn more
About the Zoning Update
The D.C. 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 D.C.
Fifty 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:
- 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