DC Zoning Changes Approved, Will Go Into Effect in September

by UrbanTurf Staff

Grubbs Pharmacy on Capitol Hill

On Thursday night, the Zoning Commission unanimously approved the city’s long-debated zoning changes. The changes will go into effect on September 6 of this year. Below is a look at select changes to the code that are probably of most interest to the UrbanTurf readership. For a more comprehensive rundown of all the changes, click here.

  • Accessory Apartments

Under the new code, accessory apartments will be legalized in many low-density sections of the city where they are currently not allowed. An accessory apartment is defined as a residential unit located on a single family dwelling lot. The most common accessory unit is an English basement, but garage units also qualify. The new code will require that the owner of the property live in the main residence and there will be a limit to the total number of people living in the accessory unit, but the dwellings will be allowed by-right.

  • Elimination of Parking Minimum Requirements

Currently, developers constructing new residential buildings in DC must build a certain number of parking spaces. The new code will eliminate this parking minimum in certain parts of DC, like high-density residential areas near public transit. Instead, the number of parking spaces will be determined by the market in that area.

  • Corner Stores

In the new code, corner stores will be encouraged in areas zoned R-3 and R-4. Limitations will protect existing commercial zones and the residential quality of the neighborhood: no more than four stores will be allowed per block, the hours of operation and size will be limited, and stores cannot open up within 500 feet of a commercial zone. These numbers could be adjusted on a neighborhood-to-neighborhood basis.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_zoning_changes_approved_will_go_into_effect_in_september/10765


  1. DC4Reality said at 11:21 pm on Friday January 15, 2016:

    #ZRR Last night’s Twilight Zoning episode, unaccountable bureaucrats gamble with DC’s future. #noethics #badplanning

  1. Cheryl Cort said at 3:25 pm on Wednesday January 20, 2016:

    The parking discussion is not super accurate.

    The code only eliminates minimums for downtown—but not “high-density residential areas near public transit” outside of downtown. For these areas, minimums will be reduced by half, starting with a 1 space/3 unit ratio for any multifamily zone. That’s 1 space/6 units—well below market production. Number of spaces will NOT “be determined by the market in that area.” Another important change switches relief from parking minimum from a “variance” (a high standard) to “special exception” a generally allowable change with some mitigation.

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