Wednesday, January 09, 2013

DC zoning regulations review #1: pop-ups

There will be more posts on the DC zoning regulations review (ZRR).  The first item addresses a hot topic in Bloomingdale: pop-ups.

But first, two opening statements that everyone needs to get straight:

Zoning (and DCRA) does not include any form of design review

Zoning (and DCRA) does not address "ugly."

Got it?

Okay, on to pop-ups.

Q: Do the new zoning regulations address pop-ups?
A: Not the way that you would like it to.  
Will the new code provide any limits on “teardowns,” “pop-ups,” or “McMansions”?
Only in a very limited sense. Zoning does not control whether someone can demolish a building; the District’s most effective tool for dealing with that issue is our historic preservation law, which only covers historic districts and other landmarks.  
Many residents are concerned about “pop-ups,” which is a term many people use to describe uncharacteristic additions that raise the height of a house above most of its neighbors. The new code would result in changes to the way the height of a building with a sloped roof is measured (  in the Residential House zones, and this may somewhat restrict the ability to add onto houses that are close to 40 feet in height. Ultimately, the most effective way to prevent inappropriate upper additions might be to rezone a block so that the allowed height is reduced by five or ten feet. Additional neighborhood-specific studies would be necessary to identify such areas. Such studies are not part of this Zoning Update, but could be done in consultation with neighborhoods and property owners in the future.
>>> What would the process be to rezone a block to allow building height to be reduced?  “Additional neighborhood-specific studies would be necessary to identify such areas.”  Who would fund such studies?  
We are still working on defining that process. We would expect the neighbors to actually participate in the study (including gathering data on building patterns).

So.... the process of block-specific zoning and neighborhood-specific zoning has not been fleshed out yet.

1 comment:

  1. well, if everyone did the pop-up like that which was added to 74 Adams St NW there would be no backyard views, light blocked to all neighbors on both sides and a density that surely our pipes, sewage, utilities were not designed to handle.