The D.C. Zoning Commission wasted little time implementing new restrictions on rowhome pop-ups and multi-unit conversions.
Those regulations, adopted June 8 by a 3-2 vote, were published in the D.C. Register on Friday, becoming effective immediately. Permit applications that remain in the pipeline, unless submitted before July 17, 2014, will be reviewed under the more restrictive rules, no matter how far along they are in the process.
Any building permits issued prior to June 26 were reviewed under, and adhere to, the previous rules.
Below are the basics of the amended R-4 rules. For a good explainer on what it means, check out this FAQ from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
The conversion of a residential building to an apartment house — that is, more than two units — will require a special exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustments.
If the BZA does authorize a conversion to four or more units, the fourth unit and every additional even-numbered unit must be set aside as affordable under the District's inclusionary zoning law.
The matter-of-right height for any residential building, including any addition, is limited to 35 feet, down from 40 feet. The BZA may grant a special exception from the 35-foot rule.
The number of residential stories is limited to three, including mezzanines, which are now considered a floor.
Any building addition, including a roof structure or penthouse, must not interfere with the operation of an existing or permitted solar energy system on an adjacent property.
Additions must also not "have a substantially adverse effect on the use or enjoyment of any abutting or adjacent dwelling or property." That includes light and air available to neighboring properties and neighbors' privacy. Also, the addition "shall not substantially visually intrude upon the character, scale and pattern of houses along the street or alley."
Non-residential structures existing prior to May 12, 1958, (think churches, funeral homes, schools) may generally be converted to three-story apartment houses by right, as long as there is at least 900 square feet of land area per proposed unit. To go higher than 35 feet will require a special exception.