Sunday, September 11, 2016

Q: should R-4 accommodate higher density -- more dwelling units ?

I posted a comment to this Greater Greater Washington blog post, which the post's author responded to.

See below.

Click on the link and read the post first, before reading the comment and response below.

Houston took this winning approach to adding housing. Could DC do the same?


The Houston approach Houston is famous for its car-oriented sprawl. Though it lacks a zoning code, the city has historically mandated low-density development through non-zoning regulations, like minimum lot sizes and stringent parking requirements.       But in 1999, Houston enacted sweeping land-use reforms: it decreased the minimum residential lot size from 5,000 square feet to 1,400 in close-in neighborhoods. In effect, this reform legalized townhouses in areas with suburban-style houses on huge lots. Two or three houses could now take the spot of one.

I posted a comment to this GGW post:

Thanks for this post, John. What specifically would you suggest for DC's R-4-zoned neighborhoods (now called RF-1 under the new zoning regulations)?
by Scott on Sep 8, 2016 5:25 pm

Here is a response from the post's author, John Ricco:


Well, what I discuss in this post pertains specifically to FKA R1-R3 zones. Personally, OLD R4 -- pre-downzoning -- was pretty acceptable. Being able to add significant floorspace and chop rowhouses into 4 units was, to me, a half-reasonable compromise between adding housing where we most need it and preserving DC's unique rowhouse neighborhoods.

If we wish to preserve "neighborhood character" in R4 areas like DuPont or Logan, which is something I'm not sympathetic to but understand the appeal of, we need to make room in other parts of the city. One major benefit of upzoning the lower-density SFH zones would be to alleviate some growth pressure in these places.

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