New D.C. Zoning Regulations Take Effect Today
It's the first time they've been fully updated in almost 60 years.
Sep. 6, 2016 12:45 p.m.
Here are some of the main takeaways from the new regulations, per the D.C. Office of Zoning and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs:
- Relaxed restrictions on dwelling units (accessory apartments) not directly attached to homes to incentivize the adaptive reuse of structures like garages and historic carriage houses. If a detached building is on the same lot as a house, is accessible through a yard or an alley of a certain size, and is within 300 feet of a street, then an owner can permit an extra residential unit there. The owner must live on site.
- Residential uses are now allowed in alley lots of some sizes provided that safety codes are met. The majority are in Wards 2 and 6.
- Corner stores in more rowhouse zones than before: Stores must be smaller than 1,200 square feet and have limited hours (7 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Can't be within 500 feet of a mixed-use zone, on an alley lot, or in an accessory building as well.
- A new definition of "fast food" that could facilitate more efficient permitting of fast-casual restaurants. In the past, prospective fast-casual owners have been lumped with more traditional fast-food joints like McDonald's and Popeye's because regulations had one-strike criteria: For example, if an establishment used disposable plates, then it was a fast food restaurant, which requires a special exemption from the Board of Zoning Adjustment. The new rules contain five criteria for what determines a fast food eatery, but no single one is dispositive.
- New regulations create a standard for the amount of parking space required for multi-family dwellings of larger than four units: one parking space for every three units. They also get rid of parking requirements for buildings downtown. Additionally, the regulations fix a maximum size for by-right surface parking lots—100,000 square feet (which contain a ballpark range of 350 spots).