Revised draft versions of Subtitle A Authority and Administration, Subtitle Y Board of Zoning Adjustment, and Subtitle Z Zoning Commission, are now available on ZoningDC. We have also posted a “crosswalk” for the Authority and Administration chapter, which will allow for easier navigation between the existing and the proposed regulations. See the “Selected Publications” section on this blog or dczoningupdate.org for copies of the proposals. Revised and refined versions of other draft subtitles, responding to public comments received at the community meetings, as well as crosswalks for other chapters, will be posted over the next few weeks. We look forward to hearing your additional feedback!
The District has launched Play DC!, the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Initiative, which will establish a road map for the District’s parks and recreation system over the next ten years. Check out the project website at http://www.playdc.org to learn more.
The District has also just kicked off an evaluation of the city’s network of parks and recreation resources, and there are lots of ways for you to get involved:
1. MindMixer Online Engagement Forum
Visit our Virtual Town Hall at http://www.letsplaydc.com!
2. Citizen Survey
Take our Citizen Survey coming soon to http://www.playdc.org!
3. Public Workshops
Attend any of the following events that are most convenient for you!
• One City Summer Kickoff – Saturday, June 15th @ RFK Stadium, Lot 7, 10 am–5pm. We’ll be there with info about the Master Plan and free DPR swag – stop by and enjoy the start of summer!
• Public Workshop #1: Monday June 17th @ Deanwood Recreation Center, 7-9 pm. Deanwood Recreation Center is located at 1350 49th Street, NE, next to Deanwood Metro Station.
• Public Workshop #2: Tuesday, June 18th @ One Judiciary Square, Old Council Chambers, 12-2 pm. One Judiciary Square is located at 441 4th Street, NW, next to the Judiciary Square Metro Station.
• Public Workshop #3: Thursday, June 20th @ Raymond Recreation Center, 7-9 pm. Raymond Recreation Center is located at 3725 10th Street, NW, near the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or questions.
Many cities have a front yard setback requirement, at least for low density residential areas. Washington DC does not. Why?
First – what is a front yard setback? Typically, it is a requirement that the house and other buildings be set back a certain distance from the front or street property line. DC has setback requirements, depending on the zone, from rear and side property lines, but not from the front. However, there typically is a landscaped area separating the house from the sidewalk, even in our denser rowhouse areas. This landscaped space between the sidewalk and the property line is confusingly called “parking” area (not car parking space), and is legally part of the city’s park and open space system.
So, how did this come to be?
DC’s streets are typically quite wide (yes, we know that there are some exceptions). We can thank Pierre L’Enfant for this. The 1791 L’Enfant Plan that established the street network within the boundaries of Florida Avenue to the north and the confluence of the rivers to the south had rights-of-way that ranged in width from 90 to 160 feet. The idyllic notion that the broad avenues would be picturesque carriage ways lined with double rows of trees was a nice idea. But in reality these wide streets presented a maintenance headache for the fledgling city and local government. To help the city deal with this, in 1870 Congress passed the Parking Act, which allowed the city to set aside parts of the street right-of-way as park land “to be adorned with shade-trees, walks, and enclosed with curbstones, not exceeding one half the width of any and all avenues and streets in the said city of Washington”.
We posted a new draft of Subtitle J: Production, Distribution and Repair and wanted to call your attention to a change. During our community meetings in December and January, we heard concerns about nightclubs locating in industrial zones. To address these concerns, we’re proposing that Entertainment, Assembly, and Performing Arts uses be permitted in the industrial zones by Special Exception subject to the following conditions:
(a) The use shall be located and designed so that it is not likely to become objectionable to neighboring properties because of noise, traffic, parking, loading, number of attendees, waste collection, or other conditions;
(b) The property shall not abut a residential use or residential zone;
(c) The proposed Entertainment, Assembly, and Performing Arts use shall not be located in the same square or within a radius of one thousand feet (1,000 ft.) from any portion of a property containing a live performance, night club or dance venue;
(d) External performances or external amplification shall not be permitted;
(e) The Board may impose additional requirements as it deems necessary to protect adjacent or nearby residential properties, including but not limited to:
(2) Limitations on the hours of operation; and
(3) Expiration on the duration of the special exception approval.
We hope these conditions help mitigate the potential impact of these uses in Production, Distribution and Repair zones. Read the text here.
This Friday, May 17th, is Bike to Work Day and it’s the perfect way to cap off Bike to Work Week. The League of American Bicyclists began Bike to Work Day as part of Bike Month in 1956. The Washington area Bike to Work Day event, which is sponsored by WABA and Commuter Connections, has grown from a few hundred riders in 2001 to more than 12,000 participants in 2012.
In the Metropolitan Washington region, Bike to Work Day will feature seventy pit stops throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The event is the perfect way to try bicycling to work as a healthy and safe alternative to driving alone. Take a break at a pit stop on your way to work for food, fun, and prizes. Find the pit stop closest to your home or office and register online.
What do Washington DC, Paris, Denver, Buenos Aires, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Lyon, Boston, Los Angeles, Rio, Miami Beach, Christchurch, Seoul, Madison, Montreal, Des Moines, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Buffalo, Ft. Worth, Frankfurt, London, Melbourne, Tulsa, Salt Lake City, Bucharest, Singapore, Anaheim, Mexico City, Omaha, Shanghai, Kansas City, Seville, Oklahoma City, Ft. Lauderdale, Athens, Monaco, and Chattanooga ALL have in common? Well, lots of things, including that all have some kind of a bike share program. Here is a link to a site that maps the hundreds of existing and planned bike share programs all over the world. Who knows, maybe someday they will all be administratively connected so you can use your CaBi membership to get a bike in Kailua or Bangkok or Dubai!
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), Spain has the most bike share programs with over 100; the largest in the world is in Hangzhou, China with 61,000 bikes (DC is currently the largest in the US, although New York plans to have some 10,000 bikes), and the oldest dates from 1965 in Amsterdam. I remember the first “bike share” I used was in a small village in Netherlands in the 1980’s – you picked up one of a multitude of rickety old bike anywhere and left it anywhere, unlocked and free of charge. At least, I think the bike I used was part of a bike share program…
Here are photos from a few of the cities with Bikeshare – if you have photos from other cities, we would love to see them.
The District’s proposed Green Area Ratio (GAR) allows vegetated or green walls to be counted as a landscape element toward a project’s required GAR score. Vegetated walls are essentially vertical versions of green roofs. In addition to helping to reduce the District’s heat island effect, vegetated walls can be beautiful works of art or used for urban agriculture. Below are a couple of examples of vegetated walls — the first is from Mexico City, Mexico and the second is from Paris, France.
Vegetated walls are constructed using either panels or cables (the construction method used depends on the types of plants selected). Vegetated walls are either free standing or part of a building.
The GAR allows applicants to calculate points for vegetated walls by multiplying the ground coverage area (planting bed) of the vegetated wall by the multiplier (0.6). The multiplier represents a value for the vertical surface of the wall.
Do you have any other examples of attractive vegetated walls? We’d love to see them!
Revised draft versions of Subtitle B Definitions and Subtitle I Downtown Development Overlay District are now available on ZoningDC. We have also posted a “crosswalk” for the Downtown chapter which will allow for easier navigation between the existing and the proposed regulations. See the “Selected Publications” section on this blog or dczoningupdate.org for copies of the proposals. Revised and refined versions of other draft subtitles, responding to public comments received at the community meetings, as well as crosswalks for other chapters, will be posted over the next few weeks. We look forward to hearing your additional feedback!
Revised draft versions of Subtitle H Neighborhood Mixed Use Zones and Subtitle X General Processes are now available on ZoningDC. Subtitle H is solely focused on the Neighborhood commercial zones that are the existing neighborhood commercial overlays. In response to concerns raised about them feeling lost in the bulk of other mixed use zones, we decided to pull them out and create a separate subtitle just for them. Subtitle X reflects recent changes and guidance from the Zoning Commission regarding Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) regulations. See the “Selected Publications” section on this blog or dczoningupdate.org for copies of the proposals. Revised and refined versions of other draft subtitles, responding to public comments received at the community meetings, will be posted over the next few weeks. We look forward to hearing your additional feedback!
At first glance, meeting the District’s proposed Green Area Ratio (GAR) requirement might seem like a daunting proposition. Fear not, satisfying the GAR requirements will not be as difficult as you think. The GAR is a way for the District to ensure, through the zoning code, that new projects and significant additions meet minimum environmental standards. The GAR requirements work in tandem with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new stormwater management requirements (MS-4). Together, GAR and MS-4 require property owners to incorporate landscape elements and environmental site design components into their projects to reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Do these new requirements (GAR and MS-4) mean that site design has to be approached in a new way? In some cases, absolutely, but the intent is to encourage designers to approach site design in a holistic way; improving the District’s environmental quality while simultaneously satisfying the GAR and MS-4 requirements.
First, let’s review some basic information about GAR applicability. GAR would not apply to one-family detached and semi-detached dwellings, although they are required to provide a certain percentage of pervious surface on the lot. If you live in an R-1, R-2, R-3, or R-4 zone, GAR would not apply.
Second, let’s try to address some concerns that have been expressed about GAR. We’ve heard people say that the GAR might conflict with other planning goals, such as creating lively and engaging streetscapes, and could instead result in sites with overly large setbacks. However, the GAR requirement could be met while still allowing for effective site design while including project elements consistent with the District’s planning goals, such as pedestrian plazas that include public seating, cafe seating and retail opportunities. Examples exist where landscape performance features have been incorporated into designs that accommodate both gathering spaces and green features.Extensive green roofs have been installed under walking grates at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ downtown headquarters. University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness campus has incorporated an intensive green roof and commencement gathering areas, as well as a harvest/reuse system, into the main pedestrian plaza over the parking structure. In addition, there are several other ways designers could meet the GAR requirement, including the use of permeable pavers, vegetated walls, or planters with trees or native plant species.