Maybe Now the Loading Trucks Won’t Park in Front of the Building Reply

Every day we encounter trucks on our streets making delivery of goods, which is important to the functioning of our city. However, delivery trucks can become a problem when they block the street or take up parking spaces, and can become a nuisance or even a danger to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

To help resolve these issues, as part of ZRR, the Zoning Commission has taken proposed action to approve the following changes to the Zoning Regulations:

  • In many cases, delivery trucks unload from the street, even when the building has loading facilities. While this is mostly an enforcement issue, the new zoning regulations will encourage truck drivers to actually use the provided loading facilities, as all new or expanded buildings with a loading requirement will be required to provide a loading plan to get a building permit.
  • Increasingly, deliveries in the city are being made using smaller trucks, resulting in fewer large trucks on our streets, and easier and faster unloading. As such, variances from the current loading requirements are often requested and approved; especially for 55-foot long trucks as smaller 30-foot trucks more typically serve the need of businesses and residents in an urban environment like DC. The new Zoning Regulations would reflect this change by requiring loading spaces for 30-foot trucks (although larger loading docks would be permitted), and would continue to dictate the number of berths to be provided. Of course, the loading plan would have to demonstrate that the size chosen is appropriate for the use.
  • The current regulations require that each use within a mixed use building provide separate loading facilities. For example, a building with both residential and retail space would have to provide separate loading berths for each use. This can result in an excessive number of loading bay doors facing a street, multiple curb cuts that take away street parking, and a large portion of the building’s square footage being dedicated to loading which may go unused for long periods of time. The new regulations would allow the sharing of loading docks between uses within a building, governed by a loading plan and monitored by a loading manager to eliminate conflicts of use.
  • Likewise, the current regulations require each building to provide its own loading, even when loading could efficiently be shared by two buildings. The proposed changes would allow loading facilities of one building to be shared with an adjacent building or a building across an alley if accompanied by a covenant outlining the sharing agreement. Access would be from an alley or side street to help reduce disruptions along building frontages and minimize the blocking of street intersections.
  • A related issue is the provision and location of a trash room in office, retail, or multi-family buildings. The current zoning does not address this directly; the new regulations would require the provision of a trash room within the building’s loading area.
  • Relief from loading requirements in the current regulations typically requires variance review by the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Under the proposed regulations, loading facilities that need some flexibility from the requirements could seek relief by special exception (so would still require BZA and public review) instead of the stricter variance standards.

For the proposed new loading requirements, see the Zoning Regulations Review at www.dcoz.dc.gov/ZRR Subtitle C, Chapter 9.

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