Reminder – Public Meeting Thursday December 13th Reply

The Office of Planning will be holding the third of eight community meetings to discuss the draft proposed changes to the zoning regulations on Thursday, December 13th, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The meeting will be located at Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place SE (Anacostia Station on the Green Line).

The meeting agenda is below:

More…

Balancing Regulations and Local Character Reply

Every city’s zoning code has to balance tensions between two fundamental desires—the desire for order and the desire for neighborhood character.

We express the desire for order when we say things like “it’s only fair that people in one part of the city with the same zoning shouldn’t have more rights than people in another part,” or “it’s too confusing if people in my neighborhood, whose property is zoned the same as mine, are playing by a different set of rules than the ones people elsewhere are trying to follow.” But when we say, “the rules should acknowledge differences in neighborhood character,” or “it’s not appropriate to prescribe cookie-cutter solutions,” we’re talking about a desire for diversity.

The updated zoning rules acknowledge differences in neighborhood character

The updated zoning rules acknowledge differences in neighborhood character

The draft Zoning Update tries to balance these competing goals in a number of ways. First, the draft code sets out a number of “General Rules” that apply citywide. In general, questions like “how large should a loading berth be?” should have the same answers, no matter where you are in the city. As best as we can, we’ve tried to answer those kinds of questions in the General Rules, so everyone has a standard set of rules to follow.
More…

Reminder – Public Meeting Tuesday December 11th Reply

The Office of Planning will be holding the second of eight community meetings to discuss the draft proposed changes to the zoning regulations on Tuesday, December 11th, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The meeting will be located at 421 7th Street NW (2 blocks south of Gallery Place Station on the Red, Green and Yellow Lines)

The meeting agenda is below:

More…

Reminder – Public Meeting Saturday December 8th Reply

The Office of Planning will be holding the first of eight community meetings to discuss the draft proposed changes to the zoning regulations on Saturday, December 8th, from 10am to 12 noon. The meeting will be located at 1100-4th Street SW, Second Floor (above the Safeway, Waterfront Station on the Green Line). The meeting agenda is below:
More…

Myth vs. Fact: Where’s the Data? 1

Myth-understanding: OP is using the wrong vehicle data to justify its parking recommendations.

Fact: OP’s data about vehicle usage is derived from the U.S. Census Bureau, and we’re pretty confident in it. We’re labeling this one a “myth-understanding” because there appears to be some confusion around this issue, and reasonable people might have interpreted information differently. Here are the facts: in October 2012, a citizen asked OP some questions about vehicle data presented in a DDOT presentation. The slide, derived from Federal Highway Administration data, listed a figure of 150,000 vehicles in the District. OP uses Census data to estimate vehicle availability. And, different agencies using different sources of data seems to have caused some confusion. We want to clear up this myth-understanding, since we’ve heard some claims that OP has used “skewed facts and figures” to make “fallacious” claims that there “has been a significant reduction in registered passenger vehicles.”

More…

Latest ZRR Draft Proposals Now Available! Reply

The latest versions of the Zoning Regulations Review (ZRR) draft proposals are now available on ZoningDC. See the “Selected Publications” section on this blog or dczoningupdate.org for copies of the proposals. Please note that OP is still in the process of updating the proposal reference numbering, as we have made some edits based on feedback to date. We look forward to hearing your additional feedback!

Community Meeting Locations Reply

Locations for the first three community meetings are listed below:

December 8, 2012 Saturday, 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 noon Ward 6 Second floor, 1100-4th Street SW (above the Safeway, Waterfront Station on the Green Line)

December 11, 2012 Tuesday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M. Ward 2 421 7th Street NW (2 blocks south of Gallery Place Station on the Red, Green and Yellow Lines)

December 13, 2012 Thursday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M. Ward 8 Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place SE (Anacostia Station on the Green Line)

December Meeting Map

Stay tuned for the January meeting locations. We look forward to seeing you!

Green Area Ratio Q&A Reply

ZoningDC sat down with OP Sustainability Planner Laine Cidlowski to discuss the District’s proposed ‘Green Area Ratio’ (GAR).

1. What is the District’s proposed GAR and how does it work?

The GAR is a way for the city to ensure environmental performance through the open spaces we are requiring through zoning. The GAR is an environmental site-sustainability metric. In other words, we figure out the environmental benefit of a piece of property by figuring out the landscape elements that contribute to air quality, water quality, and heat island effect. The landscape elements can be things like trees, rain gardens, or vegetated roofs, and each has a weighted number of points. We multiply these landscape elements by their multiplier and add them up. We divide that total by the size of the piece of property – that’s the GAR.

2. Why does OP believe the GAR is a good idea?

The GAR will help the District address many different environmental issues through a regulation that’s flexible and provides many options for property owners and developers.

3. How is the GAR different than LEED?

LEED is a sustainable system for buildings and choosing the site of a building or buildings. GAR is primarily for your site, but it can also include “landscape” elements which can be part of the exterior of your building, such as a green roof or solar panels.

Seattle has implemented its own GAR.


4. Who will be affected by the GAR? Will it apply to single-family homes?

GAR will not apply to single-family homes. GAR will apply for all buildings that need a Certificate of Occupancy. That is, multi-family residential buildings (over 2 units) and commercial properties. The majority of housing stock in the District (approximately 60%) is made up of structures with two units or less and GAR would not apply. Instead, those property owners would have simpler requirements relating to the amount of pervious surfaces on their property.

More…

Save the Dates II! Reply

Announcing more ways for you to stay involved in the Zoning Regulations Review (ZRR) process. In addition to the eight public outreach meetings (1 in each ward), OP will be holding two Twitter Town Halls to discuss draft proposed changes to the existing zoning regulations.  The Twitter chats will give members of the community who aren’t able to physically attend the community meetings the opportunity to weigh in on the Zoning Update. The dates are as follows:

Friday, December 14th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Monday, January 14th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Watch this site for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Myth vs. Fact: Accessory Dwelling Units 16

Myth: The Zoning Update will allow residents to build McMansions or apartment buildings in their back yards.

Fact: We’re proposing some modest changes to the rules for accessory dwelling units (or ADUs). ADUs are actually already allowed under the current zoning regulations (we now call them “accessory apartments,” but “accessory dwelling unit” is the more common term throughout the U.S.).

Under the zoning regulations in place today, residents in R-1, R-2, and R-3 zones can have an ADU within their home, but they are required to obtain a special exception from the BZA. There are a host of other rules that apply: the ADU can be no larger than 25% of the house, the owner must occupy either the main dwelling unit or the ADU, and so on.

Interestingly, homeowners in R-1 can also have an ADU above their garage by-right, under the current rules. There are very few restrictions governing these ADUs—the building can measure 20 feet in height and, as long as the main building and the garage stay within the lot occupancy restrictions of the zone, there are no limits on the size of the ADU. There is one restriction; the ADU must be for a “domestic employee.” While this rule might have made sense in an era where live-in housekeepers were common (at least for a certain part of the population), we’re not sure it applies to many families today. More…