Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart on Flickr.
Opponents of DC’s zoning update are continuing to try to delay changes that will add housing and make it less expensive to build. But DC’s zoning commission has had enough of delay. They now need to hear support from residents to actually approve the changes.
The final deadline to comment on the proposal, which has been going on for eight years, is this Friday.
Here are the key provisions and my comments. If you agree, the best thing to do is write a short (1-2 sentences is fine) explanation in your own words of the same general concept (or any other you believe in) and submit it through the online tool, linked next to each item below.
Accessory apartments: This proposal will let homeowners in detached house zones rent out a basement, other room, or existing garage to earn some more money from otherwise-unused space as well as providing someone else a place to live.
Comment here, and select section 253.8. I’m saying, “Please approve the proposal for accessory apartments. Many homeowners have extra space and need money to help cover a mortgage, pay for needs in retirement, or other expenses. Meanwhile, many people need places to live in DC. This proposal is a win-win that addresses both needs.”
Parking: The new zoning code will lower minimum parking requirements, most deeply around Metro stations, streetcar lines, and high-frequency bus corridors.
Comment here, and select section 701. I’m saying, “Please approve the proposal to reduce minimum parking requirements. These requirements are often unnecessary and drive up the cost of new housing. Issues with street parking should be solved through street parking rules and not in the zoning code.”
If you want to go further, you can advocate for even deeper reductions, or an outright elimination, of the parking minimums. The original proposal got watered down over time.
You can also comment on any of the other changes, all of which you can read about in The Office of Planning’s zoning update blog.
The zoning board says enough is enough
At least 40 opponents sent letters asking to extend the time even further. They also asked to have the Office of Planning go back to neighborhoods for yet another round of meetings, and to translate the zoning code into more languages.
Zoning Commission Chairman Anthony Hood, who had pushed for more meetings and some delays in the past, has had enough. He said,
We’ve extended the time and extended the time and extended the time. I understand this is a new undertaking, but ... we extended it 90 days, and on our own, because of concerns of things ending in August, we extended it a few more days ... so it went from 90 to 119 days. To extend it again and keep extending it and keep extending it; I think this city will not have a new zoning code which was forecast years ago. I think we have done due diligence for the residents in this city. It’s probably 8 years now. This is an 8-year project.
On the translation issue, OP’s Jennifer Steingasser noted that the agency had previously created and circulated a fact sheet, explaining the main changes, in Amharic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Zoning staff said a full translation of the text would cost $100,000 per language and is not required by law.
The commission voted unanimously to deny all of the extension requests, except for one from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A to submit its testimony about two weeks late. That ANC will get its minor extension; everyone else needs to speak by this Friday, September
Go do it!