Zoning Changes Could Allow More Restaurants and Bars in D.C. Neighborhoods

Zoning can limit more than just multi-family housing.

1 minute read

May 21, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A sign on the side of a street light reads “Woodley Park Historic District D.C.”

Daniel / Adobe Stock

The D.C. Office of Planning recently released a draft report to evaluate the potential of raising a cap on the number of restaurants and bars allowed in the neighborhoods of Cleveland Park and Woodley Park.

Zoning currently allows “no more than 25% of the linear street frontage within a particular zone can be occupied by bars and restaurants,” according to an article by Amanda Michelle Gomez.

Planning Director Anita Cozart is quoted in the article saying that the original intention of the rule was to encourage a variety of businesses in the area, but residents and businesses have come to view the cap as a limitation on local businesses.

According to the article, the D.C. Office of Planning is considering changes to the cap as part of its effort to implement the District’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The neighborhoods have historically excluded multifamily buildings and minimized commercial uses, leading to low population growth and high household incomes as compared to the rest of the city, according to the planning office’s draft report,” writes Gomez. “Options on the table include increasing the percentage of retail space that can be devoted to bars and restaurants, from 25% to 50% or 75%, or removing the cap entirely.”

More details on the goals and timeline for the zoning changes in the D.C. neighborhoods of Cleveland Park and Woodley Park.

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