D.C. Updates its Zoning Code to the Delight of Some, and Horror of Others

Washington D.C. is embarking on the first update to its zoning code since 1958. In advance of consideration by the city's Zoning Commission next spring, controversy has erupted around - you guessed it - parking!
December 3, 2012, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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After four years of development, as city planners prepare to hold a series of community meetings to discusss what planning director Harriet Tregoning says are modest changes to the city's 54-year-old zoning code, proponents and opponents of the changes are staking out their positions, reports Mike DeBonis. The most notable changes would allow corner stores and accessory dwellings, set sustainability targets for commercial buildings, and eliminate minimum parking requirements in “transit zones.”

"Planners say the changes are necessary to shape a growing city, one that could see hundreds of thousands of new residents in coming decades as congestion fouls automobile commutes, energy prices rise and environmental considerations become more urgent," says DeBonis. "Detractors fear that the changes will dramatically change the character, or at least the car-centric way of life, in outlying residential neighborhoods."

"Linda Schmitt, a Chevy Chase resident who is organizing opposition to the rewrite, said the changes could alarm residents who chose their neighborhoods with particular expectations."

“You put down your life savings, you pony up the mortgage, you take care of your property, you fix the roof, you try to be a good neighbor . . . and all of a sudden somebody wants to turn the apple cart over,” she said. “Who asked us if this was something we wanted? We don’t want this.”

“I’m just looking for more balance in our transportation system,” Tregoning said, in defense of the modifications. “A resilient city is a city that gives people choices, and increasingly people want those choices.”

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Published on Saturday, December 1, 2012 in The Washington Post
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