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In the struggle between young urbanists thirsty for density and multi-modalism and older residents who prefer suburban-style neighborhoods and ample parking, the nastiest fighting is taking place largely out of the public’s view.
Since 2008, D.C. officials have been engaged in a rewrite of the Zoning Code, the thicket of rules and regulations that shape how the city grows and develops. Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning’s proposed changes would allow for more corner stores in residential neighborhoods, permit more homeowners to turn basements and carriage houses into separate rental properties, and decrease the amount of off-street parking required in new residential buildings.
Tregoning and her urbanist army say the marginal tweaks would make more vibrant neighborhoods, as well as align the city with its new cohort of residents—many of whom want nothing to do with cars. The old codger cavalry, for its part, sees the rewrite as a threat to the peace, quiet, and plentiful parking they’ve come to love. They’ve already scored one victory: In July, Tregoning conceded on parking minimums, saying new buildings would still have to provide some off-street spots.
Though the Office of Planning held countless hearings on the rewrite over the last year, it recently announced that it’s hosting another round in 2014—the sixth year of the attempted rewrite. If you haven’t weighed in yet on the thousand-page draft, this may be your last chance.