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The first rewrite of the city’s zoning code in 55 years is headed to the Zoning Commission for consideration after years of intense debate, despite pleas from longtime critics of the update to slow things down.
Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning told D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson this afternoon at an ongoing hearing that her office is prepared to present its zoning rewrite proposal to the Zoning Commission on July 29. The process has been delayed as the Office of Planning conducted public meetings in all eight wards to get feedback on its proposed changes, whose most controversial elements include the elimination of minimum parking requirements in transit zones and an alteration of the rules governing accessory dwelling units.
The first of about 20 witnesses to testify at the hearing, zoning task force member and rewrite critic Alma Gates, urged city leaders not to rush into the zoning regulations review. “Council should exercise its oversight authority and tell the Office of Planning to slow down the ZRR process,” she said.
“It would be a travesty for the ZRR in its current form to be set down before the Zoning Commission this summer,” concurred another longtime critic, Juliet Six.
But At-Large Councilmember David Grosso said it was time to move forward. “More hearings, I think, would be absolutely unnecessary at this point,” he said. “I think we’ve had enough of them.”
And Chairman Phil Mendelson suggested it was no longer productive to criticize the process, as many witnesses had done, and better to focus on the content of the rewrite now that the proposal is moving to the Zoning Commission. “That train is moving,” he said. “If folks don’t like the proposals, they’re going to have to focus on the proposals, not the process.”
Mendelson asked Tregoning if she “really and truly believe[d]” that she’d be ready to present the proposal to the Zoning Commission later this month, and she replied in the affirmative. She’s uncertain exactly how and when the Zoning Commission will begin to take action on the proposal, but said the proposal is “certain to be revised” before the Zoning Commission votes on it.
Screenshot from the D.C. Council hearing