DC Property Zoning

  All construction or rehabilitation on private land must conform to the requirements imposed by the District of Columbia Zoning Regulations and Zoning Map or seek relief before the appropriate bodies. The Zoning Regulations govern land use, density, height, and bulk characteristics of property in the city and the Zoning Map identifies designated zoning for all city land.

Any person or organization seeking to undertake new construction in the District of Columbia or to make major repairs, alterations, or additions to existing buildings should first consult with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to determine whether the proposed project conforms to the Zoning Regulations and the Zoning Map. If the proposed project does not conform, the Zoning Administrator (ZA), who is part of DCRA and has the authority to interpret and administer the Zoning Regulations as adopted by the Zoning Commission, will indicate the required zoning relief.

The person or organization may at that time either: (1) modify the proposed project to conform to the Zoning Regulations and the Zoning Map; (2) appeal the ZA's decision (with cause) to the BZA; or (3) apply for relief from the Zoning Commission (ZC) or the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).

Necessary relief involving a map or text amendments, air rights development, or a Planned Unit Development (PUD) requires approval by the Zoning Commission (ZC), while a variance, special exception, or appeal is handled by the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). Special reviews of proposed chancery development by the BZA may be required for facilities proposed to be located in certain mixed-use areas of the city.

Administrative support for the ZC and the BZA is provided by the ZC Secretariat and the BZA Secretariat, respectively, who are part of DCOZ. All applications, reports, letters, memoranda, petitions, plans, notices, decisions, and other data making up the public record of cases before the ZC and the BZA are filed at DCOZ. The agency reviews an application for completeness, schedules and arranges hearings and meetings, sends the application file to the appropriate city agency or agencies for review and comment, and undertakes all other necessary administrative tasks. All applications to the ZC and the BZA are considered in public hearings.

SUMMARY OF ZONE DISTRICTS


Districts Summary
CR 
Permits matter-of-right residential, commercial, recreational and light industrial development to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% for residential use, 20% for public recreation and community center use (up to 40% with Board of Zoning Adjustment approval), and 100% for all other structures, a maximum FAR of 6.0 for all buildings and structures, of which not more than three (3.0) may be used for other than residential purposes, a maximum height of ninety (90) feet for all buildings and structures and forty-five (45) feet for public recreation and community centers. An area equivalent to 10% of the total lot area shall be required at ground level for all new development, and rear yards shall be provided for each residential building or structure.
C-1 
Permits matter-of-right neighborhood retail and personal service establishments and certain youth residential care homes and community residence facilities to a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for residential use and 100% for all other uses, a maximum FAR of 1.0, and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet. Rear yard requirements are twenty (20) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-2-A 
Permits matter-of-right low density development, including office employment centers, shopping centers, medium-bulk mixed use centers, and housing to a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for residential use and 100% for all other uses, a maximum FAR of 2.5 for residential use and 1.5 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of fifty (50) feet. Rear yard requirements are fifteen (15) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-2-B 
Permits matter-of-right medium density development, including office, retail, housing, and mixed uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 80% for residential use and 100% for all other uses, a maximum FAR of 3.5 for residential use and 1.5 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of sixty-five (65) feet. Rear yard requirements are fifteen (15) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-2-C 
Permits matter-of-right higher density development, including office, retail, housing, and mixed uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 80% for residential use and 100% for all other uses, a maximum FAR of 6.0 for residential and 2.0 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet. Rear yard requirements are fifteen (15) feet; one family detached dwellings one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-3-A 
Permits matter-of-right medium density development, with a density incentive for residential development within a general pattern of mixed-use development to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% for residential use and 100% for all other uses, a maximum FAR of 4.0 for residential and 2.5 FAR for other permitted uses and a maximum height of sixty-five (65) feet. Rear yard requirements are twelve (12) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-3-B 
Permits matter-of-right medium density development, including office-retail, housing, and mixed uses. It is intended for uptown locations, where the largest component of development will be office-retail and other nonresidential uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 100%, a maximum FAR of 5.0 for residential and 4.0 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of six (6) stories/seventy (70) feet. Rear yard requirements are twelve (12) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-3-C 
Permits matter-of-right development for major business and employment centers of medium/high density development, including office, retail, housing, and mixed uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 100%, a maximum FAR of 6.5 for residential and for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet. Rear yard requirements are twelve (12) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-4 
The downtown core comprising the retail and office centers for the District of Columbia and the metropolitan area, and allows office, retail, housing and mixed uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 100%, a maximum FAR of 8.5 (or 10.0 if permitted height is in excess of one hundred-ten (110) feet), a maximum height of 110 feet and 130 on 110-foot adjoining streets. (Maximum height and FAR depend on width of adjoining streets.) Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-5 
Pennsylvania Avenue Development (PAD) permits retail and office, housing and mixed development in the area on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW between Tenth Street and 15th Street, NW to a maximum lot occupancy of 100%, a maximum FAR of 10.0 to 12.0, and a maximum height of 130 to 160 feet. (Maximum height and FAR depend upon approval of bonus incentives.) Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet; one family detached dwellings and one family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
C-M-1 
Permits development of low bulk commercial and light manufacturing uses to a maximum FAR of 3.0, and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet with standards of external effects and new residential prohibited. A rear yard of not less than twelve (12) feet shall be provided for each structure located in an Industrial District. No side yard shall be required on a lot in an Industrial District, except where a side lot line of the lot abuts a Residence District. Such side yard shall be no less than eight (8) feet.
C-M-2 
Permits development of medium bulk commercial and light manufacturing uses to a maximum FAR of 4.0, and a maximum height of sixty (60) feet with standards of external effects and new residential prohibited. A rear yard of not less than twelve (12) feet shall be provided for each structure located in an Industrial District. No side yard shall be required on a lot in an Industrial District, except where a side lot line of the lot abuts a Residence District. Such side yard shall be no less than eight (8) feet.
C-M-3 
Permits development of high bulk commercial and light manufacturing uses to a maximum FAR of 6.0, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet with standards of external effects and new residential prohibited. A rear yard of not less than twelve (12) feet shall be provided for each structure located in an Industrial District. No side yard shall be required on a lot in an Industrial District, except where a side lot line of the lot abuts a Residence District. Such side yard shall be no less than eight (8) feet.
HE-1 
Hill East Subdistrict 1 (19th Street) includes squares with frontage onto 19th Street, between Independence Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue. Allows a maximum lot occupancy of 80%, minimum and maximum building heights of 26 and 50 feet respectively, a maximum of 4 stories, and a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 3.0. New buildings, or additions to existing buildings must be reviewed by the Zoning Commission for consistency with established design guidelines.
HE-2 
Hill East Subdistrict 2 (20th Street) includes squares with frontage on 20th Street. The maximum lot occupancy is 75%, the minimum and maximum building heights are 40 and 80 feet respectively. The maximum number of stories is 7, and the maximum floor area ratio is 4.8. New buildings, or additions to existing buildings must be reviewed by the Zoning Commission for consistency with established design guidelines.
HE-3 
Hill East Subdistrict 3 (Water Street) includes squares with frontage on Water Street. Allows a maximum lot occupancy of 80%, minimum and maximum building heights of 80 and 110 feet respectively, a maximum of 10 stories, and a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 7.2. New buildings, or additions to existing buildings must be reviewed by the Zoning Commission for consistency with established design guidelines.
HE-4 
Hill East Subdistrict 4 (Corrections) includes squares N and O. The maximum lot occupancy is 75%, the maximum building height is 90 feet. The maximum number of stories is 8, and the maximum floor area ratio is 6.0. New buildings, or additions to existing buildings must be reviewed by the Zoning Commission for consistency with established design guidelines.
M 
Permits general industrial uses to a maximum FAR of 6.0, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet with standards of external effects and new residential prohibited. A rear yard of not less than twelve (12) feet shall be provided for each structure located in an Industrial District. No side yard shall be required on a lot in an Industrial District, except where a side lot line of the lot abuts a Residence District. Such side yard shall be no less than eight (8) feet.
R-1-A Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses for detached dwellings with a minimum lot width of 75 feet for residential, churches, and public recreation and community centers and 120 feet for schools, a minimum lot area of 7,500 square feet for residential, churches, and public recreation and community centers and 15,000 square feet for schools, a maximum lot occupancy of 40% for residential, 60% for church and public school use, and 20% for public recreation and community centers and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are twenty-five (25) feet, side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
R-1-B 
Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses for detached dwellings with a minimum lot width of 50 feet for residential, churches, and public recreation and community centers and 120 feet for schools, a minimum lot area of 5,000 square feet for residential, churches, and public recreation and community centers and 15,000 square feet for schools, a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for a church or public school use, 20% for public recreation and community centers, and 40% for all other structures; and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are twenty-five (25) feet, side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
R-2 
Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses for detached and semi-detached structures, with a minimum lot width of 40 feet and lot area of 4,000 square feet for detached structures, churches, and public recreation and community centers, 30 feet and 3,000 square feet for semi-detached structures and 120 feet and 9,000 square feet for schools; a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for church and public school use, 20% for public recreation and community centers, and 40% for all other structures, and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are twenty (20) feet, side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
R-3 
Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, and row dwellings), churches and public schools with a minimum lot width of 20 feet and a minimum lot area of 2,000 square feet for row dwellings, 30 feet and 3,000 square feet for single-family semi-detached dwellings, 40 feet and 4,000 square feet for all other structures and 120 feet and 9,000 square feet for schools, a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for row dwellings, churches and schools, 20% for public recreation and community centers, and 40% for all other structures, and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirement is twenty (20) feet.
R-4 
Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, row dwellings, and flats), churches and public schools with a minimum lot width of 18 feet, a minimum lot area of 1,800 square feet and a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for row dwellings, churches and flats, a minimum lot width of 30 feet and a minimum lot area of 3,000 square feet for semi-detached structures, a minimum lot width of 40 feet and a minimum lot area of 4,000 square feet and 40% lot occupancy for all other structures (20% lot occupancy for public recreation and community centers); and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Conversions of existing buildings to apartments are permitted for lots with a minimum lot area of 900 square feet per dwelling unit. Rear yard requirement is twenty (20) feet.
R-5-A 
Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses for detached and semi-detached dwellings and, with the approval of the Board of Zoning Adjustment, new residential development of low density residential uses including row houses, flats, and apartments to a maximum lot occupancy of 40%, 60% for churches and public schools, and 20% for public recreation and community centers; a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.9, and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (90 feet for schools, 60 feet for churches, and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are twenty (20) feet, side yard requirements are not less than eight (8) feet. If all other provisions of the zoning regulations are complied with, conversion of existing buildings to flat or apartment use is permitted as a matter-of-right.
R-5-B 
Permits matter-of-right moderate development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings, to a maximum lot occupancy of 60% (20% for public recreation and community centers), a maximum FAR of 1.8, and a maximum height of fifty (50) feet (90 feet for schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are not less than fifteen (15) feet.
R-5-C 
Permits matter-of-right medium density development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings, to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% (20% for public recreation and community centers), a maximum FAR of 3.0 and a maximum height of sixty (60) feet (90 feet for schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are not less than fifteen (15) feet.
R-5-D 
Permits matter-of-right medium/high density development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings, to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% (20% for public recreation and community centers), a maximum FAR of 3.5 and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet (45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are not less than fifteen (15) feet.
R-5-E 
Permits matter-of-right high density development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings, to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% (20% for public recreation and community centers), a maximum FAR of 6.0 for apartment houses and hotels, and 5.0 for other structures, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet (45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet.
SP-1 
Permits matter-of-right medium density development including all kinds of residential uses, and limited offices for non-profit organizations, trade associations and professionals if approved as a special exception by the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Maximum lot occupancy is 80% for residential use except a hotel, 20% for public recreation and community centers and 40% with special exception approval from the BZA. Maximum FAR is 4.0 for residential and 2.5 for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of sixty-five (65) feet. Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet, one-family detached dwellings and one-family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
SP-2 
Permits matter-of-right medium/high density development including all kinds of residential uses, and limited offices for non-profit organizations, trade associations and professionals if approved as a special exception by the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Maximum lot occupancy of 80% for residential use except a hotel, 20% for public recreation and community centers and 40% with special exception approved from the BZA. Maximum FAR is 6.0 for residential and 3.5 for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet. Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet, one-family detached dwellings and one-family semi-detached dwellings side yard requirements are eight (8) feet.
W-0 
Permits open space, park and low-density and low-height waterfront-oriented retail and arts uses with a maximum height of 40 feet and a maximum FAR of 0.5 (.75 for a lot that is used exclusively for recreational use, marina, yacht club, or boathouse building or structure), and a maximum lot occupancy of 25% (50% for a lot that is used exclusively for recreational use, marina, yacht club, or boathouse building or structure). Maximum height is forty (40) feet ( 25 feet for a structure located on, in, or over the water, including a floating home). There is also a 100-foot waterfront setback requirement.
W-1 
Permits matter-of-right low density residential, commercial, and certain light industrial development in waterfront areas to a maximum lot occupancy of 80% for residential use, a maximum FAR of 2.5 for residential and 1.0 for other permitted uses and a maximum height of forty-five (45) feet. Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet.
W-2 
Permits matter-of-right medium density residential, commercial, and certain light industrial development in waterfront areas to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% for residential use and public recreation and community centers, a maximum FAR of 4.0 for residential and 2.0 for other permitted uses and a maximum height of sixty (60) feet. Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet.
W-3 
Permits matter-of-right high density residential, commercial, and certain light industrial development in waterfront areas to a maximum lot occupancy of 75% for residential use and public recreation and community centers, a maximum FAR of 6.0 for residential and 5.0 for other permitted uses and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet. Rear yard requirements are not less than twelve (12) feet.

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Jayson Wingfield,
Nov 7, 2012, 5:18 PM