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Zoning - DCRA

The Zoning Administrator reviews applications for conformance with DC Zoning Regulations, under Title 11 DCMR, including:

  • Building permit applications submitted to the Permit Center
  • Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) applications for allowable uses, occupancy load, verification of address, lot and square, and to determine whether inspections and building plans are required for C of O approval
  • Subdivision applications to ensure that they meet lot size, lot width and other requirements
  • Home Occupation Permit (HOP) applications for allowable uses, employee and customer visit limits, and verification of the type of dwelling to be used
  • The Zoning Administrator writes letters of denial, referring developers to the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Zoning Commission if they want to seek special exceptions or zoning variances to the Administrator’s rulings

The Office of the Zoning Administrator also provides these services:

  • Zoning compliance letters, to answer questions about zoning district and zoning regulation compliance information on a specific property
  • General zoning information, such as which zone a property is in
  • Preliminary Design Review Meetings (PDRMs) for developers or property owners who want to know a specific property's development potential (fee required)
  • Zoning information on a specific property for homeowners, through the Homeowners Center

Know Your Zoning District and Overlays

Private property in the District of Columbia is designated or zoned under the Zoning Regulations, Title 11 DCMR, a 600-page set of rules governing property use and building requirements. These regulations vary according to the zones marked on the Zoning Map and include residential, commercial, industrial and waterfront designations. For example, the R-3 zoning designation covers hundreds of properties throughout the District and generally allows row houses. There are 29 zones (see Summary of Zoning Districts), referred to as base zones. Commonly referred to residential development standards (e.g. height, lot coverage, setbacks) are summarized on the Zoning Residential District Development Standards table (see Residential District Development Standards).

In addition to base zones, there are other mapped zoning designations known as overlay zones. These are an additional set of zoning regulations superimposed onto the base zones. There are 20 overlay zones (see Summary of Overlay Districts) in the Zoning Regulations. Examples include the Tree and Slope Protection Overlay District (TSP) and the Downtown Development Overlay District (DD). When an overlay zone applies to a specific property, you must follow the allowed use and development standards in the base zone and the overlay zone.

To look up the zones in your neighborhood, review the Zoning Maps on the Office of Zoning website.

Use the checklist below to make sure you gave us all the required information on your Permit Application. You must attach these items to your application, to make it complete:

  • Plats, illustrating buildings/additions/changes with footprints and yard dimensions (download 12 Steps to Drafting a Building Plat*)
  • Certificate of Occupancy, currently in effect—unless the project is a single-family dwelling
  • An application including:
    • Confirmed address, square and lot numbers
    • Verified Zoning District and Zoning Overlays
    • Cell phone and email address(es) for the applicant and/or designated agent
    • Zoning Data Summary (for new construction, additions and changes in use or occupant load)
    • Standard-size plan drawings with scales specified that include:
      • North arrow
      • Dates drawn and revised
      • Preparer's name
      • Space reserved for approval signature block
      • Building elevations for any exterior change

Inclusionary Zoning

Inclusionary Zoning requires that a certain percentage of units in a new development or a substantial rehabilitation that expands an existing building set aside affordable units in exchange for a bonus density. The goals of the program are to create mixed income neighborhoods; produce affordable housing for a diverse labor force; seek equitable growth of new residents; and increase homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income levels.

The program was developed pursuant to the authority set forth in § 107 of the Inclusionary Zoning Implementation Amendment Act of 2006, effective March 14, 2007 (D.C. Law 16-275; D.C. Official Code § 6-1041.07) and Mayor's Order 2008-59, dated April 2, 2008.  These documents mandate the adoption of a new Chapter 22 entitled "Inclusionary Zoning Implementation" of Title 14 (Housing) of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

For more information check with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Office of the Zoning Administrator Consultation

Zoning review meetings are by appointment only! Customers may schedule appointments with Zoning technicians to discuss Hold for Corrections on permit resubmittals during the Office of the Zoning Administrator's regular business hours: Monday through Wednesday and Friday between 8:15 am and 4:45 pm. and Thursday between 10 am and 4:45 pm.

To schedule a zoning review appointment, call (202) 442-4576.

Customers must provide the following:

  • Name
  • Address of Project
  • DCRA Building Permit Number
  • Phone number and e-mail address

Please provide the questions you would like answered when scheduling your consultation so staff can be prepared to answer efficiently.

Appealing a decision by the Zoning Administrator

An individual or group that believes that DCRA made an error in applying the Zoning Regulations (DCMR Title 11) has the right to appeal the matter to the District’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). Under the provision regarding appeals, 11 DCMR 3100, an appeal of a DCRA decision, including the issuance of a building permit, is heard by the BZA to determine if the zoning regulations were applied correctly. The BZA may affirm or reverse DCRA’s decision after conducting a hearing, in which both the appellant and DCRA present their respective cases.

Appeals to the BZA are filed with DCRA’s sister agency, the DC Office of Zoning (DCOZ). The specific form, which is DCOZ Form 125, can be accessed by: http://dcoz.dc.gov/services/app.shtm. From the dropdown menu entitled “Select a PDF Form”, select Form 125 – BZA Appeal.

Contact TTY: 
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