ZC Imposes New Rear Addition Restrictions - Affordable Housing in Jeopardy
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The DC Zoning Commission has chosen to press ahead with an amendment to the zoning code, found HERE , that will detrimentally affect property owners in the District of Columbia. This 10’ rear addition rule will put overly aggressive restrictions on property owners from expanding buildings within the normal zoning regulations allowing 60% lot occupancy. This will ultimately reduce available affordable housing inventory, place a cloud over individual property rights, as well as make single family home prices rise even more and only available to high-income residents.
It is the opinion of many, that this will limit the number of available units in the city, as it will prevent flats from being built as often because they require using full lot allowance to get two full sized units.
Additionally, it limits the amount a property owner can build on their lot based on their neighbors depth, which in most cases would be an outdated, older home that has not been modernized or expanded to meet the demands of the growing population of D.C. and specifically, families. Such a change would effectively discriminate against families who want to stay and raise their children in the city but struggle to find the space.
This creates undue hardship to property owners who wish to expand their homes within the normal constraints of the zoning code while creating an unfair advantage to their adjacent neighbors who subsequently can expand further. The Zoning Commission argues that these nuances can be addressed by Special Exception application thru the BZA, however this is not a practical solution as the city already has an extensive backlog and difficulty keeping up with BZA cases. This will undoubtedly be a sheer deterrent for developers or homeowners looking to purchase outdated properties in need of expansion.
Why is a newly dubbed RF-1 zone called residential flats if a few months later an amendment is inserted into the code that prevents residential flats from being built? If by the most conservative measures the city expects to have a population of 900,000 in 2040, where will all of the new residents live? The surge of arrivals will test the city in important ways, especially in whether it can provide affordable AND desirable housing to its new residents. Not everyone wants to be in a high-rise apartment or condo building, which makes RF-1 conversions a key component of housing stock for new residents in the sense that they provide a welcome alternative and enable residents the choice to live in neighborhoods.
This ‘property adjacency-based restriction’ ruling was passed listening to the voice of a few with almost no public input. This type of decision-making runs in stark contrast to how a democracy should operate. With that being said, I request that this Petition letter is to serve as notice to the Zoning Commission, asking that they please re-open the record and request delaying implementation.
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