Amendments to the zoning code usually proceed at a snail’s pace, but when DCRA recently announced that it would no longer permit any new restaurants along Fourteenth and U Streets, the MidCity Business Association, with the support of other neighborhood groups, demanded an immediate change.
The District government is listening. The Office of Planning (OP) is poised to hold a hearing on Monday, April 26th to lift the maximum restaurant street frontage restriction from 25% to 50% of the total frontage along Fourteenth and U Streets within the overlay (shaded in red below).
View U-14th-Florida-9th Arts Overlay in a larger map
The proposed amendment will also adjust how the limit is calculated. Currently the limit applies to and is calculated from all properties fronting U and Fourteenth Streets within the zone. (These frontages are marked in red above.)
OP proposes not only to raise the limit to 50%, but also to calculate it per “block-face” rather than as the aggregate of all blocks together. For instance, on the 1300 block of U Street, restaurants will be limited to 50% of frontage on the south side of the street and 50% of frontage on the north side of the street.
OP also proposes to “clarify” the existing regulation so that “[a]n eating and drinking establishments not located on the ground (street) level of a building shall not count towards the 50% limit.” The ground-level exemption will also apply above- and below-street entrances.
OP also proposes another clarification to stipulate that the limit only applies to lots fronting Fourteenth Street and U Street within the overlay; the existing wording is ambiguous as to whether the restriction applies only to these two streets or to all lots within the entire zone.
Once the 50% limit is reached on a block-face, OP proposes stricter requirements for exemptions.
Check out the full proposed amendment: