D.C. Zoning Commission Approves New Inclusionary Zoning Regulations

2 min

Earlier this month, the Washington, DC Zoning Commission took final action on a series of updates to the District's "Inclusionary Zoning" program.

Launched in 2009, the Inclusionary Zoning program requires that certain residential development projects designate a portion of the new or rehabilitated units as affordable housing (typically at affordability levels of 50% or 80% of Median Family Income (MFI), depending on the location of the project and other development factors). In certain zoning districts, developments that are subject to the Inclusionary Zoning program may also achieve bonus residential density. Since its inception, the Inclusionary Zoning program has resulted in the creation of over 1,200 units. However, some stakeholders have advocated for changes to the program in order to better address the District's need for additional affordable housing.

Over the past year, the District Office of Planning engaged in a comprehensive public engagement process to develop and refine a series of amendments to the Inclusionary Zoning program regulations (commonly referred to as "Expanded IZ" or "IZ+"). After a series of public hearings that began in fall 2020, the Zoning Commission approved the IZ+ regulations on March 11.

The IZ+ regulations increase the proportion of residential units that must be designated as affordable housing for certain residential developments that necessitate a zoning map amendment. Specifically, qualifying developments will now be required to designate between 10% and 20% of new or rehabilitated units as affordable. The exact set-aside requirement is benchmarked to the amount of additional residential density that can be achieved as a result of the map amendment. However, exceptions to this set-aside requirement may be permitted in certain exempt planning areas. Additionally, the set-aside threshold may be relaxed for developments that provide family-sized affordable units and/or units committed at a deeper level of affordability.

The District Office of Planning is expected to continue working on additional tweaks to the Inclusionary Zoning program throughout the coming months. The additional policy changes under consideration include revisions to certain building height thresholds for qualifying projects, as well as standards for projects involving commercial-to-residential use conversions.

The IZ+ regulations and other future updates to the Inclusionary Zoning program will complement forthcoming changes to the District's Comprehensive Plan later this year. Adoption of the Comprehensive Plan revisions is expected to trigger a wave of zoning map amendments and new development applications across the District, and many of the proposed developments will be subject to the new IZ+ regulations.

For more information on the Inclusionary Zoning program or other development matters in the District, please contact a member of the Venable Land Use Practice Group.