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.