Lanier Heights Buildings, Slated to Become Large Multifamily Project, Will Keep Historic Facades

(Urban Turf, May 8, 2015)

(Greater Greater Washington, April 30, 2015)

Hawaii solar boom so successful, it's been halted 

Less than 1% of D.C. homes have solar power panels. According to this article, there may not be room for significant expansion anytime soon.

"Existing rich residents slamming the door shut on their own neighborhoods is the major engine of gentrification . . . "

" . . . the mark of genuine power is seen in the very desirable, expensive areas where new construction is not happening. Developers would make a king's ransom building apartments in Georgetown, but they can't because their strength is nothing compared to the hysterical NIMBYism of the upper class. Existing rich residents slamming the door shut on their own neighborhoods is the major engine of gentrification, because that's what pushes new residents into cheaper neighborhoods that don't have the political power (read: money) to resist expropriation and redevelopment."


"Any sensible fight against gentrification would begin outside the affected neighborhoods. But instead, the major political development in DC housing policy of late has been a proposal to restrict density increases, condo conversions, and pop-ups. It will, without question, make the affordability problem worse."

Read the whole article at The Week

Lanier Heights Battle Begins Second Year

Late winter 2014: anti-pop-up yard signs appeared in Lanier Heights.

One year later: some did not survive to see the first anniversary.

Meanwhile a nine unit condo development is nearing completion. The anti-pop-up sign in the yard next door is still standing, but this development isn't a pop-up.

A dilapidated fully detached house sitting on a large lot (not a row house) was demolished to make room for the new structure.

Lanier Heights is an apartment house neighborhood with a few blocks of row houses. Zoned R-5-B to allow multi-unit dwellings up to 50 feet in height.

Build It In DC: General & Home Improvement Contractor Forum 2015

Date: Monday, March 23, 2015
Time: 8AM - 1PM
Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center – 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC 20001

  • The training will consist of 6 break out sessions as follows:
  • Navigating through the Districts Regulatory Process
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Construction
  • Green Building Best Practices
  • Navigating through the Districts Regulatory Process (Spanish)  ­­
  • How to get your Building Project Done in DC
  • Financing, Grant Opportunities, and Government Contracting  
  • Why Building in the District is Unique 

Goal: To disseminate information, inspire entrepreneurship, and create an atmosphere to foster positive action and to receive feedback.

Audience: The target audience includes current business owners who want to grow their business, get ideas, and have an opportunity to network with other business owners and District leaders.

Register Here


What You Missed at the ANC1C Meeting (3/4/2015)

Proposed Development at Meridian International. With respect to the proposed development of a residential building with approximately 130 units and conference space on Meridian International’s property at approximately 2350 16th Street NW, the Commission voted 7-0 to call on the Historic Preservation Review Board to: (i) require that the height be reduced, (ii) require that the scale and massing be reduced, and (iii) require that the materials be revised and enhanced, and (iv) require that a central entrance be provided on the 16th Street facade.

Moratorium on Pop-Up and Pop-Back Developments. The Commission voted 7-0 to send a letter urging the Mayor and the District Council to enact a moratorium on pop-up and pop-back developments of rowhouses until regulations have been put into place. The Commission then voted 7-0 to send a letter urging the Mayor and the District Council to direct the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to use the grade plane method to assess lower level gross floor area, and to conduct an administrative review of DCRA’s processes for assessing construction permit applications.

BZA Appeal for 2305-2307 Ontario Road NW
. The Commission voted 7-0 to include this matter on the agenda without the typical two weeks’ advance notice on the basis that doing so would not be adverse to the community. The Commission then voted 6-0 to join a BZA appeal with respect to the DC Zoning Administrator’s decision to allow the developer of these properties to provide less than the amount of parking specified in the zoning regulations.

But it's all good, they voted 7-0 to send a letter of support for the Rock N Roll Marathon.

Pop-up foes use "creative imaging" to strengthen their weak arguments

Photos of the much-hated V Street pop-up have been widely distributed to create fear and outrage in residential neighborhoods.

The photo above places the development in context and perspective. 

This 65-foot tall pop-up is located in a commercial zone. 
It would not be allowed in most residential zones, where 40 foot height limits are the rule (including zones R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-4 which total 70% of all residential zones in D.C.). 

Pop-ups like this one are NO THREAT to single-family neighborhoods.

Here are pictures of a few other pop-ups that should put people at ease.

Neighbors Against Downzoning finally has a Facebook page.

Where Zoning Commissioners Stand on DC’s Proposed Pop-Up Rule

(Urban Turf, February 10, 2015)

35,000 D.C. Homes at Risk of Downzoning
Estimated $10 BILLION in Lost Property Value
Select Proposed Action: Z.C. Case No. 14-11 to view.
Video from February 9, 2015. (About 45 minutes).

A bad zoning plan would restrict expansion of housing in key D.C. neighborhoods
(Washington Post Editorial, January 30, 2015)

(Questionable Economics)


TO:  Anthony J. Hood, Chairman, Marcie Cohen, Vice-Chairman
Robert Miller, Michael G. Turnbull, Peter G. May, Commissioners

Dear Zoning Commissioners:

     On behalf of more than 60 D.C. residents who have signed our online petition in opposition to the downzoning of residential neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, we respectfully ask the Commissioners to reject the proposals put forth in case 14-11 to reduce the existing zoning rights of District home owners in R-4 zones.

     The proposals in 14-11 are crafted explicitly to satisfy the over reaction of some current residents to the inevitable changes that occur in a growing and dynamic urban environment. The proposals in 14-11 give little consideration to the larger population of R-4 residents who are unfazed by these changes or to the many residents who actively welcome them. 

     The Office of Planning Exhibit 1 shows that 70% of residential housing is in R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-4 zones, while only 30% is dedicated to R-5 apartment zones. 

     In testimony before the Zoning Commission (July 17, 2014, page 48) Director Steingasser described the R-4 zone, which makes up only 15% of our residential zoning, as a hybrid zone between single family detached zones R-1, R-2 and R-3 and multi-family apartment R-5 zones. The proposals in 14-11 attempt to shift the R-4 away from this mixed-use state and make it more like the lower density zones which already occupy the majority of residential space in the city.

     The proposals in 14-11 suggest home owners can have “special exception” access to options they currently hold “by-right” under existing zoning. That will be small comfort to future home owners who spend additional time and money only to have their requests for special exceptions blocked by their ANC or denied by the BZA. 

     Rights once surrendered are difficult, if not impossible, to regain. 

     NEIGHBORS AGAINST DOWNZONING has estimated the potential lost property value to Lanier Heights row house owners at between 30 and 50 million dollars if proponents of downzoning were to succeed in their efforts to change zoning from R-5-B to R-4 in that neighborhood. This estimate is based on lost property value to only 150 row homes. The proposals under case 14-11 would affect more than 35,000 homes and lost property values could easily exceed five billion dollars.

     We beg the Commissioners to consider the drastic impact these proposals will impose upon current and future residents of the District of Columbia and reject case 14-11 proposals on that basis.



The D.C. Zoning Commission is considering a proposal to downzone residential neighborhoods throughout the city. 

The Zoning Commission held a public hearing on this downzoning (case 14-11) on January 15, 2015. They are accepting comments by email until 3 PM on January 29. 

Send comments OPPOSING case 14-11 to

You don't need to be an expert in zoning issues to see that limiting residential growth opportunities will only make our current housing crisis even worse. 

Even the former Director of D.C.'s Office of Planning is opposed to this drastic proposal.

The affected neighborhoods are zoned R-4. The proposal will redefine the by-right building height in R-4 zones from 40 feet to 35 feet and impose a two-dwelling unit maximum per lot.

Some Lanier Heights folks want to downzone Lanier Heights from R-5-B to R-4. The Lanier Heights case has not been filed yet but we expect it will be filed soon. If the R-4 downzoning plan is rejected by the Zoning Commission, then Lanier Heights downzoning probably will be rejected, too. If the R-4 downzoning passes, and Lanier Heights is down zoned to R-4, that will be a double loss to everyone living in Lanier Heights.

If this proposal passes it will have a huge impact on the entire city, not just R-4 neighborhoods or Lanier Heights. Everyone who cares about the future of D.C. should OPPOSE case 14-11 now.

The Zoning Commission accepts emailed comments only as signed PDF.


We saw six and a half pages of people who had signed up to speak, more than 160 speakers. Those who had checked off as SUPPORTERS and OPPONENTS of the proposal seemed about evenly split. However as the meeting progressed more and more people who were called upon to speak had already left due to the lateness of the hour. 

On site, enter 14-11, click GO, then VIEW DETAILS, then VIEW FULL LOG.

Another reason to reject downzoning row houses.

From Prince of Petworth: Best use of attic space in a row house?




Thursday, January 15, 2015, @ 6:30 p.m. 

Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room 

441 4th Street, N.W. Suite 220-S 

Washington, D.C. 20001 


CASE NO. 14-11 (Office of Planning – Text Amendments to Chapters 1, 3, and 4, Definitions, Maximum Height and Minimum Lot Dimension Requirements in Residence Zones, and R-4 Zone Use Permissions) 

Public Hearing Notice: Click here for more details

“Unintended consequence of anti-pop-up proposal”

DC may limit condos and building heights in some row house zones.

(Click on image to enlarge)


The ANC was most interested in the opinions of the owners of the 165 unconverted single family row houses in Lanier Heights. They are the group that will be most directly affected by downzoning, since their property rights are on the line. They are the group that will be most directly affected by any new pop-ups. That was the view of the ANC.

The downzoning petition claims support from 99 of that select group while "only" 15 people who have signed our petition own unconverted single family row houses. The 50 Lanier Heights row home owners who never publicly took a side on the issue weren't a part of the ANC's calculation. 

Obviously, we disagree with the ANC's decision, but we understand why they voted as they did, based on their definition of who the true stakeholders are. 

Our view is different. Those 99 petition signers represent just 60% of the affected home owners. Although that's a majority, it is not an overwhelming majority. If only a handful of those 99 people change their minds or sell their homes and move, the percentage could easily drop down to around 50%. 

While those slim percentages might be enough for the ANC, we think it is a weak result to use as a basis for taking away the rights of 100% of current and future home owners in Lanier Heights. 

The ANC did their job as they viewed it. Now the downzoning petition will move on to the next step in the process. How long it may take for a final decision from the zoning commission is unknown. 

If you have a NEIGHBORS AGAINST DOWNZONING yard sign in your yard, keep it there. If you want a yard sign (or two or three) let us know. 

We are encouraged that more home owners on Lanier Place signed the petition and put up yard signs in just the last few days. 

If you live in an apartment or condo in Lanier Heights and want signs for your yard or window, let us know. We think your opinion counts. Everyone who lives in Lanier Heights is a stakeholder.

Years of Continued Controversy, Litigation Ahead.

NOTE for those who read the Washington Post headline below without clicking on the link for the full story: The "mini-skyscrapers" refer to pop-ups in some commercially zoned areas of the city that permit 65 foot height limits in blocks where some existing houses are only 20 feet tall. That is not the case in Lanier Heights, where current buildings almost always have a height of at least 40 feet, and where current R-5-B zoning limits height to a maximum of 50 feet.

In a city filled with pop-up loathers and lovers, D.C. ponders its mini-skyscrapers

The pop-up debate in Lanier Heights pits "property rights" against "neighborhood character" 

Greater Greater Washington, November 20, 2014


1696 Lanier Place NW 
(2nd from left, in case you were wondering).

Do you know about the other "ugly pop-ups" destroying Lanier Heights?

Produced by NEIGHBORS AGAINST DOWNZONING, an all volunteer group of friends, neighbors and home owners in Washington, D.C.  Established 2014. Contact: