It is a New Year for D.C. zoning and we are all wondering what 2023 will bring given the recent changes at the Department of Buildings. As of October 2022, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) was officially dissolved and split into two new agencies – the Department of Buildings and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. The move comes two years after a D.C. Council vote to dissolve the DCRA. Under the new structure, the updated Department of Buildings is charged with issuing building permits, conducting inspections, and enforcing the building code and Zoning Regulations while the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection oversees licensing and regulating businesses.
Following the creation of the two new agencies, there were significant shake ups in the Department of Buildings’ zoning division. In December, rumors have floated regarding a potential change in the zoning division. The zoning administrator is the lead zoning official responsible for reviewing and approving building permits processed through the Department of Buildings. The Office of the Zoning Administrator also issues interpretations of the D.C. zoning regulations and defends challenges to the Department’s zoning decisions before the Board of Zoning Adjustment. A change would represent a significant departure from the long standing leadership of Mr. LeGrant. Mamadou Ndaw is believed to be the acting zoning administrator.
Cozen O’Connor will continue to monitor staffing changes at the Department of Buildings, including the appointment of a new zoning administrator. Although it is unknown what 2023 will bring, for the first time in 16 years we may have a new zoning administrator interpreting the D.C. zoning regulations.