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Office of Planning

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Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm except holidays

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1100 4th Street, SW, Suite E650
Washington, DC 20024

Phone: (202) 442-7600
Fax: (202) 442-7638
TTY: 311

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Ellen M. McCarthy
Acting Director, Office of Planning

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Public Space

Majestic views of national monuments, leafy residential streets, and wide sidewalks in commercial areas . . . these are iconic images of Washington, DC. Much of the daily routine of District residents, workers, and visitors takes place in settings like these. This is where we walk to school, wait for the bus, talk to neighbors, walk the dog, window shop, or sit outside in a café to drink a cup of coffee. Having such an extensive network of public space enhances the quality of life for our residents and visitors, and ensures that the city has the foundation to become a more walkable and sustainable city. 

The District’s public space is a valuable asset worthy of our stewardship and - with the help of all residents and property owners - is one if the unique features that makes our city great.

Beginning with the L’Enfant Plan and continuing to today, Washington, DC, has a notable history of using public space to define the city and give character and grace to neighborhoods. There are examples along every city street. From neighborhood networks of small green spaces, parks, schoolyards and recreation facilities; to neighborhood commercial areas with wide sidewalks, cafes, and street festivals - our public spaces are not the result of happenstance. Rather, they are the result of thoughtful planning, regulation, and long-standing traditions of enhancing the public right-of-way. Today, the District reviews approximately 6,000 public space permits annually to ensure that the interest of the public is protected.

The Office of Planning’s Public Space Program plays an important role in reviewing public space applications and coordinating with other District agencies to improve parks and open spaces. Its ensures that changes to public space further the District’s goals of making the city more walkable and sustainable, and giving Washington, DC, a distinct image that makes is stand out as a premier city in which to live, work, and visit.

For more information, contact Chris Shaheen, Public Space Program Manager of the DC Office of Planning at (202) 442-7616 or by email at