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Streetscape Design Guidelines

The character of the city and its neighborhoods is largely determined by the appearance of its streetscape. A streetscape is the result of two things: the physical environment and the uses that take place within public space. To help shape the character of new areas and protect the quality of existing neighborhoods, the District has in place streetscape standards, guidelines, and policies to guide changes to public space. Physical features that are considered can include sidewalk paving material, fences and retaining walls, street trees and their spacing, and other infrastructure like street lights or curb and gutters. Uses that impact the character of public space include sidewalk cafes, vending, street festivals, and other impermanent activites.

In partnership with the District Department of Transportation, the Office of Planning works with District agencies and the private sector to ensure the design of public space is of high quality and meets minimum requirements. Some areas of the city - such as the Downtown, NoMa, and Mount Vernon Triangle - have additional streetscape requirements. What appears to be a front yard is frequently public space. The Government of the District of Columbia encourages everyone to make improvements to our public space, and its important to understand how your efforts fit into larger goals for the city.

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