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Tree Space Regulations

The District has a variety of regulations that relate to tree spaces in the city. The majority apply to trees on public property. They speak to tree box design, placement of street trees, beautification of tree spaces and parking lot landscaping requirements.

Public Realm Design Manual

The Public Realm Design Manual is a comprehensive guide to the design regulations that guide the organization of public space in the District, including street tree placement, species selection and treatment of tree boxes.

Street Tree Fences

Street tree fences provide an important barrier to protect trees from the constant foot traffic along city streets. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) provides design specifications for street tree fences.

Beautification of Street Tree Spaces

Street tree spaces receive different types of treatments throughout the city, including fences, flowers and other types of plantings. DDOT outlines what is allowable to beautify street tree spaces.

Streetscape Standards

In DDOT’s Design & Engineering Manual, Chapters 8, 14 and 47 detail streetscape-related regulations for DDOT projects.

Parking Lot Tree Cover Requirements

The current City Zoning Code, requires a certain amount of tree cover in parking areas. The regulations currently on the books can be found in Title 11: Zoning, Chapters 11-21: Off-Street Parking Requirements:

2117.11:  Landscaping with trees and shrubs shall be provided for all open parking spaces provided on a lot where there are more than ten (10) open parking spaces provided collectively as accessory to any building or structure. The landscaping shall cover a minimum of five percent (5%) of the total area devoted to parking, including aisles and driveways. The landscaping shall be maintained in a healthy, growing condition.

2117.12:  The open parking spaces shall be screened from all contiguous residential property located in an R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5-A, or SP District by a solid brick or stone wall at least twelve inches (12 in.) thick and forty-two inches (42 in.) high or by evergreen hedges or evergreen growing trees that are thickly planted and maintained and that are at least forty-two inches (42 in.) in height when planted.

Sustainable DC

The plan to make D.C. the nation’s “healthiest, greenest, most livable city,” includes trees as an integral part of this vision. The District’s 40% Tree Canopy Goal is articulated on page 116 of the report.

Urban Forest Protection Legislation

The current legislation protecting trees in D.C. is the Urban Forest Preservation Act (UFPA) of 2002. The UFPA established an urban forest preservation program for the District, set up a permitting process to remove Special Trees (trees 55 inches in circumference or larger) and established a Tree Fund to be used to plant replacement trees and defray costs associated with the implementation of the Act.

There is pending legislation that would replace the existing UFPA: the Urban Forestry Administration Reorganization Act. Learn more about our position on the pending tree protection bill and read our Executive Director’s written testimony to the D.C. Council.