Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Reporting Illegal Construction

Posted on April 21st, 2023

Department of Buildings (formerly DCRA) regulates construction in the District.  DOB’s website ( states:
Generally, the following are types of work require building permits:

  • New construction
  • Additions
  • Demolition
  • Construction of retaining walls, decks, fences, sheds, garages, and vaults
  • Erection of signs and awnings

Any construction in the District of Columbia without required building permits is illegal. Illegal construction is a public danger; it can hurt people and property.

If you see illegal construction activity in the District of Columbia, please report it by submitting an Illegal Construction Request through or call 311. Give the address and describe the illegal construction, and DOB will schedule an inspection to investigate.

Note: work in public space is regulated by DDOT.  

For the definition of public space, see DDOT’s Public Realm Design Manual on   Public space includes all the publicly-owned property between the property lines on a street, park, or other public property, as such property lines are shown on the records of the District, and includes any roadway, tree space, sidewalk, or parking between such property lines.

Public Parking Area: “Public Parking” means that area of public space devoted to open space, greenery, parks, or parking that lies between the property line, which may or may not coincide with the building restriction line, and the edge of the actual or planned sidewalk that is nearer to the property line, as the property line and sidewalk are shown on the records of the District. This area often includes spaces that appear to be front yards with private landscaping that create park-like settings on residential streets.

A public space permit is needed for the following:

  • Dumpsters in public space
  • Sidewalk construction and repair
  • Flag poles, planter boxes, retaining walls and fences in public space

639 A St. SE – all that remains is the facade, following un-permitted demolition

Streetscape Spaces

Posted on November 5th, 2018

Below is text and illustrations from a paper by Nancy Metzger delineating, describing and documenting spaces surrounding buildings in the Capitol Hill Historic District. The complete paper, which maintains the original formatting, is available for download in .pdf format: StreetscapeSpacesNancyMetzger112018.

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Tree Space Beautification

Posted on January 2nd, 2017

CHRS encourages residents to adhere to these best practices (summarized from the District guidelines), which will contribute to the robust growth and general health of Capitol Hill’s public space trees.

District regulations regarding Tree Space Beautification (in ,pdf format)

Tree Space Beautification Best Practices (in .pdf format):

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