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Charlottesville’s Draft Zoning Ordinance: Overview

Charlottesville’s City Council may soon pass the most aggressive “upzoning” ordinance in the country. Here’s an overview of where the proposed ordinance currently stands; its key features and risks; and how you can voice your opinion to Charlottesville’s City Council.

Current Status of the DZO: now in the hands of Charlottesville’s City Council

  • Charlottesville’s Planning Commission has prepared the “final draft” of a proposed new zoning ordinance that will significantly affect all City neighborhoods.  The Zoning Ordinance is the final output of a process that began with the Comprehensive Plan update approved in 2021.
  • The draft zoning ordinance (DZO) is now in the hands of Charlottesville’s City Council, which is responsible for reviewing and possibly revising the current draft before adopting it into law.

Key Features of the DZO: dramatic changes in density, size, height, and allowable uses

  • eliminates all single-family (“R-1”) zoning, allowing 4, 6, or 8 housing units on all lots, depending on zone; permissive options for lot subdivision allow easy multiplication of housing unit numbers
  • dramatically increases allowable commercial uses throughout all city neighborhoods
  • does not produce or require the production of affordable housing, except for in the largest developments, and even then in small quantities.
  • eliminates all off-street parking requirements (i.e., all parking could be on-street)
  • eliminates promised protections for historically African American neighborhoods
  • permits extreme increases in building size, height, and lot coverage
  • dramatically reduces required setbacks (i.e., front, back, and side yards)
  • does not consider the City’s transportation or infrastructural limitations and leaves infrastructure costs imposed by new development to be paid for by all city residents

Clear Risks of the DZO: extreme citywide changes present numerous and serious risks to City livability

  • Widespread teardowns, particularly in low-income UVA- and downtown-adjacent neighborhoods
  • Dramatic inflation of land values and potential decreases in structure values, leading to the some of the most modest homes facing the biggest assessment increases.
  • Encroachment of student housing into residential neighborhoods
  • Loss of existing functional neighborhoods in all price ranges
  • Overwhelmed and inadequate civic and transportation infrastructure
  • Environmental degradation, including loss of tree canopy

Voice Your Opinion:  City Council needs to hear from you! Speak up in person or via zoom at a Sept. 14 hearing or email City Council at