Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Rental of Airspace.


§ 10–1121.01. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter:

(1) The term “Mayor” means the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

(2) The term “District” means the District of Columbia.

(3) The term “airspace” means the space above and below a street or alley under the jurisdiction of the Mayor.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1166, Pub. L. 90-598, § 2.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1031.

1973 Ed., § 7-941.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 10-1202.24.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.02. Mayor’s authority with respect to use of airspace.

The Mayor, in conformity with the comprehensive plan for the National Capital prepared under § 2-1003, may:

(1) Enter into leases for the use of airspace in the District to an extent not inconsistent with the use, operation, and maintenance of, any street or alley;

(2) Use airspace for such public purposes as are authorized by law;

(3) Enter into agreements with the federal government for the purpose of receiving grants or other financial assistance under the federal programs in connection with the construction, use or operation of any structure in airspace; and

(4) Enter into agreements with the federal government to enable the federal government to construct federal buildings in the space above and below any street or alley, title to which is in the District.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1166, Pub. L. 90-598, § 3.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1032.

1973 Ed., § 7-942.

Mayor's Orders

District of Columbia Public Space Committee established: See Mayor’s Order 83-54, February 17, 1983.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.03. Terms and conditions to be included in leases.

Any lease of airspace entered into under this subchapter shall provide:

(1) That such airspace shall not be used to deprive any real property not owned by the lessee of easements of light, air, and access;

(2) For a clearance of at least 15 feet between the recorded grade of a street or alley and the lowest portion of any structure (other than supporting columns) constructed over such street or alley;

(3) That upon the expiration or termination of the lease of airspace the Mayor may require (at the expense of the lessee or his successor in interest) the removal of any structure constructed or erected in such airspace and the restoration of such airspace to its condition prior to the construction or erection of such structure;

(4) That all the rights, duties, terms, conditions, agreements, and covenants set forth and contained in such lease shall run with the abutting real property owned by the lessee and shall apply to the lessee, his heirs, legal representatives, successors, and assignees;

(5) That the lessee shall, at his expense, record a copy of the lease in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia;

(6) For the payment of such rents and fees, and the posting of such bond or such other security, by the lessee, as the Mayor determines to be necessary or desirable; and

(7) For such other terms and conditions as the Mayor determines to be necessary or desirable.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1166, Pub. L. 90-598, § 4.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1033.

1973 Ed., § 7-943.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 10-1121.11.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.04. Execution of airspace leases.

The Mayor may execute a lease of airspace under this subchapter if:

(1) The lessee of the airspace has a fee simple title to the real property abutting such airspace and the lease is for airspace which lies only within the frontages of such abutting real property which are directly opposite;

(2) The Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia, after public hearing and after securing the advice and recommendations of the National Capital Planning Commission, has determined the use to be permitted in such airspace and has established regulations applicable to the use of such airspace consistent with regulations applicable to the abutting privately owned property, including limitations and requirements respecting the height of any structure to be erected in such airspace, offstreet parking and floor area ratios applicable to such structure, and easements of light, air, and access;

(3) The lessee has submitted to the Mayor, for his review and approval, plans, elevations, sections, a description of the texture, material, and method of construction of the exterior walls, and a scale model, of any structure to be erected in such airspace;

(4) The Mayor with respect to any structure proposed to be constructed in an area subject to §§ 6-611.01 and 6-611.02, or §§ 6-1201 to 6-1205 has submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts for its review and recommendations, plans, elevations, sections, a description of the texture, material, and method of construction of the exterior walls, and a scale model, of any such structure; and

(5) The Mayor, with respect to any structure proposed to be constructed over space utilized or to be utilized for the construction and operation of the subway of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, has submitted to the Authority for its review and recommendations the plans, elevations, sections, and a scale model of any such structure.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1167, Pub. L. 90-598, § 5.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1034.

1973 Ed., § 7-944.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.05. Removal or relocation of public or private facilities.

The District shall not pay the cost of any removal or relocation of publicly or privately owned facilities in a street or alley in connection with the construction of a structure in airspace leased under this subchapter. No such facilities may be removed or relocated unless the Mayor has approved all arrangements for such removal or relocation.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1167, Pub. L. 90-598, § 6.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1035.

1973 Ed., § 7-945.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.06. Applicability of zoning and other laws.

Zoning laws and regulations and other laws and regulations applicable to the construction, use, and occupancy of buildings and premises, including building, electrical, plumbing, housing, health, and fire regulations, shall be applicable to structures constructed in airspace.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1167, Pub. L. 90-598, § 7.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1036.

1973 Ed., § 7-946.


§ 10–1121.07. Airspace and structures erected thereon deemed real property for purpose of taxation, water and sewer charges; exemptions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, airspace and structures constructed or erected in airspace shall be deemed to be real property and shall be liable to assessment, taxation, and water and sewer service charges by the District from the beginning of the term or period of such lease. For the purposes of real property assessments and taxation, the value of airspace, other than any structure constructed or erected in airspace, shall be its fair market value. No tax or assessment shall be levied with respect to airspace or structures in airspace:

(1) Occupied exclusively by the federal government or the District government; or

(2) Occupied and used by 1 or more organizations which, under § 47-1002, are exempt from real property taxation.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1167, Pub. L. 90-598, § 8.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1037.

1973 Ed., § 7-947.


§ 10–1121.08. Deposit of rents, fees, taxes, assessments, sewer and water charges; payment of expenditures.

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, all collections, including rents and fees, received by the District under this subchapter shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States in a trust fund, from which may be paid, in the same manner as is provided by law for other expenditures of the District, such expenditures as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this subchapter, including necessary expenses connected with the operation, maintenance, and disposition of property coming into the possession of the District by reason of a default under a lease entered into under this subchapter. The unobligated balance in such trust fund in excess of $100,000 as of the end of any fiscal year shall be deposited in the Treasury to the credit of such special funds or the General Fund of the District in such proportions as the Mayor may determine.

(b) Taxes (including payments in lieu of taxes), special assessments, and sanitary sewer and water service charges shall be deposited directly to the respective funds to which such revenues are normally deposited.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1168, Pub. L. 90-598, § 9.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1038.

1973 Ed., § 7-948.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.09. Restoration of airspace upon expiration or termination of lease.

If, upon the expiration or termination of a lease of airspace under this subchapter: (1) the Mayor determines that any structure constructed or erected in such airspace should be removed or such airspace should be restored to its condition prior to the construction or erection of such structure; and (2) the lessee or his successor in interest, upon the request of the Mayor, fails, after a reasonable time, to remove such structure or to restore such airspace to its condition prior to the construction or erection of such structure; the Mayor may remove such structure and restore such airspace. The cost of such removal and restoration shall be assessed against the abutting properties as a tax. Such tax shall be collected in the manner prescribed by § 6-806, for the collection of amounts assessed as a tax under that section.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1168, Pub. L. 90-598, § 10.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1039.

1973 Ed., § 7-949.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.10. Rules; enforcement.

(a) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this subchapter.

(b) A violation of this subchapter or a rule issued in accordance with this subchapter may be punished by imprisonment of not more than 90 days.

(c) The Mayor may maintain an action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to enjoin any continuing violation of this subchapter or a rule issued in accordance with this subchapter.

(d) Civil fines and penalties may be imposed as alternative sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this subchapter or any rules promulgated under the authority of this subchapter, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2 [§ 2-1801.01 et seq.] (“Civil Infractions Act”). Enforcement and adjudication of an infraction shall be pursuant to the Civil Infractions Act.

(e) The Mayor may also enforce this subchapter or a rule issued in accordance with this subchapter pursuant to §  50-921.19(a), (c), (d), (e), and (f).


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1168, Pub. L. 90-598, § 11; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 571, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(c)(27); Oct. 5, 1985, D.C. Law 6-42, § 428, 32 DCR 4450; Mar. 11, 2015, D.C. Law 20-207, § 7, 61 DCR 12690.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1040.

1973 Ed., § 7-950.

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-207 rewrote this section.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-207: Section 12(a) of D.C. Law 20-207 provided that §§ 2(a), 2(b)(1), 2(b)(2)(A), 2(b)(2)(B), 2(b)(2)(C), 2(c), 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 shall apply as of March 11, 2015.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.11. Federal and District governments authorized to construct airspace structures.

The federal government and District government are each authorized, without regard to the requirements of §§ 10-1121.03 through 10-1121.10, to construct any structure in airspace, subject to the following conditions:

(1) The government proposing to construct any structure in airspace shall have fee simple title to real property abutting such real property;

(2) The airspace to be occupied by such structure shall be only within the frontages of the real property abutting such airspace which are directly opposite;

(3) The airspace to be occupied by such structure shall not be used to deprive any real property, not owned by the federal government or District government, of its easements of light, air, or access;

(4) The construction of any such structure by the District government across a street or alley, the title to which is in the United States, shall be in accordance with an agreement between the Mayor and the Attorney General of the United States, subject to such terms and conditions as the Attorney General and the Mayor agree to include in the agreement;

(5) Section 6-641.15 shall apply to the construction of any structure in such airspace by the federal government and, to the extent required by subsection (c) of § 2-1004, to the construction of any structure in such airspace by the District government;

(6) Plans for the construction of any structure in such airspace by the federal government or the District government shall be subject to review by the National Capital Planning Commission in accordance with § 2-1004;

(7) The construction of any such structure by the federal government or the District government shall be subject to the recommendations of the Commission of Fine Arts to the extent required by §§ 6-611.01 and 6-611.02 or §§ 6-1201 to 6-1205.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1169, Pub. L. 90-598, § 12.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1041.

1973 Ed., § 7-951.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 10–1121.12. Actions to recover use of leased airspace.

If the federal government or the District government brings an action to recover the use of airspace leased under this subchapter, the government having title to the street or alley over or under which such airspace is located shall pay to the lessee of such airspace the fair market value of the remainder of his leasehold interest in such airspace. If the federal government recovers the use of airspace over or under a street to which it has title, the District government shall pay to the federal government an amount equal to the rents and fees received by the District government for the rental of such airspace or an amount equal to the fair market value of the remainder of the leasehold interest in such airspace, whichever is smaller.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1170, Pub. L. 90-598, § 13.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1042.

1973 Ed., § 7-952.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to D.C. Law 11-76, the “Rental of Public Structures in Public Space Temporary Act of 1995”, see Mayor’s Order 96-8, January 31, 1996 ( 43 DCR 615).


§ 10–1121.13. Area exempted from provisions of subchapter.

This subchapter shall not apply to airspace within the area in the District bounded on the north by G Street Northeast and Northwest, on the south by G Street Southeast and Southwest, on the east by 11th Street Northeast and Southeast, and the west by 3rd Street Southwest and Northwest.


(Oct. 17, 1968, 82 Stat. 1170, Pub. L. 90-598, § 14.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 7-1043.

1973 Ed., § 7-953.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to D.C. Law 11-138, the “Rental of Public Structures in the Public Space Emergency Act of 1995”, see Mayor’s Order 95-117, September 12, 1995.