Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 5B. Department of Buildings.


Subchapter I. Establishment of the Department of Buildings.

§ 10–561.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this act, the term:

(1) "Chief Building Official" or "CBO" means the lead administrator of the Office of Construction and Building Standards, whose appointment is provided for by section 104.

(2) "Construction Codes" means all codes as defined in section 101.1 of Title 12A of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (12-A DCMR § 101.1).

(3) "Department" means the Department of Buildings established by section 102.

(4) "Director" means the director of the Department of Buildings, whose appointment is provided for by section 103.

(5) "International Code Council Family of Codes" means the body of standards promulgated by the International Code Council to the extent the standards are adopted by the District of Columbia and codified into the District of Columbia Code of Municipal Regulations.

(6) "Strategic Enforcement Administrator" or "SEA" means the lead administrator of the Office of Strategic Code Enforcement, whose appointment is provided for by section 105.

(7) "Zoning Administrator" or "ZA" means the lead administrator for the Office of Zoning Administration, whose appointment is provided for by section 106.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 101, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 101 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.02. Establishment of the Department of Buildings.

(a) Pursuant to section 404(b) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 787; D.C. Official Code § 1-204.04(b)), there is established, as a subordinate agency within the executive branch of the District of Columbia government, the Department of Buildings, which shall be headed by a Director who shall carry out the functions and authorities assigned to the Department.

(b) The Department is charged with promoting the health, safety, and quality of life of residents and visitors in the District of Columbia by reviewing proposed plans for technical sufficiency, issuing permits to ensure competent construction, inspecting the built environment, regulating land use and development, and enforcing the regulations and codes governing building construction, rental housing conditions, building maintenance, building safety, and zoning.

(c) The functions of the Department shall be to:

(1) Ensure that the physical environment and structure of all buildings in the District of Columbia meet all applicable regulations and codes for preservation or for the use to which the space or structure is to be put;

(2) Ensure that the habitability and sanitary condition of all rental housing units in the District of Columbia meet all applicable regulations and codes, except those that are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; and

(3) Ensure that public and private land and structures meet adequate health, safety, and environmental standards.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 102, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 102 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.03. Director.

(a) The Director shall manage and administer the Department and all functions and personnel assigned thereto, including the power to redelegate to other employees and officials of the Department such powers and authority as in the judgment of the Director is warranted in the interests of efficiency and sound administration, excluding the ability to alter the duties and functions of the Chief Building Official or the duties and functions of the Strategic Enforcement Administrator.

(b) The Director shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to section 2(a) of the Confirmation Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-142; D.C. Official Code § 1-523.01(a)).


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 103, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 103 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.04. Chief Building Official.

(a) There shall be, subordinate to the Director, a Chief Building Official within the Department with primary authority for the administration of and determination of compliance with the Construction Codes and the Green Building Act of 2006, effective March 8, 2007 (D.C. Law 16-234; D.C. Official Code § 6-1451.01 et seq.).

(b) The Chief Building Official shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to section 2(a) of the Confirmation Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-142; D.C. Official Code § 1-523.01(a)).

(c) Upon the applicability date of this act, the individual then serving in the position of Chief Building Official at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ("Incumbent CBO") shall serve as the CBO until the expiry of a 5-year term to be calculated from the applicability date of this act. If the Incumbent CBO is unable to serve as CBO, the deputy to the Incumbent CBO shall serve as acting CBO until a new CBO is appointed by the Mayor pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(d) The CBO shall have not less than 8 years of senior-level experience in administering building standards and shall have demonstrated, through knowledge and experience, the ability to administer a building standard system of the size and complexity of the responsibilities covered by this act.

(e) The CBO shall serve for one 5-year term and may be reappointed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(f) The CBO shall not be required to resign at the end of a mayoral term or administration.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 104, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 104 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.05. Strategic Enforcement Administrator.

(a) There shall be, subordinate to the Director, a Strategic Enforcement Administrator within the Department.

(b) The SEA shall have the following responsibilities:

(1) Developing and implementing strategic and data-driven deployment of the Department's enforcement efforts and advising the CBO and the Chief Inspection Official ("CIO"), provided for in section 107(a)(4), accordingly;

(2) Monitoring violations to ensure that the CBO and CIO are scheduling timely reinspections and that the appropriate documentation and data are being captured;

(3) If, and when, fines are levied, tracking and enforcing collection of the fines and making referrals to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia when necessary;

(4) Developing and implementing consistent enforcement procedures and standards in coordination with the CBO and CIO;

(5) Advisory responsibility for managing the assignment of the Department's enforcement staff to ensure enforcement efforts regarding the built environment of the District of Columbia are effectively assigned;

(6) Managing and tracking the enforcement history of individual projects, professionals, and properties to identify repeat violators or trends in construction, housing code, or maintenance violations and developing plans to detect and deter future violations;

(7) Monitoring and tracking the number, type, and severity of violations, abatement history, impact on neighboring properties, previous enforcement actions taken, and the results of such enforcement actions to inform a consistent application of abatement standards; and

(8) General administration of the Department's enforcement efforts.

(c) The SEA shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to section 2(a) of the Confirmation Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-142; D.C. Official Code § 1-523.01(a)).

(d) The SEA shall serve for one 5-year term and may be reappointed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(e) The SEA shall not be required to resign at the end of a mayoral term or administration.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 105, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 105 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.06. Zoning Administrator.

(a) There is established, subordinate to the Director, a Zoning Administrator within the Department with primary authority for the administration of and determination of compliance with the Zoning Regulations of the District of Columbia (11-A DCMR § 100.1 et seq.) ("Zoning Regulations").

(b) The ZA shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to section 2(a) of the Confirmation Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-142; D.C. Official Code § 1-523.01(a)).

(c) The ZA shall have not less than 8 years of senior-level experience in interpreting and enforcing zoning regulations.

(d) The ZA shall serve for one 5-year term and may be reappointed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(e) The ZA shall not be required to resign at the end of a mayoral term or administration.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 106, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 106 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.07. Department organization.

(a) There are established within the Department the following offices and divisions:

(1) The Office of the Director with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) Human Resources;

(B) Intergovernmental Affairs;

(C) General Counsel;

(D) Communications; and

(E) Technology and Information Services, including the development and maintenance of, in coordination with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the systems necessary to enable the efficient and accurate maintenance of digital records management, electronic plan submission, electronic plan review, permit issuance, and enforcement records.

(2) Administrative Services, with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) Customer Service and Complaint Resolution;

(B) Logistics and Fleet Services, including the management of the equipment necessary to support an inspection workforce that deploys to inspect construction sites in coordination with the subordinate staff responsible for Technology and Information Services;

(C) Risk Management; and

(D) Contracts and Procurement;

(3) The Office of Construction and Building Standards, headed by the CBO, with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) The Permitting Operations Division, which shall:

(i) Accept permit applications for review and coordinate the review of such applications by the relevant offices and entities;

(ii) Evaluate submitted plans and certify their compliance with the Construction Codes or provide instructions to obtain compliance for non-compliant submissions;

(iii) Issue building permits for private and District construction projects;

(B) The Construction Compliance Division, which shall manage and coordinate revisions to the Construction Codes to meet current demands for adequate and safe construction and the maintenance of new and existing building structures as outlined by the International Code Council Family of Codes;

(C) The Building Inspection Division, which shall:

(i) Inspect commercial buildings;

(ii) Manage permit-related inspection requests;

(iii) Issue citations for violations of the Construction Codes to correct violations; and

(iv) Conduct building and structure assessments for emergency and disaster response in coordination with the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency;

(D) Green Building Division, which shall regulate construction relevant to the green codes, which includes the Green Building Act of 2006, effective March 8, 2007 (D.C. Law 16-234; D.C. Official Code § 6-1451.01 et seq.), the Green Construction Code (12-K DCMR), and the Energy Conservation Code (12-I DCMR). The Division shall coordinate services with the Permitting Operations Division and Construction Compliance Division, such as conducting plan review, building inspections, and collaborating with sister agencies, the building industry, and the community to increase the sustainability of the built environment;

(E) Surveyor's Office, which shall produce and maintain the legal records of all land plats and subdivisions of private and District government property within the District of Columbia;

(F) Third-Party Inspection Program, which shall provide supplemental staff for the Department's plan review and inspection divisions, and shall ensure the suitability and quality of, and authorize private entities to perform, inspections and plan reviews and to certify to the Department that such work complies with the Construction Codes.

(4) The Office of Residential Inspection, headed by a Chief Inspection Official ("CIO"), with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) Vacant and Blighted Property Division, which shall inspect and classify vacant and blighted buildings;

(B) Rental Housing Inspections Division, which shall protect District tenants by ensuring habitable housing by conducting both proactive and complaint-based residential housing inspections of violations of the Residential Code (12-B DCMR) and the Property Maintenance Code (12-G DCMR);

(C) Housing Rehabilitation Division, which shall:

(i) Abate violations of the Residential Code (12-B DCMR) and the Property Maintenance Code (12-G DCMR);

(ii) Process abatement contracts; and

(iii) Collect unpaid abatement costs;

(5) The Office of Strategic Code Enforcement, headed by the SEA, with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) Code Enforcement Division, which shall:

(i) Coordinate and monitor enforcement of violations cited by the Department's regulatory programs;

(ii) Work closely with the Office of the Attorney General to compel compliance through judicial orders;

(iii) Conduct compliance surveys; and

(iv) Issue Notices of Infraction for violations;

(B) Civil Infractions and Fine Assessment Division, which shall:

(i) Process all civil infractions with the Office of Administrative Hearings;

(ii) Collect fines; and

(iii) Place property liens for unpaid fines.

(6) The Office of Zoning Administration, headed by the ZA, with subordinate staff responsible for:

(A) Reviewing applications for conformity with the Zoning Regulations of the District of Columbia (11-A DCMR § 100.1 et seq.) ("Zoning Regulations");

(B) Enforcing the Zoning Regulations;

(C) Writing letters of determination or of denial regarding the relevant portions of the Zoning Regulations applicable to specific development proposals; and

(D) Referring applicants to the Board of Zoning Adjustment if they want to seek special exceptions or zoning variances to the ZA's rulings.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 107, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 107 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–561.08. Implementation and Transition Plan.

(a) The City Administrator shall prepare and submit to the Council a comprehensive transition plan and timeline to facilitate the implementation of this act.

(b) The transition plan shall include:

(1) A proposed organizational plan, including an organization chart, which reflects the proposed reporting structure for the Department consistent with this act, due 60 days after the applicability date of this act;

(2) A strategic human capital plan, which identifies the skills and personnel necessary for the functions covered by this act, identifies current available human resources, identifies the training necessary to ensure staff are prepared to perform, outlines steps to engage and bargain with labor organizations currently certified to represent employees who may be transferred from the former Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and identifies recruiting priorities and efforts, due 120 days after the applicability date of this act;

(3) A communications strategy, which articulates the methods by which the Executive will share the mission and scope of the Department with the public, stakeholders, and the regulated community, metrics by which to judge the success of the plan, and alternative outreach options to improve success of the plan, due 120 days after the applicability date of this act;

(4) A comprehensive document control inventory, which identifies the documents, collateral, and assets that must be revised to reflect the change in responsibility to the Department of Buildings and the change in name of the former Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, due 180 days after the applicability date of this act;

(5) A business process analysis and reengineering assessment, which identifies the processes by which the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs currently performs each of the functions covered by this act, evaluates the effectiveness of each existing process, identifies potential process improvements, prioritizes eliminating process inefficiencies, and provides redesigned operational processes for the Department of Buildings to adopt these functions, due one year after the applicability date of this act; and

(6) An information technology needs assessment, which identifies the resources and tools necessary to enable operations over a single system, or a minimal number of fully integrated systems, facilitate plan review, enforcement, and records management across all relevant review and enforcement agencies, due one year after the applicability date of this act.

(c) The timeline shall include progress points by which the Council may track the implementation of this act.

(d) As of the applicability date of this act, the Mayor shall provide quarterly updates on the progress of developing the deliverables identified in subsection (b) of this section.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 108, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 108 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


Subchapter II. Agency Planning and Reporting Requirements.

§ 10–562.01. Strategic Enforcement Plan.

(a) On or before January 1, 2022, and January 1 of every third year thereafter, the SEA shall submit to the Council a Strategic Enforcement Plan that:

(1) Establishes priorities;

(2) Identifies available and needed resources while integrating the Department's enforcement functions; and

(3) Identifies instances in which the Department can leverage the enforcement efforts of sister agencies with which the Department has adjacent, overlapping, or shared authority.

(b) The plan required under subsection (a) of this section shall rely on existing data and industry best practices to determine enforcement priorities for the duration of the plan.

(c) In developing the plan required under subsection (a) of this section, the SEA shall afford great weight to available complaint data and community sentiment.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 201, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 201 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–562.02. Annual Enforcement Report.

(a) On or before January 1, 2023, and January 1 of every year thereafter, the Director shall submit to the Council an annual report detailing the enforcement activities of the Department in the prior fiscal year.

(b) The report required under subsection (a) of this section shall assess the Department's progress against the Strategic Enforcement Plan required under section 201 and identify any changes to operations necessary to implement the Strategic Enforcement Plan.

(c) The report required under subsection (a) of this section shall also include the following data for the prior fiscal year:

(1) Complaint data, detailing the number, type, method, determination of validity, and resolution of complaints received by the Department;

(2) Violation data, detailing the violations identified and cited in the prior fiscal year and their status as abated or unresolved as of the date of the report;

(3) Fine collection data, detailing the dollar value of the fines assessed, dollar value of the fines assessed versus the fines collected, violations for which the fines were issued, and identifying any reduction in fine amount due to an action by an administrative judge to reduce the assessed fine, adverse judgment at an administrative hearing, administrative settlement or dismissal by the Department, or other means resulting in a collection of less than the levied amount, and any fines not yet collected as of the date of the report;

(4) Abatement efficacy, detailing the number and nature of abatement orders, the number of days taken to abate each order, the number of extensions granted by type of abatement order, the justification for each extension, and the location of each abatement order, and its status as abated or unresolved as of the date of the report;

(5) Enforcement escalation data, detailing the number of violations referred to the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, the aggregate dollar amount assessed, and a description of the matters referred; and

(6) Collections escalation data, detailing the number of violations referred to the Central Collections Unit.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 202, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 202 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


Subchapter III. Agency Redesignation and Transition.

§ 10–563.01. Redesignation.

(a) The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs shall be redesignated as the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.

(b) The following functions and duties shall be transferred to the Department of Buildings by October 1, 2022:

(1) The functions of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs set forth in section III(A)(4 and 5) and (B)(3, 6 through 11) of Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1983, effective March 31, 1983; and

(2) The functions and duties set forth in the Boiler Inspection Act of the District of Columbia, approved June 25, 1936 (49 Stat. 1917; D.C. Official Code § 2-101 et seq.).

(c) All staff, property, records, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds available or to be made available relating to the duties and functions assigned in Title I of this act shall be transferred to the Department of Buildings by October 1, 2022.

(d) Notwithstanding any other law, rule, or regulation, the District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-139; D.C. Official Code § 1-601.01 et seq.), shall be fully applicable to employees of the Department of Buildings.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 301, 68 DCR 001490; Aug. 23, 2021, D.C. Act 24-159, § 6012, 68 DCR 008602.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 301 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


Subchapter IV. Rulemaking Authority; Savings Clause.

§ 10–564.01. Rules.

(a) The Mayor, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), shall issue rules as necessary to implement the provisions of this act, including establishing fines, permit fees, and other fees necessary to support the implementation of this act.

(b) Proposed rules promulgated pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day period, the proposed rules shall be deemed to be approved.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 401, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 401 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.


§ 10–564.02. Savings clause.

The rules that any agency, department, or administration, the functions of which are transferred by this act to the Department of Buildings, has promulgated that do not conflict with this act shall remain in effect until amended or repealed by rules promulgated in accordance with this act.


(Apr. 5, 2021, D.C. Law 23-269, § 402, 68 DCR 001490.)

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 23-269: § 601 of D.C. Law 23-269 provided that the creation of this section by § 402 of D.C. Law 23-269 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.