The Washington City Paper's Housing Complex blog has a summary of what should happen with DC's zoning code. One thing that caught my eye was:
Allowing commerce in neighborhoods: At the moment, although some of them were grandfathered in before the current generation of regulations, corner stores in the middle of residential neighborhoods are against the law, as is selling produce in your front yard. The rewrite will foster urban agriculture and allow more little grocery stores to be scattered through neighborhoods, while keeping them far enough away from commercial zones so as not to drain those retail strips. In addition, the rewrite junks regulations that now prevent stores and restaurants on major commuter thoroughfares that are primarily residential--like Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues--from advertising on the street.
First, I didn't know I can't sell produce from my front yard. I guess I fell into the seedy criminal underworld when a woman wanted to buy up my green tomatoes (back when I had a bumper crop). Get it? Seedy? Tomatoes?
But then I got to thinking about the old Bates Market on the corner of P and 3rd. The top floor is rented residential, but the bottom has remained empty. The owner wanted it to be a Georgian culture based business. It seems it is grandfathered to be a retail store to sell milk and bread, and nothing else. Well that's what I've heard. It appears the old store's ABC license did not grandfather over, thus creating another burden. Maybe a rewrite to the zoning regs will give the property a little more wiggle room and attract a tenant to this really cool block.