Code of the District of Columbia

§ 10–137.01. Authority of the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation to regulate District parks.

(a) The Council finds that, in order to protect the public health and safety, environmental and scenic values, natural or cultural resources, equitable allocations and use of District park facilities, and to alleviate conflict among park visitors, it is necessary to implement management responsibilities for District parks.

(b) The Director of the Department may:

(1) Establish a reasonable schedule of hours for the operation of parks;

(2) Impose limits, conditions, and restrictions on the public use of parks;

(3) Close all or a portion of a park area to public use or to a specific use or activity; or

(4) Terminate a limit, condition, restriction, or any other decision made pursuant to this subsection.

(c)(1) Except in emergency situations, the Director of the Department shall inform the public of closures, designations, use restrictions or conditions, or the termination or relaxation of such, which is of a nature, magnitude and duration that will result in a significant alteration in the public use pattern of the park area, adversely affect the park’s natural, aesthetic, scenic or cultural values, require a long-term or significant modification in the resource management objectives of the unit, or is of a highly controversial nature, by publishing such changes as rulemaking in the District of Columbia Register and a major Washington, D.C. metropolitan newspaper.

(2) Except in emergency situations, prior to implementing or terminating a restriction, condition, public use limit or closure, the Director of the Department shall prepare a written determination justifying the action. That determination shall set forth the reasons why the restriction, condition, public use limit or closure authorized by subsection (b) of this section has been established, and an explanation of why less restrictive measures will not suffice, or in the case of a termination of a restriction, condition, public use limit or closure previously established under subsection (b) of this section, a determination as to why the restriction is no longer necessary and a finding that the termination will not adversely impact park resources. This determination shall be available to the public upon request.

(d) To implement a public use limit, the Director of the Department may establish a permit, registration, or reservation system. Permits shall be issued in accordance with, or in exception to, the criteria in subsection (b) of this section. Applications for use permits may be sent to the Director of the Department, 30 days in advance of the event, by writing a letter which describes the event including the date, day, starting and ending time of the event, a description of what the event will be, and approximately how many people are expected.

(e) Violating a closure, designation, use or activity restriction or condition, schedule of visiting hours, or public use limit is prohibited. The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department may enforce the provisions contained in subsection (b) of this section. Any person violating the provisions of subsection (b) of this section may be punished by a fine of not more than $100 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.


(July 1, 1898, ch. 543, § 6a; as added Mar. 16, 1995, D.C. Law 10-226, § 2, 42 DCR 1; Apr. 18, 1996, D.C. Law 11-110, § 19, 43 DCR 530; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-271, § 301(a), 62 DCR 1884.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 8-137.1.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 10-301 and § 10-302.

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-271 substituted “Department of Parks and Recreation” for “Department of Recreation and Parks” in the section heading.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2 of Day Care and Senior Services Emergency Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-615, December 19, 2008, 56 DCR 42).

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 2 of Day Care and Senior Services Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-25, March 16, 2009, 56 DCR 2313).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 301(a) of the New Columbia Statehood Initiative, Omnibus Boards and Commissions, and Election Transition Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-481, November 18, 2014, 61 DCR 12133, 20 STAT 4405).

For temporary (90 days) addition of § 8b to the Act of July 1, 1898, ch. 543, concerning a name change to the Department of Recreation and Parks, see § 301(b) of the New Columbia Statehood Initiative, Omnibus Boards and Commissions, and Election Transition Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-481, November 18, 2014, 61 DCR 12133, 20 STAT 4405).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 301(a) of the New Columbia Statehood Initiative, Omnibus Boards and Commissions, and Election Transition Reform Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-7, Feb. 26, 2015, 62 DCR 2646, 21 STAT 807).

For temporary (90 days) addition of § 8b to the Act of July 1, 1898, ch. 543, concerning a name change to the Department of Recreation and Parks, see § 301(b) of the New Columbia Statehood Initiative, Omnibus Boards and Commissions, and Election Transition Reform Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-7, Feb. 26, 2015, 62 DCR 2646, 21 STAT 807).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 17-336 added a section to read as follows:

“Sec. 2. Analysis of proposed child day care services and senior citizen programs.

“(a) The Mayor shall submit to the Council a comprehensive analysis of proposed child day care services and senior citizen programs offered by the Department of Parks and Recreation prior to the closing, discontinuing, or relocating of any child day care or senior citizen program offered by the department.

“(b) The analysis shall include:

“(1) A pedestrian safety and transportation option analysis for participants near proposed, closed, or discontinued locations to the nearest site with comparable services;

“(2) The possible effect, if any, on any federal funding of the closing, discontinuing, or relocating of services and programs; and

“(3) A plan to increase participation in the affected programs and services.”

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 17-336 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

References in Text

Pursuant to Mayor’s Order 2000-20, the agency formerly known as the Department of Recreation and Parks shall be known as the Department of Parks and Recreation.