“Norton Sees Possible Home-Rule Breakthrough in Height Act Hearing”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From a press release:

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that she was pleased at today’s hearing on the Height Act when Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) invited her to join him in a colloquy about giving the District of Columbia greater authority to decide Height Act matters for itself. “Not unlike Chairman Issa’s announcement at the end of his hearing on the D.C. budget last year that he supported D.C. budget autonomy, the chairman’s comments today indicated another breakthrough with his willingness to consider greater authority for the city under the Height Act,” Norton said. “Such a change would simply acknowledge that in hometown D.C., local officials would be best able to make changes, if needed.”

Norton said that neither the witnesses from the city, or subcommittee members envision changes in the near term, with the possible exception of allowing human occupancy in areas on top of buildings now used exclusively for housing mechanical equipment, such as for elevators. This idea, she said, appears to offer the benefit of additional space for human occupancy with no change to the city’s vistas or views. In fact, D.C. Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning testified that those views and vistas could be enhanced with various kinds of uses in the space now used for mechanical penthouses, allowing more residents and visitors alike to enjoy unique views of the nation’s capital.

Chairman Issa said that a study on how the District would view changes to the Height Act would be appropriate. If there is concern with the federal interest, Norton said she believes the current zoning board, which has both local and federal representatives, would protect federal concerns and would be consistent with the transfer of greater home-rule Height Act authority to the District.

21 Comment

  • Get rid of the height act!

    • +1 Long overdue

    • Not. Gonna. Happen. (for a lot of reasons).

      The “best” (if that is what you consider best) it a change in the rules/regs and adjustments on measurements which allows a bit more height.

      This is not going to be a skyscraper city – at least in my lifetime. Get the freak over it.

      • A lot of people wouldn’t have envisioned millions of dollars in new residential projects flooding into the city “in their lifetime” back when Marion Barry was busted on camera and less than 20 years after that, the city is flush with investment dollars. Stop all this “in my lifetime” tripe, you aren’t Nostradamus. The Height Act is arbitrary. As time marches forward and density increases in the city, developers with money will start pushing for the Height Act to be repealed. In Congress, money is king. Eventually, that Act will be repealed. Watch. It will be in your lifetime, as well. Call me Nostradamus. Ha!

  • Hmm, let’s think of everything that makes DC special–and then ditch those things so that DC can be just like every other city in America.

    • Yep. I’m sure Issa and the rest of Congress are also thinking of moving the capital to Kansas along with all the monuments, museums, cherry trees, etc. too Everything that makes DC special=just its skyline? I think not.

  • All in favor of home rule, but keep the Height Act — DC’s skyline *must* be preserved!!

    • Typical knee-jerk response.

      The proposal to raise DC’s height limits has two parts. The first part is for downtown, and wouldn’t actually change the overall height of buildings at all–it would simply allow the top “story” found on today’s buildings that’s reserved for mechanical (e.g., A/C units, elevator motors, etc.) to also be used for live/work space–apartments, condos, restaurants and offices. Buildings would still be limited to the 130′ they are today.

      The second part involves the farthest outlying parts of the city, and mostly in deep Southeast Washington across the Anacostia on the Maryland border, though there might also be some increases in Chevy Chases. Even there, the height limits would still cap out at around 20 stories, and that would probably only be that small corner of SE.

      But, OMG, a 15 story building in Chevy Chase is SO going to ruin the city’s skyline! :shakes head:

  • Great news, this is long overdue!

  • of all the useless things to have control over. it’d be nice to have some say in women’s rights, representation, or gun control in our own city. what a ridiculous concession.

  • You can complain about loosening the Height Act, and you can complain about high housing costs, but I don’t want to hear anyone complain about both.

  • I wish this would come down to a referendum vote. Which it probably never will, due to the numerous groups and governmental entities who feel like they know better than everybody else. I think that the majority of people in the District would vote against such a change.

  • EHN is now going to kill our housing values? Way to represent your constituents.

  • I think a reasonable and politically-viable option is to just set the height limit at 160 feet, as is already permitted on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. If 160-foot buildings are reasonable and appropriate for “America’s Main Street” in the heart of the ceremonial core, then I doubt you can raise an objection to allowing other places to rise an additional 30 feet.

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