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National Capital Planning Commission – Executive Director’s Recommendation on the Heights Master Plan

by Prince Of Petworth November 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm 14 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

NCPC’s Height Master Plan Draft Final Recommendations Released:

“The following recommendation is proposed onlyfor areas outside of the L’Enfant City. The purpose of this recommendation is to balance the long-term potential growth needs of the city with the importance of protecting the integrity of the form and character of the nation’s capital, including federal interests and local communities.

The limits currently established in the federal Height Act should remain in place unless and until the District completes an update to the District Elements of the Comprehensive Plan where targeted area(s) that meet specific planning goals and also do not impact federal interests that are identified. Under this recommendation, building heights in targeted areas may be proposed to exceed the maximums under the federal law; and these may be authorized through the existing Comprehensive Plan process, pending Congressional approval. Should such targeted exceptions be authorized through the Comprehensive Plan, the Height Act would remain in place for all other areas both inside and outside of the L’Enfant City.”

You can read the full report below:

NCPC_Height_Master_Plan_Recommendations (PDF)

  • Anonymous

    So WTF does this mean? The Height Act is still in place, unless they give you an exemption for it and only if you’re outside L’Enfant City? If so, there’s going to be a lot of shady shit going down. As if we need to further corrupt DC’s politics.

    • carlosthedwarf

      Basically, NCPC is trying a power-grab. They want more control over development in DC, and this is a great way for them to get it. We’ll see if Congress goes along.

  • Anonymous

    1: Why can’t the ABSOLUTELY NO! people be even remotely reasonable? It is entirely unreasonable to suggest that a height restriction–by itself–is what makes DC lovely. There’s lots of things that make DC lovely. It is also unreasonable to believe that having a real skyscraper skyline in certan areas of the city will somehow ruin the city.
    2. but it’s not just DC. Nowhere in the entire metro area is there anything resembling an inspiring skyline. Even the plans for Tysons–the one area that has a shot at having a real skyline–are the same ol same ol uninspiring dull plans.

    • Anonymous

      I’m with you on the “let’s be reasonable” storyline, but I would extend that to your own comments: there is no near-term scenario where adjustments to the act will result in true skyscrapers. Since this is both the root of so many people’s (perhaps irrational) fears as well as totally impractical/impossible, you do the conversation (and your side of the argument) a disservice by even mentioning it. Let’s keep the conversation aimed at where it should be: can we consider having a reasonable increase in the height act in certain (non federal-core) parts of town, increasing building heights about 30% or so. The moment you say skyscraper, this conversation blows up. If you say 15 story building instead of 11 story building, you sound informed and, well, it just doesn’t sound like a big deal anymore.

      • Anonymous

        with all due respect, I don’t think delineating whether we are taling about 11 stories or 15 stories or 115 stories would make you or me sound any more “informed” on the subject. And for that matter, there is no real stories or floor designation for a “skyscraper.” Not too may folks would consider the Cairo a skyscraper, but still, it is often called one. And its not like I’m advocating super tall structures to sprout up overnight. Yet those that are scream against raising the restrictions seem to be motivated by mere fantasy….that DC is like some quaint European city…and horror…that with restrictions lifted DC will turn into big bad Manhattan

        • Anonymous

          I think we agree 100% and sorry if I ticked you off with my post. I wasn’t trying to troll you. What I was pointing out is that in my experience having these conversations, people’s alarm bells go off when you so much as whisper the word high rise. I’m amazed at how much breath and ink is wasted on people going back and forth about whether high-rises or “skyscrapers” should be allowed – because that’s simply not on the table. What is on the table is whether our current short buildings (8 or 12 stories) should be allowed to be 11 or 16 stories in certain places. I think if we begin talking about the issue more concretely and more in line with what the changes might ultimately look like, we will move this conversation along faster and avoid those stupid comparisons to Manhattan.

          • Anonymous

            its all good. Have a virtual blog drink on me!

  • Anonymous

    Seems to me theres still a ton of real estate in this city in need of development (wards 7 and 8 in particular)… completely unnecessary to increase height limits. Why, so developers can sell more condo units in already expensive areas?

    • anonnnn


    • kyle-w

      Exactly. There is a serious lack of housing in this city. Why should we force people to live in W7 or W8, if they ultimately want to live in NW?

    • Anonymous

      yes, it is to sell more in expensive area. which will in fact help inexpensive areas stay inexpressive.

      • Anonymous

        No, what it will end up doing is keeping major development from reaching Wards 7 and 8, while keeping housing prices on the upswing west of the river. Seems like a lot of people are stupid enough to believe that increased density will mean more affordable housing.

  • Anon X

    Sure, lets raise the height of buildings, but it has to replace either a 2 story building or a surface parking lot.

  • Why can’t we just lift the restrictions along the border with Montgomery County? That way DC could benefit (in a tax-base sense) from having tall buildings in the Bethesda/Silver Spring areas, instead of all that development going to those cities instead. If we got some taller buildings there they would still be further away from the Mall than the tall buildings in Roslyn.


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