Housing Complex

Congress Will Take Up Height Act on Dec. 2

issa sideThe congressional committee with oversight of the District will hold a hearing on Dec. 2 to discuss the future of the Height Act, two weeks after the D.C. government and the National Capital Planning Commission submitted to Congress two competing sets of recommendations for changes to the 1910 law that caps D.C.'s building heights.

The hearing will be titled “Changes to The Heights Act: Shaping Washington, D.C., for the Future, Part II," according to a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and called for the joint study of the Height Act from the District and NCPC. The committee expects to receive testimony from the D.C. Office of Planning, which led the D.C. study, and the NCPC on their proposals.

The Office of Planning proposed substantial changes to the Height Act, including an amended formula for building heights in the historic L'Enfant City and the exemption of the rest of the city from federally imposed height limits. A day earlier, the NCPC had voted to recommend no major changes to the law, outside of an alteration to the rules governing penthouse occupancy and the removal of some obsolete language on fire safety.

The NCPC's decision not to allow greater D.C. autonomy over building heights—a reversal from the commission's draft report that was amended in a vote last week—greatly reduced the likelihood of substantial changes to the 103-year-old law. But Issa, who has made several prominent remarks about the need to explore more autonomy for the District, told Roll Call last week that there's a “very good chance” his committee will take a “nuanced position that is between the two that empowers the city to do more, but recognizes that there have to be some controls.”

The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2154.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery