Housing Complex

Behold the Glorious New Era of Human-Occupied Penthouses

D.C.'s skyline could soon be altered. Very, very slightly.

D.C.'s skyline could soon be altered. Very, very slightly.

Can you feel the claustrophobia, D.C.? Can you see the shadows encroaching? Can you sense the Manhattanization of our fair District? Because the Height of Buildings Act of 1910, ruling our skyline for more than a century, has just been amended.

Today, President Barack Obama signed an amendment to the Height Act, following passage in the House of Representatives late last month and in the Senate shortly afterward. But don't expect skyscrapers to start popping up anytime soon.

The 130-foot maximum for buildings on commercial streets is still intact. So's the 90-foot limit for buildings on residential streets, and the further restrictions for buildings on narrow streets. The change that became law today is about as minor as possible: Penthouses formerly limited to mechanical functions can now be opened to human uses.

Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House committee with oversight of D.C. issues who's become a surprisingly staunch ally of District autonomy, has expressed his frustration at the D.C. Council for rejecting a chance at that very autonomy. Last year, the Council passed a near-unanimous resolution objecting to any Height Act changes. That includes changes that would give the Council some say over D.C. building heights in the future, currently governed by Congress.

It also includes the change that became law today. But since the Council has already expressed its desire for these decisions to remain in Congress' hands, the councilmembers can hardly complain of being overridden. May the era of human-occupied penthouses begin.

  • drez

    Can you feel the claustrophobia, D.C.? Can you see the shadows encroaching?
    Yes. In this prose.

  • Little minded hobgoblin

    Methinks there is more to the prose in the law than the eye can imagine.

  • Harvard

    Mike deBonis, Will Sommer, Aaron Wiener, Martin Austermuhle, the boys at GGW, and back again. "Housing coverage" in CP is a ping pong game between these bloggers. Always check twitter feeds to see where journalists get their information. In this case, it looks like they do a lot of talking to each other and not much else. Meanwhile, the rest of us are supposed to not complain about our city turning into the average northeastern college town with the same amount of stability, charm, and permanence. Don't like it? You're probably NIMBY.

  • Northwesterneer

    drez- you are so right on, Aaron may be the singular worst write the CP pays $10 to write blog pieces.

  • styglan1dc

    Don't let the haters get you down, Aaron. I like HC and keep coming back. Only wish there were more posts! Thanks for the writing and keep it up.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/opinion/sunday/glass-warfare.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0 Harvard

    Your question on your twitter account ("I am genuinely curious") left me scratching my head. Were you serious? You asked why people keep reading and commenting on what they think are terrible stories.

    It's not that your stories are "terrible," but more your point of view. And for you to express curiosity makes me wonder if you do not realize the platform you have - even at the CityPaper (which I actually do malign a lot). It's undeniable that, banded together with the Post writers, and whoever else (Mike Madden, debonis, Alpert, etc etc etc etc), that cadre, you do exert quite a lot of influence. Do you not see that? But, what is your expectation? Only positive comments all the time? It put me in the mind of comments like 'well, if you don't like our country, you can always leave'. Which may be your point of view, in which case I would not be calling myself a journalist.

    So, the reason I and possibly others post is in the probably vain hope of countering a view we or I see as in fact destructive to neighborhoods and our city. Destructive may be overstating it in terms of any one individual, but the collective voice - yeah, destructive seems about right.

    You talk to others exactly like yourself, and yes that to me is..not constructive.

    But hey, at least you asked.

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