Height Act Arguments Go to Congress Next Week

The fight over whether DC should have a taller skyline is moving to the next stage.

By: Benjamin Freed

The argument over whether the District should relax restrictions on its skyline will face its most important test next week when competing proposals submitted by the DC government and the National Capital Planning Commission finally come before Congress.

The House Oversight Committee, which oversees all things releated to the District, will hold a hearing Monday to hear arguments from the NCPC, which advocates leaving the 1910 Height Act virtually unchanged, and the DC Office of Planning, which is pushing for significant alterations.

The committee’s chairman, California Republican Darrell Issa, scheduled the hearing less than two weeks after a prolonged NCPC session in which members of the public tore into the DC government’s proposal for slightly taller buildings downtown and no limit on building height in a few other parts of the city. Some witnesses called for the resignation of city planning director Harriet Tregoning, who coordinated the District’s report on the Height Act. Others swore blood oaths against ever changing the Height Act.

The hearing, titled “Changes to the Heights Act: Shaping Washington, D.C., for the Future, Part II,” comes a little more than a year after Issa asked the District and the NCPC to look into amending the Height Act as Washington’s population continues expanding. A spokesman for Issa says the only witnesses at next week’s hearing will from Tregoning’s office and the NCPC. Members of the public looking to submit their written comments—blood oaths or otherwise—are invited to e-mail them to Ali.Ahmad@mail.house.gov.

See also: Federal Commission Votes to Leave Height Act Unchanged