Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Height Act is back in play

So much for Home Rule -- Tregoning's gone, Gray's disgraced, both the Council and public opinion polling came out strongly opposed to changes in the HBA, but Issa keeps pressing the issue.  And Eleanor Holmes Norton, whose office disclaimed any knowledge of the bill yesterday, is the co-sponsor.  

The text of the bill is available here.

[[Note that NCPC proposed communal recreational use for rooftop structures, but the bill would allow these penthouses to be private residential space.]] 

And here is WBJ's coverage:  

Updated: Mar 11, 2014, 11:30am EDT
House panel to weigh change to D.C. Height Act
Daniel J. Sernovitz
Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

House lawmakers are slated to consider making the first change in more than a century to the federal law that caps building heights in D.C.

The proposed change, which would allow uses like restaurants in the penthouse areas of certain buildings, wouldn't result in Manhattan-style skyscrapers in the District. But its passage could be an indication Congress is open to additional changes to the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 following a heated debate of the subject last fall.

The bill is slated to be considered by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Wednesday. Issa has said he believes the measure is  the first step in a larger debate around the Height Act and has urged the District and National Capital Planning Commission to consider other potential amendments to the law. If it passes the committee level, the bill would need to be approved by the full House and Senate and signed by the president before it can become law.

The proposed bill,  based in part on a recommendation from the NCPC and one of the least controversial parts of the height debate, changes the 1910 law by  permitting "human occupancy" in the penthouse space of buildings as long as those spaces are no taller one story or 20 feet or less above a building's roof. Building owners have typically used those spaces for mechanical equipment. In recommending the change, the NCPC said those spaces could be used as public amenities and generate additional revenue for their owners while not substantially impacting D.C.'s skyline.