Progress was made on relaxing DC’s century-old Height Act on Wednesday, but it was likely not the type of progress that staunch supporters of taller buildings were hoping for.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would allow “human occupancy” for the penthouse areas of certain buildings around the city. The National Capitol Planning Commission voted in November to recommend to Congress that the Act be amended to allow for human occupancy in penthouses that are currently limited to the housing of mechanical equipment.
Readers may recall that this topic is what started the whole process of relaxing the city’s Height Act. In 2012, at a Congressional hearing that was held to discuss the possibility of relaxing or eliminating the Height Act, Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning testified that the rules regarding rooftop use should be examined and possibly altered.
“While allowed, these roof structures have been limited in their use to mechanical purposes (elevator overrides, building mechanicals) and are currently prohibited from uses that qualify as ‘human occupancy’ such as recreation rooms or office space,” stated Tregoning at the time. “Allowing their use for more active purposes will have no real impact on the overall maximum heights of buildings as permitted by the 1910 Height Act and will not impact the District’s recognizable and historic skyline.”
The plan is that these spaces can now be used for a variety of purposes, such as building amenities. Rep. Issa did not hold back when expressing his support for broader revisions.
“I want to make it clear today that I would like to have gone further,” Issa said.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_minor_change_to_height_act_moves_forward/8227
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