House Oversight Committee to hold hearing on D.C. building height limits

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing next week on whether the District should relax its building height limits, signaling the debate over the future look of the city continues.


Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.); D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (Jim Cole/AP)

Approved by Congress in 1899 and later modified, the Height Act limits most District buildings to a maximum of 130 feet. But Gray and Issa question whether taller buildings should be allowed in some areas of the city away from its historical core.

Issa said at the time that higher building limits could revert more Home Rule authority back to the District while boosting the city’s potential to raise revenue from property taxes.

Gray has argued minor modifications could spur growth in Northeast and Southeast by giving city planners and developers more flexibility .

Though efforts to modify the Height Act could take years, the hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Officials said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the subcommittee that has oversight over the District, will oversee the hearing.

It’s not clear who will testify at the hearing, being called “Shaping Washington D.C. for the future.”

Some civic activists and preservationists strongly oppose altering the Height Act, arguing it preserves the character of the city and residents and tourists’ views of the national monuments.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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