Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has long supported at least some revisions to the Height Act of 1910, which limits the size of Washington buildings. At Issa’s request, District planners and the National Capital Planning Commission recently spent 10 months pondering potential changes to that law. District planners recommended limiting the federal restrictions to the oldest parts of the city, but the Planning Commission later declined to endorse that major change, leaving significant movement in limbo. The D.C. Council, in a symbolic move, also voted to oppose changing the law.
A Washington Post poll of D.C. residents later showed strong opposition to significantly changing the law; 61 percent of respondents to The Post’s poll said they would prefer to keep the restrictions in place.
Anyhow, Issa’s committee last week approved “a minor change to the century-old law that bans skyscrapers in the nation’s capital,” according to the AP. “The bill that was sent to the House floor [last] Wednesday would allow occupancy of penthouses that are currently permitted only to house mechanical equipment.”
And in the course of discussing this minor change and potentially more significant changes to the act, Issa last week also linked the Height Act to the return of the Redskins.
“I’ll plant one last seed,” Issa said in a conversation with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) during a full committee meeting. “The Washington Redskins don’t play in Washington. And I would invite the gentlelady to go to many of the new stadiums that have been built. And they’re often built with overlook buildings as part of the general plan.
“And I would hope that people who want to bring that economic activity – a stadium that bears Washington’s name – back to Washington, that when they look at possible sitings, they look at the idea that a large and relatively high structure — which would be a football stadium — can in fact be surrounded and adorned with buildings that represent an appropriate height for that area.
“So I see opportunities,” Issa said. “I don’t see them currently. And one of the reasons is that we have some economic challenges in wooing the team into the city and building a world-class stadium. But again, that’s for the city fathers, that’s for you as their elected representative. I just wanted to make sure that we took this opportunity to say this committee must stand ready to assist in any way we can to enhance the federal city, and I thank the gentlelady for her leadership. ”