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Sweeping Height Act Changes a Tall Order, Issa Says

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

With a modest change to the 104-year-old Height Act on its way to the president for his signature, the sponsor of the bill says not to expect more action from Congress on the issue any time soon.  

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Wednesday that building height limits in the nation’s capital are now a question for the D.C. Council and the city’s next mayor.  

Issa’s amendment to the Height Act, a measure that allows human occupancy of penthouses, cleared the Senate by unanimous consent Tuesday night. It has the backing of Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.  

Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser , who Issa referred to as “the new mayor,” is on the record as opposing more sweeping changes to the law. Independent mayoral candidate David Catania also joined his D.C. Council colleagues late last year in voting against further changes to the Height Act.  

“Probably the K Street corridor and L’Enfant Plaza will be out of any future proposals,” Issa predicted, but he suggested there may be future opportunities to test out taller buildings in some parts of the city. As he has in the past, Issa pitched a new professional football stadium  or areas in Northeast as possibilities.  

He also mentioned the “Olympic aspiration that the city now has,” referring to the group exploring a bid for the 2024 games , as a opportunity for altering the city’s unique, horizontal skyline.  

“All of those could be an impetus for targeted locations that might exceed the Height Act,” Issa said.