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President Signs Minor Change to D.C. Height Act into Law

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that President Obama today signed into law a bill to amend the Height Act, cosponsored by Norton and sponsored by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). The bill, which passed the House on April 28 and the Senate on May 6, was introduced by Issa and cosponsored by Norton after the D.C. Mayor and Council Chairman reached a home-rule agreement on a minor change to the Height Act. The law amends the Height Act, a federal law that limits the height of buildings in D.C., to give the District the authority to allow human occupancy in the structures atop buildings known as penthouses, while maintaining the 1:1 setback for such structures and the city's unique skyline. The law caps the height of occupied penthouses at one story and a maximum of 20 feet. Prior to the law, there was no federal limit on the height of penthouses, but the city limited them to 18.6 feet.

"I am pleased that the Mayor and Council Chair reached an agreement that allowed the bill to move forward," said Norton. "The bill, which moved smoothly through Congress and was signed by the President, is a good example of a home-rule bill."

The law is consistent with National Capital Planning Commission recommendations. Norton cosponsored the bill following a consensus reached on the bill between D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, as she had urged them to do in a December 2013 letter.


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