Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that she was pleased at today's hearing on the Height Act when Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) invited her to join him in a colloquy about giving the District of Columbia greater authority to decide Height Act matters for itself. "Not unlike Chairman Issa's announcement at the end of his hearing on the D.C. budget last year that he supported D.C. budget autonomy, the chairman's comments today indicated another breakthrough with his willingness to consider greater authority for the city under the Height Act," Norton said. "Such a change would simply acknowledge that in hometown D.C., local officials would be best able to make changes, if needed."
Norton said that neither the witnesses from the city, or subcommittee members envision changes in the near term, with the possible exception of allowing human occupancy in areas on top of buildings now used exclusively for housing mechanical equipment, such as for elevators. This idea, she said, appears to offer the benefit of additional space for human occupancy with no change to the city's vistas or views. In fact, D.C. Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning testified that those views and vistas could be enhanced with various kinds of uses in the space now used for mechanical penthouses, allowing more residents and visitors alike to enjoy unique views of the nation's capital.
Chairman Issa said that a study on how the District would view changes to the Height Act would be appropriate. If there is concern with the federal interest, Norton said she believes the current zoning board, which has both local and federal representatives, would protect federal concerns and would be consistent with the transfer of greater home-rule Height Act authority to the District.