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The Committee of 100 on the Federal City has been awfully quiet recently. In fact, I’ve received only three emails this year from the nonprofit organization, which is devoted to protecting the city’s historic character by opposing development projects and planning strategies that threaten to alter it, and has at times had a bit of a PR problem due to its generational imbalance. There’s a certain theme to these emails: Height Act, Height Act, Height Act.
Today, the group sends one with the subject line “District’s Committee of 100 Urges Residents to Oppose Height Act Gutting,” and it’s the most forceful communication from the Committee in some time. It concerns the recent proposal from the city government—-following a request for study of the 103-year-old federal law by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)—-to amend the law to allow the city to set slightly higher building maximums in the city center and any maximums it sees fit elsewhere. That, according to the Committee, is a bridge too far.
“If this recommendation, which has already been sent to U.S. Rep. Issa stands, and Congress acts on it, Washington’s iconic horizontal city that was planned to symbolize our national aspirations will be destroyed,” the press release states. “There is no crisis in D.C. that demands that District residents and the country at-large abandon the values and principles that have allowed our city to follow a uniquely disciplined plan to showcase our history and durability. … We don’t want to be the generation that dismissed the significance of 100 years of protecting our public resources.”
So the Committee is rallying its supporters to testify en masse before the D.C. Council on Monday morning, when the Committee of the Whole will be collecting testimony from members of the public on the proposed changes to the Height Act. There ought to be some fireworks. Stay tuned.
Rendering from the Office of Planning’s report on the Height Act