Planning to Be High
The DC Office of Planning has released its recommendations for changes to the Height Act, and, as expected, they are not friendly to citizens who like the residential city that Washington is today. Here are a PDF of the plan,http://tinyurl.com/kez9wl6; a press release from the OP about its Height Master Plan, http://tinyurl.com/kez9wl6; and Mayor Gray’s cover letter to Congressman Daryll Issa endorsing the Office of Planning’s changes to the Height Plan, http://tinyurl.com/mq42kzs.
Of course, for those Smart Growth advocates who think the only good model for urban planning is Manhattan, the OP’s recommendation don’t go far enough. Matthew Yglesias writes just that in Slate: "But really what the city needs are much taller buildings in the portions of the city where there’s the most demand for them — downtown. Downtown is where office rents and hotel prices are the highest. And Downtown is also where if the office market gets somehow saturated, it’d make lots of sense to build new apartment buildings for people to live in. And right now, downtown doesn’t have a lot of NIMBYs living there to complain about construction noise or loss of light. Downtown is also the part of the city that the infrastructure is built to make accessible. . . . Downtown is the logical place for tall buildings, and that’s why downtown is where you’ll find the tallest buildings in most cities,"http://tinyurl.com/n45zdl4. Yglesias wants those skyscrapers to be built before residents have a chance to complain about what they are doing to their quality of life. If city residents want light and open vistas, they shouldn’t live in Ygesias’ city.
One commentator on the City Paper’s article on the OP’s report gets the problem with the report exactly right. "EH" writes: "The City failed to complete the assignment. Issa explicitly asked "’. . . to examine the extent to which the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 continues to serve the federal and local interests, and how changes to the law could affect the future of the city.’ Instead, as could be expected, the City predetermined their desire for more height instead by declaring ‘The central question that this report attempts to answer is whether changes to the federal Height Act can be accomplished in a way that allows the federal government and the District of Columbia to reap the economic, fiscal and social benefits of additional height,’" The OP came to its predetermined conclusion. It answered the question it wanted to be asked.
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