Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist
Regarding the Height Act, there is a post on Greater Greater Washington
today suggesting that the National Capitol Planning Commission will recommend amending this.
NCPC will likely recommend tweaking DC height limit
That is good to hear. But, the proposal sounds pretty weak. It endorses the idea of creating Bethesda-type nodes around Tenlytown and Anacostia and maybe allowing some mechanical parts of buildings to breach the height limit slightly downtown.
Both seem a little underwhelming to me. The idea of mid-rise nodes in the outer-neighborhoods is fine. But let's face it, these will have little impact on the overall city. High rise development in Anacostia has strong economic and political headwinds going against it. There is tons of land that could be developed under existing zoning and hasn't been.
Tenlytown and Upper NW in general is home to some of the most strident (and well funded) NIMBYs in the county. These people (even if they are just a vocal minority) will fight development to the bitter end (witness the multi-year litigation/political fight against Cathedral Commons). Once you get off Conn Ave or Wis Ave you are basically in small town SFH country. Even if zoning allowed for these areas to be redeveloped at greater density, the small plots and divided ownership would make redevelopment next to impossible. For all practical purposes that only leaves the main avenues to be redeveloped. A good idea and it should happen, but a few more apartment buildings on a couple main streets is not going to bring about car-free urban living the way a vibrant mixed-use urban core will.
Ultimately, it is the core of the city that needs to be built up and activated. Unfortunately, the plan looks only likely to provide small tweaks. Not enough to encourage a full scale redevelopment into a vibrant mixed-use downtown. I understand not wanting skyscrapers on the national mall. But, the city could have a more gradual cap. Say 150 ft south of E St, with a buffer for the white house between say 14th and 18th and up to K. Then have a transition zone with a 200 ft cap for a say 2 blocks outside that zone and then maybe work up to a 300 ft cap in the rest of the greater downtown.
That would preserve the low rise nature of the city, but allow the city to benefit from the clustering of activity in a mixed-use core.