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President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Statement ... on Central Business District Height Limits
Statement ... Annual Reports on Expenditures
New Charter Planning Provisions to Be Implemented (Astrid Monson)
City's New Planning Director to Speak to League P&Z Committee (Astrid Monson)
Vote Count
Council 1993 - Washington D.C.
LWV of Hawaii Convention - May 15, 1993

Statement before the Zoning Committee of the City Council on Bill 44 (1993) Relating to Central Business District Height Limits, 5/4/93

The League has for years opposed raising downtown height limits. At the Development Plan Hearings on Bill 170 (1992) we were told that this time it would be different -- no increases in density would be requested. We doubted this then, and we still do.

Bill 44 contains a number of unacceptable provisions. In addition, the safeguards called for in the Development Plan revisions you approved are either missing or are so weak as to be unenforceable.

A few specifics will suffice:

Sections 21, 5.90-2, sub sections (3) provides that a minimum of 15% of the lot area shall be devoted to public open space. This is meaningless. Even the present LUO requires 35% at presently permitted heights and densities. If you intend to require more open space with increased building heights, the minimum should be 50% or more public open space.

Subsection (4) is extremely undesirable. Similar provision in New York City, giving bonuses for the interior provision of so-called community facilities of benefits, led to such gross abuses that they have now been stopped. In any event, the proposed provision calls for only 10% of the additional floor area to be for civic purposes. 90% could be commercial.

Subsection (8) is weak. Who decides when the retention of historic structure is "feasible"? In other provisions, such words as "significant," "unreasonable," "interesting," "adverse impacts," "mitigative measures," and other subjective terms are used. Again, who will decide how to interpret these? We think Bill 44 would have to be greatly strengthened if it is to carry out the safeguards you included in the DP amendment permitting greater downtown heights.

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