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Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Emotional about the Height Act

By Rob Pitingolo

If you haven’t yet read Lydia DePillis’s Washington City Paper cover story on D.C.’s Height Act, it’s worth a look. She makes some good arguments in favor of ending the act, though probably none that a person versed on the topic hasn’t already come across.

I wasn’t initially going to blog about it because I’ve already said my piece on the topic, but then I unfortunately started looking at the comments at the bottom of Lydia’s article. Many of them are frustrating, because so much of this debate is emotional and boils down to an argument about personal preference rather than a discussion about what would be best, in aggregate, for the city.

For example, one of the primary arguments against the Height Act can be summed up like this:

Short buildings are what make Washington, our nation’s capital, a truly unique city. If you want skyscrapers, go live in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. People love iconic views of the capital, and tall buildings will cast shadows over neighborhoods and make DC just like any other big American city. People don’t want that

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine a city that’s going through a really tough time. Unemployment is high and companies and jobs are leaving for greener pastures. There is a really outdated law on the books that forbids the local government from attracting jobs. But people like the status quo too much, so they say “high unemployment is what makes our city unique. If you want jobs, go move to Dallas or Houston or some other city that has them.”

[Continue reading Rob Pitingolo's post at Extraordinary Observations.]

Rob Pitingolo blogs at Extraordinary Observations. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Rob Pitingolo  | January 4, 2011; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, development  
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