Height Limitations:

Limitations on Building Heights in the District of Columbia

GGD-86-105BR: Published: Jul 18, 1986. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO obtained information on: (1) the current laws limiting building heights in the District of Columbia; (2) the administrative apparatus in place to implement building height limitations; and (3) federal and District officials' opinions on whether the current laws and regulations satisfactorily protect the federal interest with respect to security and to the architectural and aesthetic character of the District.

GAO found that: (1) the Building Height Act and the Schedule of Heights of Buildings Adjacent to Public Buildings, which has served to maintain the prominence of federal buildings and monuments in the District, govern private-sector maximum building heights in the District; (2) although the District government is the administrative apparatus which enforces the act, the federal government has building height authority over public building projects in some parts of the District; (3) responses to a questionnaire sent to federal, District, and private organizations indicated no consensus as to whether the laws or the administrative apparatus protect the federal interest; (4) there was concern about the need for additional guidance to ensure that buildings did not exceed height limitations inside and outside of the District; and (5) some officials believed that the lack of security reviews to ensure protection of the federal interest indicated the need for the establishment of formal guidelines to conduct the reviews.

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