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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Announces Fourth Bill to Remove Federal Government from Local D.C. Land-Use Policies

Oct 15, 2018
Press Release

Strips Authority of U.S. Commission of Fine Arts Over D.C.-Owned and Private Property

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said today she will introduce a bill to remove the authority of a federal agency, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), to review development of District of Columbia-owned parks and buildings, as well as development of certain private property in D.C.  While pressing her statehood bill, Norton also has been working to expand home rule, including introducing or announcing three prior bills to remove the federal government from the District’s local land-use policies and decisions.   The other three Norton land-use bills would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Zoning Commission; give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment, except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery; and remove the authority of the National Capital Planning Commission to review the development of District of Columbia-owned land.

“As we continue to fight for statehood, we cannot sit on ways Congress could act now to remove unnecessary, undemocratic limitations on D.C.’s local government.  That is why I am simultaneously moving to expand home rule, including for the most local of activities, such as land-use policies,” Norton said.  “The federal government, whether through the Zoning Commission, the Board of Zoning Adjustment, the National Capital Planning Commission or the Commission of Fine Arts, has no business in local land-use policies and decisions.  Not only is the federal government’s authority over D.C. buildings and private property anti-democratic, it also delays and increases the cost of public and private development in the District.”

Under presidential executive orders (EOs) and federal law, the CFA has review authority of D.C.-owned parks and buildings, as well as certain private land in D.C.  Under EOs, CFA has review authority over the design of D.C.-owned parks and buildings.  Under the Shipstead-Luce Act, CFA has review authority over the design of private buildings in the District “adjacent to public buildings and grounds of major importance,” such as Rock Creek Park and the Potomac riverfront.  Under the Old Georgetown Act, the CFA has review authority over the design of private buildings in the part of Georgetown referred to as “Old Georgetown” in the act.  The Members of the CFA are appointed by the President.

Norton has introduced or announced the following bills to expand home rule so far this Congress.

  • The District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 1479) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  • The District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Establishment Act of 2017 (H.R. 1523) would allow the District to prosecute all crimes committed under its local laws.  Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District prosecutes almost all crimes committed by adults under local D.C. laws.
  • The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 1658) would give the D.C. Mayor the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard for local matters.  Unlike governors of the states, and even territories, the District’s chief executive officer has no authority over its local Guard.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act (H.R. 1765) would give the District exclusive authority, like the states and territories, to grant clemency to offenders convicted under its local laws.  Currently, this authority is exercised in D.C. by the President.
  • The District of Columbia Civil Enforcement Equality Act (H.R. 4678) would allow the District to enter into contracts with private attorneys to sue on the District's behalf for violations of D.C. law that may otherwise go unpunished due to a lack of resources.  States, cities and most federal agencies have the authority to enter into such contracts to sue for violations of their laws.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Non-Discrimination Act of 2018 (H.R. 5265) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.
  • The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 6129) would repeal the President’s authority to assume emergency control of the local D.C. police department.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Bridges Act (H.R. 6153) would repeal a law that makes it a crime for a person in D.C. to obstruct any bridge connecting D.C. and Virginia.
  • The District of Columbia Courts Home Rule Act (H.R. 6187) would give D.C. authority over the jurisdiction and organization of the local D.C. courts.
  • The District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act (H.R. 6215) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Zoning Commission.
  • The District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment Home Rule Act (H.R. 6289) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the Board, except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery.
  • The District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Salary Home Rule Act (H.R. 6670) would give D.C. the authority to set the salary of the CFO.
  • The District of Columbia Special Elections Home Rule Act (H.R. 6710) would give D.C. the authority to set the date of special elections.
  • The District of Columbia Public-Private Partnerships Home Rule Act (H.R. 7020) would give D.C. the authority to enter into public-private partnerships.
  • A bill to remove the authority of the National Capital Planning Commission to review the development of District of Columbia government-owned land.

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