Norton Introduces Bill to Give D.C. Authority to Appoint All Members of Board that Deals Exclusively with Local D.C. Zoning

Jun 28, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that she has introduced a bill to give the District of Columbia the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board), except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery.  Under current law, in general, the Board consists of a representative each of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the D.C. Zoning Commission, each of whom may be a federal official, and three mayoral appointees, subject to D.C. Council approval.  The Board has no authority over federal property. 

“Like every other jurisdiction in the United States, the District of Columbia should be free to set its own local land-use policies,” Norton said.  “Even without statehood, we can change this leftover anomaly by completing the Home Rule Act.  We face local issues, such as a growing population and economic development, which require local solutions.  Land-use is the quintessential local issue.  The Board of Zoning Adjustment should be accountable to District residents and local elected officials.”

When the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to the location, expansion, or replacement of a chancery, the Board consists of the Executive Director of NCPC; the Director of the National Park Service, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior or the Administrator of General Services, as designated by the President; and the three mayoral appointees.  The bill does not change this composition.

Norton has introduced several bills this Congress to reduce the federal government’s control over local District matters and to expand D.C. equality. This bill is the 13th in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. Series:

  • The District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 735) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  • The District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Home Rule Act (H.R. 917) 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. law.
  • The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 1090) 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.
  • A bill to require the Library of Congress to install the D.C. seal in the Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (H.R. 1318).  Currently, the stained-glass windows contain the seals of all states and territories that existed when the building was constructed, except for the D.C. seal, which was readily available at the time and should have been depicted.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act (H.R. 1378) 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 Home Rule Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1408) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.
  • The District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act (H.R. 1538) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the Commission.
  • The National Capital Planning Commission District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 1797) would remove the authority of the NCPC to review the development of D.C.-owned land.
  • The District of Columbia Courts Home Rule Act (H.R. 2769) would give D.C. authority over the jurisdiction and organization of the local D.C. courts.
  • The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 3092) would eliminate the president’s authority to federalize the local D.C. police department
  • A bill to permit the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of the Mayor of the District (H.R. 3283).
  • The Commission of Fine Arts District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 3365) would remove the authority of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts to review development of District of Columbia-owned parks and buildings, as well as development of certain private property in D.C.